That was the message at Climate Week NYC’s opening ceremony on Monday, where governors, local leaders, and corporate representatives announced several new initiatives to reduce carbon emissions. It was interesting timing. Ten blocks away, the president’s chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, was telling foreign leaders that Trump still plans to withdraw from the international agreement to fight global warming, unless major changes are made to its terms. But at Climate Week, the message was optimistic. “President Trump and all his tweets cannot stop our states from moving forward,” Washington Governor Jay Inslee said at the event. “He cannot stop any of the things we are doing.”
Among the announcements at Climate Week:
- 50 U.S. businesses—including Gap, Adobe, Nike, Hewlett-Packard, and Levi Strauss—are now part of the Science Based Target initiative, which works with companies to develop emissions reductions plans in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel announced that the city has reduced its carbon emissions by 11 percent from 2005 to 2015, which means the city is 40 percent of the way to meeting its goals under the Paris accord.
- Estée Lauder, Kellogg, DBS Bank, and Clif Bar became the latest companies to commit to using 100 percent renewable energy. Kellogg said it will do so by 2020; DBS Bank set its goal for 2030; and Estée Lauder is aiming for 2050. Clif Bar already buys renewable energy certificates that are worth 100 percent of its operations, but is exploring “more direct options,” according to a press release.
- A new peer-reviewed study argues that the ultimate goal of the Paris agreement—keeping the world from warming more than 1.5 degrees Celsius—is still in reach because the amount of carbon we can release is significantly bigger than previously thought.
Combined with the initiatives that states like California, New York, and Washington have already taken to reduce carbon emissions—and the billions U.S. corporations have invested in climate action—the U.S. is already halfway toward its Paris goal, according to an analysis released Monday. The analysis doesn’t appear to take into account all the greenhouse emissions the Trump administration is adding to the atmosphere with its pro-fossil fuels policies, but it was encouraging to Climate Week speakers, who said the Trump administration’s inaction on climate would only fuel climate action. “I think Donald Trump may be our Dunkirk,” said political scientist Norm Ornstein. “We had the West at the threat of absolute destruction, and the government did not respond, so civil society was jolted and stepped up to the plate.” Let’s hope he’s right.