Editorial: Cities, states take lead after U.S. withdrawal from Paris climate accord

President Trump made a serious mistake in pulling the United States out of the Paris climate accord, but that doesn’t mean that the nation can’t meet its commitments under the agreement. Cities, states and corporations can and must fill the vacuum created by the president’s ill-advised decision.

Trump’s decision, announced June 1, cited perceived unfairness to American workers and harm to the nation’s ability to compete on the global stage.

It ignored the job-creating boom in clean-energy technologies, something very familiar to residents of the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado, where companies such as Vestas Wind Systems A/S employ thousands.

It ignored the damage to U.S. credibility and standing in the world created by withdrawal. The United States joins only Syria and Nicaragua as non-participants in the Paris accord.

Most importantly, it ignored the dangers posed by climate change itself. Antonio Busalacchi, president of the Boulder-based University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, said in a prepared statement that, “Today’s decision does not mean that climate change will go away. To the contrary, the heightened potential for increased greenhouse gas emissions poses a substantial threat to our communities, businesses, and military.”

Fortunately, determination to reduce carbon emissions runs deeply in American government and the private-sector. Communities such as Aspen, Boulder, Denver and Longmont, along with dozens of others across the nation, committed to uphold the goals of the Paris agreement.

“Local action on climate is more important than ever, and we will continue to work with cities throughout Colorado and the nation to lead on climate,” Boulder mayor Suzanne Jones said in a prepared statement. “Boulder’s Climate Commitment goals set greenhouse gas reduction targets that exceed those outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement. We will continue on our path to significantly reduce our city and community emissions.”

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper concurred, saying, “It is a serious mistake to back out of the Paris Accord. This is a historic global agreement between almost every nation on earth to address the single most pressing issue facing humanity. Abandoning this climate deal is like ripping off your parachute when you should be pulling the ripcord.”

Many corporations have expressed similar sentiments.  But while the commitments expressed thus far send an important signal to the president and the world, we look forward to see many others join the fight to fill the enormous void left by the federal government.