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A sign seen at the April 22 March for Science in Washington, D.C.. (Photo: Becker1999/flickr/cc)

To Counter Trump, Hawaii and California Assert Leadership on Climate Action

States, cities, civil society rebuke President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from Paris climate agreement with acts to rein in global threat

Andrea Germanos

Less than week after President Donald Trump announced that he was pulling the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, Hawaii rebuffed that stance and became the first state in the nation to enact legislation to uphold the goals of the landmark accord.

“Hawaii is committed to environmental stewardship, and we look forward to working with other states to fight global climate change. Together, we can directly contribute to the global agenda of achieving a more resilient and sustainable island Earth," said Gov. David Ige Tuesday upon signing two bills, SB 559 and HB 1578.

SB 559 was introduced by state Senate Majority Leader Kalani English, who'd seen the writing on the wall for the U.S. involvement in the global pact. The bill calls on the state "to expand strategies and mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions statewide in alignment with the principles and goals adopted in the Paris Agreement." 

The other legislation (pdf) establishes a task force to identify "carbon farming" agricultural practices to boost soil health and sequester CO2. 

"We are one island, one planet. We cannot afford to mess it up."
—Hawaii Gov. David Ige
English applauded the signing of two bills as "a significant step towards our goal of reducing carbon emissions and the effects of climate change."

"Climate change is real, regardless of what others may say," Ige also said. "Hawaii is seeing the impact first hand. Tides are getting higher, biodiversity is shrinking, coral is bleaching, coastlines are eroding, weather is becoming more extreme. We must acknowledge these realities."

"We have kuleana to malama our island home," Ige added.  "We are one island, one planet. We cannot afford to mess it up. We are setting course to change Hawaii and Earth for the future."

Another state that's stepped up since Trump's "thorough repudiation of two of the civilizing forces on our planet: diplomacy and science" is California.

On Tuesday Gov. Jerry Brown inked an agreement with China to rein in greenhouse gas emissions. Brown's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping was "a full-frontal offensive to position his state not only as a leader on climate action, but as a quasi-nation-state looking to fill the void in reliable American leadership created by Trump," Mother Jones writes

"Disaster still looms and we've got to make the turn."
—California Gov. Jerry Brown
According to a statement from Brown's office, the nonbinding agreement

expands cooperation on the advancement of low-carbon, renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies such as zero-emission vehicles, energy storage, grid modernization and low-carbon urban development. Under the agreement, California and China will also deepen their partnership and coordination on greenhouse gas emission and air pollution reduction programs, including emissions trading systems and carbon capture.

"Nobody can stay on the sidelines. We can't afford any dropouts in the tremendous human challenge to make the transition to a sustainable future," Brown said to the Associated Press. "Disaster still looms and we've got to make the turn."

California is already part of the Climate Alliance, a group of states committed to upholding the Paris accord.

Brown formed the alliance along with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee in the wake of Trump's announcement on the climate deal. It now boasts 13 members.

"Those of us who understand science and feel the urgency of protecting our children's air and water are as united as ever in confronting one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime," Gov. Jay Inslee said Monday. "Our collective efforts to act on climate will ensure we maintain the United States's commitment to curb carbon pollution while advancing a clean energy economy that will bring good-paying jobs to America's workers."

Such action is happening on the city-level as well, with scores of U.S. mayors announcing their commitment to achieving the Paris climate goals.

"The world cannot wait — and neither will we," the group of mayors stated this week.

That message was one felt by the climate movement as well, which immediately promised to mobilize to fight Trump's "reckless" decision.

One effort, under the banner #ActOnClimate, is set for Saturday. Organizers including, CREDO, and Sierra Club say that actions will take place "at City Halls and State Houses across the country to defend the Paris Agreement and show that we are still ready to #ActOnClimate and move our country towards 100 percent renewable energy!"

"Together, we will rally for the steps we know are necessary to deliver on the goals of Paris: moving to 100 percent renewable energy, stopping new fossil fuel projects, divesting from coal, oil and gas companies, and more," they state.

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