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US cities and companies declare 'we are still in' Paris Agreement despite Trump

Coalition sets up a pavilion at the UN climate change conference which the official US delegation is also attending

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
Friday 10 November 2017 01:29 GMT
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Visitors look at a sphere displayed at the pavillion of India on 8 November 2017 during the COP23 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany.
Visitors look at a sphere displayed at the pavillion of India on 8 November 2017 during the COP23 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany.

A coalition of US cities, companies, and other groups have pledged to stay committed to the Paris Agreement on climate change, despite President Donald Trump initiating US withdrawal from it.

The accord was signed in December 2015 by nearly 200 countries in an effort to curb carbon emissions and limiting global warming to under 2C.

Called the “We Are Still In” coalition, the group set up a pavilion outside of the official United Nations climate change conference (COP23) venue, where countries - including the US - are meeting for the next few weeks to negotiate how the Paris Agreement will be implemented.

For a size comparison, the coalition pavilion is a massive 27,000 sq ft (2500 sq meters) while the official US delegation office inside the UN venue is 100 sq meters.

Republicans and Democrats alike make up the “We Are Still In” coalition, which has more than one thousand CEOs, mayors, and governors in the US.

"There is a tradition of non-partisanship for protecting our planet," said James Brainard, Republican mayor of the town of Carmel, Indiana, at an opening event.

"It is unfortunate we have moved away from it,” he noted.

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The purpose of the pavilion and its exhibitions is to showcase how Americans - at the sub-national level - are still fighting climate change in spite of the Trump administration’s efforts to dismantle Obama-era environmental regulations.

The coalition claims it represents more than 130 million Americans and $6.2 trillion of annual economic output.

Fiji, which is presiding over this year’s UN talks, welcomed the coalition as a "perfect example" of how the Paris accord aims to widen action beyond national governments.

"I am confident that coalitions like yours will scale up because they are noble and inspiring," said Inia Seruiratu, the Fijian minister for agriculture and disaster management.

The private sector has also taken an active role as the US official delegation’s plans at the conference include promoting coal, gas, and fossil fuel use by lower income countries to grow.

But, Director of product advocacy for Ingersoll-Rand Jeff Moe said the company was seeking to halve its greenhouse gas emissions.

The "We Are Still In" pavilion is funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Hewlett Foundation and NextGen America.

California Governor Jerry Brown and former New York City Mayor and UN special envoy on cities and climate change Michael Bloomberg will speaking at the pavilion later on during the conference.

The US is now the only country withdrawing from the agreement since previous holdouts Syria and Nicaragua announced they would be joining the rest of the world.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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