#Climatemayors Continues to Grow and the States begin to Step Up! …so where do we go from here?

The open letter from the #ClimateMayors on Medium.com continues to gain signatories – now up to 210***! These cities and their metropolitan areas now count for over 49% of the US population, and 55% of our GDP. That’s nearly $10 TRILLION!! Is your city on the list? If not, and you think it should be, now is the time to start calling your city council and your mayor’s office! Even better if you’re a business owner…

But even more exciting was the massive influx of states into the U.S. Climate Alliance. Added to the previous 9 states (Colorado was misreported), Minnesota, Delaware, Vermont and Puerto Rico, joined on Monday bringing the total to 13. These 12 states contain over 30% of the US population, and are responsible for over 35% (over 1/3!) of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1YHtad6MLEBgvlMiO-x-d13aIxKxs_GX9hiy0vBAEpDQ/edit?usp=sharing

And this brings us to my favorite part – what happens when you combine the states in the Climate Alliance to the cities that have signed the Climate Mayors agreement and aren’t in the Climate Alliance member states? Well, its a pretty rosy picture – 58.8% of the US population, and almost 2/3 of the GDP!

This is all well and good, but it can’t stop here – there’s still an alarming portion of Americans who are not living in states or municipalities that have signed on to the Paris Climate Agreement. Obviously, I believe every state and city should sign on, but clearly some places will have more political, economic, and of course, environmental impact.

The top 10 State producers of C02 are listed in the chart below. Now, California and New York are founding members of the U.S. Climate Alliance so we don’t need to worry about them, and some states are certainly an uphill battle, if not a lost cause (Texas, I’m looking at you), but there are some other states which absolutely could, and should, be convinced to join. For example, Florida and Louisiana stand to lose the most in the near future from Climate Change, as their most prosperous urban areas are already under threat of flooding from rising sea levels, and both states are routinely victims of hurricanes, which will only become more frequent and more powerful as the earth’s atmosphere warms. Pennsylvania and Michigan have had the majority of their major urban areas already sign on to the #ClimateMayors agreement, and Pennsylvania has already expressed some interest, and somewhat surprisingly, so has Ohio.

TopStateCO2Emissions

***They claim 211, but they’re counting the city of Carrboro, NC twice!)

 

A Path Forward: #ClimateMayors and U.S. Climate Alliance

What a difference 24 hours makes! Instead of 82 #ClimateMayors, we now have 174! Instead of 3 states in the U.S. Climate Alliance, there are now 10!

So what does this mean for the economic and political force of the signatories? Just in case you should ask, I’ve updated my spreadsheet:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1m8cc1TlwTLiJni0LNvI1d_V1eePwR-7vxKncCkKjD1I/edit?usp=sharing

But a quick summary, for those who don’t want to wade through the data: The cities (and their respective metropolitan statistical areas if they represent the core of such a region) now represent nearly 150 million Americans, or 46% of the population. Those cities are also responsible for almost $9.4 TRILLION in GDP, i.e. more than 52% of the national GDP!!

If you’re curious as to what the CLimate Alliance states represent, we’re up to nearly 97 million Americans, and some 34% of the national GDP.

And just for fun, as last time, if we add the figures for the U.S. Climate Alliance states to those of the #ClimateMayors whose cities are NOT within one of the U.S. Climate Alliance States, we now have some 320 million people, and $11 TRILLION in GDP, or or 57% of the US population and 61% of the GDP.

Takeaways from these numbers? First, it means we shouldn’t despair. As the #ClimateMayors and U.S. Climate Alliance governors have noted, we don’t need the Trump administration. We’re bigger, better, and smarter than they are. So take heart!

Second, this means we have even more leverage. These are cities that companies are already based in, or that want to do business in. These are Americans that these companies want (and need) to hire. And there are plenty of American (and foreign!) companies that do business in the U.S. that understand and appreciate the existential threat of climate and change. With the strength of American and global business and the powerhouse of the American urban workforce as our lever, and the unsurpassable beauty and excellence of the American city as the place where we can make our stand, I believe that we can, and will, MOVE THE WORLD.

