By Sebastien Malo (Thomson Reuters Foundation) | 12 July 2017
NEW YORK – U.S. cities and states will work with experts to measure their progress toward meeting Paris climate agreement goals, representatives said on Wednesday, sidestepping President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the country out of the global pact.
The initiative by 227 cities and counties, nine states and more than 1,500 businesses, including Fortune 500 companies, was announced in a statement by California Governor Jerry Brown and Michael Bloomberg, a former New York mayor.
“Today we’re sending a clear message to the world that America’s states, cities and businesses are moving forward with our country’s commitments under the Paris Agreement – with or without Washington,” said Brown in a statement.
“America’s Pledge“, as the plan has been dubbed, comes a month after the White House announced it was leaving the 2015 Paris accord agreed by nearly 200 countries to curb climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions.
That decision was met with dismay across the world while prompting state governors and city mayors to say they would collectively show their country still remained committed to cutting emissions that scientists blame for global warming.
In a growing movement, cities, states and companies have since endorsed various statements promising to step up efforts to slow climate change.
“The American government may have pulled out of the Paris Agreement, but American society remains committed to it – and we will redouble our efforts to achieve its goals,” said Bloomberg in a statement.
Outside experts with the World Resources Institute and the Rocky Mountain Institute, two U.S.-based non-profits, have been retained to conduct the study on current and projected emissions of “America’s Pledge” affiliates.
The initiative hopes to present their findings to the United Nations at a Bonn, Germany, climate meeting in November.
Under the Paris deal, former President Barack Obama’s administration had vowed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
But in abandoning the accord, Trump said the federal government would not honor those pledges, which were non-binding.
Still, last month in an effort to fill a climate leadership void, Bloomberg, a U.N. envoy on cities and climate change, committed $200 million to support city initiatives including projects to combat global warming through a grant program called the American Cities Initiative.
Bloomberg Philanthropies has also committed to separately fund America’s Pledge, Antha Williams, a spokeswoman for the group told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a phone interview.
The United Nations’ chief, António Guterres, said in a statement the plan to assess how U.S. cities, states and others are contributing to slashing global greenhouse gas emissions was “welcome”.
“This is demonstrably not an issue that can be addressed by national governments alone,” he said.
(Reporting by Sebastien Malo, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith @BeeGoldsmith. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, climate change, resilience, women’s rights, trafficking and property rights. Visit http://news.trust.org/)