Cities And States Take The Lead With New Paris Agreement Pledge

Sierra Club Beyond Coal director Mary Anne Hitt in Paris.
Sierra Club Beyond Coal director Mary Anne Hitt in Paris.

Good news and real leadership are here, just when we need them most, as a massive trillion-ton iceberg breaks away from the Larsen ice sheet in Antarctica and an apocalyptic viral climate article in New York Magazine captivates (and terrifies) the internet. Today, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and California Governor Jerry Brown announced “America’s Pledge,” a plan for cities and states to lead the way on cutting climate pollution 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

By reaching that target, the US will meet our nation’s commitment for reducing climate pollution that we set at climate talks in Paris in 2015. The dismay amongst Americans and people around the world continues after Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and his increased climate action isolation at last weekend’s G-20 meeting. This new pledge shows a pathway for the US to meet the agreement regardless of his decision.

That historically bad move by Trump has ceded U.S. leadership on fighting climate disruption to other countries, and has even caused some to refer to the global alliance of powers as the G-19, signaling our lack of leadership on the world stage as humanity faces an unprecedented threat. The lack of leadership by Trump on climate has inspired cities across the U.S. to pass their own resolutions supporting the Paris Agreement, and now there’s even more they can do to counter Trump’s inaction.

Over the coming months, California Governor Jerry Brown’s Administration will join with Bloomberg Philanthropies (which supports the Sierra Club) and partners to calculate the collective climate action potential of U.S. states, cities, businesses, universities and others – thousands of which have already committed themselves to cut emissions – and submit that progress to the United Nations. This will further inspire others to join, keeping the U.S. as a global leader in reducing climate pollution. The Sierra Club’s work in the Beyond Coal Campaign to replace coal plants with renewable energy will be an important engine of that progress, and our Ready For 100 Campaign will continue securing commitments to 100 percent clean energy from more mayors and cities.

“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 Michael Bloomberg.

But we’re not letting the Trump administration off the hook. America’s Pledge is not intended as substitute for U.S. federal government responsibility for climate policy and action. Rather, the pledge aims to quantify, communicate and encourage climate action in the United States, as participants across the U.S. find new ways to work with the international community and interact with international climate policy processes.

Climate action will continue to happen in the U.S. thanks to action by cities, states, businesses, and grassroots advocates, including the Sierra Club and our Beyond Coal and Ready For 100 Campaigns. Together we will continue to make a difference via “America’s Pledge,” which will help fill the gap and keep climate action and the Paris Agreement process on track through these next few turbulent years.