Accessibility links

U.S. States, Cities, Businesses Pledge To Honor Paris Climate Accord

  • RFE/RL

"Americans don't need Washington to meet our Paris commitments, and Americans are not going to let Washington stand in the way of fulfilling it," former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. (file photo)

U.S. cities, states, and businesses can fulfill commitments made by the United States under the Paris climate-change agreement even though the United States is pulling out of the pact, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said.

"Americans don't need Washington to meet our Paris commitments, and Americans are not going to let Washington stand in the way of fulfilling it," Bloomberg said following a meeting in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron on June 2.

Bloomberg, who is the United Nations secretary-general's special envoy for cities and climate change, said the United States had led the world on emission reductions over the past decade.

But most of the work was done by citizens, businesses, and cities, he said, not the federal government, aided by market forces that have made solar energy, wind energy, and natural gas cheaper to use in generating power than coal.

"I want the world to know that the U.S. will meet its Paris commitments and that through partnerships among cities, states, and businesses we will seek to remain part of the Paris agreement process," Bloomberg said.

Also on June 2, the governor of the largest U.S. state, California, traveled to China to discuss going around the Trump administration to comply with the agreement.

"Donald Trump has absolutely chosen the wrong course. He's wrong on the facts.... He's wrong on the science," said Governor Jerry Brown, whose state has usually led the rest of the United States on environmental action.

"California will resist this misguided and insane course of action," Brown said. "Trump is AWOL [absent without leave], but California is on the field, ready for battle."

Bloomberg said a coalition he was organizing will notify the UN that U.S. cities, states, and businesses still aim to meet the U.S. commitment to reducing emissions 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, as pledged by the Obama administration in the climate pact.

"We are already halfway there and we can accelerate our process further even without any support from Washington," Bloomberg said.

The billionaire former media mogul said his own foundation will help coordinate the U.S. effort, which will be called America's Pledge, and it will help submit to the UN "nationally determined contributions" like other countries.

The foundation will provide the $15 million commitment the UN climate-change secretariat will lose from Washington to ensure there is no disruption in their work, he said. It will also help fulfil the Paris agreement reporting requirements so that the world can track the United States' progress.

The newly elected French president welcomed the growing field of U.S. states, cities, and businesses pledging to honor the Paris accord.

"Yesterday, the government of a great nation renounced its climate obligations, but a nation is not only its government," Macron said.

"Other actors -- political and economical and civil -- have stood up, and thousands of promising initiatives are being taken. We will support them and fight on their side."

Macron noted that China, Russia, and India -- all major contributors to greenhouse-gas emissions like the United States -- had confirmed their commitment to the pact.

"The Paris agreement is irreversible and will be implemented," he said.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on June 2 also took note of the thousands of U.S. cities, states, businesses, and citizens who have pledged to continue striving to curb greenhouse gases despite U.S. withdrawal from the pact.

"The United States has a terrific record on reducing our own greenhouse-gas emissions. It's something I think we can be proud of and that was done in the absence of the Paris agreement.... I don't think we're going to change our ongoing efforts to reduce those emissions in the future," he said.

Tillerson reportedly was among several advisers who encouraged Trump to remain in the deal, arguing that staying in was good for U.S. business while leaving would isolate the United States internationally.

With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters
XS
SM
MD
LG