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Olympic Bid Mayors Emphasize Environment After USA Withdraws from Paris Agreement

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, center, speaks during a news conference Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017, in Los Angeles. Photo: AP/Jae C. Hong

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has emphasized his city’s commitment to environmental issues after United States President Donald Trump withdrew the country from the Paris Agreement on climate change.

This comes as both Los Angeles and its sole rival for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, French capital Paris, have pledged sustainability issues as a key part of their respective bids.

The Agreement, signed in 2015, required each signatory country to determine its own contribution it should make in order to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

It was presented as a key means to bring all nations together to meet collective targets to combat global warming.

The US now joins Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries to have rejected the agreement.

They are hoping to negotiate a new deal which would better better benefit American workers.

Garcetti, the Democrat Mayor of Los Angeles who frequently opposes the Republican administration of Trump, immediately criticized the decision.

“Climate change is a fact of life that people in Los Angeles and cities around the world live with every day,” he said in a statement.

“It is a grave threat to our health, our environment, and our economy – and it is not debatable or negotiable.

“This is an urgent challenge, and it’s much bigger than one person.

“With the President pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, LA will lead by committing to the goals of the accord – and will work closely with cities across America and the world to do the same.”

Garcetti is a co-founder of a “Mayors National Climate Action Agenda” which has supported adopting the resolutions of the Paris deal in their respective cities across the country.

It is unclear whether many voting International Olympic Committee (IOC) members would be affected by Trump’s decision, but sustainability is a central plank of the Agenda 2020 reforms introduced by President Thomas Bach in 2014.

Jeff Immelt, the chairman and chief executive of General Electric, a member of the IOC’s The Olympic Program (TOP) sponsorship scheme, was among others to criticize the decision via social media.

“Disappointed with today’s decision on the Paris Agreement,” he tweeted.

“Climate change is real.

“Industry must now lead and not depend on Government.”

Yannis Exarchos, the chief executive of Olympic Broadcasting Services, also posted: “I have a feeling that this may prove to be a pivotal moment in US history…

“It’s not a good feeling.”

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo. Photo: AFP Photo/Francois Guillot

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and French President Emmanuel Macron have also each criticized the decision.

Hidalgo said Trump has made a “dramatic mistake” while Macron took the unusual step of speaking in English from the steps of the Elysée Palace when claiming he thought it was an “actual mistake both for the US and for our planet”.

Paris 2024 have particularly heralded sustainability building on the success of the Paris Agreement as a key part of their bid.

Hidalgo spoke about these issues at length during the city’s first bid presentation at the Association of National Olympic Committee General Assembly in Doha in November.

Los Angeles have been slightly less vocal, but insists that their bid concept requiring no new venues perfectly embraces sustainability.

They also unveiled a Sustainability and Legacy Committee during last month’s Evaluation Commission inspection visit to the city.

It is possible that these recent developments could also impact the ongoing discussions to award both the 2024 and 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games this year.

Paris is currently thought more likely to land the 2024 edition while Los Angeles would then host in 2028.

Trump is currently a supporter of the LA bid despite his tense relations with Garcetti.

He is expected to invite Bach to the White House for a meeting over the next few weeks.

An IOC spokesperson has told insidethegames that there is “nothing concrete as yet” when asked if a date had been proposed.

By Nick Butler

Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz

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