Editorial: Buttigieg’s Pittsburgh summit is a good idea
Let’s get on this Pittsburgh summit.
Not the top of Mt. Washington. The one tossed out by Pete Buttigieg at Thursday’s debate for Democratic presidential candidates.
In a question about climate change, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., spoke as a leader of a not-coastal city that is still dealing with record floods.
“We have to look at the leadership of local communities. The networks of mayors and cities not waiting for the national governments to catch up. We should have a Pittsburgh summit as well as rejoining the Paris agreement,” Buttigieg said.
Once President Trump left the Paris climate agreement by saying, “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris” — and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto rejected the president’s sentiment, pledging to follow the Paris accord — the two cities were thrust together.
Peduto has embraced that idea. He picked up Buttigieg’s gauntlet, replying on Twitter that the U.N.’s Conference of the Parties 28 in 2022 would be the perfect opportunity. That group? It’s the same one that came together to sign the Paris agreement in 2015.
— bill peduto (@billpeduto) June 28, 2019
And placing a city like Pittsburgh at the core of a climate change discussion makes more than electoral sense.
Pittsburgh is more than just the second biggest city in a swing state. It’s a manufacturing powerhouse. Literally. The coke that drives steelmaking is made in the backyard. The air quality speaks to the fact that people still work blue-collar jobs in a union town. We have genuine environmental issues that cannot be dismissed as a hoax. We aren’t by the ocean, but the rivers rise too.
But we need to balance that with the practical concerns of economy. We need to know that our jobs aren’t going to be regulated away. We want our homes to be worth what we paid for them. Talk of dramatic changes to what industries would be able to do can be terrifying to a population just worried about making mortgage payments.
So let’s bring people to Pittsburgh to talk about numbers and come up with ideas. If we’re going to reduce an emission, let’s not just agree on what but find a how. If we’re going to talk about replacing a technology, let’s talk about the bottom line cost and how to make it doable. Most of all, let’s put jobs at the core because nothing works if people can’t work.
Pittsburgh is perfect for that. It’s where two rivers came together to create a larger, stronger river. There is no reason that it can’t be a confluence of ideas, too.