Individual states of the Union cannot sign international agreements, but they can decide to comply with such agreements. When President Trump announced he would be pulling the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement, cities and states across the country stepped up to the plate to commit themselves to this Agreement, with or without the federal government’s blessing.
Sixteen states (plus Puerto Rico) have so far committed themselves to meeting these targets because they recognize that climate change poses an existential threat to humanity and that the US government is out of step with the global consensus on what to do to address this problem. Nuclear weapons also pose an existential threat to humanity, and once again the US government is out of step with the global consensus on how to eliminate these weapons once and for all.
During the 1980s, a similar number of states passed resolutions calling for a ‘Nuclear Freeze’ to end the arms race and prevent nuclear war. Some states did this through their state legislature, while others voted in state referendums. In the case of the Paris Climate Accords, it has been state governors who have taken the lead.
We need to call again on these states to stand up and be counted on this issue, using all available channels: the governor, the state legislature, and where applicable, state ballot initiatives.
In most of these states, it will probably be necessary to first build public support for Treaty Compliance. This will be easiest in states which already have a strong interest in these issues. In other states, a more concerted effort may be needed: public meetings, petition drives, media coverage, letters to State legislatures and Governor’s Offices, and Treaty Compliance campaigns at lower levels – especially in towns, cities and counties.
For all states, the basic 3-step process to Treaty Compliance is roughly the same:
Step #1: Making the political commitment to go ahead with the process of Treaty Compliance, including setting up a Treaty Compliance Committee of some kind to oversee the process.
Step #2: Carefully considering what Treaty Compliance would involve and coming up with a plan for implementation.
Step #3: Adopting binding legislation to confirm that the state is now in compliance with the Treaty.