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Bozeman Mayor commits to upholding Paris climate accord goals

Post Date:06/12/2017 3:17 PM

Bozeman’s mayor joined more than 200 other city leaders from across the country in signing a letter pledging to continue trying to limit greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy efficiency in the wake of President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement.

Mayor Carson Taylor is among 211 mayors from across the country who have declared themselves “Climate Mayors” with a letter posted to Medium last week. The letter says the mayors will “adopt, honor, and uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement,” and that they will “work together to create a 21st century clean energy economy.”

Taylor said Monday that the city has been working on lowering its carbon footprint for years, and he felt signing onto the letter was reflective of the city’s values.

“For the good of our city, the environment matters,” Taylor said Monday. “This has always been an issue for us.”

The Climate Mayors movement is one of several efforts in response to Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris agreement. Governors, mayors, university presidents and businesses from across the country have come out against the move, and they’ve pledged to continue trying to meet targets set in the Paris agreement.

Almost 200 countries signed onto the Paris climate accord in December 2015. The deal aimed to cap global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius by reducing carbon emissions. Trump cited economic reasons for leaving the agreement in a speech last Thursday.

In response, the governors of 10 states have formed the U.S. Climate Alliance, including the governors of California, Washington and Oregon. A website called wearestillin.com includes a list of mayors, businesses and colleges who are also pledging to support climate action.

No other Montana mayors or state officials were featured on the lists as of Monday afternoon. Ronja Abel, a spokeswoman for Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, said in an emailed statement that the governor’s office is “exploring a number of ways in which the state can provide leadership on climate and energy solutions, and welcome(s) dialogue and partnership with all stakeholders to identify and execute strategies that meet shared objectives.”

The letter Taylor signed onto says the mayors will “increase our efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, create a clean energy economy, and stand for environmental justice.”

Taylor said signing onto the letter is consistent with environmental efforts the city has already undertaken. Specifically, he pointed to the city’s Community Climate Action Plan, which calls for reducing the city’s carbon emissions to 10 percent below 2008 levels by 2025.

Anne Hedges, the deputy director of the Montana Environmental Information Center, said work on local and state levels is critical to reducing emissions, and that more progress has been made there than at the federal level. She said some cities have put solar panels up, or have changed the way they treat wastewater to become more efficient.

“It’s all those little steps that add up,” Hedges said.

She expects more action from the governor and city leaders around the state. She said the Trump administration’s movements away from the Paris agreement and the Clean Power Plan seems to have inspired a sense of urgency among local officials.

“Everyone else is realizing they have to step up and they are doing so in a really big way right now,” she said, “and it’s encouraging.”

This story originally appeared in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle here.