Mayor, campus chancellor, UC president join pledge to support Paris Agreement

Kevin Cheung/Staff

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Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín, outgoing campus Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and UC President Janet Napolitano are three of more than 1,200 U.S. state, local, higher education and business leaders that have pledged to support climate action to meet the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement is an international accord by 195 countries which attempts to mitigate the impact of climate change. Last Thursday, President Donald Trump announced his intent to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement.

Arreguín, Dirks and Napolitano are all signatories of an online declaration titled “We Are Still In” — according to a Monday press release, these signatories have committed to “delivering concrete emissions reductions that will help meet America’s emissions pledge under the Paris Agreement.”

“The City of Berkeley has always been at the forefront of environmental leadership. Now more than ever, it is urgent we take bold leadership to address the climate crisis,” Arreguín said in a Monday press release. “I am introducing legislation for Berkeley to continue its commitment to the Paris Accord. The world cannot wait and neither will we.”

Arreguín has signed the pledge alongside more than 200 mayors, including Richmond Mayor Tom Butt. Butt said his city has been on the forefront of dealing with climate change for several years — in fact, Butt added, almost all the innovation in the fields of renewable and energy conservation have come from cities.

Butt said the work of cities and states in driving climate action “almost makes Trump and his policies irrelevant.”

According to Kira Stoll, principal planner of long range planning and sustainability in the campus’s Office of Sustainability and Energy, UC Berkeley plans to continue reducing its carbon emissions through a variety of strategies, such as improving the energy efficiency of campus buildings and installing solar panels on campus.

In an emailed statement, Dirks said the campus’s public mission “demands that we rise to the challenges presented by global climate change.”

“We have extraordinary expertise in climate science, sustainability, public policy, and clean energy,” Dirks said in an emailed statement. “The University is committed to re-doubling our efforts and work in close concert with those nations, entities and organizations who believe in science and remain determined to address this peril to our planet.”

Campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof added in an email that Chancellor-designate Carol Christ intends on maintaining the pledge after the administrative transition and is committed to supporting the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement.

University of California Office of the President spokesperson Stephanie Beechem said in an email the university is committed to meeting its pledge to become carbon neutral in our operations by 2025 and Napolitano was “proud to join a growing number of governors, mayors, businesses and academic institutions across the U.S.”

“As president of the nation’s largest research university … I am deeply disappointed in President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the landmark Paris climate agreement,” Napolitano said in a Friday UCOP statement. “The importance of a global coalition taking coordinated action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to avert the worst consequences of a warming planet cannot be understated.”

Bobby Lee is an assistant news editor. Contact Bobby Lee at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @bobbylee_dc.