***The update to the #ClimateMayors letter claims 180 signatories, but there appear to be some duplicates and possibly some missing. There are only 174 cities listed.

***Just for fun, the spreadsheet has all of the female members of #ClimateMayors highlighted – over 30% of the total!! Does this mean that progressive and educated cities are more likely to elect women? Or that women leaders are more likely to stand up for important environmental and scientific issues? Food for thought!

Fighting the Good Fight: the Potential Impact of State and City Pledges to Uphold the Paris Climate Agreement

ParisClimate

I managed to go to sleep last night without reading the news, which means I woke up to find my newsfeeds filled with panicked responses to what many of us, myself included, know to be the disastrous decision by the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement.

I won’t even begin to list the ways in which this is a fundamentally flawed decision, as there are others smarter and more eloquent than I who have already done no. Needless to say, this is not good for the earth, and funnily enough the U.S. is still located on this planet, with no relocation plans in the foreseeable future. But, screaming out the negative impacts this has on the environment clearly falls on deaf ears, as the climate change deniers and/or doomsday seekers plainly don’t get it.

What DO they understand? Seemingly the only way to reach many of the people who support this president and his policies is through their wallets, whether we speak of struggling lower-middle class workers of the American heartland, or a certain breed of soulless industrialist and politicans.

So how do we get through to these people? How do we turn the tide? Well, not-so- coincidentally the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement turns out to also be potentially disastrous to American economic interests both home and abroad. But remaining in the Paris Agreement is an opportunity for economic growth and political leadership. So, I believe that the states that are creating the U.S. Climate Alliance (currently CA, NY, and WA) and the #ClimateMayors’ cities who have signed a pact to uphold the commitments of the Paris Agreement have offered us a way forward: namely, these states and cities need to get our business. They need to get our jobs and our income. There’s already a list of companies that agree leaving the Paris Agreement is a bad call, including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Tesla, Disney, General Electric, Goldman Sachs, Shell, Exxon Mobil, and Cargill. (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/01/business/climate-change-tesla-corporations-paris-accord.html)

The Republican Party claims that they are the Party of “States Rights.” Well, fine then. Lets show them what that really means.¬†

We need to pressure these employers, and others, to move their businesses, offices and factories to these states and metropolitan areas, and we need to pressure more states and cities to sign these pacts, and more companies to stand with them.

The math is in our favor: I ran some numbers, and the three states that are currently backing the Paris Agreement through the framework of the newly formed U.S. Climate Alliance represent over 20% of the U.S. population and over 25% of the U.S. GDP. The Metropolitan Areas of the #ClimateMayors’ cities represent 34% of the U.S. population and nearly 40% of the national GDP. And if you combine the two (so, add the population and product of the signatory states, and then the metropolitan areas that are not already counted within those states) you get 42.5% of the U.S. Population and nearly 50% of our GDP!!

Here’s a link to the GoogleDocs Spreadsheet with my calculations:¬†https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1I-ah_rQ6PcHkk1qqTaql_dw24QoFwaOP0dFeUqhf_cA/edit?usp=sharing

These are all based on the announced membership of the U.S. Climate Alliance and the signatories of the #ClimateMayors’ Open Letter (https://medium.com/@ClimateMayors/climate-mayors-commit-to-adopt-honor-and-uphold-paris-climate-agreement-goals-ba566e260097). If more states or cities join I will update the spreadsheet – please comment if you hear of any new members or any other corporations that have announced their backing of the Paris Climate Agreement! And take and share this data as you see fit.

 

Hitting the ground running (sort of)

Tuesday was about as productive as I could reasonably have hoped for it to be, which in reality wasn’t very. I seem to be only slightly jet-lagged (hurrah!), so I managed to get to sleep around 1 and woke up around 9. Not too shabby, I thought! I spent the morning unpacking, and finally taking a shower. Apparently the institute has been having intermittent water problems. Sometimes (like last night) there’s no water pressure, and then sometimes (like tonight) there’s no hot water. These institutes, here and in other countries, tend to be in old British imperial period houses. They’re beautiful, but definitely getting rundown, and upkeep often outpaces what a small academic institution can reasonably afford to spend, so things tend to have to fall apart completely before they get fixed. In the case of CAARI, the big project this past year has been the construction of a massive addition to the library. It’ll triple the current size of the library, which we desperately need, but there’s one catch – no one would sell CAARI more land at an affordable price, so our new library is subterranean! There’s a giant hole where the garden on the east side of the building used to be, which currently has one floor, and soon will have two floors of a library built. Eventually the garden will be put back in and the new library will have skylights. I’m excited to see what it will look like, but the fact that CAARI has a massive empty parking lot to its west that we couldn’t afford to buy makes it a bit frustrating.

