City News

As U.S. withdraws from Paris Accord, Madison joins County Climate Coalition

Madison Common Council voted in support of joining a new county coalition on Nov. 4, pledging to cut emissions and fight climate change.

Madison Common Council voted in support of joining a new county coalition on Nov. 4, pledging to cut emissions and fight climate change.

Image By: Max Homstad

The Trump Administration submitted to the United Nations intentions to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord on Nov. 4. 

It will take one year to complete the process of withdrawal, finalizing the day after the next presidential election. If a new president is elected, they will have 30 days to rejoin the Accord. 

However, counties across the United States are not waiting for a year to pass — they are taking action now. 

Last Tuesday, the Madison Common Council voted to affirm the City of Madison’s support of the County Climate Coalition as it continues to uphold the same standards in the Paris Accords. 

The City of Madison now joins counties already pledged to cut emissions and fight climate change, like Los Angeles County, Washtenaw County, Michigan and Denver County, Colorado. 

Dane County will pave the way for the rest of Wisconsin, according to Jared Schumacker, a representative for the Madison chapter of the Climate Reality Project.

“Here in Madison, we have chosen a strategy of first having Dane County join the CCC, and then branching out to other counties in Southern Wisconsin,” Schumacker stated during the council meeting. “We intend to use Dane County as the leader in Wisconsin in the same way that is has been a leader in fighting the climate crisis in the past.”

The Paris Agreement, originally formed in 2015, brought nations together with a common goal: to combat climate change.

But on June 1, 2017, President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would no longer be participating in the Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation. Trump said the Paris Accords would place the United States at “a permanent disadvantage." 

Counties across the United States did not agree with this departure and sought alternative solutions. 

The County Climate Coalition arose as the alternative. Promoted by Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, the coalition started in Santa Clara County, California shortly after the U.S.’s departure from the Paris Climate Accord. 

The County Climate Coalition is designed for counties to commit to — and exceed — expectations put forth by the accords.

“To be entered into the County Climate Change Coalition you have to have demonstrated in the past that you adhere to the same goals as with the Paris Climate Accords,” Schumacker said. “Dane County has obviously already done a lot of that work. Whether it’s the solar panels they have put all over the city and continue to put up or the methane capture they have at the landfill, Dane County was already a shoo-in.” 

Schumacker also stated he chose to reach out to the Madison Common Council since having the support of the largest city in the county, as well as the capital of Wisconsin, would send a message to other counties.

With Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and 19 of 20 alders sponsoring the item, the resolution to join the County Climate Change Coalition passed with ease. 

“Be it resolved, the Mayor and the Common Council join municipalities and states across the county in committing to the goals of the Paris Climate Accord to combat climate change and promote environmental sustainability,” Ald. Lindsay Lemmer, District 3, recited from the resolution. 

The resolution detailed that since 2018:

  • Madison City Fleet has reduced carbon emissions by nearly 2 million pounds.
  • The city committed to supporting five new solar array projects that will increase in-state solar capacity by 15 percent.
  • For the first time in state history for a public entity, Madison public vehicles are using 20 percent biodiesel blends to fuel diesel trucks.

Additionally, the city’s MetroForward plan will take 2.6 million car trips off Madison streets every year. 

The council also touched on their past promises in the resolution that all Madison city operations will use 100 percent renewable energy for all city operations by 2030 and in the entire Madison community by 2050. 

“[Madison] will continue to further the commitment made by the United States under the Paris Accord to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support the work of the County Climate Coalition,” Ald. Lemmer said.

The County Climate Coalition will now begin reaching out to counties in southern Wisconsin to join the project.     

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