Michael Bloomberg launches ‘America’s Pledge’ on climate change as California Governor Jerry Brown sets out plan to strengthen California’s carbon trading rules and cut air pollution
A coalition of US states, cities and businesses have pledged to collaborate on efforts to drive down greenhouse gas emissions in a further signal of defiance against President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement.
Announced this week by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and California Governor Jerry Brown, the initiative – dubbed ‘America’s Pledge’ – brings together states, cities, regions and businesses which have previously reaffirmed their support for the Paris Agreement as part of the ‘We Are Still In’ declaration last month.
It will see the CO2 reduction commitments of those involved aggregated in order to provide a roadmap for increased climate ambition from US states, cities and businesses in order to help the US deliver on its Paris Agreement pledges, despite President Trump’s promise to leave the accord.
The Rocky Mountain Institute and the World Resources Institute will devise a system to quantify all the CO2 commitments, before Bloomberg, Brown and other regional and business leaders present a showcase of US climate commitments to the upcoming COP23 international climate summit in Bonn, Germany, later this year.
Launching the initiative, Bloomberg – the UN Secretary-General’s special envoy for cities and climate change – said US emissions were determined far more by cities, states and businesses than the federal government, adding that it was also in their best interests to take action.
“Reducing emissions is good for the economy and good for public health,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “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. We’re already halfway there.”
Also backing the initiative was California Governor Jerry Brown, who separately yesterday sought to drum up support for a new state-wide package of legislation aimed at tackling local air pollution and strengthening its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
First announced on Monday, the legislative package includes a new programme to measure and improve air quality in California’s most polluted local communities, by increasing air monitoring efforts and setting pollution-reduction requirements for local sources.
It also mandates large industrial facilities – including oil refineries – to upgrade to cleaner technologies by December 2023 at the latest, as well as increasing penalties against offending polluters.
And on carbon emissions, the package seeks to strengthen the California’s cap-and-trade programme as well as extending its lifespan by an additional 10 years to 2030. Under the proposals, industry’s carbon-free allowances would decrease by over 40 per cent by 2040.
“The legislature is taking action to curb climate change and protect vulnerable communities from industrial poisons,” said Brown in a statement.
Presenting the legislative package to state senate lawmakers yesterday, Brown argued there was an urgent need to combat climate change, which he described as a “threat to organised existence”, according to US News. “You’re going to be alive in a horrible situation that you’re going to see mass migrations, vector diseases, forest fires, Southern California burning up,” he reportedly said at the hearing. “That’s real, guys.”
The latest moves from US states, cities and businesses came as Trump took a state visit to France to meet the country’s recently elected President Emmanuel Macron this week. The two leaders are disagree on climate policy, with Macron a vocal supporter of the Paris Agreement who has openly criticised the Trump’s decision to back out of the accord.
However, Trump reportedly made a strong show of friendship to Macron in Paris yesterday, asserting that the two could work together closely despite their differences of opinion on climate change, although the US President remained non-committal on the possibility of the America re-joining the Paris Agreement, according to the Guardian.
“Something could happen with respect to the Paris accord. We’ll see what happens. We will talk about that in the coming period of time,” Trump is quoted as saying, before reportedly shrugging his shoulders and adding: “if it happens that will be wonderful, if it doesn’t that will be ok, too.”