Hawaii has passed a law that will help the state reduce its greenhouse emissions and keep track of rising sea levels.
Governor David Ige said the move would make Hawaii the first state to implement parts of the Paris climate agreement after President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal earlier in June, reports the American Herald Tribune.
"Truly, in this day and age, it is time for states and governors to lead," said Ige, a Democrat, at a June 6 press conference according to The Huffington Post. "Hawaii's natural environment is under threat. Climate change is real, regardless of what others say. Hawaii is seeing the impacts, first hand."
Ige cited rising tides, bleached coral, and a reduction in biodiversity as environmental problems that the state faces. He also signed a bill aimed at reducing carbon emissions in agriculture.
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More than 12 states have now pledged to continue to reduce fossil fuel emissions after Trump's withdrawal from the agreement. Four mayors from Hawaii signed a commitment agreement along with hundreds of other U.S. mayors.
"We will intensify efforts to meet each of our cities’ current climate goals, push for new action to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius target, and work together to create a 21st century clean energy economy," said the mayors in a statement after Trump's decision.
The Democratic senator who introduced one of the bills that Ige signed, J. Kalani English, said that the bill was a "legal basis to continue adaption and mitigation strategies" in Hawaii "despite the federal government's withdrawal from the treaty."
The Paris Agreement involved 195 countries, and was brokered in 2015. The Trump administration will reportedly seek to leave the agreement through its formal withdrawal process, which will take four years, with the U.S. officially exiting in late 2020. The possibility is still open for a future administration to rejoin the agreement, according to The New York Times.
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"Other countries are constantly judging each other’s positions in the world," said international relations professor David Victor. "If it looks like this administration is only going to last for four years, you might see other countries continue to push along on climate and not give up on the U.S. just yet."
Other countries in the agreement, including India, China, and European nations, have said that they will continue to follow the agreement and work on climate change without the U.S.' cooperation.
Climate policy expert Luke Kemp suggested that other countries may even ramp up their climate efforts as a result of the U.S. leaving the agreement.
"In the short term you could see a galvanizing effect," said Kemp.