Monday, June 04, 2018

Gov. Brown Says Fallout from Trump Quitting Paris Accord Is 'Far More Serious Than Anyone Is Saying'

California Gov. Jerry Brown addresses the University of California Carbon and Climate Neutrality Summit in San Diego. (Credit: Howard Lipin / San Diego Union-Tribune) Click to Enlarge.
His promised coal renaissance sputtered.  Rollbacks of environmental protections are tangled in court.  Even automakers aren’t on board for his push toward heavier-polluting cars.

But even so, a year after President Trump pulled out of the landmark Paris accord on climate change, the struggle to contain global warming has grown considerably more complicated without the prodding and encouragement once provided by the U.S. government.

And though many in the climate movement hope progress toward cutting emissions can continue despite Trump’s retreat, there are growing doubts about reaching the Paris agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, if Washington does not re-engage soon.

In an interview, Gov. Jerry Brown acknowledged the hope felt by many climate activists because of efforts from states like his and by private companies.  But he also said the world is only just beginning to feel the environmental harm inflicted by the Trump administration.

“He has set in motion initiatives that will cause damage,” Brown said, comparing the planet under Trump’s climate policies to a person who has just fallen from the top of the Empire State Building.  “You are falling down four stories, but have 80 to go,” he said. “Maybe you are not damaged yet, but it is certain you will die.”

The governor said his overriding concern is that global progress has stalled.  “This is real,” Brown said.  “It is far more serious than anybody is saying.”

Yet even in these dark days for climate action, plunging natural gas and renewable energy costs, as well as the grit of state and local leaders determined to carry on without Washington — and to fight it in court — have bought the movement some time.

Some activists are increasingly optimistic that they can wait this administration out.  They are diligently crunching numbers and preparing reports to unveil at the global climate summit Brown is hosting in California in September.  That’s when new benchmarks will be proposed for getting the nation back on track for meeting its Paris commitments.

And in many ways, Trump has proved far less competent at dismantling climate action than initially feared, they say.

“Teddy Roosevelt talked about speaking softly and carrying a big stick,” said Nigel Purvis, a climate negotiator during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations and chief executive of the firm Climate Advisers.  “Donald Trump is tweeting loudly and carrying fiddlesticks.  The level of damage is not as much as one might have thought given all the tweeting and speeches.”

Coal plants have continued shutting down at a brisk pace since Trump took office.  The costs of renewable energy continue to fall, even after Trump slapped tariffs on foreign-made solar panels crucial to the industry’s growth.  Led by California, states representing 40% of the U.S. population are pushing ahead with innovative strategies to drive their emissions down, and are on track to meet their states’ benchmarks under the Paris agreement.

The group, called the U.S. Climate Alliance, on Thursday rolled out a fresh set of actions it will take to keep the U.S. moving toward its Paris commitments.  They include policy innovations that put the coalition — which collectively represents an economy larger than most industrialized nations — at the forefront of the climate movement.  The alliance has grown to include three states with Republican governors.

Read more at Gov. Brown Says Fallout from Trump Quitting Paris Accord Is 'Far More Serious Than Anyone Is Saying'

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