U.S. State Leadership at COP23

November 17, 2017

U.S. state leaders delivered a strong message to the rest of the world that cities, states, and businesses will continue to lead and do their part to deliver on U.S. commitments during U.N. climate change talks in Germany last week.

To help leaders deliver that message, the Georgetown Climate Center, the Climate Registry, and the Climate Action Reserve hosted a bipartisan delegation of 11 U.S. states, which included four governors, in Bonn. It was the largest delegation of U.S. states to ever attend the annual Conference of Parties (COP) climate talks. The Center and its partners also sponsored several side events at multiple venues.

The presence of U.S. state leaders was recognized by many participants, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who praised the broad alliance of states, cities, and companies who were placing importance on climate action in the U.S. "irrespective of President Trump's decision to leave the Paris Agreement."

 

COP23 Events with U.S. State Leadership


Subnational Action on Clean Energy
Monday, November 13, 9-10:30 am
Location: IETA Pavilion

Speakers included Governor Kate Brown, Oregon; Chris Ballard, Minister, Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, Ontario; Dr. Rodolfo Lacy, Undersecretary of Planning and Environmental Policy, SEMARNAT; Matt Rodriquez, Secretary for Environmental Protection, California Environmental Protection Agency; Chris Davis, Senior Advisor, Energy and Carbon Markets, Office of Governor Jay Inslee, Washington. This event was sponsored by the Climate Action Reserve. 

U.S. Climate Alliance Governors Panel
Monday, November 13, 10:45 am - noon
Location: Media Room, Bonn Zone

U.S. Climate Alliance co-chairs California Gov. Jerry Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and members Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe convened a panel to discuss U.S. state-driven climate leadership. In addition to the four governors, at least six other U.S. Climate Alliance members were represented at the COP by governors' staff and/or state agency officials. This event was sponsored by the U.S. Climate Alliance. 

Watch video from this event here.

 

 Sub-National Strategies in North America for Meeting Paris Commitments

Monday, November 13, 3 – 4:30 pm
Location: Room 12, Bonn Zone

Speakers included Governor Jerry Brown, California; Governor Jay Inslee, Washington; Chris Ballard, Environment Minister, Ontario; George Heyman, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Strategy, British Columbia; and Dr. Rodolfo Lacy, Deputy Secretary of Planning and Environmental Policy, SEMARNAT, Mexico. This event was cosponsored by The Climate Registry and the Climate Action Reserve. 

 

Press Conference: North American Sub-National Climate Collaboration and Progress
Monday, November 13, 5 – 5:30 pm
Location: Room 2, Bula Zone

A press conference featuring U.S. Governors affirmed state commitments to combat climate change. Speakers included Oregon Governor Kate Brown; Suzanne Case, Chair of Dept. of Land & Natural Resources, Hawaii; State Senator Ricardo Lara, California; Assemblymember Richard Bloom, California; Stephanie Zawistowski, Senior Policy Advisor to Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith; Sarah Hofmann, Public Utilities Commissioner, Vermont; Jared Snyder, Deputy Commissioner, Air Resources, Climate Change and Energy, New York Department of Environmental Conservation; Taryn Finnessey, Senior Climate Change Specialist, Colorado; Ben Grumbles, Secretary, Maryland Department of Environment; Katie Theoharides, Assistant Secretary of Climate Change, Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. This event was moderated by Vicki Arroyo, Georgetown Climate Center.  

Watch video from this event here.

State Leadership: A conversation with Gov. Kate Brown followed by a U.S. State and Provincial Panel
Tuesday, November 14, 2:30 – 4 pm
Location: US Climate Action Center, Paris Room

The climate leadership role of U.S. states has been magnified as they step in to continue reducing emissions to meet state and Paris Agreement goals. This event highlighted state actions, goals and regional collaborations, including with partners in Canadian provinces.

The first half of the event featured a conversation between Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon and science and business writer John Carey.

The second half featured a moderated panel discussion of cross-border collaborations, including the Pacific Coast Collaborative, with the following leaders: George Heyman, Minister of Environment, British Columbia; Matt Rodriquez, Secretary of Environmental Protection, California; Sam Lemmo, Administrator, Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands, Hawaii; and Stephanie Zawistowski, Senior Policy Advisor, Office of Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton. The panel was moderated by Ann McCabe of The Climate Registry.

