Condemnation of President Donald Trump’s “willful ignorance” of global warming came Monday in an Oberlin city council vote after the United States withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement.
Passed unanimously, a strongly-worded resolution accused Trump of a “stunning abdication of responsibility to future generations.”
“Further, we admonish President Trump for rejecting accepted peer-reviewed science, jeopardizing the health of our citizens and environment, harming our country’s economic competitiveness, endangering our national security, and abdicating our country’s leadership role in the world,” it said.
The Paris accord was signed last April by President Barack Obama, making the U.S. one of 196 nations pledging to reduce heat-trapping gas emissions drastically starting in 2020.
Our country is responsible for 18 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, though it is home to a little more than four percent of the globe’s population.
Human activity is the leading cause of rising mean temperatures on Earth, according to the International Panel on Climate Change. Data from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows 16 of the warmest years since records began in 1880 have occurred since 2001 — 2016 was the warmest ever.
Four years ago, long before the Paris agreement, Oberlin vowed to reduce greenhouse emissions to below zero no later than 2050.
“We’ve always believed in climate change. We’ve always believed in doing the right thing,” said council president Ronnie Rimbert.
Three states and more than 125 cities have committed to uphold the international climate accord. Those three states represent 40 percent of the U.S. population, said councilman Bryan Burgess.
He said not only the environment but the economy are at stake.
“When the United States became a signatory to the Paris Climate Agreement last year, it set in motion manufacturers, investment banks, industrial output around the world began working toward the implementation of the plan,” he said. “A number of major corporations have come out in opposition to the U.S. withdrawal from this because they’ve already set their gears in motion toward manufacturing and investing in a clean energy future. To halt that progress or take a step backward is extremely disruptive.”
With or without Trump, local governments are moving full-steam ahead with climate-positive efforts.
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has promised to give $15 million from his own pockets to cover America’s share of the United Nations greenhouse gas-reduction plan. Burgess said Bloomberg recognizes that as the world moves forward, the U.S. will be left behind.
Residents must do what the federal government is unwilling to do to protect the planet, said councilwoman Sharon Soucy, who pulled no punches when it came to her opinion of the president.
“I remember when President Trump was elected and all of us kind of fell into despair. Certainly most of us did,” she said. “One of the things that came up again and again (is) that it fell on the shoulders of local government to counteract what was happening at the federal government.”
Several council members were hesitant to move ahead with a vote on the resolution without more time to deliberate. After a half hour of discussion, however, they passed it on emergency status.
“I think it’s very important that we state how we feel about this awful thing our president has done… again,” said councilman Kelley Singleton.
A copy of the resolution will be sent to Trump.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.