If there's anything President Donald Trump made pretty clear throughout his life as a private citizen, it's that he doesn't put much stock in the science behind climate change. And since taking office, that's been borne out, as he's already announced his intention to pull the U.S. out of the landmark Paris climate agreement. But some people are fighting back: cities and states are backing the Paris climate agreement on their own, in a show of environmental-minded defiance of the administration.
Back in 2015, Trump referred to climate change as a hoax created by the Chinese government in order to gain economic advantage over the United States, a statement which set off alarm bells for environmentalist and scientific activist and advocate groups.
Then, in June 2017, Trump announced his intention to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement, which was painstakingly negotiated and signed in late 2015. Trump blasted the deal as unfavorable to the American economy. claiming it created unfair, "draconian" burdens:
Thus, as of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris Accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country.
It's important to note, however, that the deal was entirely non-binding, and just because the federal government doesn't intend to uphold it doesn't mean states, cities, and towns can't. That's the spirit in which a reported 20 states and 50 cities are coming together to pledge to uphold the Paris agreement, trying to take some of that decision-making power out of the president's hands.
Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire Republican and a longtime vocal dissident within his party on issues like guns and the environment, laid out this very notion in a speech at the United Nations Climate Change conference in Bonn, Germany this week. Specifically, Bloomberg touted the recent release of a report on non-federal climate change action, titled "America's Pledge," that spotlighted the efforts.
"It is important for the world to know, the American government may have pulled out of the Paris agreement, but the American people are committed to its goals, and there is nothing Washington can do to stop us," Bloomberg said, according to CBS News.
Bloomberg was joined at the event by California governor Jerry Brown, a vociferous critic of the Trump administration's tendency towards climate change denial, and currently (at least until 2018) the head of the state with the biggest economy in the entire country. Brown also addressed the conference. acknowledging that current efforts have not been enough, and that federal action will be needed to truly make the kinds of changes that are necessary.
What we're doing is relatively limited to existential threat that we face. We need to do more.
Back in Dec. 2016, Brown hit at President-elect Trump, saying that if the new administration tried to halt NASA's use of climate-researching satellites, the state of California would take matters into its own hands.
"If Trump turns off the satellites," Brown said, "California will launch its own damn satellites."
We've got the scientists. We've got the lawyers. We're ready. California will continue in support of research.
In short, although the federal government refusing to uphold the terms of the Paris agreement will be a big blow to combating the rate of climate change, it's clear that the political leadership of several cities and states are prepared to take whatever steps they can to help lessen the impact.
Controversially, at the same time as the U.N. Climate conference was happening in Germany, Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt recorded a message to be played at a convention of climate change skeptics and deniers. Namely, the America First Energy Conference in Houston, Texas, an event also attended by some Interior and State department officials in the Trump administration.