The reaction to Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement has been swift, with world leaders, businesses, scientists, academics, and much of the population of the planet up in arms over the self-destructive choice. Although the Republicans have generally fallen in line with the administration, the Democrats are almost completely united in their opposition.
The Democratic Governors of three US states – Jerry Brown of California, Andrew Cuomo of New York, and Jay Inslee of Washington – have long been pushing for a low-carbon economy, and the states themselves have seen remarkable renewable energy sector growth in the past two decades.
It’s unsurprising then that these three powerful politicians have just announced the formation of the US Climate Alliance, a coalition that will abide by the ideals of the Paris agreement and continue to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over time.
In an internal press release seen by IFLScience, Governor Brown – a famously outspoken critic of the Trump administration – spoke his mind on the issue in characteristically blunt terms.
“The President has already said climate change is a hoax, which is the exact opposite of virtually all scientific and worldwide opinion,” the statement reads.
“I don't believe fighting reality is a good strategy – not for America, not for anybody. If the President is going to be AWOL in this profoundly important human endeavor, then California and other states will step up.”
Importantly, the Alliance is committed to “achieving the US goal of reducing emissions 26-28 percent from 2005 levels and meeting or exceeding the targets of the federal Clean Power Plan.”
Designed to use federal oversight to cut the nation’s GHG levels, Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) was prevented from being legally enforced by the courts during his second term, and essentially does not exist at this point.
Nevertheless, it is already more than a decade ahead of schedule for meeting its targets. This is partly because of the increasing cheapness of wind and solar power, but it’s also down to the action of states like those in the Alliance.
Washington, California, and New York collectively produce 10 percent of the US’ total GHG emissions, more than most other nations on Earth. Their actions, therefore, will make a huge difference in the long run.
“While the president’s actions are a shameful rebuke to the work needed to protect our planet for our children and grandchildren, states have been and will continue to step up,” Inslee added.
Cuomo, for his part, added that he’s “also signing an Executive Order confirming New York’s leadership role in protecting our citizens, our environment, and our planet.”
The Governors of these three states will serve as co-chairs of the Alliance. The hope is that these three states will encourage others across the country to join them in their GHG-cutting targets.
There are certainly plenty of candidates, particular in the northeast, which would be likely to sign up to this endeavor. However, the predilection of states to do so depends entirely on how powerful the fossil fuel influences are on their home turf. States like Oklahoma or Texas, for example, stand essentially zero chance of joining up.
The West Coast, however, is firmly on the side of climate advocacy. Another letter signed by 18 Congressional lawmakers from California, Oregon, and Washington said that they would “continue to form a green wall in the West that will maintain climate leadership in the United States.”
The statement notes that this Alliance compliments the Under2 Coalition, an international pact to limit global warming. In total, it now includes 170 territories on six continents, which represents more than 1.18 billion people – 16 percent of the global population – and 37 percent of the global economy.