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Hundreds of mayors, governors, CEOs and others pledge U.S. commitment to Paris climate agreement

By Bloomberg Philanthropies

Mike Bloomberg, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, submitted yesterday an unprecedented statement of unity from hundreds of U.S. mayors, governors, state attorneys general, CEOs and others to achieve and eventually exceed America’s commitment to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. In a letter to addressed jointly to U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa, Bloomberg presented this declaration, called “We Are Still In.” [Full declaration can also be read below.]

Bloomberg also announced his intent to work with interested subnational and non-state actors over the coming months to formally quantify these sectors’ aggregate climate actions and submit a report to the U.N. as “America’s Pledge” to the world under the Paris Agreement.

America’s Pledge intends to eventually submit a “Societal Nationally Determined Contribution” to the U.N., accounting for the efforts of U.S. cities, states, businesses and other subnational actors. America’s Pledge will aggregate US climate action, building upon the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, an initiative led by Bloomberg and European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, to transparently and accountably track the climate commitments of over 7,400 cities worldwide.

“Today, on behalf of an unprecedented collection of U.S. cities, states, businesses and other organizations, I am communicating to the United Nations and the global community that American society remains committed to achieving the emission reductions we pledged to make in Paris in 2015,” said Bloomberg. “I am confident the broad array of leaders and organizations that have signed today’s declaration, and many others that will join in the days to come, will work together to reduce U.S. carbon emissions by 26 percent by 2025, just as we had pledged in Paris. These groups will take vigorous and ambitious actions to address climate change, and we will communicate those actions in a transparent and accountable way to the U.N. The United States can, and will, meet its commitment under the Paris Agreement.”

Patricia Espinosa, the Executive Secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said “The UNFCCC welcomes the determination and commitment from such a wealth and array of cities, states, businesses and other groups in the United States to fast forward climate action and emissions reductions in support of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. The Paris Agreement recognizes the indispensable role of all these actors in achieving the transformations that will take us to a low emission, resilient world offering opportunities for all. The pledge being made, under the theme ‘We Are Still In’, underlines the strength and robustness of the Agreement in respect to its widespread support among all sectors and at all levels of society globally,” she said.

Former United States Secretary of State John Kerry, said: “I have been arguing and it absolutely bears repeating: the current Administration may have pulled out of Paris, but the American people are all-in. The United States will meet its commitment. We’ve seen and together we are helping build greater energy to meeting this goal. Mayors, governors, companies, and universities have already made great progress – we’re already halfway there – and Mike Bloomberg is taking an important step, formally collating these efforts into a societal NDC for the United Nations. This is only the start and I will have more to announce shortly, but make no mistake, the United States will continue to lead in the global fight against climate change.”

In 2015, the executive branch of the U.S. federal government submitted a “nationally determined contribution” (NDC) as its pledge under the Paris Agreement. This NDC committed the U.S. to reduce its economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions by between 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2025. In the absence of federal engagement with the Paris Agreement process, America’s Pledge will enable all sectors of the U.S. economy and civil society to engage in climate action that can be represented to the international community in a clear, transparent and accountable manner.

More information about America’s Pledge, including how to join the effort, is available at https://www.bloomberg.org/americas-pledge/.

The We Are Still In declaration (and a complete list of signatories is available at www.WeAreStillIn.com):

Open letter to the international community and parties to the Paris Agreement from U.S. state, local, and business leaders

We, the undersigned mayors, governors, college and university leaders, businesses, and investors are joining forces for the first time to declare that we will continue to support climate action to meet the Paris Agreement.

In December 2015 in Paris, world leaders signed the first global commitment to fight climate change. The landmark agreement succeeded where past attempts failed because it allowed each country to set its own emission reduction targets and adopt its own strategies for reaching them. In addition, nations – inspired by the actions of local and regional governments, along with businesses – came to recognize that fighting climate change brings significant economic and public health benefits.

The Trump administration’s announcement undermines a key pillar in the fight against climate change and damages the world’s ability to avoid the most dangerous and costly effects of climate change. Importantly, it is also out of step with what is happening in the United States.

In the U.S., it is local and state governments, along with businesses, that are primarily responsible for the dramatic decrease in greenhouse gas emissions in recent years. Actions by each group will multiply and accelerate in the years ahead, no matter what policies Washington may adopt.

In the absence of leadership from Washington, states, cities, colleges and universities, businesses and investors, representing a sizeable percentage of the U.S. economy will pursue ambitious climate goals, working together to take forceful action and to ensure that the U.S. remains a global leader in reducing emissions.

It is imperative that the world know that in the U.S., the actors that will provide the leadership necessary to meet our Paris commitment are found in city halls, state capitals, colleges and universities, investors and businesses. Together, we will remain actively engaged with the international community as part of the global effort to hold warming to well below 2°C and to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy that will benefit our security, prosperity, and health. 

About Bloomberg Philanthropies:  Bloomberg Philanthropies works in more than 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2016, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed over half a billion dollars. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter @BloombergDotOrg.