Union of Concerned Scientists: States Enact Clean Energy Plans as White House Pulls out of Paris Climate Agreement
A dozen states, Puerto Rico, at least 80 mayors and more than 100 businesses will submit a plan to the United Nations showing how they will collectively reduce their global warming pollution in reaction to President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, the 2015 landmark international accord aimed at combating global warming. The U.S. Climate Alliance, which will keep its membership rolls open, also serves as a network for members to share best practices for addressing climate change. “With the United States abdicating its role, local and state governments—saddled with rising seas, drought and record-breaking temperatures—want to try to pick up the slack,” said Ken Kimmell, the president of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) who formerly served as the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection commissioner. Massachusetts is one of the states in the alliance.
The economic benefits of clean energy policies are also prompting states to wean themselves off fossil fuels in favor of cleaner-burning power sources.
“States are setting renewable energy- and energy efficiency- standards and promoting electric vehicles because these policies create jobs and improve air quality,” said Kimmell. “And the costs of wind and solar have come down dramatically.” According to the recent UCS report “Clean Energy Momentum: Ranking State Progress,” California has done the best job transitioning to clean energy, followed by Vermont and Massachusetts. But a number of unexpected states are also at the forefront. “Four of the top 10 states are headed by Republican governors; six are led by Democrats,” said John Rogers, senior energy analyst at UCS and lead author of the report. “States of all political affiliations are making progress on various fronts.”
The report ranked the states based on 12 metrics. South Dakota topped the list for renewable energy as a portion of in-state generation, with 75 percent of its energy coming from hydropower and wind. For the metric examining increases in renewable energy generation, Kansas took first place after tripling its production of wind power over four years. Similarly, Texas has made advances in wind power, with almost three times as much wind capacity as the next leading state, and more than 24,000 wind sector jobs. Texas scored in the top five in a metric gauging the ease with which in-state businesses can get renewable energy.