After reports surfaced on Wednesday that President Donald Trump is expected to officially withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement, Mayor Marty Walsh said that the move would not deter Boston from continuing its own efforts to combat climate change.
“The city of Boston is urging the president and the White House to reconsider,” Walsh said at a news conference on Wednesday. “The Paris Agreement is a plan to protect the planet, protect America and protect Boston.”
Trump tweeted on Wednesday that he will announce his decision over the next few days. Senior U.S. officials familiar with his plans told CNN that he is expected to pull out of the agreement.
Walsh was joined at the news conference by the city's Chief of Environment, Energy, and Open Space Austin Blackmon, Barr Foundation President James E. Canales, sustainability nonprofit Ceres's CEO and President Mindy Lubber, and others.
If Trump does not reconsider, Walsh said, Boston will still forge ahead in its own efforts to be carbon neutral by 2050 and implement other climate protections. He noted that more than 190 countries, including China, have signed on the agreement, which sets deadlines for reduced emissions efforts.
“When the U.S. signed on in 2015, Boston was there at the table, because Boston was and is a world leader in climate change,” he said. “As a coastal city, we know what’s at stake.”
Climate change efforts are a critical part of Boston’s future plans and are included in the city-wide plan Imagine Boston 2030 as well as Go Boston 2030 and the Climate Ready Boston reports.
Earlier in May, Boston was named the most energy efficient city in the country for the third year in a row by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
Climate change efforts are particularly important here, Walsh said, because, “When we talk about heat waves and major storms, we talk about people losing their lives here in Boston.”
Lubber noted that Boston easily could have been devastated by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The obligation to safeguard the city is “extraordinary,” she said.
“If the president goes forward and does act to pull us out of Paris, I would argue two things,” she said. “One, it is highly unfortunate, but two, it is not going to stop progress because of people like the mayor here in Boston and what we’re seeing around the world.”
Of the hundreds of businesses and investors Ceres works with, Lubber said, all are calling on Trump to reconsider because of how devastating pulling out of the Paris Agreement would be to their businesses and the economy.
A March study that analyzed Department of Energy jobs data found that out of every five energy jobs created, four went to clean energy and one went to fossil fuels. Retreating climate efforts would mean less job growth for Americans, experts said.
Massachusetts has recently been a leader when it comes to creating clean energy jobs.
“Withdrawing from climate agreement would not put America first, it would put America last,” Lubber said.
Walsh also echoed Trump’s campaign slogan, saying that while he thought America was “always great,” it’s also important to “make America great again in the area of the environment.”