By Chris Jennewein
President Trump may have pulled America out of the Paris Climate Agreement, but San Diego and other big cities will make sure most of the country lives up to that landmark agreement’s goals.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer joined dozens of his counterparts from Los Angeles to Houston to Pittsburgh Thursday in blasting Trump’s decision and vowing to follow the agreement.
“Today’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement underscores how important it is for major U.S. cities to lead the way and take definitive action to leave a better planet than the one we inherited,” said Faulconer, a Republican who has been outspoken about the importance of protecting the environment.
“San Diego remains as committed as ever to implementing our landmark Climate Action Plan and being a national leader in solar, renewable energy use, water purification and green job creation,” he said. “We cannot protect America’s interests without a seat at the table, so San Diego will continue to lead on environmental protection.”
In his Rose Garden announcement, Trump singled out Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania’s coal and steel country, saying “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”
But Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto quickly fired back on Trump’s favorite medium, Twitter: “As the Mayor of Pittsburgh, I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement for our people, our economy and future.”
In a later interview on CNN, he said coal is never coming back as a significant industry and Pittsburgh’s future is in robotics, artificial intelligence, clean energy and other new technologies.
Like Faulconer, Peduto said it’s now up to America’s cities to lead on the environment in the wake of Trump’s decision. “The United States joins Syria, Nicaragua & Russia in deciding not to participate with world’s Paris Agreement,” Peduto tweeted. “It’s now up to cities to lead.”
That sentiment may be the silver lining in what struck many Americans as a dark day for their country and the world, with some suggesting Trump was willingly relinquishing America’s world leadership position.
The silver lining is that in the U.S. federal system of government, cities and states have wide powers. Trump’s now coal-friendly Environmental Protection Agency may no longer care about greenhouse gas emissions, but local governments can set standards and create tax benefits. Controls on auto emissions began with laws in California, after all.
The same goes for immigration. Los Angeles, New York and other big cities are openly celebrating their “sanctuary” status, even providing legal assistance to immigrants threatened with deportation.
Behind this newfound sense of civic independence is straightforward economics. Immigrants help local economies by building businesses in depressed areas. Clean energy from solar and wind is getting less and less expensive. And in built-up urban areas, electric cars and rooftop solar panels simply make good sense.
“We don’t want other countries and other leaders to laugh at us anymore,” said Trump in explaining his decision.
San Diego, Pittsburgh and other forward-looking American cities will have the last laugh.
Chris Jennewein is editor and publisher of Times of San Diego.
>> Subscribe to Times of San Diego’s free daily email newsletter! Click hereFollow Us: