This week’s must read: The dialogue that can bring America together on climate change (Greenville News)
This week, reaction to and ramifications of the decision last week of President Donald Trump to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement continued to build as mayors and governors on the eco-right commit to do their part to address this global issue.
A few highlights:
In Burnsville, Minnesota, Republican Mayor Elizabeth Kautz said the U.S. has an obligation to “protect the planet for our children” and predicted “we will exceed the Paris agreement in cities.” Her sentiments were echoed by Carmel, Indiana Mayor Jim Brainard. “We keep hearing the rhetoric about greatness. Great countries keep their word and great countries show leadership,” he said, detailing the steps his city has taken to reduce emissions. “We switched out nearly all of the streetlights in our city to LEDs, spent a lot of money, almost $1 million, but we’re getting a 20 percent-plus rate of return on our investment…That’s a great rate of return.”
Two Republican governors quickly joined the U.S. Climate Alliance, a group of states committed to keeping the Paris agreement. “I am proud to join this bipartisan group of governors and reaffirm Vermont’s commitment to fighting climate change through the U.S. Climate Alliance,” Gov. Phil Scott said in a written statement. He was joined by New England neighbor, Massachusetts Gov. Charlier Baker. “Our administration looks forward to continued, bipartisan collaboration with other states to protect the environment, grow the economy, and deliver a brighter future to the next generation,” Baker said in a statement. “As the Commonwealth reiterates its commitment to exceeding the emission reduction targets of the Paris Climate Agreement, today we join the US Climate Alliance to expand on our efforts while partnering with other states to combat climate change,” he said. Massachusetts is already committed to cutting its greenhouse gases 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.
In other news…
Republican House Climate Solutions Caucus members Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida and Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado joined Democratic colleagues in introducing a bill to address greenhouse gas emissions beyond carbon dioxide. The bill (H.R. 2858) would establish a task force to review policies and measures to promote reductions in short-lived climate pollutants such as methane and hydrofluorocarbons. “This task force would be a significant first step to ensuring that our nation has all the information needed to accurately protect our environment from these pollutants,” Curbelo said in a statement. Curbelo helped co-found the caucus, which Coffman recently joined. The Florida lawmaker has taken an active stance toward supporting climate action, especially in light of the administration’s position on the Paris climate accord.
On the flip side, we almost designated Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt as climate jester of the week on Monday. But we like to let the week play out to see if a more deserving candidate emerges. Now it’s Friday and our climate jester of the week is…Scott Pruitt. In an interview on Sunday with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, the EPA chief continued to deflect on the climate change position of President Donald Trump, instead turning his responses back to the reasons why the U.S. withdrew from the Paris climate accord. Finally, after repeated requests to answer the question, Pruitt relented: “The president has indicated that the climate changes. It’s always changing. I’ve indicated the same.” (He also exaggerated some jobs numbers pertaining to the coal industry, but we’re going to give him the benefit of the doubt that after three interviews, he’s now straight on the figures.) On Tuesday, in an interview on Morning Joe, Pruitt continued to fall back on his Paris talking points when asked about human activity contributing to climate change: “I think what’s important… is that the president has said when we make decisions on environmental decisions internationally, that we put America’s interest first,” he said.
ClimateEye is getting a facelift… stay tuned for the details, hopefully we’ll roll out the look next week.