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Tel Aviv City Hall goes green to protest US climate accord pullout

‘We need to take responsibility for next generation,’ mayor says, criticizing Trump decision to withdraw from landmark pact

Tel Aviv City Hall lit in green to protest the US decision to withdraw from the Paris climate change accord. (Ron Huldai via Facebook)
Tel Aviv City Hall lit in green to protest the US decision to withdraw from the Paris climate change accord. (Ron Huldai via Facebook)

Tel Aviv’s City Hall was lit in green lights Sunday night in protest of the decision by US President Donald Trump to withdraw his country for the Paris climate change accord.

Mayor Ron Huldai said he was adding Tel Aviv to the list of cities speaking out against the move, which has drawn strong condemnation from leaders around the world.

“We need to take responsibility for the next generation,” Huldai said in a statement posted to Facebook. “That means, among other things, continuing to research, learn and act on the quality of the environment and the climate.”

“Tel Aviv-Jaffa is tonight joining leading cities around the world protesting the US withdrawal from the international climate accord,” he added.

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai speaking at an education conference in Tel Aviv on May 26, 2016. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai speaking at an education conference in Tel Aviv on May 26, 2016. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Lights on the city’s municipal building facade are often used to show solidarity or support for countries after terror attacks.

Trump’s decision last week has been roundly criticized across the globe, with mayors and others vowing to continue upholding the agreement to reduce carbon emissions, signed onto by some 200 countries.

Israel signed the agreement in 2015 and the government has vowed to keep up the accord no matter what the US does.

US President Donald Trump announces his decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Accords in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on June 1, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB)
US President Donald Trump announces his decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Accords in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on June 1, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB)

“Even if there’s a 50 percent likelihood that climate change and global warming are caused by human activity, it is our duty to act to minimize risks,” Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz posted on Facebook Thursday, hours before Trump’s announcement. “The Paris accords were a rare occurrence in which the world united — save for Syria and Nicaragua — to care for the welfare and health of future generations.”

The statement was seen as a rare criticism of US policy by Jerusalem, which has been among Trump’s most vocal supporters.

Protesters hold up signs during a demonstration in front of the White House in Washington, DC on June 1, 2017, objecting to US President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate accord. (AFP PHOTO / PAUL J. RICHARDS)
Protesters hold up signs during a demonstration in front of the White House in Washington, DC on June 1, 2017, objecting to US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate accord. (AFP PHOTO / PAUL J. RICHARDS)

After Israel signed on to the Paris accords in 2015, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the accords an “important agreement.” He acknowledged the reality of global warming and pledged to combat it. Enforcing the agreement, he said, “demands international discipline, which is not easy, but for the good of humanity, I hope that it will be found.”

To that end, Israel promised, by 2030, to keep greenhouse gas emissions at about their current levels. Taking population growth into account, the plan amounts to a per-capita reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of approximately 26 percent. Israel’s plan also included an eightfold increase in renewable energy sources, implementing greener building codes to promote energy efficiency and investing in public transit.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget, outside Paris on November 30, 2015. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget, outside Paris on November 30, 2015. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

At the time, Israeli climate activists called the commitments insufficient. But they welcomed the plan as a first step.

Israel’s climate change pledge also played into its self-image as a leader in environmentalism, a country whose founding story includes “making the desert bloom” and rejuvenating forests from north to south.

In announcing his decision, Trump said he was “elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.” By abandoning the world’s chief effort to slow the tide of planetary warming, Trump was fulfilling a top campaign pledge after weeks of building up suspense over his decision.

The White House indicated it would follow the lengthy exit process outlined in the deal. That means the US would remain in the agreement, at least formally, for another three-and-a-half years, ensuring the issue remains alive in the next presidential election.

AP contributed to this report.

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