At a renewable energy roundtable discussion held Friday, Mayor Bill Peduto and U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) agreed that climate change is the biggest threat facing civilization, and that in the absence of federal leadership, states and cities will have to step up.
Peduto has continued to pledge the city’s commitment to sustainability since President Donald Trump spotlighted Pittsburgh in June in his speech announcing his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement. Peduto signed an executive order soon after committing the city to 100 percent renewable electricity consumption by 2030; Merkley has long supported the development of renewable energies, sponsoring “100 by ’50 Act,” a roadmap to use only clean and renewable energy by 2050.
Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement was a “gift,” Merkley said.
Resistance to the need for climate change policy many times comes down to the assumption that change means absorbing economic losses; Trump has said regulating fossil fuels kills jobs. But Merkley and Peduto argue building wind turbines, solar panels and other technologies will create family-sustaining jobs and improve health across the country.
“The economy is not at war with the environment,” said Merkley. “We can move the two together in a positive, synergistic relationship.”