Mayors from around the globe who signed a charter in Chicago pledging to fight climate change have different concerns for the coming years.
Former President Barack Obama was expected to address the crowd in the afternoon, following sessions on transportation, energy and waste management for mayors from cities including Paris, Mexico City, San Francisco and Phoenix.
As upbeat and positive as Obama can be, but what he is discussing is truly apocalyptic in nature. But the cities' mayors need to do more to address the disproportionate health burdens in their low-income and minority communities impacted by climate change, activists say.
Emanuel says the participating mayors are filling a leadership void created by Trump by signing a first-of-it's-kind worldwide charter agreement aligned to the Paris climate agreement that commits their cities to reducing greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming and outlines specific plans for meeting the carbon emission reduction targets by 2025. So now local governments feel that cities and states have to be the "new face of American leadership" on climate change.
Obama ratified the Paris agreement in 2015, and President Trump said in June that the USA would pull out of it. Syria recently said that it planned to join the accord, making the US the only nation in the world that doesn't belong to it, which Obama said is a "difficult position to defend". "Cities and states and businesses and universities and nonprofits have emerged as the new face of American leadership on climate change".
The more than 50 mayors and global climate leaders converged on the city this week for the North American Climate Summit, part of a commitment to addressing climate change on the local level. Leaders elsewhere have taken similar action.
Trump, who has expressed skepticism about the scientific consensus on climate change and more generally chafes at the notion of global agreements, announced in June that he was withdrawing the USA from the climate accord.
At the time of the announcement, Syria and Nicaragua had also denied the Paris Agreement, both countries have now seen the light and joined the ranks.
One part of the Paris Agreement that big cities won't be able to duplicate: contributing billions of dollars that the U.S.
The idea is to fill the void left by the actions of the Republican president, who has worked to reverse much of Obama's approach to foreign policy, Chicago officials said. Mr. Trump's position has been cheered by many Republicans and rural residents, but nearly universally panned in large cities governed by Democrats.
Mayors from 51 cities around the world attended the event.
This includes Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Mexico City Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo.
"For a moment in time that requires action, we're offered by the White House inaction", Mr. Emanuel said, blasting a federal policy of "denial" and "complacency". They are also promising to work side by side with scientific and academic experts to find solutions.