The Seattle City Council expressed the city’s “commitment to meet or exceed” the goals of the Paris Agreement, after President Donald Trump earlier this month withdrew the United States from the agreement to limit climate change.

Share story

The Seattle City Council Monday resolved to maintain and develop the environmental standards of the Paris Agreement.

President Donald Trump earlier this month withdrew the United States from the agreement, which asks countries to strive to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and also become carbon neutral by 2050. The U.S. is now one of three countries not participating, along with Syria and Nicaragua.

Seattle’s resolution is a direct response to Trump’s action, Councilmember Mike O’Brien said. It expresses the city’s “commitment to meet or exceed” the goals of the original agreement.

O’Brien, who chairs the committee on sustainability and transportation, said Seattle needed to join other U.S. cities committing themselves to the environmental standards, despite the federal withdrawal.

“When we heard this was likely to happen, we started moving swiftly to figure out, ‘Okay, what do we do?’ ’’ O’Brien said.

“What’s emerged rapidly is this commitment that state and local jurisdictions are preparing to figure out how we demonstrate to the rest of the world that the United States is still on board, even if it’s not happening at the national level,” he added.

Los Angeles, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh also have agreed to uphold the environmental standards of the Paris Agreement.

Nearly 20 Seattleites gave brief testimonies showing their approval of the resolution and offering ideas to make stronger environmental commitments before the vote. Many urged council members to exceed the current standards.

“It was never enough to begin with,” Capitol Hill resident Valerie Costa said. “The agreement was created with federal reductions, and now we can expand.”

She sees transportation — and incentives to get people out of cars — key to reducing Seattle’s emissions. She also suggested more affordable housing downtown and a larger remote workforce to cut down on traveling.

Jamie Margolin, a ninth-grader from West Seattle, hopped on a bus after a final exam Monday to add to the conversation. She said she’s concerned for the younger generation, those who will suffer the consequences of lax climate policy.

“You adults should have started years ago,” she told council members, carrying a gas pump by her side. She advocated for warning stickers on fuel pumps so those filling their tanks can learn about oil’s effect on the environment.

“The systems of our Earth are dying and it’s just so urgent and so terrifying that I have to speak up,” she said after the meeting. “I have to be speaking out.”