In the wake of America’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, U.S. states are moving to combat climate change without the help of the federal government.
This week, Minnesota joined a growing list of states committed to the United States Climate Alliance, an agreement between individual states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at least 26 percent below their 2005 levels. To achieve these emissions reductions, the states will follow the framework laid out by the Clean Power Plan, the set of environmental protections that President Trump has pledged to abolish.
Washington, California, and New York founded the alliance on the very day the president announced that the U.S. would leave the historic climate deal. In a statement on the creation of the alliance, Washington State governor Jay Inslee (D) said, “I am proud to stand with other governors as we make sure that the inaction in D.C. is met by an equal force of action from the states. Today’s announcement by the president leaves the full responsibility of climate action on states and cities throughout our nation. While the president’s actions are a shameful rebuke to the work needed to protect our planet for our children and grandchildren, states have been and will continue to step up.”
Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia joined shortly thereafter. In his announcement that Minnesota would join the alliance, Governor Mark Dayton said, “President Trump’s withdrawal will cause serious damage to our environment and our economy. Nevertheless, Minnesota and other states will show the world what we can achieve by working together to conserve energy, to use cleaner and renewable energy, and to leave a livable planet to our children and grandchildren.”
Upon pledging her support for the Climate Alliance, Oregon Governor Kate Brown (D) tweeted, “Oregon has led the fight against climate change. I’m glad states and cities are stepping up regardless of decision by White House to retreat.”
Hawaii, notably, became the first state to enact legislation that complies with the Paris Agreement. Hawaii’s governor, David Ige, signed two laws Tuesday that aim to reduce carbon emissions and encourage sustainable agriculture in the state. Hawaii’s climate plan is the most ambitious in the country, and aims to make the state completely carbon-neutral by 2045.
California is another leader in the fight against climate change. Last year, the state enacted legislation that would push its emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. Governor Jerry Brown (D) met with Chinese officials in Beijing Wednesday to collaborate on clean energy development and discuss ways to mitigate the negative effects of climate change.
The Climate Alliance member states represent about 102 million people, or about one-third of the U.S. population. Their state treasuries total around $6.83 trillion, or about one-third of the U.S. GDP.
Many other state governors have expressed support for the Paris Agreement, but have not formally joined the Climate Alliance. In fact, as the Washington Post reported, “By now, 34 states have a climate action plan, which identifies ways the state can pursue climate change mitigation, while 29 states have enacted a renewable portfolio standard, a regulation that mandates utilities increase the percentage of energy they sell from renewable sources by a specified amount and date. … In fact, all 50 states have at least one climate change mitigation law in place. Many have 10 or more.”
The Climate Alliance also garnered support from over 200 mayors, including those of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Phoenix, San Diego, and Washington, D.C.
Featured image via YouTube video.