Late last week, President Donald Trump made the unsurprising announcement that he would remove the United States from a pact with 194 other countries to mitigate greenhouse gas production and fight global warming. Here in Baltimore, three of the city’s most influential figures responded with criticism, resilience and promises.
The first denouncement came from someone who’s actually gotten a seat at the table with Trump. In a statement put out on Friday, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank said in a statement that his firm was “disappointed” by the president’s choice, “as climate change continues to threaten our planet, our cities and our economies. Climate change is real and must be taken seriously by our business community, our customers, our neighbors and our elected officials.”
Plank also said he believes in “keeping one’s word,” referring to Trump’s decision to back the nation out of the deal after it already signed on in April 2016. Under the terms negotiated by President Obama’s administration, the United States had agreed to reduce its emissions from 2005 levels by 26 to 28 percent, rearing up a global effort with fellow top polluter China.
Trump technically did keep his word. He campaigned on a promise to get the United States to leave the agreement once he became president, so as to protect jobs in the fossil fuel industry. In his Thursday speech, he said in part, “As someone who cares deeply about the environment, which I do, I cannot in good conscience support a deal that punishes the United States — which is what it does.”
Pugh’s response followed Plank’s. The mayor said in a statement on Saturday that Baltimore “is committed to taking action in our Nation’s collective efforts to reduce its environmental impact,” and that the city “cannot ignore the urgency” of the need to lower carbon emissions.
Johns Hopkins University joined the statement-based resistance today. President Ronald Daniels signed onto a letter with presidents from Ivy League colleges and other top institutions promising to continue acknowledging the very real threat of climate change and find ways to further lower emissions. According to the Hopkins Hub, the school curbed its emissions by 30 percent from 2007 to 2015, and has new targets in its sights.
Both Under Armour and Baltimore City have taken steps to prioritize sustainability and cutting carbon output. Plank’s firm has included reducing emissions in construction and transportation in its sustainability vision, and is ranked among the top “green” companies by Newsweek and financial analysts at Morgan Stanley.
Baltimore adopted its own Climate Action Plan years ago, and has extended those goals by setting a target to lower 2010 emission levels by 15 percent within the next three years. The city also accounts for “climate change adaptation” in its Disaster Preparedness Plan, with a goal to address risks and hazards caused by predicted shifts in our climate.
Plank’s criticism is a bit more surprising than Pugh’s, given that he sits on the president’s Manufacturing Advisory Council. The last time he made headlines related to Trump, it was after he voiced support for the president, which resulted in a bitter helping of consumer backlash.
Mayor Pugh still hasn’t signed onto a circulating pledge for mayors around the country to resist Trump’s forced departure from the Paris climate agreement, which is scheduled to actually happen in 2020. So far, 211 of Pugh’s colleagues in other cities have signed onto the generally worded promise to up their cities’ climate-protection goals.
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