One-Year Later, U.S. Cities, States, & Companies are “Still In” on Climate

Solar panels on the roof of a Walmart store in Maryland. © WWF-US / Paul Fetters

One year ago, just days after President Trump announced his intent to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, a new coalition of American climate leaders emerged to fill the leadership vacuum. Led by mayors, governors, CEOs, university presidents, and others, this group signaled to the world that We Are Still In on the landmark climate agreement.

Today, the coalition has more than doubled in size to include nearly 2,800 members — all pledged to work toward delivering the U.S. emissions reductions goal agreed to under the Paris Agreement. Together these members represent over 160 million Americans across all 50 states, totaling $6.2 trillion in GDP (about a third of the U.S. economy).

In an editorial this weekend, the New York Times specifically mentioned We Are Still In as cause for climate optimism, and called subnational efforts to reduce emissions a “silver lining” of President Trump’s announcement. “No thanks to Mr. Trump, the United States actually bucked the worldwide trend and reduced its emissions in 2017,” the Times noted. “The 0.5 percent drop in emissions, small but encouraging, was driven partly by market forces — including the switch from coal to natural gas — and partly by sustained efforts by climate-conscious states to deploy renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.”

Last year, many individuals and organizations worked together, in a few short days, to make this coalition possible. WWF was proud to work with CERES, C2ES, the B Team, Climate Nexus, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and many others in this team effort.

A year later, momentum continues to build. Last week, Mayor Bloomberg announced a $70 million pledge to help 20 U.S. cities in the We Are Still In coalition implement their climate goals. And the coalition has grown from a public declaration of intent at its launch to a full-fledged campaign driving specific climate commitments from members. The new U.S. Climate Action Contribution portal connects signatories with additional resources and new partners to help set and scale their climate commitments. The most innovative partnerships driving the climate transition, including efforts like Walmart’s Project Gigaton and the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance, are collaborative platforms where companies, cities and others can learn from each other, connect with the best new ideas and partner on implementation.

These coalitions continue to convey commitment and momentum in the fight against climate change. As I wrote last week in an op-ed for HuffPost, we still need the U.S. federal government to re-engage. But the subnational climate movement can both achieve real progress on emissions and create the political and practical conditions necessary for broad, bipartisan federal action to follow.

In the months ahead we aim to collect as many climate action contributions as possible. We will then highlight those commitments at the Global Climate Action Summit in September, showing the world that the U.S. is very much “still in” on fighting climate change. See the latest commitments from cities, states, businesses, universities, tribes and other entities here or submit your own contribution.