Tony Evers of Wisconsin has become the latest of four newly-elected Democratic governors who have pledged to adhere to the goals set out in the Paris climate accord, bucking President Donald Trump’s opposition to the international agreement.
Evers will announce on Tuesday his plan to join the U.S. Climate Alliance, according to staffers who spoke with The Washington Post. Evers will be joining the ranks of Democratic Govs. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and J.B. Pritzker of Illinois — all of whom won election last year — in vowing to reduce to their states’ carbon emissions.
Formed in June 2017, the U.S. Climate Alliance is a “bipartisan coalition of governors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement,” according to the organization’s website. States in adherence to the terms must aim to lower their “greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.”
The group claims 21 sitting governors as official pledges, including three Republicans. The gains Democrats made in the midterm elections has padded the organization’s numbers.
“It feels new and like a sea change as we’re thinking about who is leading on climate change and identifying policies that really resonate across the country and not just with constituents in the more liberal states,” stated Julie Cerqueira, the executive director of the Climate Alliance.
The coalition is meant as a rebuke to the Trump administration, which announced its intention to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. Since before he entered the White House, Trump has long been a critic of the international agreement that calls on countries to reduce their carbon emissions.
While Democratic governors aim to buck the Trump administration on climate issues, others question if coalition membership is much more than a symbolic gesture.
“It doesn’t commit or obligate these states to anything; they don’t force any formal decision or commitment, and so I think for a newly elected governor they are relatively easy steps to take that are symbolic,” Barry Rabe — professor at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan and a noted expert on climate policy — stated to The Washington Post.
While Democratic governors look for ways to reduce carbon emissions, Democrats in Congress are also taking up the cause of the climate change.
Liberal lawmakers last Thursday introduced the Green New Deal on Capitol Hill. Led by New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the proposal calls for the country to transition to 100 percent renewable energy within ten years. The “deal” includes a number of other mandates, such as replacing every building in the country, installing charging stations and high speed rails across the country, and implementing government-run health care.
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