Community Environment

UPDATED: 5:46 p.m.:
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer will add his name to a list of Mayor’s pushing back against President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord.

More than 80 mayors from across the country penned a letter to Trump after his Thursday announcement proclaiming to uphold elements of the landmark agreement to combat global warming.

Fischer, who initially said he was unaware of the agreement between the mayors, ultimately decided to take action and add his name to the list – which includes mayors from Austin, Portland and Nashville, among others, according to a spokesman.

Previously reported:

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is not pleased President Donald Trump is pulling the United States out of the Paris climate accord.

Fischer said America is looked at as a world leader on issues like climate change, and to not be a part of the landmark policy measure aimed at combating climate change is “unfortunate.”

“I’m disappointed it’s our national position,” Fischer said in an interview on Friday, “but it won’t change our city position.”

Trump announced Thursday that he would withdraw the country from the agreement that includes more than 190 countries.

The move puts the United States on a list of only two other countries — Syria and Nicaragua — not formally committed to an array of elements that, collectively, are designed to limit the rise in global temperature.

Trump criticized the agreement as unfair for American interests.

“The Paris climate accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States,” Trump said during his speech Thursday in the Rose Garden.

The pact took affect in December 2015, and participating countries pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050 and provide funding for underdeveloped nations to assist their efforts to do the same.

Soon after Trump’s announcement, a collection of mayors from across the country signed onto a letter emphasizing their commitment to uphold the tenets of the Paris climate agreement.

The 83 mayors on the letter represent some 40 million Americans across the country. Cities represented include Austin, Portland, Seattle and Denver. Mayors of some of Louisville’s “peer cities” are also on the list, too, including Pittsburgh, Charlotte, Knoxville, Kansas City and Nashville.

Louisville’s mayor is not presently a signatory.

Fischer said Thursday he wasn’t aware of the letter or the agreement from his fellow mayors, many of whom serve on the U.S. Conference of Mayors alongside Fischer.

“We will continue to lead,” the letter read. “We are increasing investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. We will buy and create more demand for electric cars and trucks. We will increase our efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, create a clean energy economy, and stand for environmental justice.”

Fischer didn’t say whether he’d seek to join the effort. His spokesman did not respond to a follow-up question seeking clarity on Friday.

But Fischer did stress his support for the Paris agreement and pledged to continue with the city’s initiatives aimed at cleaner air and cleaner water.

“It’s good for the city, it’s good for the business of the city,” he said.

Locally, Fischer said he wants to extend the life of the city’s landfill, reduce the urban heat island, increase the tree canopy and improve and maintain sewage management practices.

The city’s sustainability plan includes 17 goals aimed at reducing energy consumption, reducing vehicle miles driven and related greenhouse gas emissions, and diverting 90 percent of solid waste from the city’s landfill.

Fischer has faced criticism recently from Metro Council members who question his dedication to clean air in the city.

The Air Pollution Control Board, which is under Fischer’s direction, will likely soon approve exemptions for American Synthetic Rubber — a factory in southwest Louisville — to loosen requirements related to the release of toxic chemicals into the air.

Councilwoman Jessica Green has led the charge in opposition to the proposal to loosen the requirements. She said it would be a “slap in the face” to residents who live near the plant to approve the modification, according to a recent report from The Courier-Journal.

“The dog-and-pony shows and publicity stunts have to stop,” she said. “Stand up for the people who really need protection.”

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.