U.S. cities can create jobs and cut social inequality as they reduce global warming but must act quickly since the nation took a “wrong turn” on climate change, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday. Some 300 cities have stepped up and said they would work to meet the Paris climate goals, sidestepping President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the country out of the 2015 pact to limit global warming, the mayor said. “We know there’s no time for complacency, and we can’t wait for anyone else to save us,” the Democratic mayor told a meeting of urban experts organized by the Rockefeller Foundation-backed 100 Resilient Cities.
“Cities are taking matters into our own hands, because we have no illusion that things will change otherwise,” he said.
Tackling global warming by retrofitting buildings, extending renewable energy and recycling programs and restoring wetlands could generate jobs that could be targeted toward those who need them, he said.
Under the Paris accord, which took years to reach, rich and poor countries committed to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases generated by burning fossil fuels that are blamed by scientists for warming the planet. Trump, who has called climate change a hoax, said in May that the accord would undermine the U.S. economy, cost U.S. jobs and weaken national sovereignty.
U.S. cities and states agreed last month to work with experts to measure their progress toward meeting the Paris goals. Their agreement, dubbed America’s Pledge and led by California Governor Jerry Brown and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, also involves more than 1,500 businesses including Fortune 500 companies.
“If our country has taken a wrong turn, temporarily, our cities and our states just have to go even faster to be part of that goal,” said de Blasio. “Addressing climate change and addressing economic opportunity can go hand in hand.”
The four-day meeting of urban experts, which started on Monday, is looking at ways to cope with challenges including extreme weather events, urbanization and migration. The United Nations predicts two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050, up from roughly half in 2014.