By Pooja Tilvawala
On June 1, 2017, President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement. Considering that the US was and still is responsible for roughly 15% of global emissions, this was a big deal. Not only did the withdrawal reshape the image of our values in the eyes of the world, but it also sparked worry about the loss of the valuable pressure the US could have put on other nations to set more ambitious targets.
However, to the rescue, we had Governor Jerry Brown of California and UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Action Michael Bloomberg, who kick-started America’s Pledge and the We Are Still In declaration. To date, more than 3,500 organizations, representing over 169 million people across 50 states have signed onto the declaration, pledging to continue support for climate action to meet the Paris Agreement goals. Undoubtedly, 2018 has been the year of momentum. We have seen regions, states, cities, communities, businesses, and other sub-national actors take charge on environmental action. I even experienced this palpable energy first-hand at this year’s one-of-a-kind Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, where people were announcing more ambitious targets left and right.
Leading up to the summit, during the summit, and following the summit, many businesses and leaders announced new commitments going forward with the Paris Agreement, among which were the following:
- Governor Jerry Brown pledges that California will reach carbon neutrality by 2045
- Los Angeles announced a Zero Emissions Roadmap for electrified transportation to lower greenhouse gases and air pollution by 25% by 2028
- Virginia became the 15th state to join the Transportation and Climate Initiative of Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic States, pushing for cleaner energy
- Starbucks is dedicated to having 10,000 greener stores by 2025
- Kaiser Permanente pledges to carbon neutrality by 2020
- University of California has committed to 100% clean energy by 2025
- Governor Jerry Brown announced California and Planet Labs will “launch our own damn satellite” to track climate change
- Trust me, the list goes on and on…..
- For an extensive list of commitments, please visit: https://www.greenbiz.com/article/big-commitments-campaigns-and-collaborations-gcas
In her opening remarks, Mayor London Breed insisted, “humility is what we need...followed by ambition.” In other words, alone, we are not powerful, but together, if we fight the good fight and protect our home, we will have a home for many more generations to come. The theme of the Global Climate Action Summit was to ‘Take Ambition to the Next Level’ and from what I’ve seen and heard this month, it seems that many subnational actors in the US are serious about reaching or surpassing our Paris Agreement goals and protecting our home. That being said, how can you play a part in our collective goal to mitigate climate change? What’s your pledge?