Even Larry Hogan wishes Trump hadn't done it.
Hogan, who has tiptoed around most criticisms of his fellow GOP malefactor Trump, claimed through a spokeswoman that the US exit from the Paris climate accord announced Thursday was "not an action the governor would have taken" and would make it harder to "[preserve] Maryland's natural resources for future generations," as if Paris were about nice parks.
Every level of economic and political society in the US -- except the GOP's federal monopoly -- expressed immediate and constructive pushback in order to further the carbon-reduction goals of the international compact on climate change known as the Paris Accord and joined, now, by all but three national governments -- the singular trio of Nicaragua, Syria and TrumpLandia.
Cities, states and major organizations, in both the corporate and institutional worlds, erupted after Trump's announcement.
People's Action, the national organization of which Progressive Maryland is one of 30 state-level affiliates, promised mobilization focused on those who are most vulnerable: "hundreds of communities nationwide on the front lines of the environmental crisis in the United States." Many other progressive organizations were equally vehement. But the reaction hardly stopped with the political progressive left. Mayors across the country engaged in a Tweetstorm.
LA Mayor Eric Garcetti didn't mince his words in an interview with Quartz in January, saying: "If we were to withdraw from the Paris accords, I'll tell you what we're going to do: we're going to adopt it locally." Mayors of the USA's six largest cities, with 21 million residents, signed Garcetti's letter to that effect.
Pittsburgh, whose name was taken in vain by Trump in his Rose Garden exit announcement, went 80 percent for Hillary Clinton and has no truck with Trump's approach. After Trump's announcement the city's mayor tweeted that the city would keep the agreement.
The states so far announcing collective opposition include about a fifth of the country's population, because they include New York and California. And a roundup from a local-government magazine's website, Route 50 , concludes "If President Trump shows no leadership regarding climate, cities will fill the void. In many places, they already are."
Universities, too -- about 80 so far, according to the NYT article -- are collectively working together under a larger umbrella being overseen and funded by former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg. Among the group's leaders is Robert C. Orr, who was a lead climate adviser to the UN as the compact was negotiated. ˜The electric jolt of the last 48 hours is accelerating this process that was already underway," said Mr. Orr, who is now dean of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland. "It's not just the volume of actors that is increasing, it's that they are starting to coordinate in a much more integral way." Bloomberg's wider group, including the states in now or to be named later, are aiming to get recognition from the UN as the official US reps to the accord, bypassing Trump.
The United States is about halfway to its 2025 emissions reduction target, Mr. Orr said. Of the remaining reductions, the federal government -- through regulations like gas mileage standards for vehicles -- could affect about half.
The European Union, the heart of the Paris accord's effort, is ready to "bypass Trump" and work directly with non-national entities -- states, cities and nonfederal institutions -- to maintain the carbon-reduction effort, according to The Guardian.
US universities, where research on climate change and mitigation innovations is focused, can provide crucial avenues to global strategies on climate even with Trump's regime on the sidelines.
Michael Grunwald's more detailed analysis in Politico scoffs at Trump's supposed reasons for exiting the accord -- unfairness to US workers -- and says he was instead "extending a middle finger to the world, while reminding his base that he shares its resentments of fancy-pants elites and smarty-pants scientists and tree-hugging squishes who look down on real Americans who drill for oil and dig for coal."
The appeal Trump made, and his targets, should not be ignored, because it's been his diversionary blaming of environmental regulations for job loss -- instead of the galloping automation imposed on many economic sectors by corporate greed -- that made him popular in the blue-collar areas he won. That's why the People's Action statement stressed that the affected communities must be a focus.
But, as Grunwald also notes, the progress toward green alternatives in the energy sector will not stop because Trump waved his arms at the Rose Garden podium. What happens at the top matters, of course: "the U.S. led the world in emissions before Obama and led the world in emissions reductions under Obama." But the train has left the station, as smart money is following smart energy here as in many other nations.
Still, as a leading power-industry analysis suggests, the uncertain regulatory environment created by the Trump withdrawal hampers utilities when they try to plan capacity for the rulebook of the future.
Bill Scher, also in a solid Politico analysis, wonders how much US voters will get galvanized over climate change issues after Trump's walk-away. But he notes one substantive result that's in the power of the accord's other members who are US trading partners: "If America doesnâ't voluntarily do its part to meet its Paris pledges, other countries can make the United States contribute by slapping carbon tariffs on exported goods that account for the cost to the planet of any greenhouse gases emitted." It is, he says, a discussion that's been going on within the Accord's other members since Trump's election on an "exit from Paris" promise.
As People's Action points out, advocacy has to include "the same communities suffering from decades of disinvestment -- low-income communities, communities of color and indigenous communities are hit first and worst by climate change. Pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord sends a message to the world, and to communities in our own country that we do not value human lives."
"People's Action advocates for a green energy economy that will reduce the dangers of climate change and be a source of hundreds of thousands of good jobs. We support the infrastructure resolution just introduced by the Congressional Progressive Caucus: "A 21st Century New Deal for Jobs."
PA and other progressive organizations will make sure that the collective pushback against Trump's ignorant and poorly supported decision fights for the people who saw Trump as a job-creating disruptor of the status quo and now are gradually realizing that he is a representative of corporate greed at its purest.
His unwilling clones, like Maryland's Hogan, bob and weave to avoid sharing the growing umbra of anger, but Hogan's commitment to business interests over those of working families remains clear. He's under fire from environmentalists for his foot-dragging on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multistate compact of nearly a decade's standing that includes New York and all the New England states (plus Delaware) and has effectively taxed carbon polluters in the energy grid and returned millions to poor families impacted by high energy prices in inefficient homes, retrofitting other homes and incentivizing power companies to switch to renewables. As renewal of the compact is discussed, Hogan's minions are trying to get long-term goals relaxed under threat of leaving the compact.
In a similar instance of backsliding, Hogan at June's end showily rescinded an executive order by his Democratic predecessor Martin O'Malley, which had aimed at reducing waste sent to landfills through reuse and recycling policies. Hogan's "Trumpian" display of pique, rejecting a "politically correct" existing rule in favor of "balanced and common-sense" (read: businessmen will tell me what to do) policies, will keep him in the same highly unfavorable frame as Trump as the 2018 election approaches.
Trump's rejection of the Paris accord is having a perhaps unexpected effect -- sorting out the resistance to ignorant policy reversals and highlighting his continued deviance from the social norms of governance. The "new normal" is less and less normalized.
A remarkable new coalition may be forming from the existing layers of resistance to Trump as a result of his climate-denier move, which endangers both immediate jobs and the future of the planet.
This was first published June 2 on the Progressive Maryland BlogSpace and subsequently updated for The Washington Socialist.