 Climate and Clean Energy Policy in the U.S.: State Leaders Speak Out

Tuesday, November 14, 4:45 – 6:15 pm
Location: Room 2, Bonn Zone

Governors and mayors have assumed the mantle of U.S. climate leadership. This session featured governors and other subnational leaders who shared their efforts to curb emissions, prepare for climate impacts, and work together in new alliances across states, sectors and regions. This event was sponsored by Georgetown Climate Center and C2ES.

Opening remarks by: Governor Kate Brown, Oregon and Governor Jay Inslee, Washington. 

Panel: Ben Grumbles, Secretary, Maryland Department of the Environment; Katie Theoharides, Assistant Secretary of Climate Change, Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs; Jared Snyder, Deputy Commissioner, Office of Air Resources, Climate Change and Energy, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; and Taryn Finnessey, Senior Climate Change Specialist, Colorado Department of Natural Resources.

 

Bipartisan Solutions to Climate Change
Location: US Climate Action Center, Cancun Room

While climate change has sometimes been viewed as a political issue, increasingly it is one that neither political party can ignore.  Senior policy advisors from both major political parties shared what they view as areas for bipartisan cooperation on climate change in the future.  The session focused on meaningful actions these states are taking to address climate change. Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists moderated the session. 

Speakers included: Kathleen Theoharides, Assistant Secretary of Climate Change, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Massachusetts; Reed Schuler, Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Jay Inslee, Washington State. 

 

Subnational Action on Climate Change with International Partners: Public/Private Collaboration
Thursday, November 16, 1 – 2:15 pm
Location: U.S. Climate Action Center, Fiji Room

Many in the U.S. are determined to meet the Paris commitments. Sub-national leaders discussed a wide variety of policy approaches, including how to harmonize policies with other jurisdictions. This panel focused on how states and the private sector work together to reduce GHG emissions; promote energy efficiency, demand response, storage and/or renewables; and more.

Speakers included Jared Snyder, Deputy Commissioner, Air Resources, Climate Change and Energy, New York Department of Environmental Conservation; Stephanie Zawistowski, Senior Policy Advisor, Office of Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith, Minnesota; Ken Alex, Director, Governor’s Office of Planning and Research and Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Jerry Brown; Sam Lemmo, Administrator, Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands, Hawaii; Katie Sullivan, Managing Director, North America, IETA; Chris Davis, Senior Advisor, Energy and Carbon Markets, Office of Governor Jay Inslee, Washington; Ruchi Sadhir, Energy Policy Advisor, Office of Governor Kate Brown, Oregon.

 

Subnational Action: Regional and Cross-border Collaboration
Thursday, November 16, 2:45 – 4 pm
Location: U.S. Climate Action Center, Fiji Room

This panel of U.S. state, Canadian provincial and other delegates focused on regional and cross-border collaboration (such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the Western Climate Initiative, and the Pacific Coast Collaborative) and provide an update on current efforts, as well as thoughts on challenges/opportunities to new or expanded collaboration. Speakers included Jared Snyder, Deputy Commissioner, Air Resources, Climate Change and Energy, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; Chris Ballard, Environment Minister, Ontario; Sarah Hofmann, Commissioner, Vermont Public Utility Commission; Kathleen Theoharides, Assistant Secretary of Climate Change, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Massachusetts.

 

 

Quotes from U.S. State Leadership at COP23

 

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown:
“Climate change poses the greatest threat to Oregon’s environment, economy, and way of life. Future generations will judge us not on the impact of global climate change, but what we’ve done. I’m proud to say the work Oregon is doing to tackle climate change is helping us grow our economy. We have the fastest job growth rate in the country and one of the fastest growing GDPs. It has resulted in 50,000 jobs in energy renewal and conservation.”
 

California Gov. Jerry Brown:
“Making progress on climate change requires talking to profit-making organizations in every sector and getting their buy-in. Meeting the challenge of climate change and growing our economy are not mutually exclusive.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee: 
“Without victory, there is no survival. Donald Trump cannot stop us from doing anything that we’re bound to do to stop climate change. We are in the control of our own destiny in our states.”

