November 4, 2020, 6:20 a.m. ET
Today, the United States officially left the Paris Climate Agreement. We are now the only nation to sit on the sidelines in the global effort to prevent catastrophic warming. By exiting the Agreement, the current administration has abdicated its responsibility to work with the rest of the world to tackle the climate crisis.
In June 2017, leaders from state houses, city halls, tribal governments, boardrooms, college campuses, houses of worship, and cultural institutions across the United States came forward with one voice in response to President Trump’s announced intent to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement. These leaders told the world that America would not waver in its commitment to climate action or its dedication to delivering on the Paris Agreement, and they launched We Are Still In to set a different course for the United States. As the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement goes into effect today, We Are Still In remains committed to mobilizing American communities and institutions in support of global climate goals, and will be working with local leaders to center climate in their operations.
Ultimately, the United States has a responsibility to the world to rejoin the Paris Agreement and put forth a bolder, stronger national target. How soon the U.S. rejoins will depend on the outcome of yesterday’s presidential election. The votes are still being tallied, but regardless of who will be in the White House, the coalition intends to accelerate local climate action in 2021 and into the next decade.
Over the past four years, nearly 4,000 U.S. cities, states, tribal nations, businesses, universities, health care organizations, faith groups, and cultural institutions have formed the largest American coalition in support of climate action in history. These local leaders come from all fifty states and represent over half of the U.S. population, nearly two-thirds of its economy, and more than half of the country’s emissions. They are backed by over two-thirds of Americans who have consistently supported U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement.
Together, they have been guided by the knowledge that bold climate action will make our economy stronger and our nation more resilient to the impacts of climate change. They understand that the pursuit of a clean energy future will help us recover from COVID-19 and the resulting economic crisis, while providing us our best opportunity to address systemic inequities that have forced vulnerable communities to bear the brunt of climate impacts and environmental injustice.
Today we are looking ahead, not behind. No matter the results of yesterday’s presidential election, non-federal actors are ready to continue their now-unstoppable pursuit of a clean, just, and restorative economy that would allow us to reach our global climate goals. The action of these local leaders could reduce U.S. emissions up to 37% compared to 2005 levels by 2030, but so much more can be done when they are able to build a true partnership with the federal government. On December 12th, the world will celebrate the five-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement’s adoption. American leaders from local governments, the private sector, and other institutions will mark this milestone by articulating a vision for non-federal climate action in 2021 and beyond.