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One Nation, Two Tribes: Opposing Visions of US Climate Role on Show in Bonn

Donald Trump has pulled the US out of the Paris accord – but other Americans are standing with the world to help fight the ‘existential crisis’ of global warming

Deep schisms in the US over climate change are on show at the UN climate talks in Bonn – where two sharply different visions of America’s role in addressing dangerous global warming have been put forward to the world.

Donald Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Paris climate agreement has created a vacuum into which dozens of state, city and business leaders have leapt, with the aim of convincing other countries at the international summit that the administration is out of kilter with the American people.

The counter-Trump movement in Bonn is being spearheaded by Jerry Brown, the governor of California, and Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York. Brown, in particular, has assumed the role of a de facto US leader, scheduling more than two dozen events to agitate for renewable energy and emissions cuts to combat what he has called an “existential crisis”.

US Climate Action Center has been set up for delegates in Bonn, representing the climate change priorities of several thousand US cities, states, tribes and businesses. Corporate giants Mars, Walmart and Citi are expected to push for action on climate change. The center is in lieu of an official US presence – for the first time, the US government won’t have a pavilion at the annual UN climate summit.

At the razzamatazz opening of the alternative US centre on Thursday, California state senator Ricardo Lara told the audience: “Greetings from the official resistance to the Trump administration.” Pausing for cheers and applause, he said: “Let’s relish being rebels. Despite what happens in DC, we’re still here.”

Guests were served free jelly donuts and coffee. “It’s the least we can do after Trump’s announcement that we are leaving,” said one US activist.

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