by Rob Roper
Last week the governors of New York, California, and Washington announced “the formation of the United States Climate Alliance, a coalition that will convene U.S. states committed to upholding the Paris Climate Agreement and taking aggressive action on climate change.”
As part of that joint announcement, Washington Governor Jay Inslee pledged to, “make sure that the inaction in D.C. is met by an equal force of action from the states.” And, “Today’s announcement by the president leaves the full responsibility of climate action on states and cities throughout our nation.” (Emphasis added) Since then, ten states (including Vermont), and Puerto Rico have joined the coalition and its mission.
Okay. Does this mean that these states are volunteering their citizens to take up the U.S.’s $3 billion (at least) abandoned commitment to the Green Climate Fund? Sure sounds like it. “Upholding“ the agreement, “equal force of action” and “full responsibility” would certainly include that financial obligation, though nobody states this outright.
The Green Climate Fund, “allocates its resources to low-emission and climate-resilient projects and programmes [sic] in developing countries.” Pledges to the fund were designed to incentivize poor nations around the globe to participate and make sure they had the resources to do so.
The New York Times calculated that every U.S. citizen would be obligated to pay $9.41 to meet our commitment to the Green Climate Fund under the Paris Agreement. The members of the States Climate Alliance represent a little less than one third of the country’s total population, so the Alliance’s obligation would jump up to about $32 per person (which could come down if more states join), or $128 for a family of four.
Vermont’s total share of would be about $20 million. Are we down for this? We are having a re-vote on the budget in a couple of weeks.
Somebody needs to ask these governors, including our own, if it is their intention to pass these international financial responsibilities on to the taxpayers of their states. If yes, how do they intend to pay for it? If no, then how does their position differ materially from that of President Trump, who justified pulling out of the Paris Agreement by saying the United States will,
“…continue to be the cleanest and most environmentally friendly country on Earth. We’ll be the cleanest. We’re going to have the cleanest air. We’re going to have the cleanest water. We will be environmentally friendly, but we’re not going to put our businesses out of work and we’re not going to lose our jobs.