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Protesters gather outside the White House in Washington, Thursday, June 1, 2017, to protest President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the Unites States from the Paris climate change accord. Photo: Susan Walsh, AP

President Donald Trump unilaterally removed the United States from the Paris climate change agreement on Thursday, in a short speech from the White House Rose Garden.

But the move was anticipated by a kind of resistance group – a litany of leaders of American states and cities who have pledged to meet the goals, regardless of the President’s decision.

The United States Climate Alliance was announced almost immediately after Trump’s remarks. The group includes the governors of California, New York, and Washington, and the leaders of a growing number of major cities.

“The President has already said climate change is a hoax, which is the exact opposite of virtually all scientific and worldwide opinion,” said Gov. Jerry Brown, of California. “I don’t believe fighting reality is a good strategy – not for America, not for anybody. If the President is going to be AWOL in this profoundly important endeavor, then California and other states will step up.”

The three states encompass about 68 million people – approximately a fifth of the population of the U.S. However, those three states are all solidly “blue” Democrat in a heavily politically polarized country, while Trump and much of his base remains in the “red” Republican states.

“Today’s announcement by the president leaves the full responsibility of climate action on states and cities throughout our nation,” said Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington. “While the president’s actions are a shameful rebuke to the work needed to protect our planet for our children and grandchildren, states have been and will continue to step up.”

Trump had reiterated his “America First” ideology from the Rose Garden podium, declaring, “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”

However, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto pointed out that the city overwhelmingly voted in favor of Trump’s opponent this past November. The Steel City would indeed proceed with climate change policies, the mayor added.

“I'll sign my own executive order and it will say we are going to follow our agreements with Paris," said Peduto, in an interview with CNN.

Other local leaders include the mayors of Austin, Milwaukee, Washington, D.C., St. Louis, Charlotte, San Antonio, and elsewhere. Some Republicans have also come out against Trump’s decision, including Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

But the vast majority of the Grand Old Party politicians, who had balked at President Barack Obama’s executive signing of the agreement in 2015, lauded the decision.

“This administration is prioritizing the bottom line of hard-working Americans over the agendas of environmental extremists,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, who once brought a snowball onto the Senator floor to disprove climate change.

“Foreign countries will not dictate energy policies to the U.S.,” said Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi.

Some pointed out that fossil fuels are in decline from the economy (East Coast power giant PSE&G announced this week it was closing its last coal plants), and that stymieing innovation would only handicap the 21st century American economy.

Some notable philanthropists have also thrown their hat in the void left on Thursday. Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, pledged $15 million to fill the budget gap left by Trump’s revocation of the UN Climate Treaty. Bloomberg, an independent who has sided mostly with Democrats, said the coalition was growing – and would buck Trump’s decision.

“Americans are not walking away from the Paris Climate Agreement,” said Bloomberg, in a statement. “Just the opposite – we are forging ahead. Americans will honor and fulfill the Paris Agreement by leading from the bottom up – and there isn’t anything Washington can do to stop us.”

Trump had claimed that 2.7 million jobs would be lost by 2025 due to the terms of the Paris deal, which he said would unfairly cost the U.S. compared to counterparts like China and India. Trump left open the door for “renegotiation” to get the U.S. back in the agreement.

Currently, the U.S. is joined by two other nations as non-signatories of the deal: Nicaragua, a low-lying Central American country which opted out because the deal was not stringent enough, and Syria, which is in the throes of a chaotic civil war.

A full American withdrawal from the climate commitments would take years, according to most onlookers.

The New york Times reports that a big group of leaders are planning to submit their own separate plan to the United Nations. The group, organized by Bloomberg, includes: three governors, 30 mayors, dozens of university presidents, and more than 100 businesses.

World leaders condemned Trump’s decision. French President Emmanuel Macron offered an open door to American scientists and engineers, saying that the climate fight would continue – and the Paris agreement would indeed be implemented. He concluded with a parody of Trump’s campaign slogan, opting instead to “Make Our Planet Great Again.”

"On the climate there is no plan B because there is no planet B," said Macron, adding it was a “mistake, both for the U.S. and for our planet.”

The agreement is a non-binding international accord that asks all 192 signatories to do their part to curb carbon emission and other environmental impacts – in order to limit warming in the 21st century to 2 degrees Celsius.

In the meantime, the world gets hotter. The warmest surface temperatures yet witnessed were recorded in 2016 – and it was the third straight year of setting the record.

Infographic: The Cities & States Challenging Trump On Climate  | Statista You will find more statistics at Statista
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