Carmel, Ind., Mayor Jim Brainard says climate change should be no more a political issue than filling potholes or picking up the trash.
With media betting that President Trump will reject the Paris climate accord during an expected 3 p.m. news conference in the Rose Garden, at least one Republican mayor is hoping he won’t erase the United States from that environmental agreement.
Jim Brainard, a Republican who’s been the mayor of Carmel, Ind., for 22 years, told PJM Trump would send the wrong message to the rest of the world if he pulls the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord.
“It will send a message that we don’t care about being a great country,” Brainard said. “Great countries take leadership roles. Great countries ensure that their air and water quality is as good as it could be and great countries look out for future generations.”
Brainard has never been shy when it comes to giving a U.S. president his opinion on the environment.
Brainard, a co-chairman of the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ climate change and energy independence task force, was sought out by former President Obama for his opinion on climate change.
Most news agencies hours before the expected Rose Garden announcement were predicting Trump would pull the U.S. out of the agreement that 195 nations signed on to in 2015.
Brainard said not only would that be a wrong decision for the U.S. and the world, but it would run counter to what a conservative Republican should be doing in the White House.
Brainard said even if Trump doesn’t agree with the scientific consensus on climate change,
pulling the U.S. out of the Paris accord would be a “reckless” decision that would not be consistent with a conservative philosophy.
“The conservative position would be to say, ‘What if the scientists are right? Shouldn’t we plan for that?’” Brainard said. “So I think it would be a reckless position and I think it would show a lack of leadership.”
Brainard admitted Trump promised to pull the U.S. out of the Paris accord on climate change during his successful campaign for the White House. However, Brainard does not think Trump would alienate the Republican Party’s base if he changed his mind.
“Apparently it hasn’t bothered them in the past,” Brainard said. “He did a 180 on free trade. He did a 180 on a lot of important things. The base seems to have stayed with him.”
The mayor does not believe that all Republicans want Trump to put the U.S. alongside Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries not party to the Paris accord. Brainard pointed to Carmel, Ind., where close to 80 percent of the voters are Republicans.
“But Trump only got 56 percent of the vote here in Carmel,” he said. “I talk to people every day on the street. They are concerned about clean water and clean air. They are concerned about climate change at the intensity of the storms.”
Brainard said the approach to climate change would be different if mayors like himself were running the country — or, at least, guiding the nation’s environmental policy.
“Mayors tend to be very practical,” he said.
Among his peers, Brainard is not a lone voice in the wilderness on the issue of climate change.
““U.S. mayors have committed their cities to address climate change by investing in renewable energy, increasing the energy efficiency of buildings, addressing the water-energy nexus, and providing more energy-efficient transportation options,” said Tom Cochran, CEO and executive director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, in a March 2017 statement supporting the Paris accord.
“[The accord] positions the world’s nations, including the United States, to be energy independent, self-reliant, and resilient,” Cochran said.
Brainard said mayors like himself know they can’t put a political spin on climate change any more than they could on filling potholes or picking up the trash.
“There is no Republican or Democratic approach to [climate change],” Brainard said. “People just want it fixed.”