At European Parliament in Brussels, Mike Bloomberg: U.S. will meet our Paris commitment

By Mike Bloomberg - JUN. 27, 2017

The following is the text of Michael R. Bloomberg’s speech as prepared for delivery at the European Parliament in Brussels on June 27, 2017:

“Thank you, Linda McAvan for that introduction. I want to thank you and David McAllister and the Conference of Committee Chairs for giving me the opportunity to address you here in the European Parliament on climate change. And let me begin by thanking you for your leadership on climate change at a time when we all need to pull together for our common good.

“I also want to acknowledge the continued commitment to climate action that we are seeing in countries around the world, including in Africa. The developed world has made a commitment of mobilizing $100 billion a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries, and that is a promise we must make good on.

“I’ve had the chance to see a lot of the great work on climate change that is happening in the world’s cities. But today, even though I serve as a U.N. Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, I would like to speak to you as an American citizen, as a business leader and philanthropist, and as a former mayor of the largest city in the U.S.

“So let me cut right to the chase: I know many of you are dismayed by President Trump’s decision to reject the Paris Agreement. I strongly disagreed with that decision – and the day after he made it, I shared a platform with French President Macron and the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, to let the world know that the U.S. will meet our Paris commitment – and there is nothing Washington can do to stop us.

“It’s important for you, and the world, to understand that the fate of America’s Paris pledge does not lie with Congress or the White House. And today, I’d like to explain why that’s true.

“Few people realize it, but the U.S. is already half-way to our goal of a 26% reduction in emissions by 2025 – and Washington has had almost nothing to do with that progress. Cities, states, businesses, and citizens, together with the market, were responsible for it. None of those groups are slowing down now – and my foundation is working to help each group accelerate its progress.

“As an example, we just announced a new commitment to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, which empowers communities to shut down coal plants and transition to cleaner fuels. Carl Pope, my co-author, who is here with us today, helped conceive the campaign, and it has been a phenomenal success. Since it began six years ago, nearly half of all U.S. coal plants have closed or begun phasing out, and we are on track to cross the 50 percent mark by the end of the year.

“U.S. communities, cities, and businesses are not waiting on Washington for leadership, and thousands of them have signed a statement called ‘We Are Still In’ as a show of support for the Paris Agreement. Their efforts will allow us to reach our Paris goal – and we will back up that pledge with real data.

“In the months ahead, my foundation, along with other partners, will calculate the collective potential of U.S. cities, states, businesses, and universities, along with the market forces that are decarbonizing our economy. With that data, we will create our own version of the Nationally Determined Contribution that every other nation submitted as part of the Paris Agreement.

“We are calling our contribution, ‘America’s Pledge.’ And just as every other nation has done, we will outline our plan for reaching our commitment, and we will publicly report our progress so that the world can hold us accountable for delivering.

“It makes perfect sense for mayors to be leaders on this issue, because cities account for 70 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, about 90 percent of the world’s cities are built next to rivers or seas, which makes them especially vulnerable to rising seas and flooding caused by warmer temperatures.

“So cities are the biggest drivers of climate change, and they face many of its greatest threats.

“Just as importantly, mayors recognize that the same steps that reduce carbon emissions improve people’s health and strengthen local economies by making cities more attractive places to live, work, and invest. We don’t have to choose between protecting the environment and strengthening the economy. We can do both – and many cities have proven that, including New York.

“During my time as mayor, we reduced our carbon footprint by 19% while also creating a record number of jobs. There was no great secret to our success. We studied what other cities were doing to combat climate change, and we borrowed the best ideas! We also developed new approaches on our own, and it’s been gratifying to see some of them spread around the world.

“To help more good ideas spread, my foundation has supported networks of cities that are devoted to reducing their emissions. We’ve been longtime supporters of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, which includes many large European cities. Together, C40 cities represent 25% of global GDP, so their efforts really will make a big difference.

“But it’s not just large cities that are taking action. Last year, thanks to the leadership of President Juncker and Vice President Maroš Šefčovič, we helped launch the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy.

