The US non-national Climate Action Center kicked off this week at COP23 in Bonn, Germany, supported exclusively by non-federal US actors. It was exciting being a part of thousands of people from the US who traveled to Bonn to stand alongside the international community to show how the representation of the US on climate action runs beyond the federal government.
People gathered in big white igloo-shaped tents in solidarity with the 198 nations that unanimously adopted the Paris Agreement. Since the President announced on 1 June that the US will withdraw from the Paris Agreement, over 2,500 cities, states, tribes, universities, businesses and faith groups have signed onto the We Are Still In movement.
In a press release, the movement shared that “in the absence of leadership from Washington, representatives of cities and states, tribes, businesses, and academia have traveled to Bonn and are standing alongside the international community to make clear that the representation of the United States extends beyond its federal government. With over 2,500 signatories representing more than 130 million Americans and $6.2 trillion of economic output, ‘We Are Still In’ is the largest cross section of the American economy yet assembled in pursuit of climate action.”
Likewise launched is America’s Pledge report, “the first communication to the international community specifically addressing the scope and scale of non-federal climate action in the US following the decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.” The report brings together private and public sector leaders and quantifies the climate actions of the signatories and other non-federal US actors, with the first phase of the analysis to be released at COP23.
At the COP23 US Climate Action Center, panels of climate leaders inspired us with their examples of how we are still in with climate progress on greenhouse gas emissions, innovations in climate policy, entrepreneurship and technologies, and community climate action. With California leading the way on cap-and-trade policy, and cities and states across the country doubling down on their carbon reduction commitments, the US may well meet its Paris pledge regardless of what goes on in Washington.
Nancy Tuchman is the Dean of the Institute of Environmental Sustainability-Loyola University Chicago and joined the Ecojesuit team in Bonn.