Local governments keep US on track for climate targets Trump rejected

Published: September 12, 2018
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Participants looks at a screen projecting a world map with climate anomalies during the World Climate Change Conference 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

Participants looks at a screen projecting a world map with climate anomalies during the World Climate Change Conference 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK CITY: The United States is on course to meet its targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions, because cities and states are taking on the climate change fight abandoned by President Donald Trump, according to report released on Wednesday.

The findings highlight a desire among large swathes of the country to continue fighting the threat of climate change despite the US government’s disengagement from the global Paris agreement to curb global warming.

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“The Trump administration may have dropped the ball on climate action,” said Daniel Firger, a spokesperson for Bloomberg Philanthropies, which commissioned the report. “But the rest of the country, including thousands of cities, states and businesses, are picking it up,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The report projected that US emissions would drop to 17% below 2005 levels by 2025 if more than 3,000 leaders from states, cities, and businesses fulfill pledges they have made over the past year to cut carbon pollution.

It was released on the sidelines of the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, which is expected to draw about 4,500 delegates from city and regional governments around the world. Should more mayors, governors and CEOs join the movement, reductions could hit the 24 percent mark below 2005 levels by 2025, the authors said.

The report measured progress made under “America’s Pledge”, a plan rolled out by former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and California Governor Jerry Brown last year, providing options for Americans still committed to the Paris agreement.

Under the plan, US cities, states, businesses and others are honoring the pledge made by the previous administration of Barack Obama to the Paris agreement. Under the Paris pact, the US promised to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by the year 2025. The United States is the only country to reject the climate accord, which nearly 200 other nations have signed.

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The findings published in Wednesday’s report are a “really important quantitative demonstration” that sub-national policies to reduce greenhouse gases are paying off, said Austin Brown, from the University of California, Davis.

“Cities, states and businesses…can actually make a meaningful and lasting contribution to our national goals,” said Brown, who is executive director of the university’s Policy Institute for Energy, Environment, and the Economy.

In the latest move by a state government toward combating climate change, Brown, the governor of California, signed a bill on Monday requiring the state to source electricity from exclusively carbon-free sources by 2045.

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