Governors denounce Trump, announce progress to Paris targets

Source: Arianna Skibell, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, September 21, 2017

A coalition of 14 states and the territory of Puerto Rico are on target to meet their share of the U.S. commitment under the international Paris climate accord to reduce emissions linked to global warming.

Democratic Govs. Andrew Cuomo of New York, Jerry Brown of California and Jay Inslee of Washington made the announcement today in New York City. Joined by former Secretary of State John Kerry, the governors discussed how states would fill the void on climate action abandoned by the Trump administration.

“This federal government is the most ignorant federal government we’ve ever had when it comes to the environment and climate change,” Cuomo said at the press briefing. “I urge my other colleagues, other governors in this country, to take a hard look at the facts and science and put aside the politics.”

The bipartisan U.S. Climate Alliance, which formed in response to President Trump’s announcement that he would with withdraw from the global climate pact, has grown and now encompasses 36 percent of the U.S. population and more than $7 trillion of the country’s gross domestic product.

Alliance co-chairmen said the group is on track to reach a 24 to 29 percent reduction below 2005 carbon emission levels by 2025 — a target of the Paris Agreement.

“We will always have Paris,” Inslee said, referencing the famous line from the film “Casablanca.”

“This [agreement] is made for our states. It’s made for our country to innovate. We look at this as a growth opportunity.”

He continued, “We represent 40 percent of the U.S. economy. … We’re in this game.”

Between 2005 and 2015, the alliance states cut greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent, compared with 10 percent for the rest of the country. During that time, the combined economy of those states grew by 14 percent, which the governors said demonstrates leaders can cut emissions without hurting economic growth.

“We’ll keep going and eventually Washington [D.C.] will join with us, because you can’t deny science forever, you can’t deny reality,” Brown said. “If we don’t act in enough time, we will face catastrophic, irreversible changes in our world.”

The governors chastised the Trump administration for failing to take climate change seriously. Inslee joked that D.C. does not stand for the District of Columbia, but rather the “denial coalition.”

Said Cuomo, “I think they are purposefully denying the reality because they don’t want to deal with the problem.”

When climate change is denied, he said, the federal government can freely drill in the Arctic, use dangerous pesticides, build in flood plains and burn coal for power.

“It’s like having a great party on the eve of destruction,” Cuomo said.

Kerry said progressive energy policy is critical to battling climate change. He urged states to build smart grids and new energy technology that can accommodate renewable sources like wind and solar.

The alliance announcement comes ahead of a November gathering of world leaders in Germany for Conference of the Parties 23, where officials will discuss their plans and progress for meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The alliance states will be represented in Germany, where they plan to report on their emissions reduction progress and further strategies for reducing climate risks.