Mayors to abide by climate accord despite U.S. withdrawal

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — In all, nearly 100 mayors, including several in Indiana, say they’ll still abide by the Paris climate accord, even though President Donald Trump said the U.S. will withdraw.

They’re pledging this week to keep their cities in line with the requirements. That includes Carmel Mayor James Brainard. He said he’s been pushing for Carmel to be sustainable for a long time, and President Trump’s actions don’t change that. He had some strong words for the president.

It’s a city full of roundabouts, hybrid cars and LED lights. Mayor Brainard said his city is already green.

“We switched out nearly all of the streetlights in our city to LEDs, spent a lot of money, almost $1 million, but we’re getting a 20 percent-plus rate of return on our investment,” the Republican mayor said. “That’s a great rate of return.”

The tone changed when he talked about the Republican president’s choice to back out of the Paris accord, an agreement with nearly 200 countries to curb their emission levels to fight climate change.

“We keep hearing the rhetoric about greatness. Great countries keep their word and great countries show leadership,” he said.

But you may be surprised about Mayor Brainard’s message to mayors around the country in the wake of President Trump’s controversial decision.

“I’m not sure it matters because so much of what needs to be done is already being done at the local level.”

Back in 2005 he said he was one of more than 1,000 mayors to pledge working on improving their city’s carbon footprint.

And this week, nearly 100 including Brainard and Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton, a Democrat, have promised to follow the Paris accord guidelines.

Mayor Hamilton said Bloomington will continue investing in solar panels. Brainard said he has plans, too.

“We’re experimenting with hydrogen trucks.”

A few weeks ago, the Carmel City Council, all Republicans, unanimously passed a resolution for Carmel to reach what’s called carbon neutrality in a couple decades.

That means whatever reduced carbon-dioxide emissions are released are matched equally by investing in environmental improvement projects.

The plan will take time, but Brainard said it’s necessary — because to him, the environment shouldn’t be a political debate.

“I have yet to meet a Republican or a Democrat who wants to leave the earth in a worse condition than they saw it, than they found it,” said Mayor Brainard.

Below is the statement Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett posted on Twitter, regarding Indianapolis and the Paris accord.

As a father, I often think of the legacy we will leave for our children. And as mayor, I know that it will be up to Indianapolis civic leaders to come together and shape that future. The commitments made in the Paris agreement aren’t about the political posturing or partisan rhetoric that dominates cable news -– they are about ensuring the future health and livability of our city and the global community. In the coming weeks, I will join others around the country by bringing together local business, non-profit, and scientific leaders to develop actionable steps to reduce Indianapolis’ carbon emissions and continue moving toward a cleaner, more sustainable future.”

And this is the statement was released Friday by Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton:

This is a huge disappointment. It is a betrayal of our future and extraordinarily short sighted. And it is selling America short — so many people, companies and communities want leadership at the national level, but with this terrible message, it means cities like Bloomington are ready to lead.”