By GREGORY ZELLER //
Good news for the environment: The members of the United States Climate Alliance – now 14 states, and counting, plus Puerto Rico – are collectively on track to meet their portion of U.S. commitments under the Paris Agreement.
Bad news for President Donald Trump: The economies of USCA states are growing faster than those in non-USCA states, “demonstrating that fighting climate change and creating jobs go hand-in-hand,” according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.
Noting that it collectively represent the world’s third-largest economy – and some 117 million Americans – the USCA announced Wednesday that its members are on track to reduce carbon emissions by as much as 29 percent from 2005 levels by 2025, fulfilling – perhaps besting – their share of Paris Agreement obligations.
The success of the USCA is an ecological egg in the face for the scientifically challenged president, whose May decision to pull the United States from the Paris Agreement – an accord under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiated by 195 countries and adopted by consensus at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in December 2015 – was globally lambasted, including harsh criticisms from some members of the president’s own party, and actually spurred the creation of the Climate Alliance.
Not only are coalition members doing their part to combat climate change by embracing renewable-energy technologies, funding new research, offering incentives packages to “clean energy” companies and otherwise promoting clean-gen principles, but the USCA now represents a gross domestic product of $7.6 trillion, roughly 41 percent of the entire American economic output.
And the USCA also represents more than a third of the entire U.S. population – a fairly impressive achievement for a coalition launched just three months ago by Cuomo, California Gov. Jerry Brown and Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee in direct response to Trump’s “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris” logic.
In a forceful show of climate leadership, the three governors – joined by former Secretary of State John Kerry – united in New York City Wednesday, in the middle of Climate Week NYC 2017, to celebrate the coalition’s progress and report on its growth.
“While the federal government abdicates its responsibility on climate change, governors do not have the luxury of denying a scientific reality,” Cuomo said at Wednesday’s press event. “It is more important than ever for states to take collective, common sense action.”
Actually, the coalition’s growth – and particularly its economic progress – is less an egg in the Climate Change Denier in Chief’s face than a three-yolk omelet. Trump claims unparalleled job-creation and economic-stimulation abilities, but in a play to his ultra-conservative base, he willingly surrendered the big business of climate-change science to other nations and individual states eager to pick up his environmental slack.
And there are plenty of those, according to Kerry, who noted Wednesday that governors Cuomo, Brown and Inslee – and other political leaders throwing their lot in with the bipartisan USCA – “know the stakes in the climate fight.”
“They are leading on climate where the federal government is failing to do so, joining partners in business and local government to ensure the U.S. is making progress every day,” Kerry said in a statement.
Wednesday’s press conference was hinged on the release of “U.S. Climate Alliance: Alliance States Take the Lead,” the USCA’s first annual report highlighting the anti-climate-change progress of coalition members both before and after they joined the coalition.
In addition to projecting that 24 to 29 percent collective emissions reduction by 2025, the report states that between 2005 and 2014, the 14 member states reduced their indigenous greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent – compared to a 10 percent reduction by the rest of the country.
During that same decade, the combined economic output of USCA states grew by 14 percent – while the rest of the country’s economic output grew by only 12 percent, with Alliance states’ economic output expanding twice as fast as the rest of the country on a per-capita basis, according to the report.
With each member state (and Puerto Rico) enacting its own climate-related investment packages – such as the New York Green Bank, which to date has committed $400 million to 20-plus “clean energy” projects around the Empire State – the USCA is “reaffirming to the American people and to the leaders from all over the world that the United States will not abandon the global community and put its children and grandchildren at risk,” according to Kerry.
New York energy and finance czar Richard Kauffman agreed with the former secretary of state, noting, “The U.S. Climate Alliance is showing that reducing emissions and economic growth can happen together.”
“The NY Green Bank’s central effort in this regard to raise new capital will provide greater confidence to the marketplace, driving down costs for all while expanding New York’s clean energy economy,” Kauffman said Wednesday.