Keep the United States in the Paris climate agreement, or America will fall behind on the clean energy technologies of the future and lose its global competitiveness.
That was the message Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and 11 other governors — all Democrats — sent in a letter to President Donald Trump Wednesday. They tried to dissuade the president that environmental goals have to be sacrificed for jobs and argued that lowering carbon emissions will be good for the economy.
Reducing carbon emissions is doable, they said, and necessary to protect the residents of their states from catastrophic floods, droughts and fires. Doing nothing will carry a high economic cost.
And the U.S. can improve its competitiveness and create jobs by meeting its commitments, they added.
From the letter:
The policies we are implementing that support the U.S.’s achievement of its Paris commitment not only cut carbon pollution — they also create jobs, boost competitiveness and bring clean energy and a cleaner environment to our citizens. These benefits can and should accrue to all Americans.
Collective action to limit emissions world-wide is critical; without collaboration, climate change will cost the world’s nations several trillion dollars in damages. Under the Paris Agreement, all the world’s major economies are taking action on climate change for the first time, including China and India, which have put forward their own commitments to cut their carbon pollution domestically. If the U.S. does not maintain global climate leadership through national policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to clean energy, China and India will. This would be a huge lost opportunity, putting us at a competitive disadvantage and potentially locking us into technologies and economic pathways that are increasingly obsolete while China and India reap the benefits of low-carbon leadership.
Trump has frequently criticized the Paris agreement, signed in 2015, in which the Obama administration committed to cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. The Washington Post reported that opponents of the agreement seem to be gaining the upper hand as senior administration officials have met repeatedly to talk about withdrawing from or renegotiating the agreement. Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt is said to fear that remaining in the agreement will make it harder for the administration to fend off lawsuits that are expected if he rolls back Obama-era rules aimed at reducing emissions.
At a rally on Saturday, Trump promised a “big decision” on the Paris agreement in the next two weeks.
The other signatories of the letter are California Gov. Jerry Brown, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, Delaware Gov. John Carney, Hawaii Gov. David Ige, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.