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More proof Trump was correct to Clexit! Analysis: US states and cities could meet Paris climate goals without Trump


15.06.2017 | 2:00pm

US POLICYAnalysis: US states and cities could meet Paris climate goals without Trump

Nearly 40% of US CO2 emissions are in the hands of states that have either committed to meeting their share of the US’s Paris Agreement target or who have established their own ambitious long-term emission reduction goals, a Carbon Brief analysis has found. These states account for 30% of US power sector emissions, 47% of its transportation sector emissions and 38% of emissions from buildings and factories.

With the decision by the Trump administration to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement on climate change and reverse many of the prior administration’s climate change policies, it seems that federal action on climate change will be unlikely in the next few years.

However, the US system of government gives individual states broad powers to regulate CO2 emissions within their borders, with many states actively moving forward with their own mitigation strategies in absence of federal action.

Should they have the political will, states possess all the levers of power needed to reduce emissions enough to meet the 26-28% CO2 reductions below 2005 levels by 2025 that the US committed to under the Paris Agreement. However, states are divided politically, with about half committing to deep carbon reductions and about half with little or no controls on greenhouse gas emissions.

The ability of states and cities to directly regulate emissions also varies considerably by sector. In the analysis below, Carbon Brief looks at the three main areas of CO2 emissions in the US – electricity, transportation, and “on-site” emissions – and the extent to which each can be controlled by states committed to meeting Paris Agreement targets.

Taking the initiative

Days after the announcement that the US would be withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, a newly minted coalition of 12 states announced that they would take action to meet the US’s Paris commitments in the absence of federal action.

This group, called the US Climate Alliance (USCA), has pledged to take action to reduce their own emissions at least 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. Collectively, these states directly control around 19% of US CO2 emissions. Around 300 cities have also announced their support of efforts to meet US Paris commitments.

Around the same time, a group of 125 cities, 9 states and more than a thousand businesses joined the We Are Still In open letter organised by former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg, committing to work together “to take forceful action and to ensure that the US remains a global leader in reducing emissions” in the absence of leadership from Washington DC.