Monday, June 5, 2017

Charleston Mayor Tecklenburg joins city leaders in vow to uphold Paris climate agreement

Turning the tides

Posted by Dustin Waters on Mon, Jun 5, 2017 at 1:56 PM

click to enlarge Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg speaks at Charleston's recent March for Science - DUSTIN WATERS
  • Dustin Waters
  • Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg speaks at Charleston's recent March for Science
Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg is one of three South Carolina officials to join a coalition of city leaders dedicating their efforts to preserving the spirit of the Paris climate agreement.

More than 200 mayors of American cities have decided to take a stand in response to President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the landmark agreement wherein 196 nations joined together to acknowledge the “urgent and potentially irreversible” threat of climate change. Formalized in 2015, participating countries agreed to adopt green energy sources and “pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius [2.7 degrees Fahrenheit] above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.”

As a part of the joint statement bearing Tecklenburg’s name, American mayors from all across the country vowed to “adopt, honor, and uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement” and “work together to create a 21st century clean energy economy.”

Along with fellow South Carolina mayors Terence Roberts of Anderson and Stephen Benjamin of Columbia, Tecklenburg joined his fellow city leaders in vowing to increase efforts to cut greenhouse gas emission and create a clean energy economy.

The mayors’ response to President Trump’s decision concludes by stating, “And if the president wants to break the promises made to our allies enshrined in the historic Paris Agreement, we’ll build and strengthen relationships around the world to protect the planet from devastating climate risks. The world cannot wait — and neither will we.”

Although President Trump has referred to global warming as a hoax in the past, members of his administration have been reluctant to pinpoint where exactly the president stands on climate change.

Over the weekend, U.N. Ambassador and former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley appeared on CNN’s State of the Union and claimed that Trump “believes the climate is changing and he believes pollutants are part of the equation.”

This is a clear departure from comments made by Trump’s current counselor Kellyanne Conway who told CNN last September that Trump believed in the existence of climate change, but believed global warming to be “naturally occurring” rather than man-made.

As with many coastal cities, one of Charleston’s key concerns as it relates to global warming is the threat of sea-level rise. Over the past 50 years, the number of days during which Charlestonians experienced tidal flooding increased almost tenfold from four to 38. Based on an estimated 2.5-foot increase in sea-level rise over the next 50 years, the number of tidal flood days could reach 180 days per year by 2045.

“Regardless of any national or international debates, the facts on the ground here in Charleston are clear: The sea is getting higher, weather events are becoming more extreme, and flooding has increased across most areas of the city,” said City of Charleston spokesman Jack O’Toole. “That’s why we’re currently investing more than $200 million in new and improved drainage systems in all areas of the city, moving forward with plans for a stronger, higher Battery seawall, and working with our new director of resilience, Mark Wilbert, to begin implementing the city’s long-term Sea-Level Rise Strategic Plan, which has already been approved by City Council.”

O’Toole added, “In short, the city is committed to making resilience and sustainability a basic part of everything we do, and to working with our citizens to ensure that Charleston is prepared for further climate challenges in the years ahead.”

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