"Global carbon emissions and global temperatures are still on the rise: 2015 was the warmest year on record until 2016 became the warmest on record", former President Barack Obama, who addressed the mayors who gathered to sign the climate agreement, said.
While China, India and Brazil, along with many other developing countries and wealthy nations such as the U.S. and European Union member states have recently chosen to ratify the Paris Agreement, Russia is absent from the list of backers.
"And cities and states and businesses and universities and nonprofits have emerged as the new face of American leadership on climate change".
Chicago officials are billing the North American Climate Summit Chicago as the first of its kind in the city. In June 2017, US President Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the agreement, causing widespread condemnation internationally and domestically. The U.S. won't technically back out until 2020 because of legal technicalities.
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.
"You may withdraw", says Emanuel, referring to Trump pulling out of the Paris Agreement.
The Chicago charter calls for mayors to achieve a per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that's equal to or more than what is outlined in the Paris agreement. Continuing to fight climate change "makes business sense", he added. "It was going to be up to all of us", Obama told the gathering of mayors from around the world who were there to sign the Chicago Climate Charter.
Without mentioning Trump by name, Emanuel, a former White House chief of staff to Obama, said Trump is in denial on climate change but shouldn't ignore science.
"Climate change can be solved by human action", he said.
Emanuel says the participating mayors are filling a leadership void created by Trump by signing a first-of-its-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.
Some environmental activists say that the mayors deserve credit for trying to pick up the slack from the Trump administration on reducing carbon emissions. "Even as Washington fails to act, cities have the power and will to take decisive action to protect our planet and the health and safety of our residents".
"We met resistance every step of the way", he said, according to The Hill.