Updated: June 5, 2017 at 3:56 p.m.
University President Steven Knapp joined more than 150 university presidents in signing a pledge to follow the Paris climate agreement, despite President Donald Trump’s decision to exit the pact, University spokeswoman Candace Smith confirmed Saturday.
Knapp joins an alliance of university and business leaders as well as mayors and governors from across the country committing to meet the requirements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions laid out in the accord.
The coalition, organized by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and environmental advocacy group Second Nature, which is leading the effort in higher education, plans to negotiate with the United Nations to accept its participation in the agreement alongside other country’s contributions, the New York Times reported Friday.
Signees committed to reduce emissions to slow the planet’s warming and transition to clean energy sources in the United States. University leaders had until 1 p.m. Monday to join the effort, according to Second Nature’s website.
When the pledge closed Monday, 1,219 signatures on the pledge represent 902 corporations, 125 mayors, 183 universities and nine governors.
The signees representing cities and states, including Oregon, New York, Los Angeles and Houston, serve 120 million Americans and provide $6.2 trillion to the American economy, according to a Second Nature release. Businesses and investors that make up $1.4 trillion of the annual revenue signed the pledge, including more than 20 Fortune 500 companies, like Apple, Google and Nike, and hundreds of small businesses.
“This isn’t just another sign-on letter. It is an unprecedented coalition united to lead the country in a cross-sectoral approach to climate action that hasn’t been attempted before,” the organization’s President Tim Carter said in a letter to university presidents.
Knapp serves on the Climate Leadership Steering Committee for Second Nature to advise the group’s policy to promote the reduction of carbon pollution, according to its website.
Trump announced Thursday that the United States would pull out of the agreement, an international commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are driving climate change.
“By declaring that ‘we are still in,’ the signatories are putting the best interests of their constituents, customers, students and communities first while assuring the rest of the world that American leadership on climate change extends well beyond the federal government,” according to the release.
More than 200 mayors, including Mayor Muriel Bowser, agreed to work toward Paris Agreement goals in their cities, 13 governors have created the U.S. Climate Alliance and 17 governors have released statements about sticking to the agreement as of Monday, according to the release.
Bowser released a statement Thursday promising to fight climate change, commit to wind and solar power and ramp up sustainability efforts in the District.
“Fortunately, I am confident that leaders around the country will continue to think globally, act locally, and ensure that the U.S. remains a strong partner in the fight against climate change,” she said in the statement.