US mayors join push for 'Global Green New Deal' at international conference

The mayors of New York City, Los Angeles and a host of other U.S. cities joined their counterparts from around the world on Wednesday in pushing a global version of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's "Green New Deal."

The freshman New York congresswoman traveled to Copenhagen for a meeting with the C40, a group of 94 mayors led by Los Angeles' Mayor Eric Garcetti -- who was just announced as the group's new chair. The plan aims to halve carbon emissions by 2030 through cleaner alternatives and the "strictest possible building codes." It also seeks to achieve the Paris Climate Agreement's goal of keeping warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Besides Garcetti, mayors from at least five U.S. cities released statements supporting the global adoption of Ocasio-Cortez's climate framework. Those included New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio; Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan; Austin, Texas, Mayor Steve Adler; Portland, Ore., Mayor Ted Wheeler; and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney.

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“I am inspired by this coalition and the commitments made for a global Green New Deal. If we work to join forces globally, we will be able to defeat our greatest threat and realize our greatest opportunity," said Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

The C40 group echoed months of Ocasio-Cortez's rhetoric, warning of an impending "climate emergency" and blaming "a minority of very powerful, science-denying governments, representing the interests of the fossil-fuel industry" for inaction.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who also serves as C40's board president, portrayed the commitment as a way to improve public health and drive economic growth.

“Together, C40 cities have taken thousands of successful actions to reduce carbon emissions, and they are proving how fighting climate change helps drive economic growth and improve public health. There is no time to waste," he said.

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Wednesday's news appeared to be a flagrant rebuke of the Trump administration's approach to foreign policy on climate change. The president controversially said he would rescind the U.S.'s support for the Paris Climate Agreement, citing economic impacts on cities like Pittsburgh.

It was also the latest indication that high-ranking officials were willing to embrace Ocasio-Cortez's ambitious vision for tackling climate change. A slew of 2020 Democratic candidates endorsed the framework of her "Green New Deal" while laying out multitrillion-dollar plans that involved substantial regulation.

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Conservatives have balked at the plan as a thinly veiled attempt to bring socialism to the United States. The price tag alone could be problematic for Democrats in the 2020 election. Conservative estimates have projected the "Green New Deal" would cost trillions, inflict a heavy toll on economic growth and burden swing-state voters.

Advocates say that the alternative would be worse. "We need to start getting comfortable with how extreme the problem is," Ocasio-Cortez previously said, "because only until we accept ... how bad climate change is and how bad it can be for our children's lives, are we going to be comfortable pursuing really big solutions."

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