Engen joins 292 ‘climate mayors’ pledging to implement Paris Accord locally

“For Missoula, this is more than symbolic; the city has been committed to tempering our environmental footprint for more than a decade through action and policy,” Mayor John Engen said. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

Calling it “symbolic but practical,” Missoula Mayor John Engen on Monday signed a letter pledging to work with mayors nationwide to implement the Paris Accord, even as President Donald Trump withdraws the U.S. from the international effort to slow global warming.

The statement has now been signed by 292 mayors representing 60 million Americans. In Montana, the mayor of Bozeman, Carson Taylor, also has signed the statement.

“We will adopt, honor and uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement,” the statement reads. “We will intensify efforts to meet each of our cities’ current climate goals, push for new action to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius target, and work together to create a 21st century clean energy economy.

“We will continue to lead. We are increasing investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. We will buy and create more demand for electric cars and trucks. We will increase our efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, create a clean energy economy, and stand for environmental justice. And if the president wants to break the promises made to our allies enshrined in the historic Paris Agreement, we’ll build and strengthen relationships around the world to protect the planet from devastating climate risks.

“The world cannot wait  —  and neither will we.”

The statement was prepared on June 1, shortly after Trump announced his intention to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, a move that has drawn the ire of nations across the globe.

The so-called “climate mayors” include the leaders of cities large and small, including Los Angeles, Seattle, New York City, Boston, Houston and Chicago. Each day, more names are added to the list.

Engen announced his decision at Monday night’s City Council meeting, saying he gets a request at least once a week “to sign on to mayors for something” – and does not sign them all.

Missoula, however, has been working to temper climate change on the local level for several years, he said, so it seemed important to join the climate mayors’ effort.

The city has set of goal of becoming “carbon neutral” by 2025. It also has an energy conservation and climate action coordinator, Chase Jones, who will serve as Engen’s liaison to the climate mayors’ network (Mayors National Climate Action Agenda).

In an email to that group Monday, Jones said that Engen “wishes to sign the open letter regarding the Paris climate agreement, and wishes to join Climate Mayors to mutually strengthen grassroots-level, city-led activity on climate action.”

On Monday night, Engen said the mayors’ leadership is “critical,” given the president’s actions.

Council members John DiBari and Bryan von Lossberg praised Engen for signing the statement, and promised the City Council will consider additional action in the weeks to come.

“Taking the action you took today affirms and highlights the actions by scores of cities,” von Lossberg said. “Leadership at the local level is crucial.”

In January 2013, the City Council adopted Missoula’s Conservation and Climate Action Plan, setting a target for the city to become carbon neutral by 2025. That requires a 30 percent reduction from the 2008 baseline by the end of this year, and a 50 percent reduction by 2020.

In addition, the city of Missoula’s energy conservation and climate action goals include:

  • Reduction of energy and fuel consumption
  • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reduction of building operating costs
  • Promoting public and environmental health
  • Promoting green jobs and green economy
  • Providing community leadership by example
  • Partnering with others to enhance opportunities for community-wide energy conservation and climate resiliency planning