American Businesses, Cities and States Can Make Up For Trump’s Climate Inaction

Federal climate change policy is a mess. President Trump announced early in June that the U.S. would pull out of the Paris climate accord. Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency is skeptical of climate change. He told executives from the coal industry that he would create a team of researchers to look into the science behind climate change. Before becoming the head of the EPA, Pruitt stated in an opinion piece for the National Review that the debate concerning climate change is “far from settled.”

While the Trump administration denies climate change and refuses to take action to reduce emissions, both the business community and local governments are taking climate action. Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City and founder of Bloomberg LP, is one man in the business community who not only believes climate change exists but in working to reduce emissions.

While speaking to the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium in June, Bloomberg declared that the U.S. will meet its Paris climate commitments despite Trump’s withdrawal. “It’s important for you, and the world, to understand that the fate of America’s Paris pledge does not lie with Congress or the White House,” declared the man who currently serves as the UN Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change. He pointed out that the U.S. is already halfway to its goal under the Paris accord to a 26 percent reduction in emissions by 2025. And he credits “cities, states, businesses and citizens” with that achievement.

“Cities are the biggest drivers of climate change,” Bloomberg said. More than 54 percent of the world’s population live in cities, and that figure is projected to rise to 66 percent by 2050. Cities presently account for over 70 percent of global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. And cities around the world, including American cities, are reducing their emissions. Last fall, the Global Covenant of Mayors was launched as an international alliance of cities and governments working to take climate action.

In July, Bloomberg and California Governor Jerry Brown launched an initiative called “America’s Pledge.” Since the announcement that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris agreement, states, cities, businesses and educational institutions have pledged their support through initiatives such as the “We Are Still In” declaration, the Climate Mayors coalition of cities, and the U.S. Climate Alliance group of states. America’s Pledge will aggregate all of those commitments and compile a report on them.

Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris accord means that the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretariat will lose money from the U.S. which is the second biggest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions. The UNFCCC is UN’s climate negotiating body. The Bloomberg Foundation announced that it will commit the $15 million that will be lost from the U.S. The reason that the Foundation made the pledge is “to ensure that there is no disruption to its work,” as Bloomberg said to the European Parliament.

Trump’s withdrawal is stimulating businesses and local governments around the Paris agreement. And it is proving that both American businesses and cities and states can pick up where the federal government has left off. While it is ideal for the federal government to take climate action, it is not necessary for the U.S. to meet the commitments set during the Obama administration.

Photo: Global Covenant of Mayors