A California-led alliance of cities and states vows to keep the Paris climate accord intact

Politics


President Trump may be quitting the Paris accord on climate change — but forcing the rest of the nation to go along with him is proving more of a challenge.

Led by California, dozens of states and cities across the country responded Friday to Trump’s attack on the worldwide agreement by vowing to fulfill the U.S. commitment without Washington — a goal that is not out of reach.

The defiance is a signal to the world that the political forces behind America’s climate fight aim to outmaneuver this White House and to resume the nation’s leadership role when Trump changes jobs or changes his mind.

The pushback also reflects how far most of the country — including many Republican parts — already have moved in transitioning to cleaner energy, even as Trump works to slow that momentum.

“The American government may have pulled out of the agreement, but the American people remain committed to it — and we will meet our targets,” former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a special envoy for cities and climate change to the United Nations, said Friday after meeting in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo.

It will be a heavy lift. States and cities would need to meet a pledge to reduce America’s greenhouse gas emissions to 26% below 2005 levels by 2025, America’s self-declared target under the deal.

Even with buy-in from the federal government, there were doubts about hitting that nonbinding target. Trump has made it a lot more complicated by spurning the accord — but not impossible.

California, the nation’s leader in emissions reduction, has already joined with New York and Washington state to build an alliance of states that will guide the nation to Paris compliance in the absence of leadership from the federal government.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is leading cities in a parallel effort that already has enlisted 150 members.

“Cities and states are already where most of the action on climate is,” Garcetti said Friday. “Our message is clear to the world: Americans are with you, even if the White House isn’t.… Trump’s move is going to have unintended consequences of us all doing the opposite of what the president wants. It will in many ways greatly backfire.”

On the eve of Trump’s planned “Pittsburgh Not Paris March” on Saturday, Peduto announced a pledge to move his city to 100% renewable energy by 2035.

Trump’s “misguided decision to withdraw from the Paris climate [agreement] does not reflect the values of our city,” said Peduto, a Democrat.

Similar sentiments echoed across the nation.

“The City of Atlanta will intensify our efforts to reduce CO2 emissions, work to cool the planet by two degrees, ramp up clean energy solutions and seek every opportunity to assert our leadership on this urgent issue,” Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said in a statement.

Even in areas elsewhere in the Deep South where Trump’s move was welcomed by Republican lawmakers, state policies that will spur significant emissions reductions are in place.

“Even the red state governments understand that the economic circumstances have changed and clean energy is at least as cheap as dirty energy,” said Kurt Ebersbach, senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, a nonprofit legal advocacy organization.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressed resolve to persevere with the Paris commitments by ordering, in Trump’s hometown of New York, One World Trade Center and the Kosciuszko Bridge between Brooklyn and Queens to be illuminated in green.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, also a Democrat, was visiting a Brooklyn neighborhood devastated by Superstorm Sandy when Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the climate pact on Thursday.

“All that occurred in that superstorm was because of climate change,” De Blasio said during the opening of a new ferry service in the low-lying Red Hook neighborhood. “We’ve already borne the brunt here in New York City. It’s only going to get worse if something is not done quickly to reverse the course the Earth is on.’’

Times staff writers Barbara Demick in New York and Liam Dillon in Sacramento and special correspondent Jenny Jarvie in Atlanta contributed to this report.

evan.halper@latimes.com

Follow me: @evanhalper

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