California Moving Forward as Trump Abandons Paris Agreement

The president of the United States just turned his back on the world’s hard-won agreement to fight climate change, the Paris accord. But here in California we are taking real climate action and are ready to do more to keep the promise of Paris alive. There’s too much at stake.

As much as we Californians have borne witness to the impacts of climate change—shrinking snowpacks, rising sea levels, historic droughts, wildfires and flooding—we are reaping the benefits of climate action. We can’t let the president’s misguided withdrawal put our economy and our environment at risk. 

Over the last decade, with the most comprehensive, ambitious climate policies in the world, California has created 2.3 million new jobs – outpacing most of the United States—cut its unemployment rate in half, and eliminated a $27 billion budget deficit. We have proven that cutting carbon pollution and creating jobs and economic growth go hand in hand. 

But no matter how forward leaning our efforts are, we cannot stop the seas from rising, more droughts from coming, or the ocean from acidifying without active participation from the rest of the United States and the rest of the world. 

Governor Brown has already announced a new state effort, the United States Climate Alliance, led by California, New York and Washington, to uphold the Paris agreement and take aggressive action on climate. And California continues its international work on climate change as part of the Under2Coalition, a group of 170 national and subnational governments from 33 countries and 6 continents committed to fighting climate change. 

Just yesterday California State Senators called on Governor Brown to convene a climate summit with national and subnational governments to move to chart a redoubled path to move forward with climate actions. Earlier this week the State Senate passed legislation for a 100% renewable energy standard and to protect California from Trump administration environmental and workforce rollbacks in the #PreserveCA package. All aimed to take serious climate action and to make sure that California has strong tools to move forward.  

These efforts are more vital now than ever before. California has some of the busiest seaports in the world, some of which are threatened by sea level rise. We have just emerged from the worst drought in recorded history—only to experience one of the wettest years ever. Our ports, farming, and fishing industries need strategies that will help improve climate resilience—not denial. California’s climate policies have helped create more than 500,000 clean energy jobs in the state, many of them in the clean car industry. California’s leaders need to send a strong signal to clean energy investors to keep their money here. We want to be the place where the climate action is, despite the lack of leadership in Washington. Proven investments in a clean economy make economic sense—it’s part of what’s propelled California to become the sixth largest economy in the world.

California’s success in lifting the economy through clean energy and climate action flies in the face of President Trump’s misguided rationale for backing out of Paris.  

We’ve made it happen by setting aggressive but achievable pollution reduction targets and putting measures in place to achieve those targets, such as cap-and-trade, low-carbon fuel standards and investments in energy efficiency. In our cities, Mayor Garcetti in LA, Mayor Lee in San Francisco, Mayor Steinberg in Sacramento and others are leading the way on local climate action by expanding rooftop solar, implementing smart water management policies, promoting transit- friendly land use, and more. 

State legislative leaders and Governor Brown have all committed to continuing and strengthening California’s landmark climate programs this year. It is critical for the good of the planet and its most vulnerable inhabitants, that Californians continue to work together, here at home and with the vast network of climate savvy cities, states, provinces, and countries around the world to cut carbon pollution and grow the clean economy. 

Fortunately, California is already showing that it can be done. Business leaders, workers, citizens, and our elected leaders in California are eager to continue sharing what we’ve learned, learn from others, and keep leading on climate—now more than ever.  

About the Authors

Join Us

When you sign up you'll become a member of NRDC's Activist Network. We will keep you informed with the latest alerts and progress reports.