(UPI) — A group of leaders from U.S. cities, states and corporations are working to negotiate with the United Nations to combat climate change in the United States after the federal government began the process of withdrawing from the Paris agreement.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is leading the effort to bring together companies, universities and local and state government to submit a plan to the United Nations pledging to meet the greenhouse gas emission reduction targets outlined in the Paris agreement.
“We’re going to do everything America would have done if it had stayed committed,” Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg is a special U.N. envoy for mayors and local leaders seeking to meet the goals of the Paris agreement. Cities that have signed onto the effort led by Bloomberg include Los Angeles, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Salt Lake City.
“Americans are not walking away from the Paris Climate Agreement,” Bloomberg added. “Just the opposite — we are forging ahead. Mayors, governors, and business leaders from both political parties are signing on to to a statement of support that we will submit to the U.N. — and together, we will reach the emission reduction goals the United States made in Paris in 2015.”
Bloomberg and other groups also pledged to donate at least $15 million to the U.N. climate secretariat, which could lose funding if the United States withdraws.
The coalition is one of at least two efforts launched to counter President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement, which seeks to reduce carbon emissions by 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
The states of California, New York and Washington also established an alliance — called the U.S. Climate Alliance — to uphold the commitments mandated in the accord, as well as those in former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which could be eliminated under the Trump administration after he ordered for a review of the plan through an executive order.
“New York, California, and Washington, representing over one-fifth of U.S. gross domestic product, are committed to achieving the U.S. goal of reducing emissions 26-28 percent from 2005 levels and meeting or exceeding the targets of the federal Clean Power Plan,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office said in a statement. “Together, New York, California, and Washington represent approximately 68 million people — nearly one-in-five Americans — and the states account for at least 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States”
Trump announced his decision to leave the accord Thursday. He has previously called climate change a “hoax” and indicated he was leaving the agreement, saying it’s a “bad deal” for the U.S. economy.
“We’re getting out, but we will start to negotiate and see if we can make a deal that’s fair,” Trump said. “If we can, great — if we can’t, that’s fine.”
Trump cited a study by the National Economic Research Associates — funded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Council for Capital Formation — which said the accord would cost 2.7 million jobs and a loss of nearly $3 trillion in gross domestic product. That study was based on a scenario in which the United States would cut 26 percent to 28 percent of emissions by 2025, and did not factor in the possible benefits of battling climate change.
Key points in the agreement include peaking greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and achieving a balance between sources of energy in the second half of this century.
“New York State is committed to meeting the standards set forth in the Paris Accord regardless of Washington’s irresponsible actions,” Cuomo said in a statement. “We will not ignore the science and reality of climate change which is why I am also signing an Executive Order confirming New York’s leadership role in protecting our citizens, our environment, and our planet.”
Within the Trump administration, though, there was praise for Trump’s decision. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt thanked Trump for his “courage and commitment” after the announcement.
“Our efforts should be on exporting our technology and innovation to nations who seek to reduce their CO2 footprint — to learn from us. That should be our focus versus agreeing to unachievable targets that harm our economy and the American people,” Pruitt said.
Other supporters of Trump’s decision include Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
“I commend President Donald J. Trump for putting American jobs first. This is great news for the Texas economy and for hardworking Americans all across our country,” Cruz said in a statement. “I look forward continuing to work closely with the administration throughout the withdrawal process, and my number-one priority will continue to be fighting for Texans to advance policies that create jobs, grow the economy, and protect family budgets.”
The U.S. Climate Alliance said it would work to persuade other state governments to join the effort.
“The president has already said climate change is a hoax, which is the exact opposite of virtually all scientific and worldwide opinion,” California Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement. “I don’t believe fighting reality is a good strategy — not for America, not for anybody. If the president is going to be AWOL in this profoundly important human endeavor, then California and other states will step up.”
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