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If You Build It

By: 
Policy Analyst

Exactly one year ago today, the participants of COP 22 in Marrakech woke up to the news that America had elected Donald Trump 45th president of the United States. That election caused trepidation and worry across the international climate community, and the world waited to see what all of it meant for climate talks.

One year on, we have learned the stark truth of what it means. President Trump announced that he would pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement (after Syria signed the Paris Agreement on November 7th, the United States is now the only country in the world that has not signed on); the President’s appointment to the EPA, Scott Pruitt, is gutting the agency; and at the UN climate talks in Bonn the US delegation largely has their hands tied behind their backs.

But the most visible affront is on display in the COP venue itself: for the first time, the United States does not have a national pavilion outside the negotiating area--usually a hub for information about US action on climate change.

In response to this visible snub to the global community by the US government, thousands of leaders of local governments, universities, businesses, and faith organizations that disagree with the direction the president is attempting to take the country with regard to climate action have taken matters into their own hands. They formed a coalition called “We Are Still In” and officially launched the US Climate Action Center outside the formal negotiating zone in Bonn. 

This group of subnational actors cannot represent the United States in any formal capacity, but their presence at the COP sends a clear message to the rest of the world that not everyone in the United States agrees with the president’s decision.

The We Are Still In coalition is telling the world that the cities, states, universities, businesses, and faith communities want to take strong climate action regardless of what happens in Washington DC.  They confirm that millions of Americans intend to stay committed to the Paris Agreement and work for a clean energy future.

We Are Still In is coordinated by The American Sustainable Business Council, B Team, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Center for American Progress, Ceres, CDP, Climate Mayors, Climate Nexus, C40, C2ES, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Entrepreneurs, Georgetown Climate Center, ICLEI, National League of Cities, Rocky Mountain Institute, Second Nature, Sierra Club, The Climate Group, We Mean Business, and World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

See all Climate and Sustainability post.