Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo talks with the Atlantic's James Fallows at CityLab Paris. Melanie Leigh Wilbur

Anne Hidalgo did not mince words when it came to Donald Trump’s climate policies.

At the opening plenary of an international gathering of city leaders, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo singled out one nation’s leader. It was not her own.

“The retreat by Donald Trump from the Paris climate accord is a catastrophe, a major error,” she told James Fallows, the Atlantic correspondent and panel moderator at CityLab Paris, the annual gathering of mayors, technologists, and other urban thinkers.

Bashing President Trump has made effective politics for progressive climate leaders in the U.S. and elsewhere. But it was striking to see Hidalgo, a high-profile European mayor, articulate the impact of Trump’s decisions amongst her global peers. The withdrawal of the U.S. from the 2016 accord, which has 195 nations committing to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius, puts the whole planet on a dangerous trajectory given that the U.S. represents about 15 percent of global CO2 emissions, she suggested. Trump’s desire to “hang on” to American fossil fuel dependency delays progress towards a “healthier, and more respectful world.”

“We have to stop the predation of the resources of the planet,” Hidalgo said in remarks first delivered in French.

Yet the mayor also noted that the Paris Accord was remarkable for placing great stock in the role that cities and the private sector can play in downshifting the planet’s emissions. She praised Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City and current urban development impresario, for his considerable sway in getting the agreement constructed such that the actions and policies of smaller players count, alongside those of nations.

Generating some 70 percent of global CO2 emissions, cities are a huge part of the climate problem. But they’re also at the proper scale to make nimble and effective change, Hidalgo noted. “Whenever problems come up, we react,” she said. “We are directly called upon by citizens to obtain results.” Hidalgo’s recent moves to create car-free zones, improve the city’s bike networks, and invest in renewable energy to power building stock in Paris illustrate the idea.

That is why, in the face of of Trump’s regressive climate politics, Hidalgo said her belief in the power of cities remains strong. She offered a new variant on “think global, act local,” an old maxim favored by environmentalists. “I think there is a limit to this principle,” she said. In an age where small-scale actions add up and ripple out, “we are thinking globally, and acting globally, too.”

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Perspective

    Untangling the Housing Shortage and Gentrification

    Untangling these related but different problems is important, because the tactics for solving one won’t work for the other.

  2. A cyclist rides on the bike lane in the Mid Market neighborhood during Bike to Work Day in San Francisco,
    Perspective

    Why We Need to Dream Bigger Than Bike Lanes

    In the 1930s big auto dreamed up freeways and demanded massive car infrastructure. Micromobility needs its own Futurama—one where cars are marginalized.

  3. Maps

    A Comprehensive Map of American Lynchings

    The practice wasn’t limited to the South, as this new visualization of racial violence in the Jim Crow era proves.

  4. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

  5. a photo of the Maryland Renaissance Festival
    Life

    The Utopian Vision That Explains Renaissance Fairs

    What’s behind the enduring popularity of all these medieval-themed living-history festivals?

×