Table Of Contents

    Many U.S. cities, including Pittsburgh, are pushing back against President Trump's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and vowing to continue to take action to mitigate climate change. Photo courtesy of


    “We Are Still In”—Over 1,400 U.S. Cities, States, and Businesses Respond to Withdrawal from Paris

    Despite President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, over 1,400 U.S. cities, states, and businesses have committed to reduce carbon emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025. On June 5, these corporations and institutions signed an open letter to the world entitled “We Are Still In.” The letter calls the president’s decision “out of step with what is happening in the United States.” The signatories contribute $6.2 trillion to the nation’s economy and include over a dozen Fortune 500 companies. Two of the nine states that signed the letter have Republican governors and all nine are coastal states, signifying the impact sea level rise has already had on local communities. Bloomberg Philanthropies spokesman Daniel Firger explained, "The UNFCCC has included, for some time, subnational and non-state actors. We will not be calling on [any actor] to participate in the Paris process in any formal way. What we will do is aggregate the climate impacts of these subnational actors and share that with the world."

    For more information see:

    Inside Climate News, Climate Central, CBS News


    California and China to Cooperate Directly on Climate Change

    Amid concerns of dwindling U.S. support for clean energy initiatives, California Governor Jerry Brown (D) traveled to China last week to meet with government leaders and reaffirm his state’s commitment to combatting climate change. Brown, a longtime advocate for emission reduction policies and strong environmental regulations, met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in an unusually formal setting that received significant media attention in China. Declaring that “California’s leading, China’s leading,” Brown pledged to work with President Xi to reduce emissions and expand the trade of green technologies with California, the world's sixth largest economy. Brown also signed similar nonbinding agreements with leaders of the Chinese provinces of Jiangsu and Sichuan. In partnership with California, Tsinghua University will also establish a U.S.-China Climate Change Institute focused on technological innovation. Despite his limited power as a state governor rather than a federal official, Brown told reporters that his trip was essential because “Nobody can stay on the sidelines,” warning that, “Disaster still looms, and we’ve got to make the turn."

    For more information see:

    New York Times, ABC News, Reuters


    Legal Experts Say the Next President Could Rejoin the Paris Agreement in 30 Days

    According to legal experts, the next U.S. president could rejoin the Paris Agreement in as little as 30 days. The rules of the Paris Agreement state that although there are no restrictions on the ability of signatories to exit, they cannot begin the process until at least three years after the signing of the original agreement. This means that the United States will still be a party until November 4, 2019 and will, therefore, be able to weigh in on any major negotiations concerning the agreement that take place during that time. After that date, the official U.S. withdrawal can begin; however, it will take one additional year for the process to complete. According to Maria Manguiat, a climate expert with the United Nations Environment Program’s Law Division, the United States can decide to cancel its withdrawal at any point, however unlikely that may be. If the Trump Administration proceeds with this timeframe, the official exit date will be November 4, 2020, the day after the next presidential election.

    For more information see:

    Washington Post

    Budget Proposal Would Cripple U.S. Government's Ability to Track Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    President Trump's budget proposal would cut two key federal programs used to track greenhouse gas emission levels over time. Industrial facilities that emit 25,000 tons or more of carbon dioxide-equivalent are currently required to report their emissions to EPA for publication in the agency's annual Greenhouse Gas Inventory. The report allows the federal government to evaluate overall emissions by industry and region, while also fulfilling a reporting obligation under the 1992 United Nations climate treaty. The White House proposal would slash EPA's emissions reporting program by 86 percent, from $95 million to $14 million. NASA's Global Carbon Monitoring program uses satellites to measure emissions in the atmosphere and provides "long-term, reliable, continuous data series" that other countries do not have the means to generate, according to Gretchen Goldman, research director at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Former deputy EPA administrator Bob Perciasepe said, "Weakening U.S. capacity to report accurately will undermine our ability to push the rest of the world to be transparent."

    For more information see:


    Staff Expresses Disapproval as EPA Shifts Focus Away from Climate Change

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt has praised President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and is rapidly shifting the agency’s focus away from climate change. According to an EPA air quality scientist, “Climate work has been de-emphasized and halted. There was a climate conference in Atlanta last month and EPA employees were told not to go.” Many EPA staff members are worried about their jobs, and some avoid mentioning climate change in emails out of fear their projects will be terminated. Climate adaptation employees are reportedly being moved to other areas within the agency. The Trump administration’s proposed budget also eliminates a third of EPA’s funding, which will force the agency to cut dozens of programs and reduce its ability to enforce regulations. Although Congress will likely make changes to the budget, the message it sends is disheartening. One current staff member reveals, “I don’t think the administration is serious about protecting human health, but I am, and I’m going to keep at it.”

