By Ellen Knickmeyer
President Donald Trump is aiming to make the annual U.N.-sponsored climate talks underway in Madrid the last ones for full participation by the United States, which is the world’s No. 1 economy and the second-biggest carbon emitter.
Trump dismisses climate change and he thumbed his nose at previous climate talks by twice sending White House delegations to promote climate-degrading coal. He is due to complete the U.S. withdrawal from the landmark Paris global climate accord on Nov. 4, 2020, the day after next year’s U.S. presidential election. If Trump loses that election, the next president could put the brakes on the withdrawal.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other political and business leaders, scientists and activists are traveling to Spain this week and next to drive home a counter message: U.S. cities, states and businesses representing a sizable chunk of the U.S. population and economy are committed to a global effort to slash emissions.
“We’re still in it,” Pelosi told reporters at the talks, where she appeared with 14 other congressional Democrats on Monday to call climate change a growing threat to public health, economy and national security in the U.S..
The 2018 midterm elections, which gave Democrats control of the House, showed that embracing top-down government action to cut fossil fuel emissions can be part of a winning platform, at least in some parts of the country.
In August 2017, 46% of Americans opposed U.S. withdrawal from the international agreement, while 29% supported it, according to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago.
This August, another AP-NORC poll found nearly two-thirds of Americans said the federal government should bear a lot of responsibility for combating climate change.
***In a story December 4, 2019, about the Trump administration’s role in the Madrid climate conference, The Associated Press erroneously reported the details of a poll measuring public opinion on the Paris climate agreement.***