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A Review of States’ Progress on Climate Action

Published: October 19, 2020 by Editorial Team

There is a woeful lack of climate change action at the federal level, but states are again taking the lead on ways to address climate change in aggressive, cost effective ways.  Below is a list of recent actions at the state and regional level.

In July, Resources for the Future issued a report assessing Colorado’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26% below 2005 levels by 2025, and by 90% by 2050.  The report looked at market-based solutions including the use of carbon offsets and concluded that a cap and trade approach would be the most cost effective, and further concluded that linking to California’s existing cap and trade program would be even more cost effective than a Colorado-only program.

In August, Louisiana’s Governor Edwards signed an executive order that mandates the state achieve net zero emissions by 2050. The order also calls for the creation of the Climate Initiatives Task Force which will make recommendations on how to meet that goal. The interim report is due to the legislature in February 2021, with a detailed plan to be submitted by February 2022.

Also in August, Illinois’ Governor Pritzker released a report entitled “Eight Principles for a Clean and Renewable Illinois Economy”.  Principle Four calls for a market-based approach to pricing carbon emissions.

Michigan’s Governor Whitmer signed two Executive Orders in late September requiring the state reduce carbon emissions by 28% from 1990 levels by 2025 and targeting carbon neutrality by 2050. The plan includes incentives for agriculture-based carbon offsets. Michigan’s newly announced Council on Climate Solutions is tasked with creating a workable program, including carbon market options.

The Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI), comprised of 12 Eastern states and DC, seeks to regulate and reduce region-wide vehicle emissions. TCI is expected to release its program recommendations later this fall with the hope of having the program up and running by 2022.  Sensing that TCI will become reality, a business coalition was formed in late September to advocate for the implementation of the expected TCI cap and trade program. BP, Shell, National Grid and Ford are among its members.

Through the summer and fall, Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality has continued its public outreach to assess the use of carbon offsets as part of the state’s Executive Order 20-04, which calls for greenhouse gas reductions of at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The program is set to start in early 2022.

Clearly, the lack of federal leadership in addressing climate change leaves a void. Thankfully, more and more states are stepping into that void.

Resources for the Future Report
LA’s Executive Order on Climate
Illinois’ Eight Principles for a Clean Renewable Economy
Governor Whitmer’s Announcement
TCI – Coalition For a Better Business Environment Announcement