100+ college presidents vow to meet Paris targets on their own

Dozens of college and university presidents have signed a letter pledging to uphold the environmental standards that were suggested by the Paris climate accord.

The motion was spearheaded by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, and has already gained support of numerous states, communities, and business leaders around the country, according to The New York Times.

“We, the undersigned mayors, governors, college and university leaders, investors and businesses are joining forces for the first time to declare that we will continue to support climate action to meet the Paris Agreement,” the letter states.

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In light of President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the agreement last week, the authors of the letter maintain that it is now up to local communities and organizations to commit to the standards and enforce the policy.

“The Trump administration’s announcement undermines a key pillar in the fight against climate change and damages the world’s ability to avoid the most dangerous and costly effects of climate change,” the letter states.

“In the U.S., it is local and state governments, along with businesses, that are primarily responsible for the dramatic decrease in greenhouse gas emissions in recent years,” it continues, pledging that “Actions by each group will multiply and accelerate in the years ahead, no matter what policies Washington may adopt.”

According to the Times, more than 80 university presidents have signed the letter, along with 3 governors, 30 mayors and more than 100 private businesses.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported Saturday that the number of committed universities and colleges now exceeds 120.

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Timothy Carter, president of Second Nature, an organization that collaborates with academic institutions on climate-change matters, told the Chronicle that the signatories include presidents of George Washington, Brandeis, Northeastern, and Portland State universities, along with the University of California at Merced, California State University at Northridge, Lamar Community College, Agnes Scott College, Emory and Henry College, and others.

“In the absence of leadership from Washington, states, cities, colleges and universities and businesses representing a sizeable percentage of the U.S. economy will pursue ambitious climate goals, working together to take forceful action and to ensure that the U.S. remains a global leader in reducing emissions,” the letter declares. “Together, we will remain actively engaged with the international community as part of the global effort to hold warming to well below 2°C and to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy that will benefit our security, prosperity, and health.”

In his interview with the Times, Bloomberg reiterated that the signatories are going to “do everything America would have done if it had stayed committed” to the agreement.

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