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US states, cities and firms unite behind Paris accord
By Jennie MATTHEW
New York (AFP) June 2, 2017


Goldman Sachs CEO defends Paris deal in first-ever tweet
New York (AFP) June 1, 2017 - Goldman Sachs, which has been a source of advisors to President Donald Trump, joined a chorus of big companies to criticize the US leader's decision Thursday to exit the Paris climate agreement.

"Today's decision is a setback for the environment and for the U.S.'s leadership position in the world," Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein said on Twitter.

It was the first Twitter post for Blankfein, who joined the social network six years ago. His statement was also retweeted on Goldman Sachs's official account.

Blankfein supported Trump's Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign, but he had expressed hope about Trump's administration since the election.

The Trump administration has hired a number of former Goldman senior executives to fill top roles, including Blankfein's former deputy Gary Cohn.

Cohn, the head of the president's National Economic Council, had been seen as supporting the Paris agreement.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also worked previously at Goldman, as did White House strategist Steve Bannon.

Democratic US governors form climate club, defying Trump
New York (AFP) June 1, 2017 - Democratic state governors from California, New York and Washington formed an immediate alliance Thursday committed to countering climate change, defying Donald Trump's announcement that the United States was leaving the 2015 Paris accord.

The three states represent more than one-fifth of US gross domestic product, are home to 68 million people, or nearly one in five Americans, and account for at least 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, the governors said.

California's Jerry Brown, New York's Andrew Cuomo and Washington state's Jay Inslee -- all Democrats -- urged other states to join their United States Climate Alliance, saying that they were committed to taking aggressive action against climate change.

They remain committed to achieving the US goal of reducing emissions by 26-28 percent from 2005 levels, and meeting or exceeding the targets of a federal Clean Power Plan, they said.

Cuomo said the "reckless" decision, announced by the Republican commander-in-chief on Thursday, would have "devastating repercussions" for the planet, and accused the US administration of abdicating its global leadership.

"New York State is committed to meeting the standards set forth in the Paris accord regardless of Washington's irresponsible actions," he said.

"If the president is going to be AWOL in this profoundly important human endeavor, then California and other states will step up," said Brown.

"While the president's actions are a shameful rebuke to the work needed to protect our planet for our children and grandchildren, states have been and will continue to step up," added Inslee.

The governors said the alliance would work to sustain and strengthen existing climate programs, promote the sharing of information and best practices, and implement new programs to reduce carbon emissions from all sectors of the economy.

Trump announced from the White House that the United States would withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement and try to negotiate a new global deal on climate change, provoking swift condemnation of European leaders.

State governors, city mayors and powerful companies united Friday in defiance of President Donald Trump's pledge to take the United States out of the Paris climate accord, pledging to meet greenhouse gas emission targets regardless.

A majority of Americans in every state, or 69 percent of US voters, believe the United States should participate in the agreement, according to a recent opinion poll carried out by Yale University's program on climate change communication.

At least two Republican governors announced Friday they were partnering with Democratic-run states to combat climate change after Trump's announcement sparked swift condemnation from academics, industry leaders and environmental experts.

US billionaire, philanthropist and UN envoy for climate change Michael Bloomberg pledged $15 million to support the agreement's coordinating agency if necessary -- the sum it stands to lose should the United States refuse to pay its share.

"Americans will honor and fulfill the Paris agreement by leading from the bottom up," he said, flying to the French capital to meet President Emmanuel Macron in an expression of solidarity.

"Mayors, governors and business leaders from both political parties are signing onto a statement of support that we will submit to the UN -- and together, we will reach the emission reduction goals the US made in Paris in 2015," said Bloomberg.

The United States -- the world's second largest greenhouse gas emitter after China -- pledged in the Paris climate deal to reduce emissions that contribute to global warming by 26 percent in a 20-year period by 2025.

The New York Times said that Bloomberg's unnamed group so far includes 30 mayors, three governors, more than 80 university presidents and more than 100 businesses.

The Democratic-led states of California, New York and Washington announced separately that they were forming a United States Climate Alliance committed to upholding Paris emissions commitments and urged others to climb on board.

Charlie Baker and Phil Scott, the Republican governors of Massachusetts and Vermont respectively, announced that their liberal northeastern states were joining the Climate Alliance and committed to the goals of the Paris agreement, as did their Democratic counterparts in Connecticut and Rhode Island.

- 'More than mitigated' -

Around 150 mayors, who say they represent 47 million Americans, have also committed to uphold the Paris commitments, intensify efforts to meet climate goals and increase investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Several major US corporations, captains of industry and business groups urged Trump to honor the endangered agreement, with oil super majors ExxonMobil and Chevron among those reiterating their support for the accords.

New York's Bill de Blasio, mayor of America's most populous city, told WNYC radio that he wanted to "surpass" his commitment to reduce emissions 80 percent by 2050.

While UN officials stress that it could take several years before there is a proper understanding of the implications of a US withdrawal, they also say the deal was structured to require action at multiple levels of government, not just federal.

Robert Orr, one of the architects of the Paris accord and a former special advisor to the UN secretary general on climate change, told AFP that the United States had already been on track to achieve about half its Paris reductions commitment.

"The president may have unwittingly added dynamism to the same actors that have always been the ones that are delivering the reductions to actually do more on their own," he told AFP.

"If this coalition broadens and deepens at the pace that it appears to be, I think the Trump effect could be more than mitigated," added Orr, now dean of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland.

California, New York and Washington, three of the states in the Climate Alliance, represent more than one-fifth of US gross domestic product and account for at least 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, their governors said.

The governor of Hawaii has also pledged to continue concrete steps to implement the Paris accord, while governors of Colorado, Minnesota, Oregon and Virginia committed to clean air and clean energy.

The earliest possible date for America's official withdrawal from the Paris agreement is November 4, 2020 -- the day after the next US presidential election -- although Trump's current term in office is not due to end until January 20, 2021.

ENERGY NEWS
US may do less harm outside climate pact than in it: analysts
Paris (AFP) June 1, 2017
America's withdrawal from the climate-rescue Paris Agreement under Donald Trump is a blow to global unity but may be a blessing in disguise for the pact itself, observers said Thursday. This way, the Trump administration, heavily influenced by the fossil-fuel industry, will have less sway over the UN climate process, they said. "A rogue US can cause more damage inside... than outside of ... read more

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