SACRAMENTO – Following President Donald Trump’s announcement last week that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Change Agreement, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, along with the attorneys general of 18 states, has joined forces with governors, mayors, business leaders and universities across the country pledging to maintain their commitment to fighting climate change and abiding by the principles of the global agreement.
In addition to California’s top lawmaker, the Attorneys General from the following states joined the “We Are Still In” coalition: Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
“Climate change is the most important global environmental issue of our time,” Becerra said. “At stake is nothing less than the kind of world we want our children to grow up in. Do we want them to experience record-high temperatures, droughts, rising sea levels, and poor air quality? President Trump says ‘yes.’ Regardless of Washington’s inaction, California will continue to lead the way on protecting our planet, and we will honor the historic Paris Agreement.”
President Trump announced on June 1 that the United States would break ranks with more than 190 countries and leave the historic global commitment that entered into force in November 2016.
The signatories to the “We Are Still In” coalition released the following statement Monday:
“We, the undersigned mayors, governors, attorneys general, college and university leaders and businesses are joining forces for the first time to declare that we will continue to support climate action to meet the Paris Agreement.
The Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, is illuminated in green to celebrate the Paris Agreement on climate change on November 4, 2016. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Gurliat/Mairie de Paris
“In December 2015 in Paris, world leaders signed the first global commitment to fight climate change. The landmark agreement succeeded where past attempts failed because it allowed each country to set its own emission reduction targets and adopt its own strategies for reaching them. In addition, nations – inspired by the actions of local and regional governments, along with businesses – came to recognize that fighting climate change brings significant economic and public health benefits.
“The Trump administration’s announcement undermines a key pillar in the fight against climate change and damages the world’s ability to avoid the most dangerous and costly effects of climate change. Importantly, it is also out of step with what is happening in the United States.
“In the U.S., it is local and state governments, along with businesses, that are primarily responsible for the dramatic decrease in greenhouse gas emissions in recent years. Actions by each group will multiply and accelerate in the years ahead, no matter what policies Washington may adopt.
“In the absence of leadership from Washington, states, cities, colleges and universities and businesses representing a sizeable percentage of the U.S. economy will pursue ambitious climate goals, working together to take forceful action and to ensure that the U.S. remains a global leader in reducing emissions.
“It is imperative that the world know that in the U.S., the actors that will provide the leadership necessary to meet our Paris commitment are found in city halls, state capitals, colleges and universities and businesses. Together, we will remain actively engaged with the international community as part of the global effort to hold warming to well below 2°C and to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy that will benefit our security, prosperity, and health.”
The Paris Climate Change Agreement requires participating countries to limit global warming to well below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit from pre-industrial levels and encourages them to pursue efforts to keep temperature increases to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. The “We Are Still In” coalition pledges to ensure that despite the country’s exit from the agreement the United States will continue to be a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Attorney General Becerra has been fighting to protect California’s environment by challenging the federal rollback of pollution standards for motor vehicles, defending the historic Clean Power Plan abandoned by the Trump Administration, and intervening in a lawsuit to uphold energy efficiency standards, among other actions.