In the wake of President Trump’s decision to extricate the United States from the Paris climate agreement, the European Union declared that it would go around the White House and work with individual states and businesses in order to uphold the accord’s goals.
It seems then that its member states are already turning words into actions: Germany just declared that it would work directly with California to tackle the threat of uncontrolled climate change.
“California and Germany unite the world leaders in the fight against climate change, the existential threat of our time,” Jerry Brown, the Governor of California, said in a statement released by the German ministry.
“We cannot achieve our climate goals without the engagement of local and regional communities,” Germany’s Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said during her meeting with Brown this weekend in San Francisco.
Just a few days ago during a visit to China, Brown announced that his state would work directly with the Chinese government on tackling climate change under a new, independent agreement. Now it seems that Germany will do exactly the same, working closely with California as part of the “Under 2 Coalition,” a collection of cities, regional governments, and other US states that want to keep global warming below the 2°C (3.6°F) limit set out by the Paris agreement.
This comes hot on the heels of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s pledge to forge on with the Paris agreement. “The decision of the United States to pull out of the Paris agreement is utterly regrettable, and that is me choosing very restrained language,” Merkel said at the time.
This latest development highlights two rather dramatic facts about the reaction to Trump’s historic decision to pull out of the Paris accords.
Firstly, states are beginning to act more like independent countries when it comes to international diplomacy. California, in particular, is making enormous strides in this regard. Being the wealthiest state – it’s GDP matches that of France, for example – its actions have a huge effect on the global economy, let alone America’s.
The fact that California is signing climate agreements with other nations while simultaneously doubling down on its efforts to perfect its already booming clean energy industries is nothing less than enormously significant. It sets a shining example for the rest of the country, especially the fledgling Climate Alliance – a coalition of states keeping to the Paris agreement – that it co-founded.
Secondly, Germany is proving time and time again that it is determined to be an internationalist nation that pushes back against dangerous populism and navel-gazing. It wants to play its part in the Paris agreement – and most importantly, it wants to ensure the rest of the EU fulfills their commitments too.