ICLEI USA mayors and council members comprise the U.S. delegation to the COP21 events in Paris

Local leaders in the ICLEI USA network support international climate action

The national government of the United States has walked away from global climate action by announcing its intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement — ICLEI and its Members have not.

Since the early 1990s – long before President Trump took office, before green building portfolios and renewable energy standards were common place – there was growing concern among U.S. local leaders on crucial agendas: environmental protection, clean energy and climate action. It was from these concerns that ICLEI was conceived, and it is with these concerns in mind that ICLEI and its network of local leaders have advocated in the international arena over the past 25 years.

With his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the first international climate agreement entered into by almost 200 nations, President Trump has once again taken an ideologically charged decision that will harm U.S. leadership as well as the important work being done by mayors and governors.

The U.S. needs to keep playing a strong role in the United Nations system, our only forum for planet-wide concerted actions for the improvement of our collective wellbeing. If this administration is intent on undermining such efforts, cities and regions will not stay idle.

Local and subnational leaders all over the country already are stepping up to fill the leadership void left by the Trump administration, by doing what they know best: listening to citizens, bringing people and resources together to fix actual problems, keeping the community together and fostering a sense of shared responsibility towards our children and our planet.

While impacts of climate change are always local, multilevel cooperation is essential to achieve the systemic changes necessary for sustainable and resilient urban development, in particular considering the scale of the resources to be mobilized for adaptation and even to rebuild communities. We are not giving up on the idea of cooperation and shared responsibility between levels of government in the U.S., but one thing is certain:

U.S. local governments will keep working for their citizens and the planet. They will keep making their voice heard on the global stage through city networks such as ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability. They will keep engaging on global city-to-city cooperation for sustainability. They will keep reporting, monitoring and curbing their greenhouse gas emissions through global initiatives such as the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy and platforms such as the carbonn Climate Registry.

Our job, as a leading local government network, will be to support cities and regions all over the country to keep the momentum towards a low-carbon and resilient urban future for the U.S. and the world.

Our resources, commitment and access to international venues are, as always, at the service of local communities in the U.S. and globally. In fact, ICLEI is the only local government network that is accredited as observer at the three Rio Conventions, namely UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), UN Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) and UN Convention on Desertification (UNCCD). We actively participate in the negotiation and implementation of issues under these Conventions.

Specifically, at the UNFCCC level, ICLEI acts as the focal point of the local governments and municipal authorities constituency (LGMA). In November this year we will be, as always, in Bonn, Germany, for the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP23), also organizing the Climate Summit of Local and Regional Leaders. We invite U.S. local and regional leaders to join us and keep working for American climate leadership.

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