On June 1, President Trump announced that he’ll withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement. If that makes you mad, good. If that makes you outraged and disgusted, even better.
We have good reason. Even for a president whose administration has quickly earned a reputation for reckless and morally bankrupt policies, this appalling decision stands out, and the reaction both here and abroad has been withering.
For the rest of the planet, the message is clear: Donald Trump has zero interest in being the “leader of the free world,” much less in international cooperation to solve global problems. In the dark and self-destructive world view of Steve Bannon and Donald Trump, the U.S. has no allies — only competitors. We don’t win unless other nations lose.
For those of us who do care about our planet’s future, what happened on June 1 should be a movement-defining moment. “Hold tight to your anger and don’t fall to your fears” is how Bruce Springsteen put it in his song “Wrecking Ball.” Trump’s action is unforgivable, but it should only make us more determined to protect our future.
The most important thing to remember is that although Trump can try to slow climate progress in the U.S., he’s powerless to stop it.
It’s true that the anti-environmental ambitions of his administration have exceeded almost everyone’s worst expectations. Equally extraordinary, though, is the administration’s astounding refusal to accept reality — and I don’t just mean the reality of climate change. I mean the reality of 21st century America.
Every day, more U.S. cities, states, and corporations are committing to reducing carbon emissions and adopting clean, renewable energy.
Just before Trump’s announcement, three additional coal plants came offline, including the two biggest ones remaining in New Jersey. The next day, more retirements were announced in Missouri, along with a massive investment in new locally sourced wind power. This announcement was followed by the largest purchase of electric school buses in history, in Southern California.
More than 200 mayors have adopted the Paris agreement since Trump’s announcement. And just hours after Trump claimed he represents “Pittsburgh, not Paris” in his address on withdrawing from the Paris deal, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto announced his support for a goal of powering Pittsburgh entirely with clean and renewable energy by 2035.
And he’s not alone. The city of Portland, Oregon just officially committed to transitioning to 100 percent clean, renewable energy. Dozens of other cities have committed to going 100 percent clean, and more than 60 U.S. mayors have pledged their support for a community-wide clean-energy transition.
Trump’s withdrawal also provoked a response from corporate America, which correctly sees climate disruption as a serious economic threat. More than 1,200 businesses, colleges, and others joined a “We Are Still In” agreement regarding the Paris accord.
Meanwhile, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a $15 million contribution to help fund the operations budget of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which coordinates the Paris pact.
So, yes, progress on achieving our emissions reduction goals will continue. In fact, progress may actually be faster as a result of Trump’s decision — because we all just got a big bucket of ice water dumped over our heads.
Michael Brune is the executive director of the Sierra Club, the largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States.