Linn County supervisors pledge support for Paris accord climate agreement

Walker: 'We can collectively make a difference'

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CEDAR RAPIDS — While President Donald Trump has said he plans to pull out of the Paris climate accord, Linn County Supervisors say they’re still committed to combating climate change locally.

The Linn County Board of Supervisors on Monday unanimously approved a resolution to register Linn County in the We Are Still In coalition, a group of more than 1,200 elected officials, businesses, universities and investors from across the U.S. that have vowed to maintain the country as a global leader in reducing carbon emissions.

“We are dismayed at the decision of President Trump to withdraw the United States from participating in the Paris climate agreement, though we are not defeated,” Supervisor Stacey Walker, who proposed the resolution, said Monday. “Leadership on the tough issues can originate at the local level. One community can make a difference, this is our hope here today.”

Following Monday’s vote, the board held a news conference with a handful of local officials and environmental experts.

Senate Minority Leader Rob Hogg, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, applauded the county board for joining a growing group of entities focused on a similar goal.

“This is an issue that we need to unite our community and our state and our country to address, and ultimately I believe the world. I hope that this movement today moves Linn County to the forefront of the organizations and places in the world that are taking action,” Hogg said.

Iowa City, Johnson County, Des Moines and Fairfield also have registered to join the coalition. The presidents of Iowa State University and the University of Iowa, as well as Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller also are registered on the group’s website.

Officials with Linn County planning and development and conservation, the city of Hiawatha, Mount Mercy University, PepsiCo’s Quaker Oats in Cedar Rapids, climate change awareness group Iowa 350 and State Representative Art Staed, D-Cedar Rapids, also spoke at the meeting.

While one of countless resolutions passed by the county board this year, officials who spoke Monday said joining We Are Still In needs to be more than just praise for past efforts and a pledge to continued action. Addressing climate change needs to be ongoing.

“I de believe if we can make a difference here in our community and effect change here, we can collectively make a difference,” Walker said. “In absence of leadership in the federal government, the job is up to us locally.”

President Trump announced June 1 that the U.S. would pull out of the Paris accord on global warming. The move will not fully take effect until 2021, but Trump said he plans to negotiate a new agreement “on terms that are fair to the United States.”

While Trump has said the accord allows China, India and other countries to emit greenhouse cases while imposing unfair burdens on the U.S., supporters of the agreement — including many business leaders and environmental activists — say it is needed to combat global warming.

l Comments: (319) 339-3175; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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