Demonstrating U.S. Climate Leadership

Since the White House announcement of its intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, American mayors, governors, CEOs, and other leaders have been reaffirming their support for continued action on climate change. As of last month, we have seen nine states, 227 cities and counties, 315 institutions of higher education, and 1,641 businesses and investors sign on to the “We Are Still In” campaign, and the numbers continue to grow, signaling to the international community that many Americans still believe in the promise of the Paris Agreement.

Today, Bloomberg Philanthropies and California Governor Jerry Brown launched America’s Pledge, a new effort to bundle, quantify, and communicate the aggregate contribution that U.S. states, cities, businesses, and other sub-national actors can make to the effort to curb climate change. America’s Pledge will further drive the ambition of these actors to ensure the U.S. remains a global leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Rocky Mountain Institute has been helping states, cities, universities, corporations, and industry reduce their greenhouse gas emissions for over 35 years. Through our Reinventing Fire analysis, we showed that a pathway to a clean and low-carbon future is not only possible but also profitable. Thus we strongly believe that Trump’s intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement does not mean that the U.S. will halt progress on addressing the impacts of climate change.

We also believe that it is important to identify and quantify the impacts of the actions that these businesses, organizations, and universities can take. These numbers will provide an indication of the full potential that these actors hold to act on climate.

RMI and the World Resources Institute will jointly lead an inclusive analytical effort supporting America’s Pledge, with involvement by a broad set of stakeholders to be announced later this year. Sub-national climate commitments will be showcased in November at COP23, to be hosted by the Government of Fiji in Bonn, Germany.

In addition, the America’s Pledge initiative will work to quantify the aggregate impact of these commitments on projected future emissions, comparing against both the business-as-usual trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions under the Trump Administration, and the U.S. previously submitted nationally determined contribution (NDC) of 26–28 percent emissions reductions over 2005 levels by 2025.

Initial analysis of existing sub-national climate commitments suggests a significant impact. Twenty U.S. states representing 55 percent of GDP, 51 percent of the U.S. population, and 36 percent of emissions have adopted emission reduction targets, and 39 states have renewable portfolio standards. At the city level, 13 of the top 20 most populated U.S. cities have committed to emission reduction targets as part of the Global Covenant of Mayors. And finally, nearly half (240) of the Fortune 500 companies have set targets for climate and clean energy.

We truly believe that the energy transition to renewables and efficiency will persist, and we are proud to continue playing a part in building a clean energy economy.

Image courtesy of iStock.