ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke speaks during the Memorial Day Program on Monday, May 29, 2017, at Chattanooga National Cemetery.

This story was updated with additional voices at 4:33 p.m.

relatedarticlethumb
Chattanooga is as beautiful as any place on God's green earth, and we will keep it that way.

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said Friday he stands with his fellow mayors nationwide in support of the Paris Climate Accord.

"As a city once deemed the dirtiest in the country, the thriving Chattanooga of today was only possible because of strong leaders who understood the importance of cleaning up the environment and implementing long-term sustainability efforts," Berke said in a statement Friday.

"Reverting back to the Chattanooga of decades ago is simply unacceptable. Chattanooga has a strong commitment to sustainability and environmental protections, and we will continue to push forward regardless of the stance of the current President."

President Donald Trump said Thursday he will pull the U.S. out of the 190-nation agreement to reduce greenhouse gases as a way of reasserting American primacy and protecting American jobs.

In response, the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Friday restated its strong support for the climate accord reached in 2015.

Responding to Trump's pointing to his city, Pittsburgh, Mayor Bill Peduto called the decision "disastrous for our planet, for cities such as Pittsburgh," and a step that "has made America weaker and the world less safe."

The mayoral organization noted on its website that it has worked against climate change since 2005 "by passing numerous policies, holding several summits, as well as spearheading a bipartisan effort where more than 1,000 mayors committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their individual communities."

Former Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield noted in a Facebook post Friday he had signed on to the mayors' climate pledge that year, in the early days of his administration.

Along with the mayors, The New York Times reported that three governors, more than 80 university presidents and more than 100 businesses "are preparing to submit a plan to the United Nations pledging to meet the United States' greenhouse gas emissions targets under the Paris climate accord, despite President Trump's decision to withdraw from the agreement."

"We're going to do everything America would have done if it had stayed committed," Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor who is coordinating the effort, told the Times in an interview.

In his own statement, Berke said city government's commitment to sustainability includes a pledge to reduce energy use in city buildings by at least 20 percent over 10 years. He lauded the "incredible sustainability work of local partners like EPB, TVA, and Green|Spaces" in protecting the city's assets for future generations, public health and economic growth.

relatedarticlethumb

"Because Chattanooga has directly experienced the negative impacts of an ignored and depleted environment, I am committed to the goals and vision of the Paris Climate Agreement," Berke said.

"In Chattanooga, we will continue to focus our efforts on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and encouraging other entities throughout our city to do the same. Chattanooga is as beautiful as any place on God's green earth, and we will keep it that way."

Also on Friday, Tennessee's senior U.S. senator, Lamar Alexander, said that although he takes "seriously" the scientific consensus that climate change is "real and that humans are helping cause it," he's not all that concerned by the president's decision.

"Except for occasional reports, there is nothing binding about the Paris Agreement, so staying in it makes little difference," Alexander said in a statement.

He said he believes the "most important thing the United States can do to solve our energy and climate challenge is to double funding for basic energy research."

Boosting basic energy research "will help lower the cost of energy, clean the air, improve health, and reduce poverty," Alexander added. "Making that commitment — and paying for it by cutting wasteful federal subsidies such as those for wind energy—would set a good example and drive American innovation."

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and also a former Chattanooga mayor, noted Thursday that the "substantive requirements" of the agreement are "non-binding.

"On the other hand, legitimate concerns have been raised about the likelihood of domestic interest groups using the agreement to file lawsuits in an effort to halt the repeal of regulations which, while being litigated, would stifle economic growth here at home," Corker said.

"I appreciate the president's desire to renegotiate an agreement that is more in line with what is achievable in a manner that promotes an increase in the standard of living of American citizens and protects our environment. I stand ready to work with him toward that end."

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann said the president was right to pull out of the agreement.

"President Obama signed this deal without the consent of Congress, blatantly ignoring our constitutional process for multi-national agreements," the Chattanooga Republican said in a statement. "Furthermore, he ignored the very real damage the terms of this agreement would have had on the American people. In order to get our economy moving forward it is imperative we harness the power of our domestic energy assets."

relatedarticlethumb

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT