Today marks the start of the National Governors Association summer meeting in Providence, Rhode Island. Held over four days, the meeting will bring together more than 30 governors from across the country to discuss the most critical issues facing our nation.
However, one of the glaring omissions from the conference’s agenda: climate change, specifically state commitments to cut damaging emissions. It’s unfathomable that a meeting of governors held one month after President Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement doesn’t put climate front and center. It is especially egregious when that meeting is being held in New England, a region that is ahead of the curve in creating a clean energy economy.
This should be an opportunity for New England’s governors to show their peers how it’s done. Instead, climate change is being buried under a shroud of partisan silence that should outrage anyone who cares about our economy, our communities, and our children’s future.
New Englanders Know: Protecting Our Environment is Good for People, the Planet, and the Economy
This year’s meeting carries the heavy weight of a Trump administration that is aggressively pushing a false narrative that protecting our climate and our communities is bad for business. Here in New England, we know that the opposite is true. We’ve seen time and again that safeguarding clean air, clean water, and public health go hand in hand with growing our economy. We also know the powerful economic promise and potential of a clean energy future – one that we’ve already started to create.
At the same time, New England is a region that understands all too well that climate change is not in our distant future but is happening right here, right now. Bigger and more frequent storms, coastal flooding, erratic weather patterns, and the introduction of southern pests into northern woods are all-too-common headlines in newspapers across the region.
With so much at stake as environmental progress crumbles in the nation’s capital, it’s time for our state leaders to step it up a notch – way up.
Governors: Stand Up for Paris and Put Climate Change on the Agenda
As the host of this year’s conference, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo has an opportunity to demonstrate climate leadership. She, along with the governors of Massachusetts, Vermont, and Connecticut, have pledged to honor the Paris Climate Agreement, despite Washington’s regressive embrace of polluting fossil fuels. Now, they need to make their voices heard among their peers.
During the next four days, we ask Governors Raimondo, Baker, Scott, and Malloy to stand up for Paris, to put climate on the Conference agenda, and to call for a resolution that sends a clear message to the deniers in Washington, D.C.: Climate change is a grave threat to our economy, to public safety, and to the way of life we all value in America. We will cut carbon emissions and make America clean again.
From Words to Action
The reality is that, even the most earnest pledge is only words on paper without action and accountability. That’s why CLF is escalating our push for legally binding enforceable climate legislation in all six New England states – to lower carbon emissions at even more aggressive targets than those outlined in the Paris agreement.
Long before President Trump walked away from the international agreement, CLF worked to create and enforce state laws in Massachusetts and Connecticut that are even more ambitious than the landmark accord in reducing greenhouse gas emissions for the health of our economy, our environment, and our communities.
The remaining New England states must follow their lead. Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire have all set goals for lowering climate emissions, but they lack the force of law. Pledges and goals are simply not good enough anymore. Climate change demands urgent and enforceable action. Legally binding laws in every state will put the power of accountability into the hands of the people – people who in survey after survey understand that climate change is real and support the transition to a clean energy economy.
Local Action Can Trump Federal Rollbacks
CLF was in Paris for the signing of the historic climate agreement. It was an honor to witness the world unite as never before in addressing this global crisis. But even then, all of us in attendance knew that for the agreement to succeed, meaningful climate action would need to begin at home.
That is more true now than ever before. With Washington, D.C., failing to lead, we here in New England have an opportunity and an obligation – not just to resist the regressive policies coming out of our nation’s capital, but to break through them. New England’s governors must be at the forefront of that effort.
So today, we urge our governors to be leaders among their peers and put the climate crisis front and center at the National Governors Conference. And we invite them to join us in moving from words to action by supporting legally binding climate legislation in every New England state. There’s no time left to waste.