San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. Photo by Chris Stone

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer was one of dozens of city leaders nationwide denouncing President Donald Trump’s move Thursday to pull the United States out of the Paris climate 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,” Faulconer said.

“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.”

Faulconer has been notable as a high-profile Republican elected official who has taken steps to address climate change.

The Paris Agreement was signed by 195 countries in 2015 and set a goal of curbing greenhouse gas emissions, along with keeping a global rise in temperature this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. It also calls for an effort to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Under the agreement, every country submitted a plan to lower greenhouse emissions and agreed to meet regularly and share progress. The agreement is nonbinding and countries are allowed to adjust their plans depending on their domestic situation, with peer pressure from other countries being the primary motivating factor.

Former President Barack Obama promised to cut greenhouse gasses 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 and commit $3 billion in aid to poorer countries.

By withdrawing, the United States joins Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries not to participate in the agreement, although it takes four full years to officially withdraw and a new president could reverse the decision before then.

Trump said the agreement was bad for the U.S. economy.

“As someone who cares deeply about our environment, I cannot in good conscience support a deal which punishes the United States,” he said. “The Paris accord is very unfair at the highest level to the United States.”

In justifying his decision, Trump cited a National Economic Research Associates study, saying the agreement could cost the United States $3 trillion by 2040, reducing the industrial job-sector workforce by 6.5 million, including a loss of 3.1 million manufacturing jobs. He said it would also lead to a reduction in cement, iron, steel, coal, natural gas and petroleum production.

Trump said the deal gives other countries an unfair advantage” over the United States, and allows other polluting countries to continue its greenhouse gas emissions while the U.S. is forced to cut its own.

Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, said exiting the Paris Agreement is bad for the planet and for American standing, leverage and jobs.

“It is morally wrong and monumentally stupid,” said Peters, who serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

He said the president’s decision cedes energy and job creation to other nations — especially China — which is already winding down coal plants and investing more than any other country in renewable energy.

“President Trump is sending the jobs and opportunities of the future for our children to other nations and positioning America to get left behind,” Peters said.

“Leaving the Paris Agreement, as with the president’s actions on trade and diplomacy, is a stunning abrogation of America’s decades-long world leadership,” he said. “More than anything, this is a dereliction of our duty to leave our children a healthy and inhabitable earth with clean air and clean water.”

Assemblyman Todd Gloria, D-San Diego, said via Twitter, “The president’s cynical political decision is not only bad for our environment but a total abdication of America’s global leadership. Sad!”

Gloria played a major role in getting the city of San Diego’s climate change plan passed while he sat on the City Council.

On the state level, Gov. Jerry Brown announced the creation of a U.S. Climate Alliance that will include states committed to upholding the guidelines of the Paris agreement. He said California, New York and Washington are the initial members, with those states representing more than one-fifth of U.S. Gross Domestic Product.

“If the president is going to be AWOL in this profoundly important human endeavor, then California and other states will step up,” Brown said.

–City News Service