With characteristic recklessness and an utter lack of concern for the hundreds of millions of lives he will hurt, Donald Trump has unilaterally withdrawn from the Paris agreement, the world’s greatest achievement of climate diplomacy to date. “Shameful” doesn’t begin to describe it.
We should be outraged, but we are not helpless: in the time of Trump, it is up to progressive cities to lead on climate change. In Minneapolis, we’ve been at the forefront of world cities both in leading the fight against climate change, and in adapting to it. Doing so is now our city’s DNA. Back in 1993, we were one of the first cities to put together strategies to reduce carbon emissions. In 2005, Minneapolis was one of the first cities to sign the Kyoto climate accord — after the Bush administration refused to. In 2013, we adopted our Climate Action Plan, and set goals to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2025, and 80 percent by 2050.
We are keeping our commitment to make Minneapolis a sustainable city that works to minimize its carbon footprint. And we’re doing more. Our Clean Energy Partnership brings the city and our energy providers together to support reaching our emissions targets. Our Green Business Cost Share Program supports businesses willing to invest in cleaner, greener, or more efficient technologies. Our organics program has recycled 2,700 tons of organic waste. We are moving forward with writing a plan to make Minneapolis a zero waste city. We are revolutionizing street design by prioritizing pedestrians, bikes, and transit ahead of cars. And we are building environmental justice into all our climate and sustainability work.
In recent years, Minneapolis has been recognized for our work in this area. In 2014, the Obama administration named Minneapolis a Climate Action Champion because of our ongoing commitment to clean energy. In 2015, I was among a group of mayors from around the world who accepted Pope Francis’ invitation to the Vatican to look honestly at the moral and human toll of climate change, and discuss how to take action. In 2016, the Rockefeller Foundation named Minneapolis as one of its 100 Resilient Cities—a network of communities with unique visions on preparing for the challenges of the 21st century, of which climate change is certainly one.
Yes, Donald Trump’s decision will make fighting climate change harder for all of us, but Minneapolis is well-placed to continue our leadership in that fight. Each and every one of us can take action in our daily lives to act as responsible stewards of our communities and our planet. We can hold to account Donald Trump, his allies, or anyone who would stand in the way of that goal. Everything I know about our city tells me that we won’t let this slow us down – that’s Minneapolis.