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June 21, 2017

Philly becomes 100th city to join pledge combating global warming

Jim Kenney vowed to set Philadelphia on a path toward 100 percent clean and renewable energy on Wednesday when he became the 100th mayor to sign a pledge combating climate change.

Kenney signed the "Mayors For 100% Clean Energy" pledge, an environmental initiative spearheaded by the Sierra Club.

The pledge commits Philadelphia to transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy throughout the city. Kenney signed three weeks after President Donald Trump announced the United States would pull out of the Paris Accord, an international agreement aimed at fighting global warming.

"The Trump administration's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement has made clear that cities like Philadelphia need to double-down on our climate leadership," Kenney said. "Because there's very little coming out of Washington."

When Trump pulled out of the Paris agreement, Kenney said Philadelphia would honor its commitments to reduce carbon footprint.

In April, the Environmental Protection Agency removed information detailing climate change from its website.

Kenney announced on Thursday that Philadelphia will post that information on its own website. It details the reasons for climate change and provides steps that residents can take to slow carbon emissions and adapt to environmental changes.

"It's bad enough that we withdrew (from the Paris agreement) – now we withdrew information from people," Kenney said. "Times are really bad in this country. ... It's not controversial. It's fact."

The Paris Agreement seeks to prevent the global average temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celcius by 2050. Under the agreement, each country determines its own contributions to mitigate climate change.

Philadelphia officials are developing a master energy plan that will further detail the city's efforts to transition to clean and renewable energy resources.

The city already has intensified tree-planting efforts, launched a zero waste and litter campaign and sought to reduce emissions from city vehicles. The city also has begun investing in energy-efficient buildings.

"We have to do something in Philadelphia," Managing Director Mike DiBerardinis said. "Because unlike other municipalities around the country, big cities have an amazing opportunity to lead in climate change."

Several local institutions, including Drexel University, have joined the city in fighting climate change. Getting others to do likewise will be essential.

"There is an economic case to be made, I believe, for businesses to look at renewable energies and look at energy efficiencies," DiBerardinis said. "It's good business now. I think we want to play on that in the plan.

"We want to build communities of practice so we can learn from one another and build off of the best practices."