President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord could damage U.S. credibility in global diplomacy for years to come—that much is sure. But its impact on emissions, and our course towards climate-change doom, is more debatable.
Federal climate action has long been stymied by the congressional puppet-mastery of fossil fuel lobbyists like the Koch brothers. Indeed, the Paris pact, which aims to limit global warming to about 2 degrees Celsius, is not binding. Some wonks have even argued that the treaty could even be stronger after the world’s second-largest emitter exits.
Well, I guess we’ll find out. But one thing is evident: Public action in the near-term has to come from states and cities. Cities in particular were in many ways the stars of the Paris climate talks; since Trump’s election, it’s been local leaders around the country (plus the entire state of California) that have been most vocal in pledging to continue to fight climate change.
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