California Gov. Jerry Brown, in Rome before the Bonn climate meeting in November 2017, is one of the most prominent U.S. delegates. Photo: Alessandra Tarantino / AP Photo

By Brady Dennis and Chris Mooney
5 November 2017

(The Washington Post) – A year ago, the election of Donald Trump sent shock waves through a United Nations conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, where delegates from more than 190 countries had gathered to push forward with a landmark climate accord signed in Paris the previous year.

The deal suddenly seemed in jeopardy. If the United States backed out, as Trump promised, would other countries soon follow? A year later, Trump has moved to withdraw from the international agreement. But other nations have held firm to their pledges to slash their greenhouse gas emissions.

As delegates gather Monday in Bonn, Germany, for this year’s annual international climate talks, the United States finds itself largely on the sidelines. And the rest of the world seems to be reacting to the Trump administration with a collective shrug.

“There was speculation that the U.S. withdrawal might create some kind of domino effect, but in reality, this never happened,” said Anna-Kaisa Itkonen, a European Union spokeswoman for energy and climate action. “There hasn’t been a single party who announced they were leaving. Quite the contrary.”

Even Nicaragua, which initially refused to join the Paris agreement because it didn’t think the accord did enough to combat global climate change, recently announced its intention to sign on. That leaves only the United States and Syria at odds with the rest of the world.

In Bonn, a collection of U.S. governors, mayors, business leaders and philanthropic figures will try to step into the gap. They include former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee (D), Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) and California Gov. Jerry Brown (D).

“With Washington off to the side, California is going to assert itself because it has the experience, and we have the commitment. And we want to join with others,” Jerry Brown said in an interview. “So, we will play an important role as cheerleader in chief and also as collaborator.”

Still, he said that states, localities and companies can push the nation only so far toward meeting the goals of the Paris agreement and making a shift toward cleaner energy sources.

“We can fill maybe half the void,” said Brown, who was recently named a special adviser for states and regions to the Bonn conference. “We can do a lot, and we can carry the ball while Trump goes off in another direction. But soon, we need the national government.” [more]

The world shrugs at Trump as global climate meeting begins in Bonn

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