by Julie Cerqueira, United States Climate Alliance
On the one-year anniversary of President Trump’s announcement that he intends to withdraw the U.S. from the global Paris Agreement, a bipartisan coalition of 17 governors committed to upholding the Paris Agreement through the U.S. Climate Alliance are announcing a new wave of initiatives to accelerate and scale up climate action. The U.S. Climate Alliance now represents 40 percent of the U.S. population and a $9 trillion economy, greater than the third largest country in the world, and U.S. Climate Alliance states are on track to meet their share of the Paris Agreement emissions target by 2025.
U.S. Climate Alliance governors are pledging to accelerate climate action in 2018, announcing new areas for collaboration that include:
- Reducing Super Pollutants: The U.S. Climate Alliance states today announce their commitment to reduce short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) and are issuing a challenge for others to follow their lead. The U.S. Climate Alliance plans to release an action plan at the Global Climate Action Summit in September 2018 to drive down these highly-polluting emissions by phasing down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), capturing and putting waste methane to work, and addressing super emitters.
- Mobilizing Financing for Climate Projects: The U.S. Climate Alliance is collaborating on a Green Banking Initiative to expand sustainable infrastructure financing opportunities and help advance new Green Banks. As a part of this initiative, NY Green Bank is raising at least $1 billion from the private sector to deploy nationally as well as providing resources and capacity that can be leveraged by newly-established Green Banks.
- Grid Modernization: The U.S. Climate Alliance is advancing a Grid Modernization Initiative to expand the adoption of innovative approaches to utility planning that can meet electricity demand while avoiding build-out of traditional electric transmission and distribution infrastructure. These “non-wires alternatives” are driving deployment of distributed clean energy resources and reducing emissions while saving customers billions of dollars.
- Renewable Energy: The Alliance also is establishing a Solar Soft Costs Initiative to reduce the costs of solar projects. Building on best practices pioneered by U.S. Climate Alliance states, the initiative is developing implementation resources for states and local governments to drive down the non-hardware “soft costs” of solar. These steps will lead to better economics for customers and greater deployment, while also helping to offset the impact of the solar tariffs established by the federal government in January 2018.
- Appliance Efficiency Standards: Various Alliance states are collaborating to advance energy efficiency standards for consumer products and appliances to save Americans billions in energy costs and cut greenhouse gas emissions. These states are stepping up in response to the federal government stalling its own appliance standards activity.
- Building Resilient Communities and Infrastructure: The U.S. Climate Alliance, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy and the National Council on Science and the Environment, is working to build greater resiliency of its communities, including by fundamentally changing the way infrastructure is designed and procured. U.S. Climate Alliance states are analyzing their state’s infrastructure risks now and in the future from vulnerability to floods, wildfire, and drought to inform mitigation and adaptation planning.
- Increasing Carbon Storage in our Landscapes: U.S. Climate Alliance states are pursuing opportunities to increase carbon storage in forests, farms, and ecosystems, and are launching a new initiative to identify best practices for land conservation, management and restoration to develop a carbon storage policy framework for implementation. This work is supported through a strategic partnership with The Nature Conservancy, American Forests, World Resources Institute, American Farmland Trust, the Trust for Public Land, Coalition on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
- Deploying Clean Transportation: The U.S. Climate Alliance is collaborating on an initiative to accelerate deployment of zero-emissions vehicles, expand and improve mass transit and active transportation choices, and implement other measures for moving towards zero-emission vehicle miles traveled.
The U.S. Climate Alliance has made substantial progress toward the implementation of its commitment to uphold its share the Paris Agreement. Sixteen states and Puerto Rico continue to be on track to collectively meet their share of the U.S. climate target to reduce emissions by 26-28% from 2005 levels by 2025. U.S. Climate Alliance states are reducing emissions more rapidly than the rest of the country while expanding per capita economic output twice as fast (15% Alliance emissions reductions compared to 10% national reductions from 2005-2015). Alliance states are also home to 1.3 million clean energy jobs, nearly half of the U.S. total.
Governors from the U.S. Climate Alliance plan to attend the Global Climate Action Summit in September, when thousands of global leaders convene to strategize about accelerating and scaling up emissions reductions. The U.S. Climate Alliance will provide an update on 2018 initiatives at the Summit.
California: “The Paris Agreement is a good deal for America,” said California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. “The President’s move to pull out was the wrong call. We are still in.”
Colorado: “The work of the Climate Alliance goes to show that states will lead when the federal government won’t,” said Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. “Colorado is proud to contribute to these efforts as we recognize the critical importance of creating a clean energy future.”
Connecticut: “Despite President Trump’s attempts to undermine our commitment to fighting against climate change, states like Connecticut are stepping up,” Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy said. “By working together as states, we are not only taking action to protect our environment, we are nurturing our clean energy economies. I applaud my fellow governors for their commitment to the Climate Alliance, and I call on states that have not signed on to immediately do so for the sake of our children and grandchildren.”
