Less than one month after President Trump announced that the United States would be exiting the Paris Climate Agreement, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett reaffirmed the city’s support of the historic agreement. Mayor Barrett joins an ever-growing group of mayors, governors, university chancellors, and business leaders who have pledged to meet the greenhouse gas targets set under the agreement.
When the agreement was solidified in 2015, President Obama committed the United States to reducing its greenhouse emissions by 26% from 2005 levels. With President Trump’s announcement of the departure from the agreement, the United States became one of only three countries to exclude itself from the accord. It’s worth noting that the other countries not in the agreement are Nicaragua (which thought the agreement didn’t go far enough) and Syria.
Now that the federal government no longer supports efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, local leaders will take the lead in combatting climate change. Milwaukee heavily relies on its natural resources as a driver for economic development and tourism, and will be uniquely impacted by the effects of climate change.
Warmer temperatures can disrupt plant and animal life in our rivers and lakes by reducing ice cover in winter and exposing water to higher rates of evaporation. Such evaporation can drastically lower water levels in lakes, which would have serious implications for Milwaukee’s infrastructure. Researchers agree that the Great Lakes region will experience extreme heat and flooding if climate change is not mitigated, resulting in massive harm to Southeastern Wisconsin’s infrastructure, economy, water quality, and public health.
As a nonprofit organization working to protect our waterways, we recognize that climate change is a serious issue that should not be ignored. Sweet Water supports Mayor Barrett and the Milwaukee Common Council’s intention to keep Milwaukee in the international community’s effort to combat climate change.