President Trump’s latest executive order on climate change waves the white flag on the central environmental challenge of our time, while also surrendering American leadership in the global clean energy race. However, American climate action can’t be stopped with the stroke of Trump’s pen—especially the Clean Power Plan that is grounded in robust legal process and supported by strong majorities of Americans. And Trump’s abdication of leadership has only galvanized real leaders, both international and domestic, to double down on climate action and ensure the goals of the historic Paris Agreement will be achieved.
Leading powers such as China and the European Union jumped on Trump’s climate capitulation to assert their intention to fill the global leadership void and capitalize on clean energy to power their economic competitiveness. And high emitting developing nations, such as India and Indonesia, reiterated they will forge ahead with climate action at home despite Trump's antics as it is in their national self-interest.
Likewise on the home front, America’s governors, mayors, and business leaders roundly rejected Trump’s decree as an affront to the health and prosperity of their citizens and companies. These increasingly powerful groups are a testament to America’s resilient and deep reservoirs of climate leadership.
The following are a sampling of the many statements from international and American leaders who reiterated their commitment to act on climate change, regardless of the reckless lack of leadership from Washington:
"No matter how other countries' policies on climate change, as a responsible large developing country China's resolve, aims and policy moves in dealing with climate change will not change."
“The continued leadership of the EU, China and many other major economies is now more important than ever. When it comes to climate and the global clean energy transition, there cannot be vacuums, there can only be drivers, and we are committed to driving this agenda forward. We see the Paris Agreement and the transition to a modern, more innovative economy as the growth engine of job creation, investment opportunities and economic prosperity."
—European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete
“Whoever tries to change into reverse gear is only going to harm themselves when it comes to international competitiveness.”
India is "pursuing religiously" its goal of developing 225 gigawatts of clean energy by 2022. "It's not subject to some other country's decision."
"Australia takes its international commitments very seriously."
Even if the U.S. curtails aid to Indonesia for climate programs, "we will not stop or withdraw."
—Indonesian director general of climate change at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry Nur Masripatin
"The good news is that we are already witnessing a dramatic transition to renewables in global energy markets. The trend appears unstoppable, but small islands would certainly feel better about our chances if the world’s biggest economy stayed on track to meet its targets.”
—Maldives Energy and Environment Minister and Chair of the Alliance of Small Island Developing States Thoriq Ibrahim
"A President's job is to protect their citizens, grow the economy and pave the way for future generations. Acting on climate change is the best way to do all of this. While we are extremely disappointed to see the United States seeking to roll back its efforts to reduce emissions, we are heartened to see the rest of the world remains firmly committed to the Paris Agreement and to reaping the enormous economic opportunities that come with it. My country's survival depends on every country delivering on the promises they made in Paris—our own commitment to it will never waiver."
“Trump's decision was a mistake.”
"The action by the US to undo important domestic carbon reduction regulation in the face of the enormous momentum building globally toward a low carbon economy risks putting the country on a back-foot at a time when most Americans are looking to lead. This decision will make things harder, not easier for Americans."
—Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of the UNFCCC and convenor of Mission 2020
“There are countless countries ready to step up and deliver on their climate promises and take advantages of Mr. Trump’s short-termism to reap the benefits of the transition to the low-carbon economy.”
—Laurence Tubiana, chief French negotiator of the 2015 Paris Agreement
"The announcement undermines policies that stimulate economic competitiveness, job creation, infrastructure investment and public health. Many American companies have set ambitious energy efficiency and renewable energy targets. The Clean Power Plan provides a platform for these companies with reliable and resilient sources of clean energy and in turn generates substantial economic and public health benefits."
—Nigel Topping, CEO of We Mean Business, a coalition working with thousands of the world’s most influential businesses
“We won’t let the president’s misguided decision limit our region’s economic opportunities or our commitment to doing what’s right to make our cities and states cleaner and healthier for future generations. We speak as a region of over 50 million people with a combined GDP of $2.8 trillion. There is no question that to act on climate is to act in our best economic interests.”
—Governors of Washington, Oregon and California and the Mayors of Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles
“Together, California and New York represent approximately 60 million people—nearly one-in-five Americans—and 20 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. With or without Washington, we will work with our partners throughout the world to aggressively fight climate change and protect our future.”
“We won’t hesitate to protect those we serve—including by aggressively opposing in court President Trump’s actions that ignore both the law and the critical importance of confronting the very real threat of climate change.”
“Climate change is both the greatest single threat we face, and our greatest economic opportunity for our nation. That is why we affirm our cities’ commitments to taking every action possible to achieve the principles and goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, and to engage states, businesses and other sectors to join us.”
—Mayors from 75 cities representing more than 41 million Americans
“Rolling back the Clean Power Plan would roll right over 3 million Americans who earn their paychecks every day in the clean energy economy. And it’s not just workers who would suffer—it’s American competitiveness, too.”
—Bob Keefe, executive director of Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), a national nonpartisan business group
“Today’s announcement, while not unexpected, is a clear step in the wrong direction and runs counter to the more than 365 U.S. companies and investors who publicly supported the Clean Power Plan when it was announced in 2015, as well as the more than 1,000 companies and investors who back the recently released the Business Backs Low-Carbon USA statement.”
—Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, a nonprofit organization that mobilizes many of the world’s largest investors and companies to take stronger action on climate change
“We believe that strong clean energy and climate policies, like the Clean Power Plan, can make renewable energy supplies more robust and address the serious threat of climate change while also supporting American competitiveness, innovation, and job growth.”