Des Moines Mayor Pledges to Uphold Goals of Paris Climate Agreement

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  At Senator Joni Ernst's Roast and Ride event, Vice President Mike Pence declared the president's decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement was putting cities like Pittsburgh and Des Moines first, but both the mayor of Pittsburgh and now the mayor of Des Moines have signed pledges to uphold goals laid out in the Paris agreement.

“We have made a commitment. We plan on making good on our commitment. We have made steps on achieving those goals, and it’s not just Des Moines, Iowa, it’s mayors and cities around this country and around the world that are making that in spite of sometimes the lack of support from the federal government,” said Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie.

The goal of the Paris agreement was to limit a rise in global temperature to less than two degrees Celsius, but it allows countries to set their own, non-binding goals on how to do it. Mayor Cownie said Des Moines is still following its goals--which were set back in 2015--to reduce emissions by 25% by 2020, 50% by 2030, and be carbon neutral by 2040.

“City government, county government, we’re looking at opportunities and things that we can do to make our buildings more efficient. We work with the school districts in that regard,” said Cownie.

Cownie said without counting the energy Mid-American Energy supplies as wind, the city has reduced its energy emissions by 17%.  He also said Des Moines will be looking to extend incentives to businesses who help reduce those further.

“We’re sort of evolving that not just to be job creation, but to be connected to what we did with Wellmark to say, hey, we’ll give you a little bit more of an incentive if you meet this criteria in energy efficiency and healthy buildings.”

At Saturday’s rally in support of the Paris agreement, organizers said they hope state lawmakers will jump on board when the next legislative session starts.

“We are concerned citizens, we want to be stewards of the earth, we want to take care of the earth, and we want to make sure we try and slow the effects of climate change especially even here in Iowa, especially being an agriculture state,” said organizer Ruth Henderson.

They mayors of Dubuque and Fairfield have also pledged to uphold the Paris agreement.