EDITORIAL | Climate charter, DOJ response show Seattle will lead

History has a way of repeating itself.

When the Kyoto Protocol went into effect in 2005 without the ratification of the United States, then-Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels launched the Mayor’s Climate Protection Initiative, challenging cities to meet the greenhouse gas emission targetsthat the country as a whole would not. Since then, more than 1,000 cities have signed on.

More than a decade later, we have another global effort — The Paris Agreement — and another administration with no interest in participating.

And again, it’s cities picking up the slack, this time with the Chicago Climate Charter signed by 50 North American mayors last week, including Jenny Durkan.

By signing on, the city pledges to achieve a percent reduction in carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, to advocate for greater local authority allowing cities to take aggressive action, and to support partnerships and initiatives that incentivize moving to a new climate economy, among other promises.

Just days after that announcement, Durkan and City Attorney Pete Holmes issued a strong rebuke to threats from the Department of Justice to withold funding to “sanctuary cities.”

These moves by the city, we hope, is a sign of things to come on how the city approaches larger issues that the Trump Administration has chosen to ignore, or undo progress already made.

On the campaign trail, Durkan made a point of saying Seattle would have to lead, expecting little good to come out of Washington, D.C. And even in the few weeks since she’s taken office, that’s become even more apparent, with the decisions to shrink the boundaries of several national monuments, and roll back oil train safety rules, among other changes.

It’s abundantly clear that progressive policies will have to be championed at the local level. To that end, we’re happy to see the city commit to the same standards in addressing climate change that the rest of the world has signed on to. But also important is how the city is joining with dozens of others, something else we hope to see more of in the coming months and years.

In face of uncertain times, the best course of action is to collaborate wherever possible, to forge positive change on as broad a scale as possible.

With Seattle as reliably liberal as it is, it will have to be one of the municipalities to take the lead wherever it can, to keep progress moving even if the national headwinds are as strong as they’ve ever been.