The United States, long considered a laggard in addressing global warming, is poised to achieve significant reductions in global warming pollution thanks to clean energy and climate policies driven by the states, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis by VPIRGs sister organization, Environment America. America on the Move, released just days before world leaders convene in Copenhagen to negotiate an international agreement on global warming, finds that the United States is already on track to reduce its global warming pollution by approximately 536 million metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent per year by 2020 compared to business as usual.
The emission reductions are significant. They represent:
More global warming pollution than is currently emitted annually by all but eight of the world’s nations;
Approximately 7 percent of U.S. global warming pollution in 2007;
Annual emissions from 104 million cars – about 42 percent of the nation’s motor vehicles;
America on the Move quantifies for the first time the reductions in global warming pollution that the United States is set to achieve as a result of state-led actions to advance clean energy and climate policies. The report reviewed more than 100 policies adopted by states, most of them enacted over the past decade, and estimated the emission reductions that will result from those actions. The report combines those reductions with estimations of emissions reductions that can be expected from recent federal programs modeled off of state policies and federal initiatives in which states will have key roles in implementation.
While the U.S. Congress has yet to adopt a binding national limit on global warming pollution, six U.S. states – California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland and New Jersey – have adopted such limits. These six states account for nearly a quarter of America’s economic output and 13 percent of its fossil fuel-related carbon dioxide emissions. If these six states were a separate country, they would rank as the world’s fifth-largest economy and seventh-leading emitter of carbon dioxide.
According to the report, additional reductions will result from a variety of clean energy policies adopted by multiple states, including renewable electricity standards adopted by 29 states, energy efficiency resource standards adopted by 22 states, and a variety of other policies.
Moreover, since President Obama’s inauguration in January, the federal government has implemented several policies initiated by the states nationwide – including limits on vehicle global warming pollution adopted by California and 13 other states, strong energy efficiency standards for appliances and lighting, and strong building energy codes. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, passed by Congress in February, supports a variety of state and local programs to save energy and reduce global warming pollution.
Environment America urges the federal government to require reductions in global warming pollution in the United States consistent with the reductions science tells us are necessary to prevent the worst impacts of global warming – specifically, reducing emissions by 35 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and by at least 83 percent below 2005 levels by 2050, with the vast majority of those reductions to occur domestically. Environment America encourages the federal government to implement the best clean energy policies in place at the state level, and urges states to continue to take leadership in adopting and implementing policies to reduce global warming pollution.