This seems weird, doesn’t it?
Not because of the sentiment. Climate change presents a real danger to humanity, and it’ll hit the humans who live near oceans first. Los Angeles, where Eric Garcetti is mayor, has a population of over 10 million people, a quarter of California’s humans, and the busiest port in the United States. Sea level rise and pollution matter there.
And it’s not weird because Garcetti was wrong about the politics. President Trump has, as you’ve no doubt read, expressed doubt in the reality of climate change (he’s wrong about that) and threatened to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement (he could, but it wouldn’t be simple) signed by 200 countries in 2015.
No, it was a strange thing to say because … cities don’t make international treaties. Countries do. But the slightly strange terms of the Paris Agreement—every signatory agreed to voluntary cuts in emissions called Nationally Determined Contributions, and the US Senate didn’t ratify it before it became international law—well, maybe a mayor could sign? Somehow? And that would be awesome?
“We do see ourselves as signatories,” says George Kivork, Mayor Garcetti’s press secretary. “It’s essentially saying, we’re going to continue the steps we said we were going to take when our country was committed to the Paris Agreement. We’re going to continue taking those actions.”
Like a lot of cities around the world, Los Angeles is trying to clean up its act, climate-wise. That means adding transit, tightening pollution controls, even changing zoning laws. In a March statement Garcetti said the city would “reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050, move toward zero emissions transportation, and pursue our vision of a 100 percent clean energy future.” Los Angeles participates in a bunch of coalitions of mayors aiming to do similar work—Climate Mayors, the Coalition of Mayors, C40. Paris and London are pushing to reduce the number of cars in their city centers, and 30 US cities have asked automakers to figure out how to deliver over 100,000 electric cars for fleets and other uses—forcing down their costs by buying in bulk, basically.