‘We are still in’: US cities and businesses launch ‘societal’ commitment to the Paris Agreement

More than 900 companies, including Nike, Tesla, Google and Microsoft, have joined former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg's declaration of defiance against Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, with a vow to achieve and exceed the original commitment.

US President Donald Trump announced that the country was withdrawing from the Paris Agreement on climate change last week. After months of delaying the highly controversial decision, Trump finally delivered on his campaign pledge to withdraw.

Response to the decision has seen “disappointed” businesses rally behind national statements that they would step-up in America’s absence. The European Union (EU) and China are currently discussing ways to raise ambitions of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC).

However, the United Nations secretary-general’s special envoy for cities and climate change Mike Bloomberg, has submitted an “unprecedented statement of unity” from US mayors, governors, state attorney generals and the chief executives of more than 900 businesses. Bloomberg has vowed to achieve and eventually exceed the US’s original commitment to the Paris Agreement through a Societal Nationally Determined Contribution.

“Today, on behalf of an unprecedented collection of US cities, states, businesses and other organisations, I am communicating to the United Nations and the global community that American society remains committed to achieving the emission reductions we pledged to make in Paris in 2015,” Bloomberg said.

“These groups will take vigorous and ambitious actions to address climate change, and we will communicate those actions in a transparent and accountable way to the UN. The US can, and will, meet its commitment under the Paris Agreement.”

In 2015, the US federal government submitted its NDC under the Paris Agreement, which committed the US to reduced economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions by between 26% to 28% below a 2005 baseline by 2025.

‘Radical redesign’

As part of Bloomberg’s “We Are Still In” declaration, companies such as Adidas, eBay, Mars, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Ikea, Twitter and Unilever have joined with more than 120 towns and cities including Washington, New York and Chicago to formally examine non-state and sector climate actions.

Once data has been collated, the coalition will submit a report to the UN as “America’s Pledge” to the Paris Agreement. Bloomberg has called on other city leaders and businesses to join the declaration to increase its scope for ambition.

Commenting on the declaration, Nike’s chief sustainability officer Hannah Jones said: “We are deeply disappointed by the recent shift in climate policy. Nike believes that climate change is a serious global threat and that the world will need to radically redesign industrial systems and economies in order to enable a low-carbon growth economy.

“We will continue to honour our commitments on climate, including reaching 100% renewable energy in all Nike owned or operated facilities around the world by 2025, participating in the US Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge and advancing materials innovation globally.”

The business response to Trump’s decision has already seen valuable members depart from the US President’s advisory council. Both Tesla chief Elon Musk and Walt Disney’s chairman Robert Iger have resigned from the council over the decision.

The Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has welcomed the declaration, noting that the commitments from businesses underlines the “strength and robustness” of the Paris Agreement.

For Trump’s decision to come into effect, the US will have to undergo a complex legal process to officially withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Parties can only pull out three years after the Agreement officially entered force, meaning the earliest withdrawal via this route would be November 2019. However, withdrawing from the UNFCCC would trigger a departure from the accord, and this would only require one years’ notice.

Matt Mace

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