Mayor seeks lower renewable energy costs; Kerry faults Trump

Source: By Steve Leblanc, Associated Press • Posted: Monday, June 11, 2018

BOSTON — Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the decision by President Donald Trump to pull out of the Paris climate accord a “tragedy” Thursday but said states and private sector leaders are trying to meet the goal of reducing greenhouse gases anyway.

The Democratic former senator from Massachusetts helped negotiate the 2016 accord. He said Trump misled the public by suggesting the agreement allowed other nations to place a burden on the United States when the country only agreed to do what it could without hurting its economy.

Kerry made the comments during a daylong climate change summit in Boston, during which Boston Mayor Martin Walsh unveiled a proposal aimed at helping cities lower the cost of renewable energy.

Despite Trump’s actions, Kerry said states representing 80 percent of the U.S. population already have laws or voluntary goals aimed at increasing renewable energy.

“The short answer is we’re still in Paris because most local communities, most businesses, most states are moving in that direction,” he said. “While Donald Trump may have said he is out of Paris, the American people have stated unequivocally they are in Paris and they are going to meet the Paris standard.”

Trump defended the move last June when he announced his decision, saying it was in the country’s best interests to pull out of the agreement.

“I cannot in good conscience support a deal that punishes the United States,” Trump said at the time. “We’re getting out. But we will start to negotiate and see if we can get a better deal. If we can, great. If we can’t, that’s fine.”

Kerry added that “if we do the right thing in the 2020 election we’ll be back in” the agreement. Trump can run for re-election in 2020.

During Thursday’s summit, Walsh announced he is hoping to work with other cities to drive down the cost of renewable energy by asking developers for price estimates to meet their collective energy demand.

Walsh said the first cities to join the initiative include Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston and Orlando. Portland, Oregon and Evanston, Illinois are also included in the group, which Walsh said could soon grow to at least nine cities.

Walsh, a Democrat, announced the project at the start of the international summit on climate change. Former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy was also spoke at the event. Kerry and McCarthy both served under President Barack Obama.

About two dozen mayors and city leaders attended the event, billed as a chance to explore ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the challenges posed by climate change.

In Boston those strategies include creating deployable flood walls to protect waterfront neighborhoods and elevating certain streets and parks to ease flooding concern.

Another goal is for the city to be carbon neutral by 2050 — requiring increased reliance on renewable energy.

Walsh said lowering renewable energy costs is one way to reach that goal. He said he hopes to finalize a list of participating cities later in the summer and then seek estimates from renewable energy companies.

Other mayors said they were eager to participate, saying the agreement could also help create jobs in the renewable energy market.

“Cities wield the power to create demand and transform the energy market, and when we act together we can show the world that environmental stewardship and economic prosperity go hand in hand,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.

Garcetti said Los Angeles has set a goal to become a carbon neutral city by 2050.

Walsh also called Trump’s decision irresponsible.

“He certainly didn’t consult with America’s mayors,” Walsh said. “He’s tried to send us backward. He’s tried to pit the environment against the economy. We know this is nonsense.”