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Horowitz: State & Local Leaders Fill Void at International Climate Conference

Tuesday, November 07, 2017


The nations of the world are coming together in Bonn, Germany to wrestle with some of the thorny implementation questions arising out of the landmark Paris Climate Change Agreement as the 23rd Annual Conference of the Parties meeting conducted under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) kicks-off.  While the Trump Administration has representatives in attendance at the meeting, President Trump’s announced intention to withdraw from Paris makes their influence ‘less than zero” to borrow from the title of a Bret Easton Ellis novel.

But despite President Trump’s abandonment of global leadership on an issue the rest of the world believes is of critical importance, the United States is being well-represented in Germany. State and local leaders, including Governor Jerry Brown(D-CA), Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, are among the many state and local officials to step in and fill the void,  The We are Still In movement--which refers to still committed to achieving the United States Paris commitments-- together with 40 separate organizations, are conducting a variety of information sessions at the Conference designed to demonstrate all the actions states, cities and businesses are taking to ensure that we still meet our Paris goals They will also unveil an ambitious expanded plan going forward. A Climate Action Center has been established at the Conference as a hub for these activities.

 These United States state, local, non-profit and business leaders have well-earned global credibility Together this critical mass of Americans with the power to continue the sound investments in renewable energy and energy conservation that have put us on the right climate path are going to make sure that the United States still meets the emission reduction goals to which it committed. As Michael Bloomberg, who now serves as UN Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, said, “Americans will honor and fulfill the Paris Agreement by leading from the bottom up – and there isn’t anything Washington can do to stop us.”

President Trump is not only out of step with the rest of the world on climate change; his position is refuted by the National Climate Assessment, a scientific report released by his own government this past Friday.  It asserts that the evidence that the planet is rapidly heating up and that the major cause is human activity has only grown stronger since the last report was released in 2013: “…stronger evidence has emerged for continued, rapid human-caused warming of the global atmosphere and ocean. This report, which has been thoroughly peer reviewed and endorsed by the National Academy of Sciences, concludes that it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. For the warming, over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the observational evidence.”

Given the scale of the climate challenge, President Trump’s rejection of the scientific consensus accompanied by the assertive efforts of his EPA Director Scott Pruitt to roll back Obama climate policies, are still damaging.  However, thanks to state and local elected officials and business people all across America, the United States is still positioned to meet its Paris greenhouse gas reduction commitments and as a result, is doing enough to not provide a ready excuse for other nations to abandon their commitments.

So, we are well-represented in Bonn. Bloomberg, Brown, Garcetti and so many others are admirably filling the void, providing an essential reminder to the word that we Americans still embrace the climate challenge- no matter what our President says or does.  

Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island


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