Why ‘Paris’ Matters

Last year, San Antonio joined hundreds of communities around the country determined to improve the health and security of our families by supporting the values given expression in the Paris climate agreement (signed by every nation on earth, but one: our own).

Just like the Paris agreement, we are about much more than reduction greenhouse gas pollution and transitioning to a clean-energy economy.

This is a movement that recognizes not only the crisis we are in globally but the violence we are exposed to here in our neighborhoods right now.

It is a movement that sees and it rejects the accelerating extinction crisis now eradicating species at a pace the earth has not seen since the demise of the dinosaurs.

It sees and reject the evisceration of the forests and coral reefs, the lungs of our planet. It sees and rejects the cooking of our earth through industrially driven greenhouse emissions locking in centuries of rising temperatures.

Importantly, for our communities, it also recognizes and seeks to address the patterns of social and political discrimination that place the burden of this violence on those least able to withstand it.

It includes the demand for the sovereignty of the First Nations, the original caretakers of this land who have not stopped advocating for their rights while generously offering a vision of right relationship with the earth.

It is a movement that serves as witness and rejects the suffering of those millions who are forced from their homes by extreme weather and withered crops and economic injustice only to be criminalized and jailed when the seek refuge across borders.

But our anger over these deep and longstanding abuses are also grounded in love.

That is why we resist what we see happening all around us and work to model new relationships, one with another, and between all of humankind and the brilliant tapestry of life we are woven within.

In June, 2017, this coalition joined together to reject Donald Trump’s misguided decision to walk away from the historic Paris Agreement and committed to working together to bring to a collective stop these practices and slow the now-rapid warming of the earth.

We demanded:

1. Our mayor join their colleagues in Houston, Dallas, and Austin—and hundreds of their colleagues from around the country—in committing to adopt, honor, and uphold the the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement.

2. Our mayor and city council commit to funding and helping develop a community-led Climate Action Plan that works w/ our residents, advancing their interests—particularly those at most threat from rising temperatures and extreme weather—and to put our city on a path to 100-percent renewable power.

We won on both points. San Antonio won as a result.

Yet we are not calling on our city to merely meet the emissions reductions our last president committed to. They are not enough to prevent catastrophic levels of climate disruption this century.

What we are saying is that we must work with our brothers and sisters around the world to solve our climate crisis together.

The Paris Agreement holds climate action is a matter of “human rights, the right to health, the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, persons with disabilities and people in vulnerable situations and the right to development, as well as gender equality, empowerment of women and intergenerational equity.”

That is the Paris Agreement we support.

These are the principles that must inform San Antonio’s developing Climate Action & Adaptation Plan.