The governors of California, New York, and Washington came out with an alternative to the Trump administration’s plan to roll back the institutional framework of environmental, climate change action and renewable energy/clean tech policies and programs enacted by the Obama administration.
President Donald Trump on June 1 announced the U.S. would pull out of the UN Paris Climate Change Accord agreed to via executive authority by his predecessor, former President Barack Obama. In a speech given in the White House Rose Garden, Trump said the historic UN climate change accord benefits emerging global economic powers and hinders U.S. economic growth and competitiveness. Hence, it needs to be renegotiated, he stated.
That same day, Governors Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown of California, Andrew M. Cuomo of New York and Jay R. Inslee of Washington announced they would serve as co-chairs of the U.S. Climate Alliance, “a coalition that will convene U.S. states committed to upholding the Paris Climate Agreement and taking aggressive action on climate change.”
U.S. Climate Alliance membership quickly jumps to 13
On June 5, the U.S. Climate Alliance announced that Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia had joined the coalition.
The bottom-line goal for coalition members is realizing the goal of reducing national carbon emissions 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2030 and reaching or exceeding the carbon and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions goals set out in the Clean Power Plan and UN Climate Change Accord, both of which were established over the course of former Pres. Obama’s final two years in office.
On March 27, President Trump signed an executive order directing the EPA, now headed by former Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt, a legally combative anti-environmentalist and climate change "denier" of longstanding, to review the EPA’s Clean Power Plan with the aim of revoking it.
Proposed in 2015, the Clean Power Plan was proposed as a cornerstone of the U.S. commitment to reduce carbon dioxide and GHG emissions and demonstrate international climate change and environmental leadership in line with the terms set out in the UN Paris climate agreement.
Trump, energy, and climate
The final version of the Clean Power Plan calls for the U.S. to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from electrical power generation 32 percent relative to 2005 levels within 25 years. The focal points to achieve this are reducing emissions from coal-fired power plants, increasing energy conservation, use of renewable energy resources and associated smart grid and clean technology.
The substance of President Trump’s executive order was based on research produced by NERA Economic Consulting, which concluded enacting the Clean Power Plan would “cost up to $39 billion a year,” result in “double-digit electricity price increases,” all for “meaningless environmental impacts.” Notably, the NERA study was funded by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.
President Trump’s announcement that the U.S. would withdraw from the UN Paris Climate Change Accord drew sharp rebukes and criticism from leaders of industry as well as leaders of government worldwide, Reuters reported.
Invoking his “America First” message, Trump said in his Rose Garden speech: “We don’t want other leaders and other countries laughing at us any more. And they won’t be.” (Does this guy want to give us an inferiority complex, or what?)
Striking another inflammatory note, he said: "The same nations asking us to stay in the agreement are the countries that have collectively cost America trillions of dollars through tough trade practices and in many cases lax contributions to our critical military alliance."
Coming out with an alternative U.S. climate-energy policy framework
As the launch of the U.S. Climate Alliance highlights, strong support for maintaining the U.S.’ commitment to the UN Paris Climate Change Accord exists nationwide. Evidence regarding the very real and substantive advantages and benefits of transitioning from fossil fuel-driven to renewable energy, energy conservation-driven economic growth, and sustainable development continues to mount -- hard, factual data regarding socieconomic and environmental gains the governors of California, New York and Washington have been instrumental in achieving.
"As the federal government turns its back on the environment, New York and states across the country are picking up the mantle of climate leadership and showing the world it’s possible to address climate change while also creating good-paying careers,"Governor Cuomo said.
"The U.S. Climate Alliance is committed to meeting the standards set forth in the Paris Accord regardless of Washington’s irresponsible actions. We welcome these 10 new members and look forward to collaborating and maintaining the momentum in the global effort to protect our planet while jumpstarting the clean energy economy."
*Images credit: 1) U.S. Climate Alliance; 2) U.S. EPA; 3) Global Issues