Teenage global climate-change activist Greta Thunberg, who can boast over 4.6 million followers on Twitter and her own postage stamp, welcomed President Joe Biden’s return to the Paris climate accord this week, and she didn’t let a chance to rib Sen. Ted Cruz, who called resumption of U.S. membership anti-American, slip by.
The voluntary, U.N.-directed pact created five years ago at a meeting of delegates in the French capital counts nearly 190 countries as signatories. It is an updated version of what critics called flawed but meaningful accords signed in Kyoto and Copenhagen. Then-President Donald Trump officially pulled the U.S. from the Paris agreement in November, basing his decision, he said, on allegations of negligence from developing giants China and India and the impact on U.S. jobs. Many U.S. tech and consumer companies have aligned their own climate goals with the intent of the Paris pact, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has gotten on board, conditionally.
Cruz, a Texas Republican who has faced criticism and potentially more serious consequences amid allegations that his rhetoric helped incite the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, isn’t lying low this week. He condemned Biden’s Day 1 executive order to rejoin the global pact, tweeting at one point that “by rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, President Biden indicates he’s more interested in the views of the citizens of Paris than in the jobs of the citizens of Pittsburgh.”
“This agreement will do little to affect the climate and will harm the livelihoods of Americans,” Cruz tweeted.
Thunberg, from Sweden, expressed her pleasure with the U.S. return, partly in jest.
The response of the green-minded teen was considerably less blue than an earlier exchange between Cruz and actor Seth Rogen. Read that exchange here.
Second-term House Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, meanwhile, pondered whether Cruz believed the Geneva Conventions on wartime conduct reflected only the views of the citizens of the Swiss city where the meetings were convened. (It was elsewhere inquired whether Cruz, perhaps most famous for reading Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham” during a 20-plus-hour filibuster he staged against the Affordable Care Act, believed the World Health Organization worked only to the benefit of the Whos down in Whoville.)
Pittsburgh-not-Paris is a recycled sentiment expressed by Trump in 2017, one chided by Pittsburgh itself, whose leadership was proud of its climate-change commitment.
At the start of 2020, clean-energy employment in the U.S., which includes wind and solar but also other tech-based roles, increased for the fifth straight year since clean-energy advocate E2 started tracking the data. The growing sector claims 3.3 million workers nationwide, slowing slightly due to COVID-19. The sector is on a different trajectory than traditional fossil-fuel
While California remained the nation’s leader in clean-energy jobs through 2019, states as diverse in size and structure as Texas and Massachusetts also are in the top 10. Florida, North Carolina and Georgia continued to lead the South, while Michigan, Illinois and Ohio led the Midwest.
Biden and the Democrats have a narrow advantage in the new Congress, which means Republican and industry support is still needed for meaningful legislative action. Biden has pledged to spend $2 trillion to combat climate change.
Meanwhile, seven Democratic senators on Thursday asked the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate the actions of Cruz and Sen. Josh Hawley “to fully understand their role” in the Jan. 6 insurrection.