It reads like a headline in The Onion, but it’s much better, because it’s true. Fourteen US Governors, whose states collectively generate almost 41% of US GDP, have sent letters to President Trump urging him to keep the United States in the Paris Climate Agreement. The states’ combined GDP of $7.3 trillion ranks midway between #2 China’s $11.0 trillion and #3 Japan’s $4.1 trillion.
Although these states aren’t a country, the comforting fact of our US federal system is that these states can and do create and execute policies that support and contribute to the achievement of the Paris Climate Goals. Those fourteen states have been doing that for varying lengths of time, and they are all contributing to the evolution of a low-carbon economy in the United States.
I could have written this post when the first letter, signed by 12 governors, was sent to the President on May 3rd. But a second letter, signed by two more governors and sent to the Secretary of Energy today, made the point much stronger.
The difference wasn’t really the added GDP – the second letter only increased the total percentage of US GDP from 38% to 41%. It wasn’t that one of those two states was Massachusetts – a national leader in education, innovation, energy efficiency and renewable energy.
The difference was, rather, that two Republican governors were willing to stand up with twelve Democratic colleagues to clearly state the obvious – climate change is a danger and an economic burden; the United States has the capability to meet its climate goals; and doing so will create jobs, boost our competitiveness and make the US leaders in the clean energy economy.
Climate change isn’t, and shouldn’t be presented as, a partisan issue. It certainly isn’t in every other developed country with representative government and a market-based economy (not to mention most of the 200 countries that signed the Paris accord). Sadly, that’s not the case in the United States. So let’s raise a glass – two, perhaps; one of Vermont maple-barrel aged bourbon and one of Massachusetts-made rum – to the two Republican and 12 Democratic governors providing much-needed leadership to our economy and our environment.
(Political junkies can still get their daily fix by parsing and comparing the content of the two letters for the subtle differences.)