Officials specializing in combating climate change meet in NYC
Officials specializing in combating climate change from cities around the world are meeting in New York City this week. The officials say there's new urgency to their work as President Donald Trump tries to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accords. Josh Robin filed the following report.
They're from cities all over, joined by two beliefs: one, action is needed on climate change, and two, President Donald Trump's decisions mean cities like theirs have to work harder.
"The work that the Trump administration is trying to undo, the cities are really picking up," said New Orleans chief resilience officer Jeff Hebert.
"So it's somewhat like resiliency on steroids as a result of the Trump withdrawl from the Paris climate accords," said Atlanta chief resilience officer Stephanie Stuckey.
Resiliency that in New York includes buying electric vehicles for the city's fleet of cars or banking more on solar power.
"Cities can do a lot," said New York City chief resilience officer Daniel Zarrilli. "We can't do everything, but by banding together and with organizations like 100 resilient cities and through C40 and through climate mayors, we're coming together to leverage our impact."
Mayor Bill de Blasio is also asking agencies to boost old environmental goals, due late September.
"Because if our country, unfortunately, is taking a wrong turn temporarily, our cities and our states just have to go even faster, even harder at the goal to make up for it," de Blasio said.
It may not be enough to offset the federal government, which has tremendous power over funding, rules and incentives.
"And so cities could have done a lot more," said Michael Berkowitz of 100 Resilient Cities.
Trump champions coal power, which pollutes the air. He has called climate change a hoax.
But in Paris recently, he seemed to leave open a reversal on staying in the accord.
"If it happens, that will be wonderful, and if it doesn't, that will be OK, too. But we'll see what happens," Trump said.
In the meantime, what is happening, according to those in this room we talked to, is that the U.S. is no longer leading.
"For the first time in post-World War II history, the U.S. looked profoundly isolated and isolationist,"
This is the organization's third summit. It's not clear where the one in 2018 will be, but for geographical diversity, it likely won't be in the U.S.