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Conference: US mayors may shape national climate policy

MIAMI BEACH, Fla.  — With the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accords, national policy on climate change will emerge from U.S. cities working to reduce emissions and become more resilient to rising sea levels, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said at the annual U.S. Conferences of Mayors meeting in Miami Beach.

The conference supported the Paris agreement, and according to preliminary results released Saturday morning from an ongoing nationwide survey, the vast majority of U.S. mayors want to work together and with the private sector to respond to climate change.

“There’s near unanimity in this conference that climate change is real and that humans contribute to it. There may be a little bit of a disagreement about how actually to deal with it,” said Landrieu, who will replace Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett as conference president this weekend.

“If the federal government refuses to act or is just paralyzed, the cities themselves, through their mayors, are going to create a new national policy by the accumulation of our individual efforts,” he said.

A May survey of local sustainability efforts, conducted by the conference and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, initially only included 80 mayors who hold leadership positions within the conference. It was extended to all conference members and the mayors of about 1,400 cities with populations of 30,000 or more after President Donald Trump pulled the country out of the Paris agreement.

Cities still have months to respond to the questionnaire on low-carbon transportation options, renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, but the data received so far from 66 cities in 30 states showed 90 percent were interested in forming partnerships with other local governments to create climate plans, implement transportation programs or procure equipment such as electric vehicles.