As Trump ‘abdicates,’ Climate Alliance picks up slack

Disaster response: The United States Climate Alliance, dedicated to upholding U.S. commitments to the Paris Agreement on climate change, is making progress.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

From the Real News file comes a digital milestone for the United States Climate Alliance, a coalition of states committed to upholding the tenets of the Paris climate accord.

The alliance – launched in May, just hours after President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the worldwide greenhouse-gas action plan – this week flipped the switch on its first website, an online hub designed “to inform Americans on state actions to address climate change after the U.S. was the lone holdout in affirming the Paris Agreement at the G20 Summit,” according to a statement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

The USCA – founded by Cuomo, California Gov. Jerry Brown and Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee – also released new “guiding principles” for its members, including recognition of the environmental and economic threats of climate change and pursuit of climate action’s inherent job-creation and environmental-rehabilitation benefits.

Now boasting 14 member states and territories – including Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, Delaware, Virginia, Minnesota, Colorado, Oregon, Hawaii and Puerto Rico – representing 33 percent of the U.S. population, the alliance’s No. 1 principle is continued support of the Paris Agreement, including the U.S. goal of ultimately reducing greenhouse gas emissions roughly 28 percent from 2005 levels.

The accord was negotiated by 195 countries under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and adopted by consensus in 2015, and is set to take effect in 2020. The United States joined Syria (busily embroiled in an endless civil war) and Nicaragua (which felt the accord didn’t do enough) as the only nations not participating.

With the glaring omission of the United States, the agreement was again ratified by all attendees of the 2017 G20 summit, held July 7 and 8 in Germany. Despite President Trump’s assertion that there are 20 countries in the G20, the Group of Twenty includes 19 member countries and the European Union, itself comprised of 28 member states – and all of the G20 members in Hamburg this month recommitted to the Paris Agreement, except the United States.

Andrew Cuomo: Trump “irresponsible.”

As the Trump administration “abdicates its responsibility and ignores basic science,” the USCA – which also accounts for some $7.16 trillion in gross domestic product, according to the alliance – will take up the slack, Cuomo said Thursday.

And Americans can keep track via the USCA’s new online home.

“This new website will keep citizens updated on all the actions taken by the Alliance,” the governor said. “The U.S. Climate Alliance is committed to meeting the standards set forth in the Paris Agreement, regardless of Washington’s irresponsible actions.

“States across the nation are picking up the mantle of climate leadership.”

Brown, Cuomo’s California counterpart, said the USCA was the polar opposite of those who “bury their heads in the sand” regarding climate change – similar to the thinking behind Global Climate Action 2018, a worldwide climate-change summit Brown’s office is hosting next year in San Francisco.

Washington State’s Inslee said the alliance was “proud to now be 14 members strong.”

“We are ready to leverage our considerable collective authority to act on climate through policies related to clean energy, utilities, transportation and more,” Inslee said in a statement.

While launching a website and uniting a dozen-plus U.S. territories are relatively small achievements, the rhetoric is likely to play big across Long Island, where funding for and commercialization of “clean energy” technologies have become socioeconomic lifelines – and environmentalists, economists and other observers lambasted Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement.

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Farmingdale-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said the president “made America into an international laughing stock.” Heather Leibowitz, director of New York City-based watchdog Environment New York, roasted an “embarrassing decision.” Gordian Raacke, executive director of sustainability action group Renewable Energy Long Island, marveled that Trump had actually worsened his “horrible” environmental track record.

Such harsh criticisms, from across Long Island and around the globe, are precisely why the USCA was formed, according to Cuomo, who has called Trump’s decision a “reckless” act with “devastating repercussions.”

“Together, we are showing the world it’s possible to protect our planet while also creating good-paying jobs and growing our economies,” the governor said.


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