Vail among hundreds of U.S. towns still committed to Paris Agreement goals
What is the Paris Agreement?
According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change website, the Paris Agreement builds upon the Convention and — for the first time — brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so. As such, the site says, it charts a new course in the global climate effort.
When the United States committed to a 26 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, the town of Vail already had a similar plan in place.
President Barack Obama signed on to the 2015 Paris Agreement on behalf of the United States in August 2016; however, it was the 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, where the concept was established that all nations have a role to play in combating climate change.
Following the 2009 summit, the town of Vail made its own commitment that would look very much like the 2015 Paris Agreement — cut 20 percent of its carbon emissions by the year 2020.
So when President Donald Trump began signaling a desire to have the United States withdraw from the agreement, it was not surprising to see the town of Vail pass a resolution opposing the withdrawal. Councilman Greg Moffet made the motion at the Vail Town Council’s May 2 meeting.
“As a practical matter, I am generally opposed to us adopting resolutions on national issues,” Moffet said. “I am in favor of this resolution because the fact of the matter is we live and die with the climate. … We have a dog in the fight in this one, and as such, I am comfortable voting in favor of this resolution.”
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The resolution was passed unanimously, and said that the town of Vail recognizes that scientific evidence for warming of the Earth’s climate system from human activities is unequivocal.
“Combustion of fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum and natural gas is increasing the concentration (of) greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, pushing average global temperatures higher and changing our mountain ecosystems — making winters warmer and shorter, summers longer and hotter, and increasing the risks of wildfires, droughts and floods,” the resolution read.
As part of that resolution, Vail became one of hundreds of cities around the United States to sign an open letter to the president, penned on their behalf by the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda, committing to upholding the goals of the Paris Agreement.
MAYORS ACROSS AMERICA
On June 1, the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda announced that 292 mayors representing 60 million Americans had signed the Climate Mayors agreement, which seeks to adopt, honor and uphold Paris Climate Agreement goals. Vail Mayor Dave Chapin was among them.
Also on June 1, the United States’ withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Agreement became official, when Trump announced that his administration would exit the agreement.
“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” Trump said.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto joined Chapin in signing the Climate Mayors open letter to the president.
“As the mayor of Pittsburgh, I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement,” he said in a tweet.
As the Mayor of Pittsburgh, I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement for our people, our economy & future. https://t.co/3znXGTcd8C
— bill peduto (@billpeduto) June 1, 2017
Congressman Jared Polis, who represents Vail in the U.S. House of Representatives, issued a statement on June 1 saying Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement flies in the face of economics and science.
“While 195 other nations are moving forward to create 21st century jobs, reduce carbon emissions and advance innovative energy, the United States will now be less competitive in the global economy,” Polis wrote. “We cannot afford to disregard the health and well-being of future generations and the overwhelming evidence that humans are the leading contributors to climate change.”
COMPANIES AND CITIES
Polis also referenced the fact that many municipalities such as Vail and companies such as Vail Resorts have undertaken the effort on their own to combat climate change, despite the Trump administration’s decision to exit the agreement. The mayors of Aspen, Boulder, Breckenridge, Denver, Edgewater, Fort Collins, Lafayette, Lakewood, Longmont and Telluride have joined Vail in upholding the strictures of the agreement in their cities and towns.
“Companies, states and local governments throughout the United States have already begun to fill the void left by this administration’s actions, leading the way on clean-energy initiatives and reducing our carbon footprint,” Polis wrote. “Unlike this administration, I will continue to help find ways for Colorado and the United States to strongly address climate change and further clean-energy technologies and jobs.”
Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz also issued a statement on the issue on June 2.
“We are deeply saddened by the decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement,” Katz wrote. “As a global company, Vail Resorts believes we have a unique responsibility to protect the incredible natural landscapes and environment that surround our mountain resorts and those across our planet.
“Climate change is a global challenge that requires global cooperation, and it is disheartening to see the United States pull away from working with the other 194 countries that were part of the agreement. Vail Resorts will redouble our efforts to find significant ways to minimize our carbon footprint through reducing our energy use to help address one of the most serious challenges facing our worldwide community.”