Long before former Vice-President Al Gore’s 2006 documentaryAn Inconvenient Truth impressed upon the world the urgency of tackling our human impact on global warming—now sanitized and called “climate change”—climate scientists have been warning us about this ticking doomsday clock since at least the 1970s. It was no small act, then, to bring 197 countries together to sign theParis Agreement, a significant stride to reduce carbon emissions and keep global temperature well below an increase of two degrees Celsius. Those two mere degrees are considereda tipping point after which reversal of climate change will be all but impossible. A significant factor in 2015 agreement’s success, after failed negotiations in 2009, was that the Paris Agreement allows countries to decideindependently how to lower their emissions, rather than adopt a single unifying strategy. New York Magazine hailed the agreement as Obama’s “major accomplishment” during his time in office.
It comes as no surprise, then, to those who have followed President Donald Trump’s policy on the environment that he announced he would pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement. After all, he appointed lawyer and Republican politician Scott Pruitt to the EPA, a man known to prioritize the oil and gas industries’ interests ahead of the environment, scrubbed climate data from the EPA’s website, and plans to significantly cut its budget. He has also made clear his determination to undo many of Obama’s strides toward clean power to protect nearly-obsolete coal jobs, and, some argue, to continue to give his associates in the extractive industries tax breaks. World leaders were none too pleased,expressing their displeasure and reaffirming their commitment to the agreement. And the governors of California, New York, and Washington states quickly formed the United States Climate Alliance, a coalition of states intending to uphold the Paris Agreement with or without the White House.
“With input from all participants, the U.S. Climate Alliance will also act as a forum to sustain and strengthen existing climate programs, promote the sharing of information and best practices, and implement new programs to reduce carbon emissions from all sectors of the economy,” states the website of Washington Governor Jay Inslee.
World leaders weighed in positively on the move. In fact, the European Union and China put fortha joint statement saying that not only would they move on with or without the United States, they were happy to work with U.S. states and cities who are committed to reducing their carbon emissions, IflSciencereports.
“Strong transatlantic ties are far more important and far more durable than the latest unfortunate decisions of the new administration,”EU President Donald Tusk said after his EU-China summit in Brussels.
So far 12 states have signed on to the Climate Alliance, which as of June 5, includes California, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York Oregon, Puerto
Jordan Rosenfeld is author of 7 books and has published in: The Atlantic, the Daily Beast, the New York Times, Pacific Standard, Quartz, Salon, the Washington Post and many more. Her writing can be found on www.jordanrosenfeld.net, and you can follow her on Twitter @JordanRosenfeld.