InsideClimate News: States Vowed to Uphold America’s Climate Pledge. Are They Succeeding?

December 24, 2019

"Building on the success of RGGI, a dozen northeastern states hope to finalize plans in early 2020 to launch a Transportation Climate Initiative, tackling their now-largest source of carbon emissions—cars and trucks.

Pollution allowances will be auctioned to fuel suppliers in the region, with a declining cap on the number of allowances each year and the proceeds invested in electric vehicle infrastructure, mass transit, and other improvements designed to curb carbon emissions. As with RGGI, three Republican governors are on board—Massachusetts' Charlie Baker, who is chairing TCI; Maryland's Larry Hogan and Vermont's Phil Scott.

"It's very bipartisan, and I think that it just shows you that rational behavior is still alive in dealing with the threat of climate change," said Vicki Arroyo, executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center at Georgetown Law School, which is providing research and other support for the TCI.

Several of those states joined California and Oregon in December in committing to accelerate the shift to zero-emissions trucks and buses. California's Air Resources Board is considering regulations that would require an increasing percentage of heavy-duty truck sales to be zero-emissions.

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Sixty-five percent of the remaining U.S. coal power capacity, for example, is located in the 25 states that are not part of America's Pledge, led by Texas, Indiana and Kentucky. The America's Pledge analysis found that the U.S. could still make progress without the help of these states. It calculated that if just a handful of the states that have already shown some willingness to act adopted stronger policies, like those set by climate leaders like California, the U.S. could cut emissions up to 37 percent by 2030, even if the most carbon-intensive states and the federal government refuse to act. But that's not where the U.S. needs to be if it hopes to reach net zero emissions by mid-century, as the science says is necessary to stave off climate change's worst ravages.

"None of the states who are climate leaders would say that what they're doing is enough," said Arroyo. "But you've got to start to do what you can do, and prove the concept that you can do this without breaking the bank, and in fact you can do it while growing your economy, creating jobs and enhancing the quality of life."

Read the full article by Marianne Lavelle in InsideClimate News