US STATES ‘COMMITTED TO PARIS ACCORD’
▶ Present and former governors say they do not share Trump’s ‘Stone Age’ opinions of fight against climate change
When president Donald Trump announced the US would pull out of the Paris climate deal, it was seen as a sign of defeat or a chance to fill the vacuum that would be left by the world’s second-largest producer of carbon dioxide.
China, the biggest source of climate-warming greenhouse gases, remains committed to its goal of reducing global temperature to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century.
Chinese president Xi Jinping’s government authorised an environment tax to start next year, which was heralded as one of the biggest environmental policy decisions leading to the 23rd session of the conference in the German city of Bonn.
India has also stepped up efforts to fight climate change by launching a large-scale solar energy project intended to provide 40 per cent of the country’s energy by 2030.
Germany, meanwhile, said it would provide an extra €100 million (Dh432m) to assist developing countries in meeting their climate goals.
But despite efforts by the 195 nations committed to the Paris Agreement, the US withdrawing from the climate deal is discouraging, said Christiana Figueres, former president of the UN framework convention on climate change.
“Unless the US has a positive signal for the governments to do their job, even if China and India are doing a great job – even if they are doing that domestically – the push on the international political platform to curb climate change will be very difficult,” Ms Figueres said.
But former and current US state governors say their country is “still in” to fight global warming, despite the Trump government’s decision to pull out of the deal.
A campaign launched by more than 2,500 American entities, including state governments and universities, the We Are Still In declaration, shows that its members still represent US commitment to the Paris Agreement.
“The reason we came here is to let you know that Trump cannot stop us,” said Jay Inslee, Democrat governor of Washington state.
“You do not have an international treaty and pull out, so we have an action plan that is cleaning the environment.”
He, along with Oregon governor Kate Brown and the governor of California, Jerry Brown, said their states were committed to fighting global warming.
The three Pacific coast states and 12 others formed the US Climate Alliance, whose members make up 40 per cent of the US economy and are committed to the Paris Agreement.
If these federal and non-federal organisations were a country, their economy would be the third-largest in the world, bigger than all but two national parties to the accord.
“I do not accept the fact that just because we have Trump, the rest of the world goes to hell,” Mr Brown said.
“It’s not just America slacking off. We can criticise all the countries for not doing enough. If Trump does less you have to do more. We’re all in this.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger, a former governor of California, said more could be done to counter Mr Trump’s “Stone Age” actions.
“We fought and this is why we can achieve our goals,” Mr Schwarzenegger said. “I said at the UN that states have tremendous power. The reality of it is that local governments do 70 per cent of the action,” he said.
“This is why I was not concerned when Trump dropped out. China doesn’t need to pick up the vacuum and not India – we pick up the vacuum.”
I said at the UN that states have tremendous power ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER California governor, 2003-2011
Jerry Brown, the veteran Democrat governor of California, was one of several US figures at Cop 23 in Bonn to criticise Donald Trump