By Alexander Lawless | USA
Amidst a political climate riddled with President Trump’s controversial statements regarding his views on climate change in the past, the Trump Administration recently added fuel to the fire by officially directing the United States to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Signed by President Obama and many other world leaders in 2016, the agreement sought to lead a worldwide initiative to impose various rules and regulations on industries in the hopes of slowing the effects of climate change.
“Now, just as I believe the Paris Agreement will ultimately prove to be a turning point for our planet, I believe that history will judge today’s efforts as pivotal. For the agreement to enter into force, as has already been stated, 55 countries representing 55 percent of global emissions must formally join”, Obama explained in his formal remarks.
The joint entrance of the United States and China into this agreement was considered a large step towards the goal of the accord, with the two countries accounting for around 40% of the world’s global emissions.
The agreement, however, was certainly not very popular on both sides of the aisle. In fact, since President Obama found it so difficult to garner enough support in the Republican-controlled Senate to ratify the treaty, he simply bypassed the Senate to sign the treaty under the classification of an “executive agreement”.
The strong stance against this accord by the Republican Party made the swift withdrawal from the agreement by President Donald Trump no surprise. However, much like many other actions of the Trump Administration, the exiting of the initiative was clearly an widely unpopular decision, especially among Americans on the liberal side of the political spectrum. So, following the trend of resistance against the Trump-led federal government, various Democratic governors and mayors have decided to take unorthodox steps in order to voice their opinions.
Beginning with California, a handful of governors have decided to form a makeshift alliance with goals that are quite similar to those of the Paris Agreement. The states, in a way, symbolically signed onto the Paris Agreement, agreeing to continue enforcing the regulations set forth by the accord, but this time doing so without federal obligation. Governor Jerry Brown of California, soon after the announcement was made by the Trump Administration about the United States’ withdrawal, convinced the states of New York and Washington to join in his mission.
The agreement between these states, called the U.S. Climate Alliance, picked up steam rather quickly after that. What started out as a mere pact among the governments of a few states soon grew to a much more notable phenomenon. Now, Oregon, Virginia, Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Vermont have all joined the alliance, accounting for about 31% of America’s GDP and around 20% of America’s carbon emissions. Not only states have joined the alliance, however. Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City, has organized a group of thirty additional cities and eighty universities to tag along in the alliance.
It is unclear whether or not this alliance will actually create a measurable impact on reducing carbon emissions from the United States, but the alliance certainly is a testament to something else. It is a relevant reminder of the value that separation of powers has in the United States. Unlike other countries, the uniquely (relatively) decentralized government that America values dearly is is now showing its real power. In times when the federal government becomes overwhelmingly unpopular or tries to overstep its bounds, the Constitution made sure that it is never too late to show resistance.