NO. NOT THE CLEANEST AIR

Posted on 06/05/2017 | About Paris, France

As he withdrew the US from the Paris Accord on climate change, Donald Trump claimed the United States “will continue to be the cleanest and most environmentally friendly country on Earth.” That of course doesn’t come close to being true. The US is the second dirtiest country on this planet when it comes to heat-trapping carbon pollution and emits more carbon dioxide than any other nation except China.

The US does fare better in some traditional air pollution measurements. For example, it's better than most of the world when it comes to dangerous soot or fine particles.

Taking into account economics, the US ranks 10th highest in carbon pollution per gross domestic product. China is No. 1, followed by India and Russia.

Some climate experts say the US leads in helping people fight for a clean environment by having laws and procedures that allow citizens to sue to enforce pollution protections.

Meanwhile, though Trump may be quitting the Paris accord, dozens of states and cities across the country defied Trump’s withdrawal by pledging to fulfill the US commitment without Washington.

“The American government may have pulled out of the agreement, but the American people remain committed to it — and we will meet our targets,” former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a special envoy for cities and climate change to the United Nations, said Friday after meeting in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo.

It will not be easy.

States and cities need to meet a pledge to reduce America’s greenhouse gas emissions to 26% below 2005 levels by 2025, America’s self-declared target under the deal. It’s a nonbinding target that will be difficult – but not impossible - to achieve – even without the backing of the administration.

California, leads the nation in emissions reduction, and Gov. Jerry Brown joined Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington state to form the US Climate Alliance to uphold the Paris climate agreement.

The three states where renewable energy has been aggressively embraced account for a fifth of the US economy.

California, New York and Washington already belong to an emissions reduction pact of states and cities worldwide, but Thursday’s action marked a direct stand against the Trump administration and a formal commitment to upholding the targets of the Paris agreement.

Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe also expressed interest in joining the new pact.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is leading cities in a parallel effort that already has enlisted 150 members.

“Cities and states are already where most of the action on climate is,” Garcetti said Friday. “Our message is clear to the world: Americans are with you, even if the White House isn’t.… Trump’s move is going to have unintended consequences of us all doing the opposite of what the president wants. It will in many ways greatly backfire.”

While only heads of state can sign the Paris agreement, mayors and governors can be effective participants by signing their own climate pacts abroad and participating in various climate negotiations, such as those that took place in Paris and Kyoto.

Bloomberg has already pledged to personally cover the US $15 million the UN stands to lose by the withdrawal of the US from the Paris accord.

Experts warn that without the federal commitment, the momentum could slow and the goal of meeting initial pledges in the accord could become unreachable.

However, many politicians are trying and are defiant.

When Trump said he was elected to represent “Pittsburg not Paris” clearly he picked the wrong city. Bill Peduto, the mayor of Pittsburgh, said Trump’s “misguided decision to withdraw from the Paris climate (agreement) does not reflect the values of our city.”

Peduto announced a pledge to move his city to 100% renewable energy by 2035.

Should the US complete the withdrawal process from the climate deal, it will join Nicaragua and Syria — the only other countries who have not signed the agreement.