U.S. Mayors Take Hard Pro-Environment and Clean Energy Stance at Annual Conference

By Yessenia Funes Jun 27, 2017

The annual U.S. Conference of Mayors wrapped up yesterday (June 26) after four days of discussions in Miami Beach. The conference focused heavily on climate change, bringing together mayors of cities with populations of at least 30,000 like Kansas City, Missouri and Flint, Michigan.

More than 250 mayors registered for the conference and adopted a number of energy- and environment-related resolutions. The energy and environment committees adopted all 16 of the resolutions proposed. 

These resolutions aren’t pipedreams or empty promises either, says Justin Gundlach, a climate law fellow at the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. While some simply encourage President Donald Trump, his administration or Congress to take action—such as support the Paris Agreement—other resolutions are more concrete. 

The cities’ commitment to 100 percent renewable energy is an example. As the resolution states, more than 25 cities have already adopted this goal. The resolution notes that this move would help “address environmental justice challenges in communities” and states that cities should ensure their policies are structured to benefit low-income people often left out of the clean energy economy.

“One of the reasons you have such good resolutions is because they aren’t abstract,” says Gundlach in an interview with Colorlines. “They represent efforts already underway.”

Without federal support, these goals become more difficult because the federal government plays an important coordinating role, he went on. This pins more work on the cities, which aren’t suited to replace the federal government, but can still help make up for the executive level’s lack of action.

Other resolutions included ones to improve water infrastructure to prevent future Flints, address sea level rise and increase research on ocean acidification’s impacts on coastal communities, many of which are indigenous and Native.  

City mayors have previously broken away from the president’s agenda, including Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and the travel ban. Major cities like Seattle and New York City stated that they’d make significant efforts to oppose these moves.

Find the full list of adopted resolutions here.