Anyway, I unpacked properly, which is nice… I’m not used to being here for long enough for it to be worthwhile, but I’m here for two months, and I have this room for at least 30 days, which is awesome, because it is easily the best room in the institute! Always make friends with the administrators… the directors may come and go, but the administrators will be here forever. In this case I’ve been coming to CAARI for 9 years now, and for years I was in room 7, which is the size of a closet! I’ve stayed in room 4 once (private bathroom, but you have a roommate), and recently I’ve been in room 2, which is great… nice size, nice light. But this time, I got room 1. Its huge. It has its own balcony and 12 foot ceilings. Its hard not to feel very colonial in this place, and I feel like I should be drinking Gin and Tonics. 10 am was morning coffee with the staff and the various researchers in the institute, which at the moment is really myself, a grad student from LaTrobe, and the Fulbright (from UVA) and her husband. I made the arrangements to get into the garage, which will be my lab for the next two months, but is currently being used as storage space. Oy. I also called our contacts in the village where my dig stays when we’re working in the summer, so I could get into our storage rooms. One phone number doesn’t seem to work (uh oh) so I may just have to track down the guy who runs the storeroom where we keep all our equipment on foot, but the other number got me through to the gentleman who owns the warehouse we use as out apothiki (Greek for warehouse, but its what Aegean and Cypriot archaeologists call the storehouses where we keep our equipment and non-valuable artifacts). However he was quite insistent that I could NOT come get anything out today or tomorrow, so Thursday I have to go have coffee with him at 11, after which I hopefully will have permission to actually get it and get our ceramics. I spent the afternoon reading, dealing with email, and contacting the museum (to get access to more pottery! Sherds! How I love my sherds!). Then off to Lidl, for the acquisition of groceries. The institute is self-catering, and the kitchen is perfectly adequate, but alas most grocery stores are too far to walk easily. Apparently there’s one not too far away now, but since I have a car for the next week I headed out to stock up cheaply. Apparently the long-lived Fulbright car is no longer in this world, so there is no other car currently here at the Institute. I foresee begging rides off my Cypriot friends in the future…

But then the exciting part of the day! I went out to dinner at the Berlin Wall 2, with my friends Tim and Efthymia. They work at the museum and they are just the most lovely, fun people. Efthymia knows the family that runs the Berlin Wall, so named because it’s built right up against the wall that divides Nicosia in half, separating the Republic from the occupied North. When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, it left Nicosia as the last divided capital in the world. Not a particular point of pride, but it certainly contributes to the current character of the city, though less-so now that the border crossings are open and more lax. We had mixed grill and lefchanicho (wine sausage, so good), and yoghurt, hummus, salad, and french fries. Delicious. I swear (and I’m Irish here, remember) Cyprus has some of the best tasting potatoes in the world! I kept Tim and Efthymia out past their bedtimes, as we went to the Weaving Room afterwards for another drink. Its called the weaving room, because it was, in fact, a weaving workshop during the Ottoman period. Its a fabulous stone building, and they’ve left the original wood balcony inside, and its filled with books and chairs, and serves cold beer, hot coffee, and delicious traditional deserts, all at a criminally low price. I predict this will make a good writing spot. Conversation was good, and roamed all over. I learned all about dynamics of modern Cypriot politics I never knew, as well as their association with the various football teams. In many ways it reminded me of the situation in Ireland… revolution, followed by a civil war that no one wants to talk about, but which had a serious impact on the politics of the next several decades. Cyprus’ experience is 50 years more recent though, so the wounds are still fresh.