On November 30th, 2015, representatives from 196 state parties negotiated terms on emissions, mitigation, adaptation and finance, and then through consensus adopted the Paris Agreement less than two weeks later. The goal of the agreement is to restrict the global average temperature from increasing, which would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.
On September 3rd, 2016, President Barack Obama officially joined the Paris Agreement stating, “We are here together because we believe that for all the challenges that we face, the growing threat of climate change could define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other challenge.”
Although 175 parties had signed the agreement and more than 20 countries had expressed their intent to join as soon as possible, Donald Trump began his candidacy for President with the pledge to withdraw from the agreement claiming that “The Paris accord will undermine the [U.S.] economy,” and “puts [the U.S.] at a permanent disadvantage.”
On June 1st, 2017, President Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the accord, although due to articles within the agreement, the exit process cannot happen until four years after entering the contract. Until the withdrawal takes effect, the U.S. is obligated to maintain the agreed upon commitment.
On the same day of the announcement, California Governor Jerry Brown aided in the launch of a movement [U.S. Climate Alliance] of states, cities, and businesses committed to carrying on the agreement, despite the federal withdrawal. Since that June announcement, Gov. Brown has worked to make this the main issue and to keep the media focused on the conflict of Trump versus Paris and Trump versus climate change in hopes of using a catalytic force to increase the intensity of the issue and encourage climate action. Governor Brown continually argues that “the whole world” needs to “realize what’s at stake” because the perils of global warming have put “human civilization on the chopping block.”
Since urging American citizens, businesses, and local government to join him in his crusade against climate control, 16 states and Puerto Rico have joined the alliance in efforts to continue the advancement of Paris Agreement objectives despite the federal withdrawal.
As Governor Brown’s time in office comes to an end, pundits, reporters, and citizens across the country have wondered whether to expect the historically informed, yet cautious politician to run for President in 2020. While Brown works to fill the void in America’s charge against climate change and leadership, the American public can’t help but wonder who will step into Governor Brown’s role as the leading push for climate action in the U.S.