All Climate Politics Is Local

After Trump's Paris Withdrawal, Subnational Groups Have Stepped Up

Mayor of Bonn Ashok-Alexander Sridharan, former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and COP 23 President Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama of Fiji attend the COP23 UN Climate Change Conference, in Bonn, Germany, November 2017. Wolfgang Rattay / REUTERS

President Donald Trump’s announcement of the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris agreement on climate change last summer triggered an important public debate. Although many lamented the move as a major climate setback, others disagreed and called for calm, on the theory that if U.S. cities, states, and businesses continued to reduce their emissions the United States could still meet its carbon reduction commitments, even without backing from Washington. Sure enough, thousands of municipalities, companies, universities, and civil society groups reaffirmed their support for the Paris agreement in the wake of Trump’s announcement, and many set their own climate goals.

The Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco earlier this month put this debate over the significance of local and private-sector climate initiatives back in the spotlight. The summit was a platform for dozens of new announcements and pledges from municipal, state, and business leaders, including plans

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