Baltimore City Council Says ‘Yes’ to Paris Climate Pact

City Councilman Zeke Cohen (center left) rallies with members of the Baltimore Peoples Climate Movement.

In the wake of President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord, the Baltimore City Council on Monday unanimously voted 14-0 to pass a resolution to support the international agreement.

The resolution, introduced by Councilman Zeke Cohen (D-District 1), outlines a pledge from the city to fight “practices that disrupt shortsighted trends in consumption of natural resources and degradation of human health.”

“Until we can embrace a green economy, we will continue to send citizens to an early grave,” Cohen told a couple dozen of supporters at a climate rally inside City

Hall before Monday’s council meeting. “That is why I’m proud of this resolution. Instead of just speaking in broad strokes, it outlines specific Baltimore-based actions to reduce our carbon footprint.”

As part of the resolution, which is not mandatory under law, the city is focused on pursuing more environmentally friendly policies to improve the conditions many residents face.

In 2015, for example, a single city trash incinerator emitted 764,895 tons of carbon dioxide, “the largest single source of carbon dioxide emissions in the city by far.” That same year, a Baltimore Food Environment Map Report found that one in four city residents live in a food desert, areas that lack access to affordable, fresh food.

Cohen said he believes there is a direct correlation between the environment and factors such as health, housing, transportation and access to fresh food.

“People of color and people living in poverty are disproportionately impacted by ecological derogation,” Cohen said. “Baltimore is a poster city for how segregation has caused immeasurable harm to health outcomes. We will not keep killing our own communities, the choices of economic growth and improving our environment.”

To help combat some of its environmental challenges, the city remains committed to supplying a 100 percent clean and renewable electricity supply by 2050, officials said.

“The message that Baltimore is sending is clear,” Cohen said at the council meeting in explaining his support of the resolution. “Regardless of who our president is, we will remain united toward a greener, cleaner environment.”

Cohen is the latest local Jewish elected official to support the Paris climate pact, joining state Del. Dana Stein (D-District 11) and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, a Democrat.

Stein, who represents Northwest Baltimore County, told the JT earlier this month he plans to submit a bill in the 2018 General Assembly that would require the state to join the United States Climate Alliance.

Kamenetz, who is weighing a run for governor, on June 5 was one of 1,219 local leaders from across the U.S. to sign the “We Are Still In” pledge. Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, a Democrat, also signed. The bipartisan initiative was created to ensure the country remains committed to reducing carbon emissions.

Trump’s announcement to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement will leave the U.S. as one of three countries not signed into the deal. The other two are Syria and Nicaragua.

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