Mayoral candidates trash Trump's plans for Paris deal
Prospects grumble about the president's stance on climate change
News of President Donald Trump's plan to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement isn't the starting gun of the apocalypse. In fact, at the moment, it's still just a plan. But the Donald did kick off what could be a three-or-so-year process to move the States away from the deal's commitments to clean energy efforts.
Local governments across the nation, however, aren't throwing in the towel, and many Atlanta's included aim to take renewable energy initiatives even further than the Paris accord calls for. Mayor Kasim Reed and his City Council maintain their intentions to slow global temperature increases and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the municipality recently made a pact to move toward greener living.
So, like our friends at Atlanta Magazine (among other media outlets), Creative Loafing finds it pertinent to ask the city's mayoral candidates how they feel about the commander in chief's aversion to the deal that nearly every other established nation in the world signed onto. And, much to Trump's chagrin, no one running for Atlanta's chief seat has shown a semblance of support for his plan to pull out.
Fulton County Chairman John Eaves tells us he thinks plans to ditch the Paris deal "did not make America Great." "In fact, it not only disconnects us from the rest of the world, it makes us a follower instead of being a leader," he says, noting his dedication to "curb carbon emissions.?
Atlanta Council President Ceasar Mitchell slams the president's capacity to spit in science's face: "Donald Trump abdicated his responsibility to his people and his planet. He made a decision based not on the science and studies of experts, but on the shouts and screams of his supporters.?
Former Council President Cathy Woolard stands by that sentiment, calling Trump's recent actions "a gut punch." So do other contenders, such as state Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, and Michael Sterling, former head of the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency.
"I know that there are political forces in the state and even some politicians in this race for mayor that don't fully comprehend the real impacts of global warming," Sterling writes us, possibly alluding to Councilman Kwanza Hall's supposed skepticism of climate change.
Still, Hall is heavy hitter on the green energy front, having recently spearheaded a city resolution to get Atlanta totally powered by renewable resources by 2035.
"Angry and heartbroken," Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms laments that Atlantans especially kids with asthma will feel the brunt of Trump's dogmatism if the city's next leader doesn't step in to counter, according to Atlanta Magazine.
And Peter Aman, Atlanta's ex-chief operating officer, tells Atlanta Magazine that the time is now to "preserve the Atlanta of tomorrow," which means providing access to breathable air and drinkable water, as well as clean energy channels and transit expansion.
Atlanta Councilwoman Mary Norwood has not yet responded to CL's request for comment, although we have no reason to believe she's backing Trump's political power move.
But, despite the clamor of condemnation that Trump's taking from Atlanta candidates, political science expert Harvey Newman says that's just par for the course. "I think these policies might make good talking points but might not have a large influence on the outcome of the race.?
Newman, professor emeritus at Georgia State University's policy school, says candidates will need to expound on how to accomplish these environmental goals while appeasing constituents. "For example, mass transit funding, even on a more modest scale than in the past when MARTA was begun, would be helpful to reduce dependence on the automobile in the city," he says.
Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry, who also serves as director of Sierra Club's Georgia chapter, says he's optimistic about metro Atlanta's future as a champion of environmental efforts. "Mayor Reed and the City Council deserve so much credit for standing by the Paris accords, but they can with integrity say, ???We're going to meet these goals and do you one better,'" he tells CL.
Plus, considering the goal is to clean up our environmental act by 2035, Atlanta's next mayor will merely set the stage for the efforts of his or her successors.
Check back next week for the latest insight tino Atlanta's race to place the next Hizzoner.