While the Obama administration did a lot to advance climate protection in the US, the real climate action is taking place in cities. American cities like Portland intend to continue their carbon reduction plans, even under a Trump administration.
Environmentalists have a lot to be angry about: Donald Trump has pledged to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, he’s repeatedly called climate change a hoax, and a known climate denier, Myron Ebell, is now tasked with leading the transition at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
But according to Sam Adams, US director at the World Resources Institute and the former mayor of Portland, Oregon, a Trump administration doesn’t necessarily spell disasters for cities and their climate action plans. There could even be opportunities in the form of infrastructure spending, a key part of Trump’s campaign platform.
Portland’s current mayor, Charlie Hales concurred. In an interview with Citiscope, he admitted that one result of the Trump win is that American cities will be at some pains to convince cities around the world that they can still be counted on as reliable partners in the battle against climate change.
“But the truth is that most of the innovation and action on climate change is happening in the cities,” said Hales. Action around green building regulations, recycling and water treatment, for example, are all taken at a local level.
On the other hand, a climate-friendly administration helps: Portland was able to reduce its carbon footprint by building a USD 1 billion electrically powered light rail, much of which was made possible through a 50 per cent grant from the federal government.
And cities have been taking concrete climate action for some time. With their on-the-ground experience and knowledge, they played an important role in formulating last month’s
Urban leaders across the country still can’t predict the impact of last week’s election results on US cities, explained Hales. But one thing is certain: cities committed to climate action will continue on this path – with or without the help of the national government.
Image credit: Jami Dwyer, Wikimedia Commons