LONDON, Aug 11 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - U.S. cities, states and businesses will enable the country to meet its promises under the Paris Agreement to fight climate change, despite its leader’s decision to withdraw from the deal, said former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.
President Donald Trump’s announcement in June that the United States would quit the 195-nation pact, adopted in 2015 after almost two decades of negotiations, drew anger and condemnation from many governments.
Gore, in London for the premiere of his new film on climate change, “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power”, said late on Thursday that local governments and the private sector would work to cut planet-warming emissions in line with the U.S. pledge made for the accord.
“In my country, so many of our governors - the ones from our larger states included - and so many mayors and business leaders stepped up to fill the gap and said we’re still in the Paris Agreement,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“Now it looks as if the U.S. will indeed meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement, in spite of Donald Trump.”
Under the accord, the United States had promised to reduce its emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.
In July, an initiative dubbed “America’s Pledge” was created by California Governor Jerry Brown and Michael Bloomberg, a former New York mayor, with the aim of bringing together close to 230 U.S. cities and counties, nine states and more than 1,500 businesses, including Fortune 500 companies, to step up efforts to slow climate change.
Gore’s first film on global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth”, was released more than a decade ago and received popular acclaim for bringing the debate to the wider public.
His work earned him an Academy Award and later a Nobel Peace Prize, shared with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007.
The movie sequel follows Gore around the globe as he makes the case that tackling climate change is a just, moral battle on a par with social movements such as the civil rights movement in the United States or the fight for gay rights.
Gore, who served as vice president under Bill Clinton and famously lost out to George W. Bush during the 2000 presidential election, described Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement as “very troubling”.
“When he made his statement, I was worried that other countries might follow his lead and pull out using that as an excuse, but to the contrary the rest of the world - the very next day - redoubled their commitments to stay in the Paris Agreement, as if to say, ‘We’ll show you Mr. Trump!'”
Trump has previously dismissed man-made climate change as a hoax and taken steps to abolish environmental regulations and boost the coal and oil industries.
In a speech abandoning the Paris accord, he said staying in it would undermine the U.S. economy, weaken sovereignty and put America at a permanent disadvantage to other countries.
The Paris Agreement seeks to limit the rise in global temperatures to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times to avert effects such as disruptions to food and water supplies from heatwaves, floods and rising sea levels.
In an interview before the British premiere of his new film, Gore said he remained “very hopeful that we are on the way now to solutions for the climate crisis”.
“In the decade since the first movie, we’ve seen two big changes: the first is that climate-related extreme events are more common and worse, but the second big change is that we have the solutions now,” he said.
For Gore, those solutions lie in renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power, which he said had become more affordable and widely implemented over the years. “We’re seeing a big change,” he added.
Gore’s first film sparked an international conversation about climate change, and he is optimistic the sequel will also change lives as it offers actionable steps people can take to protect the planet from the negative impacts of global warming.
"First of all learn about it," he said. "Then use your voice when the conversation is on climate, and use your vote to persuade the politicians and elected leaders, and use your choices in life to tell businesses to offer more climate-friendly alternatives." (Reporting by Adela Suliman; editing by Megan Rowling. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org/climate)