“More than 7,000 cities around the world have signed the Covenant. They’ve agreed not only to set ambitious climate goals, but also to measure and report their progress, so that their citizens, and the global community, can hold them accountable for making progress.

“The Global Covenant of Mayors grew out of other city networks that were started, in large part, because national governments had long failed to come together around an agreement. Mayors refused to wait, and during COP 21, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and I convened the first ever Global Climate Summit for Local Leaders.

“More than 1,000 mayors and other local officials attended, and together, we spoke with one voice in pressing nations to adopt an ambitious agreement. We assured heads of state that cities would help lead the way in carrying out the agreement, and today, I want to assure you, that hasn’t changed, including in the United States.

“In fact, President Trump’s decision on the Paris Agreement has had one positive result: It has galvanized not only the global community, but also American society, around the agreement. Seven in ten Americans believe that climate change is real and want government to take action. But that’s not the only reason Americans reacted so negatively to the president’s decision.

“I believe the main reason Americans objected to the withdrawal is that they don’t want the U.S. to abdicate our leadership role in the world, or to walk away from our global responsibilities. We take those responsibilities very seriously. Generations of Americans fought and died not only to protect America – but to protect the values America stands for, and our place in the world.

“Earlier this year, I visited the Somme and Normandy battlefields in France. And earlier this month, I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau, in Poland. It is impossible to spend any time at those sites without being overwhelmed by feelings of grief for those we lost, and gratitude for those who sacrificed their lives to liberate a continent.

“More than 500,000 Americans died fighting in the two World Wars, alongside millions of Europeans. Their selflessness helped make possible a new world order that gave rise to an era of unrivaled prosperity. Not since the Roman Empire has most of Europe gone 75 years without a war. That is not an achievement we should take lightly.

“And yet both here and in the U.S., political forces have been undermining the political and economic bonds that have sustained the peace, testing them in ways that only a few years ago would have seemed inconceivable. Things we once took for granted about each other now appear in flux.

“As terrorism, economic disruption, and cultural change drive nationalism and populism, a sense of uncertainty and insecurity echoes across our politics and elections – and across the ocean. The messages coming out of the Trump administration on defense and trade and tyranny, have been conflicting and confusing, and diplomacy depends on clarity and trust.

“Britain’s exit from the European Union has created its own conflict and confusion not only with the EU, but with the U.S., too. Taken together, our transatlantic alliance is facing a test unlike any before.

“In the days and years ahead, it is critical that we remember that our post-war peace and prosperity were built not only on the sacrifices our soldiers made, but on the partnerships our politicians formed.

“The United Nations, the Marshall Plan, the Bretton Woods Agreement, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the forerunner to the WTO, and, of course, NATO. All were created because our leaders understood that world affairs are not a zero sum game, where one person must lose for another to gain.

“‘A rising tide lifts all boats,’ as President John Kennedy once remarked. And while political currents ebb and flow, I want to assure you that you can always count on the U.S. to do the right thing, after, as Winston Churchill supposedly said, we’ve exhausted all other possibilities.

“On climate change, we’re currently in the exhaustion process. But the American people – through our cities, businesses, and communities – will right what Washington got wrong, and we will uphold America’s end of the bargain. We are still in, and we will take on this great challenge together.

“When UN Secretary General António Guterres renewed my mandate as the UN Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, I told him I’d to do everything I can to help.

“Today, on behalf of America’s cities, businesses, and citizens who remain committed to the Paris Agreement, I want to extend the hand of friendship and cooperation to all our partners, European and global. I hope you will accept our extended hand, and welcome us as a partner in the work of saving the planet, and saving lives.

“Future generations are counting on us to deliver, and we must not let them down. Thank you for your leadership, and I look forward to answering your questions.”

MIKE BLOOMBERG

U.N. Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change and President of the Board of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group.

IN MIKE'S WORDS

There are so many facets to climate change that make it difficult to address, but you don’t give up just because it’s difficult. You work harder.

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