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Mayor’s National Climate Agreement: Dallas joins coalition to uphold Paris Agreement

MIKE McGEE | 6/27/2017, 11:13 a.m.
Two months ago, Dallas held what was considered the nation’s largest Earth Day celebration, attracting 100,000 attendees, as stated on ...
Mayor Mike Rawlings Official photo

The Dallas Examiner

Two months ago, Dallas held what was considered the nation’s largest Earth Day celebration, attracting 100,000 attendees, as stated on the organization’s website. Yet by the start of June, the president of the United States cancelled its participation in the Paris Agreement.

Also known as the Paris Climate Accord, the agreement is a non-binding worldwide consensus created in 2015 whereby 195 United Nations member countries created goals to reduce greenhouse gases to prevent rising global temperatures. Representatives of those countries meet periodically to review progress towards their goals and to share information that may assist other nations that lag in their part of the agreement.

President Trump explained June 1 that he pulled the U.S. from the agreement to keep his promise of protecting American jobs. He also remarked that the nation had done plenty already to reduce its carbon output. Further, Trump allowed that he might renegotiate America’s position with the agreement at a later time. The withdrawal may not take full effect until 2020.

Nicaragua and Syria were the only other U.N. countries not participating in the accord, as listed on the United Nations website. Leaders in the European Union have protested that having the world’s largest economy leave the agreement will undercut the efforts of those poorer nations attempting to do their part within the parameters of the accord. Notably, the nation’s exit from the Paris Agreement occurred not long after Trump castigated NATO countries for not paying their fair share in defense costs.

While there may appear to be great drama upon the global stage, what practical effect could the pullout mean to the state? More specifically, could the withdrawal affect those living in Southern Dallas – a region with many economically depressed areas; large Black and Hispanic populations already dealing with the after-effects of old lead smelters in residential neighborhoods, or high ozone alert days as traffic on South R.L. Thornton Freeway has dramatically increased since it was first built in the 1950s?

These are just some factors that Mayor Mike Rawlings considered in light of the president’s move. On June 2, Rawlings joined 312 mayors nationwide in signing the Mayor’s National Climate Agreement – also known as the Climate Mayors Coalition – designed to “adopt, honor, and uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement.”

His statement read in part, “On the local level, Dallas is a leader in emissions reduction efforts and we have had significant success in reducing our carbon footprint. Dallas currently uses electricity from 100 percent renewable sources, resulting in a reduction of 4 million tons of carbon emissions per year. Over 60 percent of our municipal fleet of non-emergency vehicles use alternative fuels.”

Rawlings wrote that the efforts made “Dallas a more sustainable and resilient city,” and concluded his statement by penning, “I am asking our staff to continue to develop and maintain programs that improve regional air quality, reduce carbon emissions and otherwise address climate change. This is a common sense approach that is good for our citizens, our businesses and our planet.”