Long History of State Actions to Cut Carbon Pollution Will Continue

December 3, 2015

On the heels of last week's announcement by five northeast states and the District of Columbia that they will start developing potential market-based policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, state leaders from around the country are heading to Paris to discuss how state action in the United States to address climate change continues to accelerate.

At COP21, Governors and senior state officials will discuss the recent actions they have taken to reduce carbon pollution in the United States to provide leadership on the issue and serve as a backstop to federal action. 

In addition to implementing the federal Clean Power Plan, states have already taken many actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Below are a few examples of recent state actions:

  • Thirty-seven states have adopted a renewable energy target or goal, including the following:
    • Hawaii set a 100 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) target for 2045, becoming the first state to require all of its electricity to come from renewable power sources. The new law, signed June 10, 2015, sets additional incremental and long-term renewable energy targets: 30 percent by the end of 2020, 70 percent by 2040, and 100 percent by 2045.
    • In June 2015, Vermont set a 75 percent Renewable Energy Standard (RES) for 2032. The law also establishes distributed generation requirements and energy transformation requirement for utilities.
    • New York set a target of achieving 50 percent of electricity generation from renewable energy resources by 2030 in its 2015 State Energy Plan. The plan also requires a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas pollution by 2030 from the state’s 1990 levels.
    • In October, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a new RPS target of 50 percent electricity generated from renewable power sources by 2030 and a target requiring the state to double energy efficiency in buildings at the same time. In April 2015, Gov. Brown furthered California’s longstanding commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions by setting a new interim statewide target of 40 percent below 1990 pollution levels by 2030, building on previous goals of cutting greenhouse gas pollution to 1990 levels by 2020 and by 80 percent below those levels by 2050.
  • Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states have reduced power-sector carbon pollution by 40 percent since 2005 through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative while the regional economy grew seven percent during the same period.
  • Eight states have signed a Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV) agreement (California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont) to put 3.3 million ZEVs on the road by 2025. The states are collaborating to develop infrastructure, coordinated policies, codes and standards, and overall efforts to build the ZEV market. Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states also launched the Northeast Electric Vehicle Network in 2011 with the assistance of the Georgetown Climate Center.
  • Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont announced last week that they would work together to develop a potential market-based policy to reduce carbon pollution from the transportation sector.
  • Oregon’s low carbon fuel standard will require a 10 percent reduction in the carbon content of fuel by 2025 (from a 2010 baseline). The reductions are scheduled to begin in 2016.
  • Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced in March 2015 that his state is setting efficiency and clean energy benchmarks, including goals to meet at least 15 percent more of the state’s energy needs in the next decade by eliminating energy waste and to meet 30-40 percent of energy needs with clean energy by 2025.
  • Fourteen states have established state-led, finalized adaptation plans, and an additional eight states and the District of Columbia have statewide planning in progress to prepare their communities for climate change impacts. Cities across the country are also planning and taking action to prepare for climate change.

During COP21, the Georgetown Climate Center will be hosting three events with senior state and provincial officials from the United States and Canada where U.S. officials will discuss the importance of state leadership on this issue and how it underscores the U.S. commitment to take meaningful climate action.

To set up an interview with Vicki Arroyo, executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center, or a state official, please contact Chris Coil at 202-661-6672 or 240-535-1669 (cell) or coil@georgetownclimate.org.