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17 Governors Renew Climate Pledges on Anniversary of Trump's Paris Accord Retreat
A year ago today, President Donald Trump announced plans to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. His action spurred Syria and Nicaragua, the only two holdout countries, to join the landmark deal to limit warming well below the dangerous threshold of 2°C.
While the federal government falters, scores of businesses, institutions, cities and states across the nation are bucking Trump and remain committed to the goals of the global climate accord.
Today, the governors of sixteen states and Puerto Rico that make up the U.S. Climate Alliance recommitted their pledges to the Paris agreement and announced a new wave of initiatives to accelerate and scale up climate action.
"The U.S. Climate Alliance now represents 40 percent of the U.S. population and a $9 trillion economy, greater than the third-largest country in the world, and U.S. Climate Alliance states are on track to meet their share of the Paris Agreement emissions target by 2025," the states reported.
The bi-partisan alliance, formed on the same day Trump announced the Paris retreat, includes the governors of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.
In an op-ed published in USA TODAY, alliance co-chairs and Democratic Govs. Jerry Brown of California, Andrew Cuomo of New York and Jay Inslee of Washington explained that climate goals and economic growth can be met at the same time.
"President Trump's announcement last year centered on his allegation that the Paris Agreement hurts the U.S. economy. The fact that our collective economies are stronger than non-alliance states proves just the opposite," they wrote. "Alliance states are not only reducing emissions more rapidly than the rest of the country, but we are also expanding our per capita economic output twice as fast. Alliance states are attracting billions of dollars in climate and clean energy investments that have created 1.3 million clean energy jobs. The Alliance states are not alone: meeting the most ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement is projected to save the world $30 trillion in avoided economic damages."
Some of the governors' new measures include a commitment to reduce super pollutants such as methane, hydrofluorocarbons and black carbon. Among other initiatives, they intend to create their own "green bank" to fund sustainable infrastructure projects, a Solar Soft Costs Initiative to reduce the costs of solar projects, and a plan to accelerate deployment of zero-emissions vehicles and expand and improve mass transit.
Even though the U.S. cannot formally exit the Paris agreement until 2020, the Trump administration's love of fossil fuels is already pushing the country's Paris target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 26-28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025 out of reach, the New York Times reported.
It's clear that non-federal entities will have to continue working to fill this void. As Brown, Cuomo and Inslee wrote in their op-ed, "We will work in lockstep with the nations of the world and continue our work to uphold the Paris Agreement. However, it is clear that we cannot meet the climate challenge alone. We need commitment from every U.S. state and we need the federal government to get back in the game."
"We invite others to join us and mark June 1 not as an anniversary of retreat, but as the moment when a bold, new movement of climate action took root in America."
- U.S. Climate Alliance ›
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- US mayors, governors vow to stick with Paris accord - CNN ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
The climate crisis has become a driving and dividing factor in the political arena in recent years. According to the survey, almost three-quarters of respondents think global warming is happening (though that number varies across party lines) with more than half of registered voters agreeing that it is driven by human activities. As such, six-in-ten voters are worried about the current state of the climate — a marked increase from the last survey conducted in March 2018.
When asked how much they would support different strategies the government could use to reduce air pollution, more than three-quarters agreed that investing in renewable energy research and infrastructure and regulating pollution was a priority, as well as taxing pollution (requiring companies to pay a tax on pollution they emit to encourage a reduction in emissions). A majority of respondents also support more specific policies to reduce carbon pollution and promote clean energy, including a revenue-neutral carbon tax and a fee on carbon pollution that distributes money to U.S. citizens through monthly dividend checks. Furthermore, many support a Clean Power Plan that implements strict carbon dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants. A majority of voters also say they want policies that address the pollution that causes global warming and reduces pollution investments, regulations and taxes.
Climate change ranks as the 17th most important voting issue and is a more polarizing topic than abortion. So much so, that almost half of registered voters say they would support a president who declared global warming a national emergency if Congress does not act.
A handful of 2020 presidential candidates have put climate change at the forefront of their campaign platform as part of ongoing pressure to combat the effects of climate change. The Green New Deal, unveiled in part by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) earlier this year is a decade-long plan that will "mobilize every aspect of American society ... to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and create economic prosperity for all," according to a section of the resolution from her office posted by NPR.
Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, who introduced a plan just a few days ago to combat climate change. In it, Bennet calls for the establishment of a "Climate Bank" to use federal spending to incentivize the private sector to transition to net-zero emissions by 2050. His opponent, Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State, similarly announced a clean energy plan earlier this month dubbed the "100 Percent Clean Energy for America Plan" that would aim to phase out coal over the next decade and require all power production to be emissions-free by 2035.
Former Vice President Joe Biden also threw his name into the running hat but didn't mention climate change in his announcement. His overall stand on the Green New Deal and fossil fuel infrastructure is hazy. His campaign website promises environmental action but does not go into further detail. If elected president, Senator Elizabeth Warren has promised an executive order to ban new fossil fuel extraction leases in federal lands and waters.
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President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.
"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."
georgeclerk / E+ / Getty Images
By Jennifer Molidor
One million species are at risk of extinction from human activity, warns a recent study by scientists with the United Nations. We need to cut greenhouse gas pollution across all sectors to avoid catastrophic climate change — and we need to do it fast, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
This research should serve as a rallying cry for polluting industries to make major changes now. Yet the agriculture industry continues to lag behind.
"The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism wishes to inform the public that following extensive consultations with all stakeholders, the Government of Botswana has taken a decision to lift the hunting suspension," the government announced in a press release shared on social media.