California Gov. Jerry Brown said the Trump administration has made a “colossal mistake” in unraveling federal policies to address climate change.
Brown, who has frequently sparred with President Donald Trump over climate change and other issues, told the Los Angeles Times that the president’s executive order “defies science itself.” He said that “erasing climate change may take place in Donald Trump’s mind, but nowhere else.”
Trump on Tuesday signed a far-reaching executive order that scraps federal greenhouse gas rules and kickstarts a process to gut the Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce carbon pollution from electricity.
The president said the measure would revive jobs in coal mining and make America “energy independent” — though analysts and coal mining executives themselves said the sector isn’t likely to rebound, given the competition from cheap natural gas and the plunging costs of renewable energy.
Trump has repeatedly questioned the mainstream scientific consensus that burning fossil fuels, destroying forests and other human activities are the predominant reason why global temperatures are rising to historically high levels.
Brown, in turn, has consistently mocked Trump for his head-in-the-sand views on the issue.
Trump’s climate denial also puts him at odds with the world’s leaders, who for now remain committed to fighting global warming through the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
With Washington ditching its role as a global leader on clean energy and climate issues, China and other major nations are likely to fill the vacuum on the world stage.
Domestically, a similar power shift is happening in states and cities across the country. Brown and other elected officials this week vowed to accelerate their own efforts to reduce emissions and develop renewable energy despite the federal rollbacks.
“I see Washington declining in influence, but the momentum being maintained by California and other states aligned with China and those who are willing to do something,” Brown told the Los Angeles Times.
Matt Zone, a city councilmember in Cleveland, Ohio, said cities “stand ready to continue this work” to curb emissions and prepare communities for extreme weather events, rising sea levels and other effects of climate change.
Zone, who also leads the National League of Cities, signed a letter earlier this month with dozens of local officials urging the Trump administration to continue federal climate efforts.
“Cities will continue to lead on fighting climate change, protecting public health and promoting a safer, cleaner planet — even if Washington will not,” Zone said in an email.