US States Stand Up to Trump on Climate Change

A number of US states, municipalities and activists have banded together to ensure the US meets its commitments after Trump pulled out of the Paris Agreement last week
Meeting climate change targets without the federal government’s help will not be easy.Meeting climate change targets without the federal government’s help will not be easy.
Former New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has said the Americans don’t need the government to meet climate change goals

A dozen US states, hundreds of municipalities and Puerto Rico have stepped up to fight climate change in response to President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement.

Through formal and informal initiatives, the non-federal government bodies are seeking to work directly with foreign governments to reduce emissions. They see Trump’s decision to abandon the climate pact as an opportunity to play their part on global warming while seeking new opportunities in clean energy, The Hill reported.

The efforts, led mostly by Democrats, are bringing forth more aggressive localized climate action plans than likely would have happened if the United States had stayed with the Paris pact.

It remains to be seen, however, whether the states and cities will make real pledges that go beyond political statements. Even supporters concede that they cannot replace the strong federal actions that Trump is unwilling to take.

  Sustaining Momentum

Nonetheless, they see the non-federal commitments as a way to keep the anti-Trump, pro-climate momentum going.

“It’s the silver lining from what happened last week. It’s really encouraging and it may be that, ironically, the decision to vacate Paris energizes the pro-climate movement,” Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) told The Hill.

“I don’t think it’s a substitute for international policy. But to get more renewable energy online is mostly a local decision. It’s made by public utility commissions, it’s made by governors and mayors and utility companies, and so, the fight goes local.”

Hawaii was one of the more aggressive actors last week on climate policy. Spurred by Trump’s election and his decision on Paris, Governor David Ige (D) signed legislation into law that formally aligns Hawaii with the goals of the Paris agreement.

Like many of the states and localities rolling out new climate initiatives, Hawaii has been at the forefront of fighting global warming. It previously committed to getting 100% of its electricity from clean energy sources by 2045.

California Governor Jerry Brown (D) has also taken a high-profile role. He went to China days after Trump’s announcement and used the trip to highlight California’s independence on climate change.

 “President Trump’s announced withdrawal [from the accord] has heightened the focus on this fundamental existential threat called global warming, called habitat destruction, called species extinction,” Brown said in a speech in Beijing, according to the Los Angeles Times. “We have to wake up our countrymen—in fact, the world.”

Hart said he’s keeping an eye on an effort being led by former New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, to organize non-federal climate commitments, including those by businesses and universities, into a new submission to the Paris agreement.

It would act as an alternative to Trump’s position. But the United Nations currently has no mechanism for a contribution from entities other than a nation’s national government.

“Americans don’t need Washington to meet our Paris commitments and Americans are not going to let Washington stand in the way of fulfilling it,” Bloomberg said this week in France after meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, two strong proponents of the agreement.

“I want the world to know that the US will meet its Paris commitments and that through partnerships among cities, states and businesses, we will seek to remain part of the Paris agreement process,” Bloomberg said.

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