Today, Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accords - the long fought for international framework for reducing climate emissions. It is another of his reckless actions dividing us from the international community and threatening our future.
There are ways to fight back.
Seattle should join New York City and other local governments and commit itself to following the Paris Accords. The world needs to hear that Trump does not speak for all Americans. A chorus of forceful statements from cities and states can bolster the resolve of other countries, with the hope that the U.S. will one day rejoin the international community.
But forceful statements are not enough. Seattle can lead by example.
For example, Seattle should divest its pension fund, and get out of fossil fuels. The city has dragged its feet on this long enough. Instead, it should invest in clean energy, which is rapidly out-competing fossil fuels. Or put money into revolving green loan funds to create local energy efficiency and renewable projects. That means we save money locally, and create jobs.
Let’s not stop with the city pension fund. Seattle should lead a local and regional consortium’s of endowments (hospitals, foundation, faith, etc) also willing to put 5% into clean jobs. That’s why I worked on the Gates Divestment campaign. These types of actions, and funds, can finance a just transition for workers and communities from a fossil fuel economy to a clean economy.
As a sign of good faith, my personal retirement account is fully divested from fossil fuel companies. Every local elected official and candidate can make the same commitment.
And Seattle can renew its commitment to meeting its pledge of Carbon Neutrality. It’s a challenging objective, but we know the steps we need to make it easier for people to live their lives with less reliance on fossil fuels.
We have been here before. When President George Bush declined to support the Kyoto Climate Treaty, then Mayor Greg Nickels launched the Mayor’s Climate Protection Initiative, challenging other cities to commit to the Kyoto goals. As a local Sierra Club leader, I reached out to the National Sierra Club to help create a national Cool Cities campaign so that activists nationwide could urge their cities to join. Over 1000 cities did.
It was far more than symbolic. Cities began inventorying their emissions, developing climate plans, and taking specific steps to reduce emissions. In a time when our national government was retreating, people and cities refused to lose hope, and we built momentum towards a clean energy economy.
We face the same challenge today. Trump’s actions deserve to be condemned. But we can also take this moment to galvanize support for even greater action. That’s my commitment if elected.