    For more information see:


    With U.S. Influence Waning, China Seeks to Solidify Its Position as a Leader in Clean Energy

    As the United States withdraws from the Paris Agreement, China is seeking to fill the void and become the global leader on clean energy. Despite its position as the world’s leading emitter of greenhouse gases, China has invested billions of dollars into clean energy technologies and initiatives. These include "Made for China 2025," which promotes heavy spending on research and development in the clean-energy sector, and "One Belt, One Road," a $1 trillion plan that includes building clean-energy infrastructure around the world using Chinese companies and products. China currently produces nearly half of the world’s wind turbines and a majority of its solar panels. China's solar companies have made substantial investments in factories and automation to ramp up their production capacity, contributing to lower costs and improvements in quality. Federal and local government support in the form of land grants and loans also provided an advantage to Chinese clean energy startups. Li Tao, the technical director at JA Solar, noted, "[The clean energy sector is] different from traditional energy, which is dominated by Western countries. China has an opportunity to surpass Western countries in new energy."

    For more information see:

    New York Times

    “Pittsburgh, Not Paris” Turns into a Rallying Cry – for Climate Activists

    President Trump’s claim that he represents “Pittsburgh, not Paris” as justification for pulling the United States out of the Paris Agreement has faced strong backlash from the citizens of Pittsburgh, who oppose what they view as an outdated characterization of their city. Almost immediately after the decision was announced, Mayor Bill Peduto (D) responded on Twitter, saying that Pittsburgh would continue to abide by the guidelines of the agreement, and had City Hall illuminated green to show support. The mayor, along with many other Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania politicians, also took out a full page ad in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in support of the Paris Agreement and criticizing President Trump. Pittsburgh has transformed itself from a polluted, industrial city to one that is a hub of science, medicine, and technology in recent decades. Its citizens, 75 percent of whom voted for Hillary Clinton in last year’s presidential election, know firsthand the devastating impact of not protecting the environment. As Mayor Peduto proudly claimed, “Pittsburgh is a shining example of what the Paris Agreement is all about.”

    For more information see:

    Washington Post, New York Times, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


    America's Largest Greenhouse Gas Polluter Impacts Public Health of Surrounding Community

    Alabama Power’s Miller coal plant in Jefferson County has been named the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the United States. The plant released more than 19 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2015, which Alabama Power spokesman Michael Sznajderman calls “old news.” Southern Company, owner of Alabama Power, spent nearly $14 million in 2016 fighting environmental laws and regulations. Miller produces power for more than a million homes, and resident Paul Dollar says of the plant, “Even if I could, I wouldn’t shut it down because that’s jobs for people.” But for other residents, the emissions have had serious health implications. Some have battled with asthma for most of their lives, and research shows these emissions increase the risk of stroke and heart attack. Although Miller has cut its emissions in half since 2010, Jefferson County still receives an “F” grade for its smog levels from the American Lung Association. Around 65 percent of Jefferson County residents believe global warming will negatively affect future generations, however, only 39 percent of residents believe it will harm them personally.

    For more information see:

    Public Integrity


    U.S. Chamber of Commerce Is Feeling the Heat After Defying Members on Paris Agreement

    American companies are divided following President Trump's announcement that the United States will begin to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an influential corporate lobbyist, is at the center of the debate. The Chamber spent nearly $104 million on lobbying efforts in 2016, making it the largest single lobbying spender. Despite claiming to be "neutral" on Paris, the group has been a long-time critic of the agreement. Member companies, including Ford, Pepsi, Dow, and Citigroup, have all publicly distanced themselves from the Chamber's climate views. The group Public Citizen has begun a petition in an effort to pressure companies to cut ties to the Chamber over its opposition to climate action. In 2009, multiple companies (including Apple) left the Chamber over its opposition to federal cap and trade legislation. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said, "It’s time for [the Chamber's] member companies to ask themselves whether they want to side with a relentless climate foe, or protect the health and safety of the American people and the reputation of our country."

