‘Pittsburgh can’t win the day without Paris, or vice versa. Nor will cities succeed all on their own. It’s time for real partnerships between local and national governments in order to accelerate a green recovery.’
That’s Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo and Pittsburgh mayor William Peduto writing for Time to mark Friday’s official return to the Paris Climate Agreement by the U.S. after President Joe Biden signed an executive order for the renewed membership on his first day in office.
“Pittsburgh not Paris” has become a mostly Republican political refrain once uttered by former President Trump, even as Congress looks to address climate change as part of a busy agenda that has COVID-19 front and center. Biden, meanwhile, has implemented a climate change focus across federal agencies. Peduto is a Democrat. Hidalgo is a member of her country’s Socialist party.
The voluntary, U.N.-directed climate pact created five years ago at a meeting of delegates in the French capital counts nearly 190 countries as signatories. It is an updated version of what critics called flawed but meaningful accords signed in Kyoto and Copenhagen. The U.S. is officially back in just 107 days after it left during the Trump administration.
Sen. Ted Cruz — who represents a Texas with a growing wind energy industry operating alongside its fossil-fuel traditions and that buckled under a power crisis for its independent grid — condemned Biden’s return to the global pact. Cruz tweeted in January that “by rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, President Biden indicates he’s more interested in the views of the citizens of Paris than in the jobs of the citizens of Pittsburgh.”
“This agreement will do little to affect the climate and will harm the livelihoods of Americans,” Cruz tweeted.
“Clean-energy industries make up some of the fastest-growing sectors in the world, and in Pittsburgh, we are leveraging our industrial might and manufacturing muscle to become a leading incubator of digital technologies and renewable energy,” the mayors wrote. “In Paris, we are modernizing city infrastructure, adding bike lanes, expanding green space and reducing air pollution to make our urban communities more resilient, livable and equitable.”
Hidalgo and Peduto are among mayors from more than 10,000 cities that have made climate commitments through the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy.
And thousands of non-federal climate leaders launched this week an effort coined America is All In. The group aims to uphold the country’s commitment to the Paris pact and work alongside the federal government to, it says, not only meet but exceed existing U.S. climate goals and support a new, ambitious national target of reducing emissions 50% by 2030.
Conservative groups have stressed their expectations that rising energy costs as part of aggressive climate-change efforts will negatively impact U.S. businesses and families and they argue that the voluntary design of the Paris pact means heavy emitters have few consequences when they don’t meet pledges.
The mayors say they’re undaunted in the effort and see a unique challenge.
“Cities have been hit particularly hard by both the pandemic and the climate crisis. But cities may also be our greatest hope for a twin recovery… Instead of returning to “business-as-usual,” we should look at the pandemic as an opportunity to invest in green jobs, low-carbon public transit and better, more sustainable public services to carry us into the future,” Hidalgo and Peduto wrote.