City will adhere to Paris accords


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de Blasio’s executive order cites moral, public health and economic imperatives


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  • Mayor Bill de Blasio signing an executive order June 2 pledging that New York City will remain committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions despite President Trump's withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. Photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office



On June 1, the United States joined Syria and Nicaragua in opposing the 2015 Paris climate accords when President Donald Trump withdrew the country from its commitment to lowering greenhouse gas emissions. “I cannot in good conscience support a deal that punishes the United States,” Trump said, though the countries involved in the agreement volunteered their own goals and were not placed under any legal obligation.

Since his announcement, leaders from around the globe have condemned the decision. Mayor Bill de Blasio is one of them; he signed an executive order June 2 that promises to keep New York City on track to limit its own contributions to climate change.

In a tweet, de Blasio called Trump’s withdrawal “a dagger aimed at the heart of New York City.” Citing moral, public health and economic duty, the executive order pledges to adhere to the Paris agreement’s goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, “deliver climate actions” that keep the increase of the global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, and collaborate with people and cities worldwide to keep the United States on track to meet the accord’s provisions, among other steps. “We thought we could depend on our federal government,” de Blasio said at the signing. “The actions of President Trump have undermined what we’re doing ... and that means we have to go farther.” He added that he has directed all city agencies to develop plans over the next four months that will speed up and intensify their individual efforts to be more environmentally responsible.

Dan Zarrilli, the city’s chief resilience officer, is optimistic that this will be enough to temper the effects of Trump’s withdrawal. “What we’re seeing is a groundswell of cities like New York stepping up and leading on this,” he said.

Zarrilli touted the city’s existing climate accomplishments, including quadrupling the amount of solar power over the last three-and-a-half years, expanding its electric vehicle fleet to nearly 1,000, and investing in protection against the risks of the future. “New York City, as the nation’s largest city, stepping up sends a huge signal to the rest of the world that we’re still in this fight,” Zarrilli said.

Some, however, noted the hypocrisy of the mayor’s pleas for residents to take even the smallest measures to reduce their carbon footprint while he travels 12 miles by car most morning to the gym. “How about you stepping up your game, leading by example, getting out of your SUV armada?” asked a caller on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show on Friday.

“If you need to go to the Park Slope [YMCA] five days a week rather than a gym near you, why don’t you take mass transit or even once in a while ride a bike like the vast majority of your fellow New Yorkers so you will know how we are suffering under a transit system.”

In response, de Blasio said, “I’m just not going to take the bait, my friend.”

According to a scorecard recently released by the Waterfront Alliance to assess the health, flood risk and openness of the city’s waterfronts, more than 400,000 New Yorkers have a 50 percent chance of experiencing a major flood in their homes by 2060. Forty-one percent of those homes are in economically and socially vulnerable areas. By far most of those at risk in Manhattan are concentrated on the Lower East Side and in Lower Manhattan. The president of the Waterfront Alliance, Roland Lewis, called the withdrawal from the Paris accords “symbolism in the worst way.” But he said he was encouraged by the common-sense path of the city government and its businesses, and emphasized the need for global collaboration.

But even in left-leaning New York City there are those who praised Trump for his decision. Marcia Drezon-Tepler, co-president of the Upper West Side Republican Club, wrote in an email that she was pleased that the president is “keeping his campaign promise.” “It was a drain on the economy,” she wrote. “I think some of the science is flawed, and anyway, I don’t think man can do much about affecting the climate.”

Madeleine Thompson can be reached at newsreporter@strausnews.com



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