Delaware: “The U.S. should lead the global fight against climate change and Delaware remains committed to working in partnership with other states to take meaningful action,” said Delaware Governor John Carney. “Climate change poses a serious threat to Delaware – the lowest-lying state in the country. We are proud to be part of this Alliance, and I want to thank my fellow governors for continuing to demonstrate leadership on this issue.”
Hawai’i: “As we witnessed on Kauaʻi, Hawaiʻi is experiencing first-hand the consequences of climate change and the importance of working together as a community to be resilient. We are leading the country in pursuing a 100% renewable power supply to reduce our contribution to global warming and we embrace the Paris agreement, which we committed to by law last year. Working with my fellow governors is an opportunity to amplify our voices to the world that Americans care about climate change and that we must take action now,” said Hawai’i Governor David Y. Ige.
Maryland: “Maryland will continue to make bipartisan progress on our aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goals and climate resilience strategies through collaboration and innovation,” said Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. “Over the last year we have pushed for a stronger and broader Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and launched the nation’s first state-sponsored Climate Leadership Academy to help stakeholders across our state effectively plan, prepare, and implement critical environmental policies.”
Massachusetts: “The Baker-Polito Administration is committed to continuing Massachusetts’ tradition of leading on climate change and building more resilient communities. Massachusetts is moving ahead with the largest procurement of renewable energy in the Commonwealth’s history and we are proud to partner with Rhode Island to develop the largest offshore wind farm in the country,” said Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.
Minnesota: “Minnesota has made tremendous progress to support clean energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, meeting our 25 percent renewable energy goal seven years ahead of schedule. Working together, states in the U.S. Climate Alliance can collaborate to do even more to ensure our children and grandchildren inherit a clean energy future, and the better environment, economy, and jobs that will surely come with it,” said Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton.
New Jersey: “Contrary to the viewpoint of the federal government, climate change is real and it is impacting the future of every state in the union,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. “As we mark the first anniversary of the U.S. Climate Alliance, New Jersey is proud to be making critical investments in clean energy initiatives, including offshore wind, solar, and energy storage, that will benefit our residents, our neighbors and our environment while growing the Garden State’s economy.”
New York: “New York’s commitment to the Paris agreement is stronger than ever, as we continue to strengthen the U.S. Climate Alliance global fight against climate change. Despite the federal government’s environmental inaction, New York and the coalition of states will lead by example with unprecedented investments in renewable energy, cutting harmful emissions, all while creating a clean energy economy,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
North Carolina: “Science tells us that climate change is already affecting our lives through more intense and damaging storms, sea level rise, extreme temperatures, and changes in rainfall patterns. We must listen to our scientists and increase action to protect our communities. North Carolina reaffirms its commitment to working with Climate Alliance states to support the emission reduction targets of the Paris Agreement,” said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper.
Oregon: “Despite the decision by the White House to retreat, Oregon remains committed fulfilling the goals of the Pairs Agreement. Not only is it our moral obligation and an economic imperative to do so, but the Paris Agreement serves as a blueprint for job creation, stability and global prosperity,” said Oregon Governor Kate Brown. “Expanding and strengthening our commitment to combat climate change sends a strong message to our global partners that we will move forward in our efforts reduce carbon emissions and develop a clean energy mix to fuel the economy of the future.”
Rhode Island: “While Washington works to turn back the clock on climate progress, Rhode Island is moving forward,” Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo said. “We’re making critical investments in energy efficiency, safeguarding our ocean, and expanding clean energy tenfold. Just this week, we doubled down on offshore wind with the announcement of 50 new turbines off our coast. We’re proud to be a part of the Climate Alliance and send the message loud and clear that the clean energy revolution is here to stay.”
Vermont: “Vermont has experienced the harmful impacts of a changing climate already. The federal government’s decision to withdraw from Paris did not signal the end of U.S. climate leadership. The members the U.S. Climate Alliance stand committed to upholding our individual commitments and have worked for the past year to collectively advance policies that reach our goals,” said Vermont Governor Phil Scott.
Virginia: “Working with a strong coalition of states through the Climate Alliance is important as Virginia develops comprehensive strategies to address the impacts of climate change,” said Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. “We are focused on reducing our carbon footprint in a way that grows our clean energy economy and creates new business opportunities across the Commonwealth.”
Washington: “Across the country, the move towards clean, renewable energy has become unstoppable. People want clean air, a healthy environment, and the jobs and investments that come with building the next generation economy, and nothing the federal government chooses to do can change that,” said Washington Governor Jay Inslee. “States, cities and businesses are all stepping up. The 17 governors of the U.S Climate Alliance are absolutely dedicated to fulfilling our vision of a clean energy future.”