Politics

California joins states-led climate pact after Trump pulls out of Paris accord

File: California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks during day three of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 27, 2016.
File: California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks during day three of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 27, 2016.
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Listen to story

28:14
Download this story 40.0MB

Click play to listen to audio of KPCC's climate special.

Following President Donald Trump’s announcement that he would pull the United States out of the Paris accord, a nearly 200-nation agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the governors of three states including California announced a new partnership to combat climate change.

California Gov. Jerry Brown, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee announced the formation of the U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition of states that will adhere to the tenets of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Trump just hours earlier said he was committed to withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris accord, a move that his critics have said will have enormous economic and political consequences for the U.S.

“The President has already said climate change is a hoax, which is the exact opposite of virtually all scientific and worldwide opinion,” Brown said in a written statement. “I don’t believe fighting reality is a good strategy – not for America, not for anybody. If the President is going to be AWOL in this profoundly important human endeavor, then California and other states will step up.”

The three-state coalition aims to reduce emissions 26-28 percent from 2005 levels, meet or exceed the targets of the federal Clean Power Plan and serve as a forum to sustain existing climate programs and share best practices.

Responses to Trump’s announcement were swift. Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher told KPCC that he supported Trump’s announcement and reasoning behind his decision to pull the nation out of the Paris accord.

“Life will be better for ordinary people,” he said. “[Staying in the Paris accord] would hurt the working class. That’s why President Trump stepped in and stood up for their interests.”

Rohrabacher — who has been on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology for 20 years — said he disagrees with claims that greenhouse gas emissions have been responsible for global warming, stating that Earth has always gone through natural climate cycles.

“I’m not a denier. I’m a very open-minded person,” Rohrabacher said. “I see people who are advocating for something that doesn’t happen, saying ‘we're going to have a big jump in the temperature of the planet in 15 years,’ and 15 years later there’s been no major jump. It’s leveled off, even as CO2 levels increase dramatically.”

Even before the announcement of the three-state pact, a group of 27 California state senators signed onto a letter urging Gov. Brown to take action.

In their letter, the senators called for the state to partner with Mexico and Canada in convening a climate summit to bring together other local governments around the world to address climate change.

“Given the United States’ abdication of climate leadership, it is now time for California to lead with our technologies and our innovative policies,” the senators wrote.

Another local Republican came out in support of the president’s decision — U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) said Trump made the right call, calling the Paris accord an “unnecessary burden” on the U.S.

“The previous Administration refused to recognize that private innovation and clean American natural gas have achieved more than government mandates and misguided international agreements — and that naiveté led President Obama to sign a climate deal that will impose great costs with little gain,” McCarthy said in a statement.

Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, who represents portions of Orange and San Diego counties and is a member of the House Climate Solutions Caucus, gave the president a mixed review:

“Strong international partnerships are key to tackling this global problem and other countries must be held accountable. This isn’t the path I would have chosen, I would have preferred the President work within the agreement to ensure other nations are doing their fair share. It’s noteworthy the President instructed negotiations to begin immediately on re-entry or crafting a better deal to ensure more equitable contributions from our partners around the world. Climate change is a global problem and it will require everyone — not just the United States leading alone — in order to solve it.”

Prominent business leaders have joined in speaking out against Trump's decision. They include California businessmen like SpaceX/Tesla's Elon Musk and Disney's Bob Iger, both of whom resigned from White House advisory councils following the announcement.

Elon Musk tweet

Bob Iger tweet

This story has been updated.