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U.S. cities, states, businesses to measure emissions, stick with Paris accord

California Governor Jerry Brown and Michael Bloomberg reveal new details of the America’s Pledge initiative


A major initiative to measure U.S. efforts to cut carbon emissions was announced today in a joint statement by California Governor Jerry Brown and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The nationwide plan, named America’s Pledge, may be the beginning of concrete, organized action taken in response to President Trump’s announcement to withdraw the United States from the Paris accord, the landmark international agreement to fight climate change.

The plan would be the first to quantify the work of cities, states, and businesses, underscoring the wider effort to keep the U.S. in line with previous Paris agreement pledges without the support of the federal government.

“In the U.S., emission levels are determined far more by cities, states, and businesses than they are by our federal government—and each of these groups is taking action because it’s in their own best interest,” said Bloomberg, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, in a statement. “Reducing emissions is good for the economy and good for public health. The American government may have pulled out of the Paris Agreement, but American society remains committed to it—and we will redouble our efforts to achieve its goals. We’re already halfway there.”

Within hours of Trump’s actions in early June, cities, states, and businesses announced their intention to stick with the Paris Accords, with more than 350 mayors pledging action, and numerous organizations and states also announcing their intentions via organizations such as We Are Still In.

America’s Pledge will serve as an official measuring stick of these efforts, aggregating the commitments of “non-party actors” in a report, as well as developing plans for “increased climate ambitions” that can be adopted by states, cities, businesses, and others. The Rocky Mountain Institute and the World Resources Institute will jointly lead an inclusive analytical effort to measure emission reduction efforts by those aligned with America’s Pledge.

The overall ambition is to show the international community how the combined effort of these subnational actors can significantly reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and meet the U.S. pledge “at a time of limited federal leadership.” In addition, the effort will work to quantify the impact of these commitments on projected future emissions, comparing them to the impact of a business-as-usual trajectory of projected emissions under likely Trump administration policies.

In 2015, during the lead-up to the Paris conference on climate change, the U.S. submitted its “Nationally Determined Contribution,” committing to reduce emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025 (based on 2005 levels).

In November, Brown and Bloomberg, along with other U.S. governors, mayors, and business leaders, will present the climate commitments of U.S. subnational and non-state actors at the COP23 climate conference in Bonn, Germany, and offer a set of best practices to help fellow signatories continue to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres also noted his support of the initiative.

“This is demonstrably not an issue that can be addressed by national governments alone,” he said. “The effort to aggregate and quantify the actions of subnational authorities and non-Party stakeholders in the United States via America’s Pledge is welcome.”