Private and Public Actions

Policy Summary

After President Trump withdrew the US from the Paris Climate Accord on June 1st, private and public actors have both vowed to lead the country’s fight against climate change. The coalition “We Are Still In” released a statement on June 5th declaring their intent to “ensure the U.S. remains a global leader in reducing carbon emissions.” The signatories are an amalgamation of cities, states, businesses, and universities representing over a third of the US population, accounting for $7.6 trillion of the US economy, and including over 20 Fortune 500 companies, such as Apple, Google, and Nike. 13 states have formed the US Climate Alliance in an effort to reduce national emissions, while 340 mayors have adopted Paris Accord goals for their cities. Additionally, Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor and billionaire, has pledged to meet the $15 million funding gap left by the US for UN operations under the Paris Accord.


While the public and private backlash to Trump’s decision induces environmental optimism, coalitions, cities, and businesses face major hurdles without federal support. Due to their limited size, city climate initiatives neglect some of the most emissions-intensive activities, such as agriculture, cement production, natural resource extraction, air travel, and power production, which often occur outside city limits. Moreover, “city policies would be rendered ineffective if sources of emissions relocate to evade them.” Burdensome restrictions in certain cities and states may cause companies to move their production to less stringent locations. The national coalitions and agreements may also face compliance issues; some signatories may not have the resources to be effective or may have signed on purely for publicity purposes. And while some actors, such as Nike and New York City, have released specific goals to reduce emissions and commit to renewable energy, others have no detailed plans to work with. Obviously, the commitment from companies, cities, and states to fight for the health of our planet is a positive sign with the potential to reduce emissions and to encourage environmentally conscious technologies and behaviors; but without a federal commitment to fight climate change, it will be difficult for these coalitions to save the world.

Engagement Resources

  • Encourage your representatives to commit to the goals of the Paris Climate Accord
  • Contact Your State Governor
  • Contact Your Mayor ­– locate mayors by name, city, or population size.
  • We Are Still In – explore the coalition of US government and business leaders who have declared support for climate action to meet the Paris Accord; encourage your affiliates to join.

This brief was compiled by Conor Downey. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact



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