December 13, 2017

Dr. G’s #AGU17 Spotlight – Why We Are Still In

Posted by Laura Guertin

The American Geophysical Union has made it clear where the organization stands on climate, from its 2013 statement on Human‐Induced Climate Change Requires Urgent Action and as a formal partner for the March for Science. And with the current work on its DC headquarters to be the first-ever renovated net zero building in the district, AGU is clearly “still in.”

What does it mean to be “still in”? The following is the description of the Special Keynote Panel.

AGU is facilitating a special plenary around the movement, a response to a U.S. governmental decision to depart from the Paris Climate Accord. In a panel titled “Why We Are Still In”, chaired by Dr. Don Boesch, panelists from city governments and corporations will consider how organizations are maintaining their commitment to the objectives of the accord and what might be holding organizations back from signing on to the initiatives. Panelists will also discuss perspectives on the challenges and opportunities this movement presents with respect to meaningful emissions reductions and symbolic showings of unity to make up for the withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord by the US federal government.

The panelists included the Honorable James Brainard, Mayor of Carmel, Indiana, Sra. Tanya Müller García, Secretary of the Environment, Mexico City, and the Honorable Jeff Hebert, Deputy Mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana. Below is a brief recap of the panel.

A full recording of the panel discussion is available through this Facebook Live link and available on YouTube.

In addition, Sra. Müller García provided a one-on-one interview with WebsEdgeEducation on how Mexico City is maintaining its commitment to the Paris Climate Accord. Mexico City is a C40 City (, a climate leadership group that connects 90 of the world’s “megacities,” representing 650+ million people and one quarter of the global economy. One out of every 12 people worldwide lives in a C40 City (New Orleans is one).

Nine states and 340 colleges/universities have pledged that they are still in. Recently, on December 4, more than 25 mayors who are part of the We Are Still In coalition signed the Chicago Climate Charter, committing to exceeding the US emissions reduction target under the Paris Agreement and advance at least one specific climate action in their community in areas such as sustainable mobility, renewable energy, and green infrastructure.

What are the final take-home messages from the panel?

  • It is not enough to adapt, we must stop contributing to climate change
  • We can make a difference while our country figures it out
  • We will meet the goals because of what is happening at the local level

And if you are looking for tips on how to approach local leaders (if you believe they are not on board with acting on climate because of political affiliation), the recommendation from the panelists is to remind others of the history of the Republican Party. Theodore Roosevelt established the National Park system, Dwight D. Eisenhower established the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (then termed a “Range”), Richard Nixon signed environmental legislation and established the EPA… and the list goes on. There are different ways to talk about climate and impacts besides leading with the data – think starting off with green jobs, saving dollars, applied science, etc. [This response was provided by Mayor James Brainard – a Republican mayor. His city of 100,000 people (80% Republican) just passed a resolution to be net carbon zero by 2040.]