STATES MARKED BELOW IN ORANGE ARE COMMITTED TO THE GOALS OF THE PARIS AGREEMENT.
Governors, mayors, and town boards have initiated and expanded their commitments to climate action in recent years as never before. As Trump stepped away from international climate leadership and his administration rolled back more than 98 Obama-era climate policies, ambitions and regulations, Governors Andrew Cuomo, Jay Inslee, and Jerry Brown responded in 2017 by launching the United States Climate Alliance – a bipartisan coalition of governors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Since its founding, it has grown to 24 governors and Puerto Rico. Their states represent more than half of the nation’s population and sixty percent of the U.S. economy.
When Biden became President in 2020, he moved decidedly to undo Trump’s policies and by May 2023, his administration had added 67 new climate policies and overturned 88 of Trump’s environmental policies. Perhaps Biden’s most historic climate accomplishment is the strangely titled Inflation Reduction Act (signed into law in August, 2022) which provides states extraordinary opportunities for funding to promote home energy efficiency, fund decarbonization projects, create equitable green financial institutions, and more.
There is a fascinating US interactive map, populated in real time, showing a geographical overview of financial incentives and regulatory policies, state-by-state, that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency here.
STATES, DISTRICTS, AND TERRITORIES ARE SWITCHING OVER TO CLEAN ENERGY SOURCES
As of May, 2023, according to the CESA, 22 States, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have enacted 100% clean energy goals and a number of those have enacted significant legislation. The National Caucus of Environmental Legislators has a bill tracker that lets us see pro-environment bills that have been filed in all state legislatures. You can use the tracker to find bills introduced in your state legislature, and tell your state senators and reps to co-sponsor what you support.
A LTTLE HISTORY
As far back as 2005, an initiative called The Regional Gas Initiative (RGGI) was created by the governors of 12 eastern states to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power plants within each participating state. The current members are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.
WHICH STATE WAS FIRST TO SET A GOAL FOR 100% CLEAN ENERGY?
- In 2015, Hawaii was the first state to establish a goal of 100% renewable electricity sources by 2045.
WHICH STATE PROPELLED A NATIONWIDE MOVEMENT TOWARDS CLEAN ENERGY?
- In 2018, under Governor Jerry Brown, California required that 50% of their electricity be powered by renewable resources by 2025 and 60% by 2030, while calling for a “bold path” toward 100% zero-carbon electricity by 2045. By codifying a 100% clean energy goal into law, California propelled a nationwide movement towards clean and renewable energy.
BY THE END OF 2019 TEN STATES HAD PASSED CLEAN ENERGY BILLS
- In 2019, following Washington D.C., New Mexico, Nevada, and Puerto Rico, Washington became the next state to pass a 100% clean energy bill, followed by Colorado, which signed legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030. In June, 2019, legislation was signed in Maine by Governor Mills with a goal of 100% renewable energy resources by 2050. Then, New York’s Senate & Assembly passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. Signed by Governor Cuomo on July 18, 2019, it became the most comprehensive and aggressive climate change legislation in the nation.
FROM 2020-22 MORE STATES ANNOUNCED GOALS AND LEGISLATION FOR CLEAN ENERGY
- In 2020 more states announced plans— including New Jersey and Massachusetts --for 100% clean energy by 2050. By March, Virginia passed their Clean Economy Act, mandating the state’s utilities to deliver electricity from 100% renewable sources by 2045.
- In 2021, a number of states including Illinois, Oregon, and North Carolina passed laws requiring a shift towards 100% clean electricity or carbon neutrality. And Washington passed the Climate Commitment Actrequiring the state reduce its carbon emissions by 95% by 2050.
- In June 2022, Rhode Island’s governor signed a bill committing the state to 100% renewable sources for electricity by 2033. In August, Massachusetts passed legislation allowing some cities and towns to ban fossil fuel infrastructure in new and major construction projects. Maryland passed the Climate Solutions Act committing the state to net-zero emissions by 2045. Connecticut committed to 100% clean energy by 2040. New York required all new school bus purchases to be electric by 2027. Michigan’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer released a comprehensive climate plan aiming for carbon neutrality by 2050. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers introduced his Clean Energy Plan whereby all electricity consumed in the state would be 100% carbon free by 2050. More on 2022 here.
IN MAY, 2023, NEW YORK BECAME THE FIRST STATE TO PASS A LAW BANNING GAS FROM NEW CONSTRUCTION & MORE
- In February, 2023 Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed a clean energy bill into law that requires the state’s utilities to get 100% of their electricity from carbon-free energy sources by 2040, joining ten other states with commitments to 100% clean or renewable energy. A week later, New Jersey updated its goal of being 100% carbon-free to 2035 from 2050. In May, New York became the first state in the nation to ban gas from new construction,starting in 2026.
WHAT ARE THE GOVERNORS DOING NOW?
- In 2023, Governors across the nation committed to climate action in their inaugural addresses, reported the League of Conservation Voters. Opportunities for climate progress are great.
IS THERE A COMPLETE LIST OF STATES WITH GOALS FOR CLEAN ENERGY?
A complete list of States and the details of their goals can be found at https://www.cesa.org/
The United States Climate Alliance is a bipartisan coalition of governors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Smart, coordinated state action can ensure that the United States continues to contribute to the global effort to address climate change.
MAP DATA FROM THE UNITED STATES CLIMATE ALLIANCE
Map drawn and developed by Climate Change Resources Inc. Click on the states below to go to its page.