The hodgepodge of states committed to upholding the Paris climate agreement could find meeting the deal’s terms nearly impossible, especially considering the Obama administration itself wasn’t on track to keep its pledge.
The so-called We Are Still In campaign will fall flat unless it manages to convince nearly every fossil fuel burning state in the country to back the Paris deal. So far only the greenest states with the most to gain politically from opposing President Donald Trump have joined the pact.
Former President Barack Obama’s target of 26 to 28 percent greenhouse gas level reductions by 2025 based off 2005 emissions levels mostly missed the mark, according to an analysis in January by the Rhodium Group. The group found the U.S. would not be able to hit the mark under Obama’s climate regulations, which were substantial at the time of the Rhodium’s report.
Trevor Houser, a partner at the Rhodium Group, told Axios Tuesday that if the states signed onto the effort “follow up by developing and implementing new policy or, in the case of companies and universities, new procurement, it could have a meaningful impact.”
Major energy producing states such as Texas, Pennsylvania, and the Dakotas have not signed onto the coalition’s non-binding pact, which could greatly hamper the We Are Still In campaign. Most of the states in the campaign reside on the coasts.
Campaigners argue they’re building a bottom-up coalition that will eventually include larger states and businesses. “This is the way we’re going to get to the unusual suspects,” one organizer told reporters.
They don’t have all day, though, because the coalition will have to quickly double down on Obama-era climate regulations during the Trump administration if they intend on making the 2025 pledge.
One of the leaders of the anti-Trump movement, California Gov. Jerry Brown, has been making the rounds to generate support for the coalition. Brown browbeat his state’s legislature in April into dramatically raising California’s gas tax, as well as push for extending the state’s already massive cap-and-trade program.
The California Democrat met with China’s president Xi Jinping Tuesday morning to discuss aspects of the Paris climate deal. They both hashed out ways to push their respective entities away from fossil fuel production and closer to renewable energy to meet Paris’ ambitious aims.
Brown told reporters at the international clean energy conference in Beijing that nixing the Paris agreement is only a temporary setback, adding that China, European countries and the coalition of states should be able to fill in the gap Trump left.
“Nobody can stay on the sidelines. We can’t afford any dropouts in the tremendous human challenge to make the transition to a sustainable future,” Brown said. “Disaster still looms and we’ve got to make the turn.”
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