The World's Third Largest Economy Just Joined the Paris Climate Accord

June 8, 2017

Au Revoir, Paris?

So by now you’ve all heard the undeniably 100% totally great news that President Trump decided to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement, right? Of course, the truth is that this is an awful move—it’s bad for America, bad for our economy, and bad for the world. Let’s put it this way: even North Korea supports the Paris pact. 

It would have been really easy to feel depressed and discouraged after Trump’s action, but the great news is that a group of governors, mayors, and other leaders decided to take matters into their own hands instead. The governors of New York, California, and Washington, immediately announced the formation of the United States Climate Alliance. Within days, others states joined them and as of the time of this publication, that number is up to 12. Taken together, those 12 states represent the world’s third-largest economy.

12 states supporting the Paris Climate Accord

The States Step Up

Sure, instead of standing with 194 other countries who think it’d be pretty neat to leave our children and grandchildren a recognizable/inhabitable planet, the United States is now standing with Syria and Nicaragua. That’s right: Syria and Nicaragua are the only two countries that didn’t sign the agreement (but in Nicaragua’s defense, they were holding out for an even tougher, more effective agreement). Does that mean we’re BFFs with Syria now?

So that’s obviously the bad news. But the good news is that, thanks to the governors of those 12 states, the world’s third-largest economy basically just joined the Paris Climate Agreement!

And, as we said, those governors didn’t act alone: 200-something mayors have vowed to keep working to combat climate change, along with hundreds of college and university presidents and nearly a thousand companies and corporations. Former New York City mayor, and now the UN’s special envoy on cities and climate change, Mike Bloomberg, even pledged to personally make up the funding gap left by Trump’s withdrawal from Paris.

The Future Is Coming

President Trump can say what he wants, but coal jobs are never coming back. Even the climate-change-denying boss of the biggest privately held coal-mining company still around (there aren’t too many left) knows that. The fossil-fuel era is over and clean energy is growing cheaper and more efficient by the day (or should we say minute).

The future is coming, no matter what.

Governor Jerry Brown, of California has emerged has a leader in the fight against climate change—and considering that California’s economy is the sixth largest in the world, his actions can have a significant impact. He traveled to China recently to sign an agreement to collaborate with China on new clean technology, emissions trading, and other efforts to reduce the effects of climate change.

Bipartisan Support

Other leaders are stepping up too. The bright side (which reminds us: solar is doing great these days) to Trump’s actions is that they seem to have re-energized the reality- and science-based community in a powerfully nonpartisan way.

Two of those 12 Climate Alliance governors are Republicans. Gov. Phil Scott, of our home state of Vermont, said “Growing our economy and protecting our environment by supporting cleaner and more affordable energy and transportation choices can go together. If our national government isn’t willing to lead in this area, the states are prepared to step up and lead. I look forward to supporting continued bipartisan cooperation on these matters.” Massachusetts’ Republican governor, Charlie Baker, also spoke to the importance of bipartisanship.

And here’s where there’s even more reason for hope: some so-called red states are leading the charge toward renewable energy. And many red states are among the 33 states that grew their economies while shrinking their emissions in 2016. Climate change should not be a partisan issue. What’s perhaps surprising is that, increasingly, it isn’t.

What Next?

While it will take a lot of work to meet our Paris goals, Mike Bloomberg, for one, believes it’s possible. We think it is, too. Especially since so many states have already passed, or are proposing, powerful climate legislation. In fact, Hawaii just became the first state to make its Paris Agreement goals legally binding.

All this just goes to show that our greatest source of renewable energy is our passion for and commitment to making a difference. While we’re excited that states, companies, and universities are charging ahead, we need to continue to pressure our leaders at every level, no matter where we live.

Let’s stand together and show our support for a clean-energy future today!