LOS ANGELES - Many U.S. states, cities and businesses say they will forge ahead with the U.S. commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, even though President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal. The U.S. under President Barack Obama pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
“As of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the nonbinding Paris accord and the Draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country,” Trump said.
'We Are Still In'
The response against Trump’s decision is a letter titled “We Are Still In,” signed by hundreds of leaders of states, cities, universities and businesses pledging to continue their support for the Paris climate change agreement.
Former New York Mayor and U.N. Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change Michael Bloomberg pledged $15 million to make up for the U.S. contribution to the climate agreement.
“The American government may have pulled out of the agreement, but the American people remain committed to it and we will meet our targets,” Bloomberg said.
Just days after Trump’s announcement, California Governor Jerry Brown met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and signed an agreement to work on reducing emissions.
“It’s highly significant that the governor of California can meet with the president of China, talk about very specific issues, on the foremost challenge of our time, namely climate change, and commit to taking the kind of steps that are needed to further this process of energy transformation,” Brown said.
Mayors National Climate Action Agenda released a statement signed by 61 mayors across the country saying, “We will continue to lead. We are increasing investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. We will buy and create more demand for electric cars and trucks. We will increase our efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, create a clean energy economy, and stand for environmental justice. And if the president wants to break the promises made to our allies enshrined in the historic Paris Agreement, we’ll build and strengthen relationships around the world to protect the planet from devastating climate risks.”
Federal government not needed
“There’s a lot of power that subnational jurisdictions have over the sort of instruments and sources of greenhouse gas emissions, and if they’re willing to wield that power aggressively and ambitiously, they actually don’t need the federal government in order to do so,” said Cara Horowitz, co-executive director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the University of California Los Angeles.
Horowitz said California, with one of the toughest environmental policies in the U.S., has shown how clean energy can benefit the local economy.
“California’s lesson is really an important one. It’s actually drawn tremendous investment for its clean tech sector in California. That clean tech sector is booming. California’s economy has done nothing but boom. In fact, it’s grown greater than that of many other states in the United States while it’s had these ambitious climate policies in place,” Horowitz said.
But University of Southern California Marshall School of Business’ Shon Hiatt said there is a trade-off for having tougher environmental regulations.
“California has the second highest after Hawaii in terms of electricity prices in the country, and of course the second highest gasoline after Hawaii,” Hiatt said.
Jobs created through the clean technology sector may also be difficult to fill.
“You’re going to need to retrain them (workers), and two, more than likely, they’re going to need to move,” Hiatt said.
He said the challenge for supporters of the Paris agreement is to persuade enough states and the electorate that there is a greater benefit to future generations to make the financial investment to reduce emissions.
“Unless they get a critical mass of states it’s not feasible,” he said.
But Hiatt said what is happening is the increased use of natural gas. It is cheaper than coal, and will reduce emissions.