President Donald Trump has announced the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.

The United States will exit an international global-warming agreement, but Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said Thursday his city will honor it and remain vigilant in the fight against climate change.

Describing the special threat he sees facing a desert city, Stanton blasted President Donald Trump for announcing he will exit the Paris climate accord and “abdicating” leadership on the environment.

Leaders of cities and states across the country responded similarly after Trump’s White House Rose Garden announcement Thursday.

Stanton vowed in public statements that Phoenix would follow the agreement itself, saying climate change has exacerbated Arizona’s drought and increased forest fires.

“Here in Arizona, extreme heat as a result of climate change is a huge issue,” Stanton said. “This is not a hypothetical debate. It’s happening in real time here in Arizona.”

However, it was unclear if the city would implement new policies as a result, given Phoenix already has ambitious goals to reduce emissions.


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Stanton joined the mayors of more than 60 cities — including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston — who signed a letter stating they would adopt the United States’ commitments under the Paris agreement regardless of Trump’s actions.

The Paris accord is a 2015 plan, signed by 195 countries, to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions that scientists have determined contribute to rising global temperatures and extreme weather events.

A handful of other Arizona leaders joined Stanton on Thursday in pledging to continue efforts to fight climate change.

Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild signed on to the letter from U.S. mayors; Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell said his city will continue the work of the Paris pact; and Flagstaff Mayor Coral Evans said she is researching if her city can sign on to the accord.

“This historic global agreement was a major step forward in fighting the devastating and possibly irreversible effects of global climate change,” Mitchell said in a released statement. “We cannot turn away from this promise.”

Meanwhile, the Valley’s more conservative-leaning suburban cities had no response to Trump’s announcement, including Gilbert, Scottsdale, Chandler and Glendale.

Mesa Mayor John Giles said his city remains committed to sustainability and investing in public transit and solar-energy programs. But, he added, “We’re not really in the treaty business at the city level.”

Under the Paris agreement, signed by the Obama administration, the United States is supposed to reduce emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.


Several prominent corporate leaders have criticized President Trump on Twitter for withdrawing from Paris Accord.

Aiming to be ‘carbon neutral’

Stanton spokesman Robbie Sherwood said Phoenix already has set goals that put it on track to meet the city’s share of the commitment. The city aims to be “carbon neutral” by 2050, which means it will reduce or offset emissions so it’s not contributing to climate change.

Stanton listed several changes the city has already made to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The city has:

  • Adopted a 35-year, $31.5 billion plan to expand light rail (and triple the miles of track), increase bus service, add bike lanes and make streets more walkable, among other projects.
  • Converting streetlights, about 90,000 total, to more energy-efficient LEDs or light-emitting diodes. LED fixtures use about half as much energy as traditional streetlights.
  • Replaced city vehicles with vehicles that run on alternative fuels or electric batteries. All of the city’s garbage trucks use alternative fuels. And about 70 percent of its buses run on natural gas.
  • Opened a composting facility that can turn tens of thousands of tons of green waste and food scraps into fertilizers so they don’t pile up in landfills and emit greenhouse gases.

Dan Bodansky, a professor of environmental law at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, said cities like Phoenix can’t technically join the Paris agreement, but their contributions in fighting climate change are “all the more important” given Trump’s decision.

“They can’t formally sign on to the agreement,” he said. “The agreement is only open to countries.”

That said, Bodansky noted cities have often played a key role when the federal government wouldn’t act on climate. For example, when the United States refused to sign on to the Kyoto Protocol, an international emissions pact that took effect in 2005, many cities still signed pledges to meet its goals.

“They’re really providing a stop-gap so the U.S. is at least doing something on climate change,” Bodnasky said of cities in the Trump era.

One of Trump’s principal arguments for withdrawing from the Paris agreement is economic. He said the accord puts America at a competitive disadvantage that could eliminate millions of jobs in the industrial and manufacturing sectors.

“The bottom line is that the Paris accord is very unfair at the highest level to the United States,” Trump said.

But Stanton said the lack of consistency in federal climate policy is what’s discouraging to businesses. He said he and other mayors across the country will work to assure business leaders that the goals of the Paris agreement are still a priority.

He said Phoenix will be hurt in the long run if it doesn’t work to stave off the dire consequences of climate change.

“This is a moment of whether we’re going to be the world’s leader or we’re going to abdicate that leadership position,” Stanton said. “America has to be a leader on this issue.”

Republic reporters Jessica Boehm and Jerod MacDonald-Evoy contributed to this article.


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