    For more information see:



    U.S. Army Base Makes Big Shift to Renewable Energy

    The U.S. Army's Fort Hood is increasing its autonomy by reducing its dependence on fossil fuels. In 2015, nearly 77 percent of Fort Hood was powered by fossil fuels. The Texas base now has 63 thousand solar panels and 21 off-base wind turbines that together supply 65 megawatts of power for over 36 thousand active-duty personnel and 6,000 buildings. The Army estimates this shift to renewable energy will save them more than $100 million over the next 30 years. Chris Haug, a spokesman for Fort Hood, said, "We need to be autonomous. If the unfortunate thing happened and we were under attack or someone attacked our power grid, you'd certainly want Fort Hood to be able to respond." Climate change can also damage military bases and threaten national security through more frequent and intense natural disasters. In recognition of this, the Department of Defense has been shifting its operations away from fossil fuels for the past decade. As of 2015 the military had 1,390 renewable energy projects, nearly three times the number of projects operating in 2011.

    For more information see:



    Protecting Marine Ecosystems Can Increase Adaptation to Climate Change

    A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows marine reserves can help both ecosystems and people adapt to climate change. Lead author Callum Roberts said, "Marine reserves are insurance because they boost stocks of fish and improve the condition of habitats, increasing the coping capacity of the oceans to stress and damage unleashed by climate change." Healthy marine ecosystems can increase resiliency against coral bleaching, sea level rise, and heat waves that will become more frequent and intense with climate change. This subsequently protects low-lying coastal communities and those that rely on fish for food. Coastal wetlands also reduce local carbon dioxide concentrations and can store carbon in sediments for thousands of years. However, disturbances like fishing and seabed mining often reduce their ability to do so. Jane Lubchenco, study co-author and former administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, states, "We conclude that marine reserves are a powerful but underutilized tool to help sequester carbon and adapt to climate change."

    For more information see:

    Climate Central



    Judge Denies Government's Appeal, Sends Children's Trust Case to Trial

    Small Increase in Average Summer Temperatures Could Lead to "Substantial Increase" in India's Heat-Related Fatalities

    Study: Major Coastal Flooding in United States Will Be Much Worse Than Past Predictions Indicated

    Seven Former Department of Energy Officials Urge Continued Support of Federal Clean Energy Research

    U.S. Airlines Reaffirm Commitment to Global Pact to Reduce Industry Emissions

    Poll: 59 Percent of Americans Oppose Trump's Decision to Withdraw From Paris

    Hawaii Sets New Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets in Alignment with Paris Agreement Goals



    Briefing Recap: The National Security Implications of Climate Change

    On June 5, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), the Center for Climate and Security (CCS), and the Henry M. Jackson Foundation, held a briefing discussing the role of climate change as a "threat multiplier" in the geopolitical landscape and the implications that has for U.S. national security. The briefing explored the risk management and planning considerations facing the Department of Defense (DOD) as it seeks to maintain force readiness and bolster infrastructure resilience. The panel also discussed the need for investments in preventive measures today to prepare for future needs concerning disaster assistance, the Arctic, and the displacement of vulnerable populations due to climate change.

    Sherri Goodman, Senior Fellow at the Wilson Center, noted the bipartisan interest in developing national security policies and emphasized the need for strong science, technology, and research to understand and adapt to threats. She highlighted the need for expanded capabilities of the military to operate in the changing Arctic region, while preparing for climate impacts in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East. Retired General Ron Keys of the U.S. Air Force explained the main reasons why DOD cares about climate change are mission effectiveness, understanding threats, and knowing how resilient their forces would be under duress. He added that better communications and cooperation are needed to address climate change, but that progress so far has been slower than desired. Retired Brigadier General Gerald Galloway of the U.S. Army shared that climate change will have a multitude of effects on military operations and planning, including how the temperature will affect troops training outside, how future military equipment will be designed and tested to withstand changing climates, and the ability to move and acquire materials for the military. Retired Rear Admiral Ann Phillips of the U.S. Navy said climate change adaptation requires a “whole of government” approach and the defense community needs the opportunity to execute its resiliency plans without a constant shifting of perspectives, words, strategies, and impediments. She pointed out that coastal military instillations are at the most risk of climate change, citing the unique vulnerability of Hampton Roads, which is experiencing sea level rise at twice the rate of other east coast locations. This poses a serious threat to regional and national military readiness.

    To view a full video recording of the briefing and download supporting materials, visit this site.


    Writers: Sara Tanigawa and James Stanish

    Editor: Brian La Shier