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Governors, cities and businesses promise leadership after Paris exit

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Governors, cities and businesses promise leadership after Paris exit

President Donald Trump may have announced his intention to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement on climate change, but over 1,200 governors, mayors, businesses, and college and university leaders sent an open letter to the United Nations on June 5 making this promise: "We are still in."

The effort was spearheaded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who submitted the letter to U.N. officials on behalf of the signatories.

"The bulk of the decisions which drive U.S. climate action in the aggregate are made by cities, states, businesses, and civil society. The federal role, ideally, is to coordinate and support those efforts," Bloomberg wrote in an accompanying letter to U.N. Secretary General António Guterres and Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa. "In the absence of a supportive federal coordinating role, these actors will more closely coordinate their own decarbonization actions. Collectively, they will redouble their efforts to ensure that the U.S. achieves the carbon emissions reductions it pledged under the Paris Agreement."

Signing on to Bloomberg's pledge were the governors of California, Connecticut, North Carolina, Oregon, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington and Hawaii. Mayors across the country — from Los Angeles and Seattle to Nashville, Tenn.; Tampa, Fl.; New York and Boston — also added their signatures.

"It is imperative that the world know that in the U.S., the actors that will provide the leadership necessary to meet our Paris commitment are found in city halls, state capitals, colleges and universities, investors and businesses," the letter said.

The missive also was signed by just over 900 businesses representing many sectors of the economy, including tech giants Google Inc. and Apple Inc., health insurance companies, retailers, investors and clothing companies.

Bloomberg, who serves as the U.N. secretary-general's special envoy for cities and climate change, noted the emissions reductions that have occurred in the U.S. over the past decade and advocated for accelerating those efforts.

"Since 2007, when economy-wide emissions peaked, the [U.S.] has been reducing its emissions at a rate which, if sustained through 2025, would achieve almost the full amount of our Paris commitment," Bloomberg said. "That rate of progress, which has been driven not by Washington policies but by actions taken by cities, states, businesses, and civil society, has been accelerating for the past three years. We do not intend to slow down."

Bloomberg promised to work with U.S. subnational and nonstate parties over the next few months to compile a list of actions that will be taken to work toward the Paris Agreement's goal. He called the effort "America's Pledge" and said he hopes the U.N. will "accept and acknowledge America's Pledge as a parallel submission alongside any future submission provided to you by the current executive branch of the U.S. federal government."