Stephanie Zawistowski, Senior Policy Advisor; Office of Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith:
“Minnesota’s groundbreaking Next Generation Energy Act and the solar standard have created over 50,000 clean energy jobs in the state of Minnesota. These are good paying jobs in communities across our state. Governor Dayton is committed to fighting climate change for Minnesota’s future generations, and we believe we can go even further than the goals we set for ourselves 10 years ago.”


Melissa Hortman, Minority Leader State Representative, District 36B (Minnesota):
"It's important that state legislators continue to exercise leadership on climate action and clean energy.  There are policy levers we can move at the state level -- and given the lack of federal action -- it's more urgent than ever for states to continue to make progress on climate action."


California State Senator Ricardo Lara:
“We have aggressive greenhouse gas goals for 2030 and 2050, which provides a long-term goal and framework, in addition to our immediate goal, which is to combat short-lived climate pollutants… We are democratizing our climate policies, ensuring that the resources derived from our cap and trade program…go directly and immediately to the most impacted communities in our state. Those who are most vulnerable, most susceptible to climate change and most disproportionately impacted by air pollution get the resources they need to improve their quality of life… As the sixth largest economy in the world, we are proving we can decouple our economy from carbon and continue to grow and create jobs.”

 

Taryn Finnessey, Senior Climate Change Specialist at State of Colorado Department of Natural Resources:
“The state of Colorado is committed to improving our health, well-being and quality of life while creating new jobs, and climate action is critical to this goal. Since we first passed the first-in-the-nation, voter-approved renewable energy standard, our largest utility has increased renewables from less than 1% to 30%. We have a proposal before the PUC that would remove an additional 660 MW of coal generation and invest USD2.25 billion in clean energy, all while keeping consumer costs the same or lower. Climate action is good for Colorado and good for our citizens of today and tomorrow.”

 

Katie Theoharides, Assistant Secretary of Climate Change, Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs:
“We’re pleased to stand with the rest of the world on climate change. We know that acting on climate change makes our state, our economy, our cities and towns stronger and puts us on the right path forward. We are on track to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement within our state and, as we’ve reduced carbon emissions, we have seen a 75% increase over 1990 gross state domestic product. As we reduce those emissions, our economy continues to grow.”


Ben Grumbles, Maryland Secretary of the Environment:
“We’re glad to be here to demonstrate as strongly as we can that we are committed to fighting climate change, increasing resiliency and preparedness locally state wide and regionally. We have an aggressive greenhouse gas goal of 40% by 2030 based on 2006 benchmark, and a key component of our plan is to demonstrate that we’re having a net-positive impact to jobs and the economy while taking action on climate change. This is a climate of opportunity. Maryland is open for business and the greener the greater.”

 

Jared Snyder, Deputy Commissioner, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation:
“In New York we have seen the impacts of climate change first hand, including the devastation of super storm Sandy just over five years ago. We are on pace to meet or exceed the US emission reduction targets under the Paris Agreement. The nine-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has already seen emissions drop 50% from 2005 levels while reducing energy bills by over a billion dollars and creating thousands of high-quality clean energy jobs. It has provided USD1.7 billion in public health benefits in New York state. We will achieve 50% renewable energy by 2030 driven by the clean energy standard. Our power system will be coal-free by 2020. As a result of our climate efforts, we now have 146,000 clean energy jobs in New York state. New York is not standing idly by, Governor Cuomo will lead by example and encourages other states and nations to join us.”

 

California Assemblymember Richard Bloom:
“The sense of optimism that comes out of this process will carry us forward and we will resolve this issue of climate change.”

 

Sarah Hoffman, Board Member, Vermont Public Utility Commission:
“Vermonters have embraced a future that includes renewables, low-carbon footprint and efficiency. Our clean energy sector is 5% of our workforce, and we have a robust plan that all the people are behind in the state of Vermont. We are still in.”

 

Suzanne Case, Chairperson, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources:
“Hawaii is proud to be the first state to enact a statute committing us to the Paris Agreement. We are an island state, and we see up front the impacts of climate change: coastal erosion and flooding, storms, and drought. It is imperative that we all tackle climate change together.”