U.S. coalition to the world: ‘We are still in’

Source: Hannah Hess, E&E News reporter • Posted: Tuesday, June 6, 2017

More than 1,000 leaders of U.S. states, cities, businesses and universities declared “we are still in” the Paris Agreement in an open letter today to the international community.

The letter is meant to signal to 194 countries that signed the U.N. climate accord that the United States will continue to deliver emissions reductions, despite President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the pact.

“The Trump administration’s announcement undermines a key pillar in the fight against climate change and damages the world’s ability to avoid the most dangerous and costly effects of climate change,” the letter says. “Importantly, it is also out of step with what is happening in the United States.”

Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft Corp., Intel Corp., Google, Apple Inc. and Facebook Inc. are among the largest businesses and investors on the list. They account for total annual revenue of $1.4 trillion, organizers said.

The states and cities whose leaders signed represent about 120 million people. The states are California, Connecticut, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington and Hawaii. Among the cities and counties are New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Pittsburgh and Dubuque, Iowa.

Bob Perciasepe, a former U.S. EPA deputy administrator who is now president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, called it evidence of “an enormous groundswell of support for continued progress on climate change” despite Trump’s decision.

“The signatories understand that climate change imposes real and rising costs on America’s communities, and that the clean energy transition presents enormous economic opportunities for U.S. workers and companies,” Perciasepe said in a statement. However, he acknowledged that success will ultimately require federal leadership as well.

National polling data released today by The Washington Post and ABC News finds 59 percent of the country opposes Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement, including 46 percent who are strongly opposed. The telephone survey of 527 adults was conducted Friday to Sunday, with an error margin of 5 percentage points.

Today’s declaration adds to a growing movement of nonfederal entities stepping forward to commit to meeting the Obama administration’s pledge to slash emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

CEOs in a dozen blue and purple states have joined the so-called U.S. Climate Alliance, a pact organized by New York, California and Washington state in response to the Trump administration’s decision.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) announced today that he would add his name to the list, along with leaders of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island and Vermont.

“If the federal government insists on abdicating leadership on this issue, it will be up to the American people to step forward — and in Virginia we are doing just that,” McAuliffe said in a statement.