Emerson College President Lee Pelton has added his name to a declaration of continuing support for the Paris Climate Agreement signed by more than 1,200 governors, mayors, businesses, investors, colleges, and universities across the country.
“We Are Still In,” was coordinated by a number of environmental, philanthropic, business, and civic organizations, after President Donald Trump announced last week his intent to withdraw the United States from the international accord. The organizations behind the declaration include the Sierra Club, the World Wildlife Fund, the Center for American Progress, Second Nature, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and We Mean Business.
“Climate change is one of the most urgent challenges facing us as a nation and as a planet,” Pelton said. “It’s incumbent on all of us to do what we can to curtail its devastating effects, as well as support the economic and social benefits of a clean energy future. Emerson College remains committed to sustainability, environmental issues, and global engagement.”
The Paris agreement was drafted in 2015, and as of June 2017, had 197 signatories, 148 of which were ratified parties. Its goal is to hold the increase in the global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to attempt to limit temperature increase below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
“In the absence of leadership from Washington, states, cities, colleges and universities, businesses and investors, representing a sizeable percentage of the U.S. economy will pursue ambitious climate goals, working together to take forceful action and to ensure that the U.S. remains a global leader in reducing emissions,” the “We Are Still In” declaration states.
The United States, at 15 percent, is second only to China in global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. China is a party to the pact.
Trump promised to withdraw from the agreement on the campaign trail, saying it would save jobs in the fossil fuel industry.
Environmental advocates, business and academic leaders, and many politicians from both parties counter that the economic and technological future of the sector lies in renewable energy, and withdrawing from the accord would mean a lost opportunity for economic growth and job creation, as well as a blow to efforts to curb climate change.
“In the U.S., it is local and state governments, along with businesses, that are primarily responsible for the dramatic decrease in greenhouse gas emissions in recent years. Actions by each group will multiply and accelerate in the years ahead, no matter what policies Washington may adopt,” the declaration reads.
In signing the declaration, Pelton joins colleagues at institutions including Brandeis, Tufts, Northeastern, Northwestern, and Columbia universities, as well as Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and the states of New York and California.
Additionally, 19 attorneys general, including Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, and more than 900 businesses and investors, including Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Adidas, Starbucks, and Airbnb, have signed the letter.