On Saturday a large coalition of American states, cities, corporations and universities pledged to abide commitments to the Paris climate accord, in direct defiance of President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from those commitments. America’s Pledge, a group consisting of 20 U.S. states, 50 major U.S. cities, and over 1400 corporations with U.S. operations, were among the 2300 signatories to the “We’re Still In” declaration presented at a United Nations climate change meeting today in Bonn, Germany. According to today’s press release from America’s Pledge, this coalition represents half of the U.S. economy and if it were considered its own country, would represent the third largest economy in the world, behind only the U.S. in its entirety and China.
America’s Pledge is co-chaired by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and California Governor Jerry Brown and operates under the auspices of the Bloomberg Philanthropies. At today’s climate change meeting, Bloomberg said, “It is important for the world to know the American government may have pulled out of the Paris agreement, but the American people are committed to its goals, and there is nothing Washington can do to stop us,” according to the Associated Press.
President Trump announced in June that he would pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord agreements, to which 195 nations were signatories, as soon as was possible. Trump cited his belief that the agreements were unfair to the United States, in that sharper cutbacks on carbon emissions were required from more developed countries like the U.S. than were required from developing countries like India. At the time of President Trump’s announced intention to withdraw, Syria was the only other country which refused to join in on the climate agreements. Syria, however, announced earlier this week at the United Nations climate change conference in Germany that it would sign on to the agreements after all. This now makes the United States the only country unwilling to abide the Paris climate accord agreements.
The economic base and commitment level that the America’s Pledge coalition has been able to muster since June is extraordinary, and represents a potentially successful strategy of going around President Trump’s federal decisions by wielding the collaborative power of states, cities and corporations. It also shows another example of President Trump ignoring the will of the people. The heavy-handed Trump must be seething at these successful attempts to thwart his decisions. But America’s Pledge acknowledges that it will still be difficult to reach the goals in the Paris climate accord without federal assistance. According to the Phase 1 report released by America’s Pledge, “Given the stated policies of the present U.S. administration, currently committed non-federal efforts are not sufficient to meet the U.S. commitment under the Paris Agreement to reduce emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels (by the year 2025)”. So while America’s Pledge has a work-around for Trump’s withdrawal from the climate accords, that work-around may be only partial. So far.