Governors And Mayors Pledge More Emissions Cuts To Fight Climate Change

Originally published on September 14, 2018 11:02 am
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Now, scientists say that the warming climate makes a storm like Florence bigger and stronger and wetter. In San Francisco, where we're going next, government officials from around the world are making new pledges to cut the carbon emissions that drive climate change. They're trying to counter the Trump administration's rollbacks on climate protections. Here's Lauren Sommer of our member station KQED.

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LAUREN SOMMER, BYLINE: The message from the summit - states and cities are moving forward, tackling climate change with or without Washington, D.C.

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ANNE HIDALGO: Today, we can say we are fighting. We are not just talking - we're acting.

SOMMER: That's Mayor Anne Hidalgo of Paris, a city that plans to ban internal combustion engines. Mayors from 26 other cities around the world announced their carbon emissions had peaked and were going down. Then came the governors, like Washington's Jay Inslee.

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JAY INSLEE: The American people understand science and an optimistic future of clean energies.

SOMMER: Washington, 15 other states and Puerto Rico formed a climate alliance when President Trump announced he would pull the U.S. out of the international Paris climate treaty.

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INSLEE: To make sure that the rest of the world understood that there is intelligent life in United States.

SOMMER: And no one likes to make that point more than California Governor Jerry Brown, emphatically pounding on the table.

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JERRY BROWN: Can Trump, if he stays as president - is re-elected - can he subvert and sabotage? You bet he can, and he is. That's why it's California versus Trump.

SOMMER: Brown has tried to take the lead on the international stage, sending the message that at least parts of the U.S. would uphold their agreement to cut carbon emissions.

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BROWN: People from all over America, all over the world will get to the goal. The only question is, will we get there so late that people will die and trillions of dollars will be unnecessarily spent?

SOMMER: That is the big question - whether the pledges of these cities and states add up to enough.

CHRIS FIELD: I think this is like a bunch of little kids gathering around the swimming pool.

SOMMER: Chris Field is a climate scientist at Stanford University.

FIELD: Nobody really has the nerve to do it until they all hold hands and do it at once.

SOMMER: Field says climate change is an all-hands-on-deck situation, so the efforts of local governments do matter. But global climate emissions are still going up.

FIELD: And until the United States can join with the international community to really push the most organized end of the agenda, it's going to be really hard to not fall short.

SOMMER: The U.S. is the second-largest emitter of carbon, China is the first. So California is trying to nudge them, too.

EMILY WIMBERGER: A lot of Chinese delegations come to California.

SOMMER: Emily Wimberger is chief economist at the California Air Resources Board, the state's climate regulator. She says California is meeting with Chinese officials at this summit and has been for several years.

WIMBERGER: What they want to see is they want a sort of know - boots on the ground, how you implement policies.

SOMMER: That information-sharing is how California is trying to punch above its weight internationally in the hope of avoiding the most catastrophic effects of climate change. For NPR News, I'm Lauren Sommer in San Francisco. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.