Despite Trump, States Still on Pace to Reach Paris Climate Goals

Joe Ryan

A coalition of states that vowed to fight global warming is on track to meet its share of U.S. targets set under the Paris Climate Agreement, even as President Donald Trump guts federal environmental efforts.

California, New York, and other members of the U.S. Climate Alliance have collectively cut greenhouse gases 15 percent since 2005, putting them within reach of the national goal of reducing emissions at least 26 percent by 2025, according to a report Wednesday. The rest of the nation has trimmed emissions by 10 percent, according to Rhodium Group research cited in the report.

The push reflects growing state-level efforts aimed at fighting climate change, even as the White House moves in the opposite direction. That still may not be enough. Unless more states work to aggressively cut emissions from power plants and automobiles — or federal policy changes — the U.S. will still fall short of its goals set under the historic pact brokered at the French capital in 2015.

“It’s very clear that we need a president to take leadership on climate action,” California Governor Jerry Brown said in an interview. “But Trump is on the sidelines. So the answer is that states and cities and corporations need to do everything they can.”

Economic Upside

Brown is set to unveil the analysis at an event in Manhattan along with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Washington Governor Jay Inslee and former Secretary of State John Kerry as world leaders and industry executives gather for Climate Week NYC and the United Nations general assembly. Confronting climate change does not necessarily require economic sacrifice. Clean energy policies have attracted billions in investments and helped create 1.3 million jobs.

The three governors formed the U.S. Climate Alliance in June, after Trump announced he would withdraw from the Paris accord. It now comprises 14 states and Puerto Rico, with more than one-third of the U.S. population and accounting for $7 trillion in economic output. That’s more than any single nation other than the U.S. and China.

Corporations have also pledged to work toward the U.S.’s Paris targets. World Resources Institute and other environmental groups released a list this week of more than 300 companies that have pledged to cut emissions, including Adobe Systems Inc., United Technologies Corp., Nike Inc. and Merck & Co.

Despite the push by states and corporations, Rhodium Group projected in May that the U.S. is on pace to reduce emissions between 15 and 19 percent by 2025, short of its goal of 26 to 28 percent.

“Climate change is a profound threat to the world,” Cuomo said in an emailed statement. “Despite the federal government’s reckless neglect of our environment, New York and the other U.S. Climate Alliance members are calling on other states to join us in this challenge to adopt aggressive policies to combat climate change.”​

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