The Trump Administration may have walked away from the Paris Accord, but that policy shift is not stopping other political leaders and the private sector from moving forward on climate action.
Two outspoken supporters of the 2015 global climate agreement, California Governor Jerry Brown and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, announced this week that they will launch a new initiative to help drive down greenhouse gas emissions across the U.S.
“America’s Pledge” will collect and analyze climate change data collected by U.S. states, cities and businesses across the U.S. who are still aligned with the Paris agreement.
This program’s launch comes a week after Democrat Brown stuck another thumb in Donald Trump’s eye by announcing, during the G-20 Summit, that he plans on hosting a global climate change summit in California next year. Meanwhile, Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-Independent Bloomberg has taken on a role as the United Nations’ envoy for cities and climate change. In a public statement, Bloomberg said, “The American government may have pulled out of the Paris Agreement, but American society remains committed to it – and we will redouble our efforts to achieve its goals. We’re already halfway there.”
According to a joint press release, NGOs including the Rocky Mountain Institute and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) will be tasked with compiling and quantifying data. More organizations are expected to commit to this effort by the end of the year.
While proponents of the Paris Accord have been up in arms since Trump announced he would pull the U.S. out of the climate accords, the reality is that the U.S. exit is one of more style than substance. As Jim Brainard, the GOP mayor of Carmel, Indiana and a supporter of climate action explained to TriplePundit last month, 80 percent of Americans live in towns and cities, and many of those governments have aligned their emissions goals with the Paris commitment.
Nevertheless, the development of a focal point for sharing emissions data publicly and transparently will help build the case that fighting climate change and growing the economy are not mutually exclusive. The goal of America’s Pledge is to “raise the bar” and “expand the map” as more governments and companies make commitment to reduce their carbon emissions. Trump’s departure from the Paris agreement may long roil the international diplomatic community, but the parties behind Bloomberg and Brown’s plan hope to develop a playbook for emissions reductions that will help the U.S. meet its climate change agreements – whether or not it is a signatory to that treaty.
The partnership between Bloomberg and Brown has amounted to a American shadow cabinet on climate policy, as global leaders have been quick to meet the governor and former mayor as they assure the world the U.S. is still vested in climate change leadership. For example, Brown was recently named as a special advisor for states and regions ahead of this year's United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 23). The governor has also had meetings with Germany's top environmental official, as well as with China's President Xi Jinping. Bloomberg, meanwhile, met with France’s President Emmanuel Macron and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo within 24 hours of the White House’s announcement of the about-face on the Paris Agreement to assure global leaders that many parties in the U.S. were still committed to tackling climate change.
As the Trump Administration continues to flounder on a number of issues, both Brown and Bloomberg effectively show the world that the U.S. is not ready to relinquish its climate mantle quite yet.
Image credit: America’s Pledge
Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010, and became its Executive Editor in 2018. He's based in Fresno, CA, from where he happily explores California’s stellar Central Coast and the national parks in the Sierra Nevadas. He's lived in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, and has traveled to over 70 countries. He's an alum of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California.