One year after President Trump pulled out of the landmark Paris climate agreement, his administration shows no signs of progress, choosing instead to ignore climate science and boost the fossil fuel industry. So today, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, the secretary general for the United Nations' Special Envoy for Climate Change, unveiled the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge—a $70 million competition to spur aggressive city-level climate programs.
His offer fills the significant funding gap created by President Donald Trump's plan to withdraw from the global climate accord, which made the U.S. the only country opposed to the deal. Trump has also proposed deep budget cuts for international programs, including ones on climate.
This was a year of tug-of-war for the environment. With Donald Trump becoming president of the U.S. at a time when wildfires, hurricanes, and floods were devastating the country, it was challenging for scientists, activists and concerned citizens to get their voices heard. But several stood out as global leaders on climate and helped give rise to those who were silenced. Below are 14 of the most notable influencers of 2017 and how they fought for a cleaner, safer environment for all.
A group of U.S. leaders, including California Gov. Jerry Brown and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, reaffirmed the country's commitment to its Paris agreement targets this weekend at the COP23 talks in Bonn, Germany. U.S. senators, governors, mayors, state senators and business leaders reiterated at the U.S. Climate Action Center that the U.S. is "still in" the Paris agreement.
Some senators also met with international officials to assure them that they, along with state elected leaders, will not only challenge Trump's agenda, but that cities and states are making progress on their own. On Saturday, Bloomberg and Brown presented "America's Pledge," which will capture and quantify emissions reductions by cities, states, universities and businesses.
Speaking at a rally in Kentucky Monday night, President Trump told the crowd his administration is "preparing new executive actions to save our coal industry and to save our wonderful coal miners from continuing to be put out of work."
The president also promised to "turn the EPA from a job-killer into a job creator." The timing of the executive order in question, which reportedly includes ordering a rewrite of the Clean Power Plan and threats to the social cost of carbon, was pushed back again by the White House on Monday. The president will reportedly sign the order by the end of this month.
Speaking of job killers versus job creators, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed Saturday to oppose the Trump budget's proposed cuts to the Appalachian Regional Commission, which helps with economic revitalization in areas devastated by coal's decline.
Hours before Trump's rally, electric company Dayton Power & Light announced plans to close two of its coal-fired plants in Ohio by next June. The company announced in a statement that, "without significant changes in market conditions," the J.M. Stuart and Killen plants would not be "economically viable beyond mid-2018."
"Despite claims to the contrary, King Coal is not coming back," said Michael Bloomberg. "Four coal-fired power plants have been slated for retirement since November, reflecting strong demand for clean energy over polluting coal."
The plants, which sit at the heart of a region Trump promised to revitalize, generate 3,000 megawatts of energy and employ nearly 500 workers. In a settlement reached earlier this year with groups including the Sierra Club, the company will invest in 300 megawatts of solar and wind projects by 2022 and provide a $2 million fund for the communities affected by the plants' closures.
"The rapid deployment of clean energy is unstoppable," Bruce Nilles, senior director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign, said. "What is missing in Ohio and too many communities is a plan to help the impacted workers and communities make the transition away from coal."
For a deeper dive:
Trump rally: Reuters EO: Politico Pro, The Hill, Washington Examiner McConnell: AP, E&E Commentary: The Hill, Dan Cohan op-ed Coal: Reuters, The Hill, Dayton Daily News, Dayton Business Journal Commentary: Axios, Shane Savitsky analysis