Helena could be the next to join a group of cities vowing to uphold an international climate agreement rejected by President Donald Trump.
Last week, Trump announced the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, which is intended to help reduce the effects of climate change worldwide. Citing numbers prepared for a conservative think tank by NERA Economic Consulting, Trump said complying with the agreement could cost the United States 2.7 million jobs by 2025 and shave trillions from the U.S. economy, according to national media reports.
This week, Helena Commissioner Andres Haladay proposed a resolution saying the city will support the Paris agreement by joining the Mayors National Climate Change Action Agenda.
Some 294 cities throughout the United States have joined the group, which in a June 1 statement committed to "adopt, honor, and uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement. We will intensify efforts to meet each of our cities’ current climate goals, push for new action to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius target, and work together to create a 21st century clean energy economy."
Bozeman is the only Montana city that has joined so far, according to the organization’s website.
The Helena City Commission could take a vote on Haladay's resolution at its June 26 meeting.
The resolution says Helena recognizes that humans are contributing to global warming and that reductions in greenhouse gasses are necessary to avert the negative consequences of a changing climate. It proposes that the city prepare an annual report that documents specific activities it has implemented to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, track its emissions and use of resources, and recommend future sustainability measures.
“City of Helena will continue to support action to meet the Paris Agreement,” it says.
The resolution says the state is projected to lose 11,000 outdoor recreation jobs and $281 million in labor earnings in recreation and tourism by 2050 as a result of climate change, and that the city is being directly threatened as well. Haladay cited a report prepared for the Montana Wildlife Federation by Power Consulting Incorporated as the source of those figures.
“Helena is already being negatively impacted by warmer weather from climate change, including increased risk of catastrophic wild fires and threats to Helena’s principal municipal water supply, earlier snowmelt and reduced stream flows,” the resolution says.
The resolution also says the federal government has rolled back “critically important” climate policies, including the Clean Power Plan and vehicle fuel efficiency standards.
“These irresponsible actions will exacerbate the threat of devastating climate risks today, prove harmful to Helena’s environment and economy tomorrow, and put in jeopardy the health, safety and well-being of generations to come,” it says, adding that Gov. Steve Bullock has called withdrawing from the Paris agreement “short-sighted and dangerous.”