January 01, 2018

Local Justice: How Cities Can Protect and Promote Environmental Justice in a Hostile Environment

Emily Bergeron

On June 2, 2017, in an act that the left and the right, as well as the global community, cautioned against and strongly criticized, President Donald Trump determined that the United States would no longer be party to the Paris Climate Accord (Paris Agreement). Immediately, cities across the country, from Pittsburgh to Portland, reacted. Mayors for 100% Clean Energy, an initiative of the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign, immediately responded by adopting the provisions of the Paris Agreement. A similar group organized by Michael Bloomberg and supported by 30 cities, 3 states, more than 80 university presidents, and 180 representatives from cities across the country, also pledged to defy the administration and uphold the Paris Agreement by intensifying efforts to reach climate goals. Hiroko Tabuchi & Henry Fountain, Bucking Trump, These Cities, States and Companies Commit to Paris Accord, N.Y. Times (June 1, 2017), https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/01/climate/american-cities-climate-standards.html. In an open letter to the president regarding his then-pending decision to withdraw, a third group, the Mayors National Climate Action group, noted that as public servants “we also cannot ignore the costs of inaction. That is why we are also standing up for our constituents and all Americans harmed by climate change, including those most vulnerable among us.” Letter from Climate Mayors to Donald Trump on Roll Back of U.S. Climate Actions (Mar. 28, 2017), available at http://climatemayors.org/actions/letters-and-statements. As of this writing, 350 mayors have joined the Climate Mayors in their pledge to uphold the Agreement and protect their constituents from the impacts of climate change. See Members, Climate Mayors, http://climatemayors.org/about/members. And, in a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Miami in June 2017, leaders from more than 250 cities voted on resolutions committing their cities to running entirely on renewable resources by 2035. Associated Press, Hundreds of US Mayors Endorse Switch to 100% Renewable Energy by 2035, The Guardian (June 26, 2017).

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