Smokestacks emitting greenhouse gases. Photo courtesy Environmental Protection Agency

In the week since President Donald Trump announced he was pulling America out of the Paris climate accord, the number of mayors who belong to the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda and pledged to uphold the agreement has skyrocketed.

The group, also called the Climate Mayors, was co-founded by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2014. In the immediate aftermath of Trump’s announcement, Garcetti and 60 of the 88 members of the group pledged to uphold the agreement, but the group has now grown to 289 members, and 279 have signed the pledge, Garcetti’s office said.

“Last week, Democratic and Republican mayors from cities across America came together to say, `Enough’ — we will not let the future of our world be jeopardized by inaction at the very top,” Garcetti said. “Now, mayors from every corner of our nation are joining the call to action, and uniting to carry the fight against climate change forward in our cities.”

The Climate Mayors include nine of the 10 largest cities in America — New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, Dallas and San Jose — along with hundreds of additional cities.

“This is a top priority for the people of Boston and the American people,” said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “We see the impacts of climate change every day in the streets and homes of our cities — the extreme heat, flooding, and increasing health issues. It’s our responsibility to act, and I’m proud to stand among the growing number of Climate Mayors fighting for our residents.”

The Paris Climate 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 joined Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries not to participate in the agreement, although it takes four full years to officially withdraw.

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.”

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.