By Governors Jerry Brown, Andrew Cuomo and Jay Inslee
The 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change was a landmark moment in human history. It crystallized decades of negotiations into a framework embraced by every country in the world to confront the existential threat of climate change and work together to solve the challenge.
President Trump’s announcement exactly one year ago that he intended to withdraw from the Paris Agreement raised global concerns that the agreement could weaken or unravel. Instead, Trump’s retreat has catalyzed leaders in America and around the world to stand shoulder to shoulder and press forward with climate solutions.
June 1 is not the anniversary of an end to one of the world’s greatest acts of consensus; it is a celebration of what Americans have done to fill the federal void. On the same day Trump abdicated climate leadership last year, we formed the U.S. Climate Alliance to uphold the Paris Agreement commitment in our states. In just one year, the alliance has grown into a bipartisan coalition of 17 governors representing 40 percent of the U.S. population and a $9 trillion economy — larger than that of every country in the world but the U.S. and China.
President Trump’s announcement last year centered on his allegation that the Paris Agreement hurts the U.S. economy. The fact that our collective economies are stronger than the states not in the alliance proves just the opposite. Alliance states are not only reducing emissions more rapidly than the rest of the country, but we are also expanding our per capita economic output twice as fast. Alliance states are attracting billions of dollars in climate and clean energy investments that have created 1.3 million clean energy jobs. The Alliance states are not alone: meeting the most ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement is projected to save the world $30 trillion in avoided economic damages.
While the Paris Agreement is one of the greatest tests in global collaboration, this interstate effort stands as one of the biggest and most important experiments in American policymaking. From modernizing power grids to scaling up renewable energy and reducing pollution, we are saving money and cleaning our air.
We will do everything in our power to defend and continue our climate actions. This includes continuing to oppose any federal proposal to cancel the Clean Power Plan, weaken clean car and appliance standards or expand offshore drilling. One year after President Trump’s abdication, the rapid economic growth of states within the U.S. Climate Alliance remain a beacon to all Americans and to every other nation that Americans are still in the Paris Agreement and will not retreat.
Despite President Trump’s Paris Agreement decision, the world continues to move forward and not backward on climate. One year after the president’s announcement, every other nation on earth has signed onto the Paris Agreement.
China canceled plans for more than 100 coal-fired power plants in 2017, offshore wind energy is competing without subsidy in northern Europe, and several countries are making plans to shift cars from gas and diesel to electric, including China, France, India, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom.
We will work in lockstep with the nations of the world and continue our work to uphold the Paris Agreement. However, it is clear that we cannot meet the climate challenge alone. We need commitment from every U.S. state and we need the federal government to get back in the game. We invite others to join us and mark June 1 not as an anniversary of retreat, but as the moment when a bold, new movement of climate action took root in America.
Democratic Govs. Jerry Brown of California, Andrew Cuomo of New York and Jay Inslee of Washington are co-chairs of the U.S. Climate Alliance.
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