Among the many actions of the new federal administration in Washington, few have drawn sharper disagreement around the world as has the unfortunate decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. Only two nations of the world did not join, with the United States being the first and only to withdraw. The Agreement was difficult to reach and showed real promise to bring nations together to curtail climate change.
The response has been swift and determined among those concerned with climate change as to what can be done to stay the course on dealing with the issue. Recently, I joined with more than 550 legislators from throughout the country, including 11 from Virginia, organized by the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL, ncel.net) in sending a letter to the administration indicating our opposition to withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. Following is the text of that letter:
We are state legislators representing 45 states with a total population of over 298 million United States citizens and we stand united in opposition to the president’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement.
We are committed to continuing the United States’ leadership in working toward a clean energy economy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Now more than ever, in the wake of this short-sighted decision by the Federal Administration, it is important that state and local governments come together to strengthen our resolve to meet our regional goals to reduce carbon pollution and our national goals to achieve the reductions agreed to in Paris in 2015.
We stand with the 292 United States mayors representing more than 60 million Americans, the governors of 12 states with a total population of over 102 million, and 194 countries committed to upholding the ambitious goals adopted in the Paris Agreement. At the same time, we explicitly refuse to stand with President Donald Trump in his repudiation of the agreement.
Climate change is not a conspiracy, a hoax, or a partisan cause. Climate change will not affect just a few low-lying countries and the polar regions. Climate change is real and caused by human activity. People around the world and here in our own country, in our own states, in our own communities have already experienced the impacts and will see significantly increased impacts in the coming decades.
As state legislators, we declare our commitment to work with our legislative colleagues, our governors, and our constituents to ensure that we continue this country’s leadership role to build a 21st Century clean energy economy and that we meet or exceed all of the deliverables in the Paris Agreement. To this end, we will reach out across local, state, and federal borders to work together for our future. These ties will strengthen our economy as we build upon American ingenuity, entrepreneurship, productivity, and scientific and technological know-how to reduce carbon pollution while producing the next generation of clean transportation, clean power and energy-efficient devices and strategies.
With or without the president’s leadership, our country must continue to lead the fight for climate action. Working together across multiple states, we will ensure our great nation does not go backward and meets or exceeds the Paris Agreement.
If you decide to write a letter as well, please feel free to borrow any or all of the text of this letter.