Climate action outside DC is far broader and deeper than when he took office.
Trump remains a grave threat to climate action and to the planet at large. But there actually has been significant progress on climate policy despite him. Not so much in DC, of course. But outside the Beltway, climate policy has widened and deepened.
At the state level, there has been a barrage of climate activity. Some states were active before Trump’s election. They have redoubled their efforts since he took office. For instance, in 2018, California enacted SB 100, which requires the state to have 60% carbon-free electricity by 2030 and 100% by 2045. New York State also took major climate action. In 2019, New York passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which mandates 40% emission cuts by 2030 and an 85% reduction by 2050; along with 70% renewable electricity sources by 2030 and 100% by 2040. According to the Sierra Club, “across the U.S. over 150 cities, more than ten counties and seven states, have already adopted ambitious 100% clean energy goals.” Almost half the states now have climate targets.
Corporations have also ramped up their climate efforts. The U.N. announced at its latest climate negotiating session that 177 companies had pledged to cut emissions consistent with a 1.5 °C climate target, with zero emissions by 2050, These companies “collectively represent over 5.8 million employees, spanning 36 sectors and with headquarters in 36 countries. The companies have a combined market capitalization of over US$2.8 trillion, and represent annual direct emissions equivalent to the annual total CO2 emissions of France.” The U.N. also cited committed to converting their investment portfolios to net-zero emissions by 2050 through the UN-convened Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance, in addition to over 50 companies in the fashion industry that have committed to align with a 1.5ºC future through the Fashion Pact.”
There’s also a shift in public opinion. Democratic voters are putting a much higher priority on climate action than they did in the past. Moreover, Republicans are slowly acknowledging the reality of the problem and are trying to come up with alternative solutions. Deep Red states like Florida and Utah are taking the first tentative steps toward dealing with climate change, after years of denial.
Keep in mind that all of this happened over the objections of the most powerful individual in the country and perhaps the world. This is a man with a feverish love for fossil fuels. Imagine what we could do with the help of a President who cared about the future of the country.
Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…READ more