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Rogue States’ Climate Alliance

  • June 13, 2017

Despite President Trump’s decision to exit the Paris climate agreement, many US states and cities are continuing to show their commitment to fighting climate change and growing the clean energy economy.  Many big-city mayors and governors have taken initiative and vowed to pursue their climate goals without the support of the federal government.  This is primarily due to the world’s move towards clean energy, making advancements in energy technology look economically rewarding to many states and companies.  Many are choosing to continue advancements in energy so they are not left with a competitive disadvantage globally.

Just days after the announcement that the United States will pull out of the Paris accord, governors from Washington, New York, and California agreed to form an alliance aimed at meeting the standards set forth in the agreement.  According to the Energy Information Association, these three states alone were accountable for 11% of US emissions in 2014.  Their goal was to create a platform for states still dedicated in fighting the effects of climate change to coordinate and sustain existing climate programs.  Their efforts seem to be working, as it was announced on June 5th that Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia will also be joining the alliance.  These current members represent a quarter of the US population and account for 30% of the nation’s GDP.  New York Governor Cuomo said, “We welcome these 10 new members and look forward to collaborating and maintaining the momentum in the global effort to protect our planet, while jump starting the clean energy economy.”  Individual states have publicly made their climate initiatives clear.  New York Governor Cuomo signed an executive order ensuring the state’s commitment to its goals.  This executive order reinstated the short-term goals set in 2015 – a 40% cut in emissions and 50% of electricity produced from renewable sources by 2030.  Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, also stated his plans to sign an executive order re-committing to the city’s 2014 goal of cutting emissions by 80% by 2050.

The state of California has committed to an even more ambitious goal — 100% clean renewable energy by the year 2045.  This bill created by the California State Senate was passed days before Trump’s announcement of US departure.  Senate Leader de León stated, “Today, we passed the most ambitious target in the world to expand clean energy and put Californians to work. Now more than ever, it is critical that we double down on climate leadership as we learn that the President intends to withdraw from the Paris agreement.  Regardless of what Washington does, California will show the way forward.”  According to the California state government, solar, wind, energy efficiency, and other clean power sources employ over half a million California residents, which is nearly ten times more than coal-mining jobs in the nation.  On certain days in May, California was able to generate 80% of its power using renewable sources because it was less expensive than carbon.  This means that if the United States does start to fall behind in energy technology, it could hurt the overall economy.  If companies are forced to rely on carbon, businesses will generate higher production costs than their global competitors.

Related Article: The Outlook for Environmental Policy

It looks as though the United States will push ahead with energy technology advancements despite the Trump administration’s decisions.  Beyond state initiatives, Walmart announced that they plan to operate with 100% solar power, and Google also announced they intend to have all data centers globally generated by renewable energy.  With the support of large US companies and many big producing states, they have the potential to shape standards for the entire United States.

Richard Kauffman, chairman of energy and finance for the state of New York, stated, “The more we work together, the more we can reduce the costs for the renewable energy industry.”  Kauffman also argues that beyond reducing emissions, encouraging renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives bring lower costs to consumers and create more jobs for the economy.  With the help of local governments across the nation, the US can stay current with the clean energy market, regardless of the decisions made by the Trump administration.




Campbell, Jon.  Bureau, Albany.  (2017, June 1). President can’t stop New York’s clean energy progress. Retrieved June 9, 2017, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/06/02/new-york-climate-change/364178001/

Financial Times. US States form alliance to meet Paris climate commitments. Retrieved June 9, 2017, from https://www.ft.com/content/27c5bad2-4895-11e7-919a-1e14ce4af89b

Livni, Ephrat. (2017, June 4).  A “climate coalition” of states producing 30% of US GDP is seceding economically from Trump. Retrieved June 9, 2017, from https://qz.com/998318/paris-agreement-a-climate-coalition-of-states-producing-30-of-us-gdp-is-seceding-economically-from-trump/

Senator Kevin de León. (2017, May 31). California Moves Closer to 100% Clean Energy. Retrieved June 9, 2017, from http://sd24.senate.ca.gov/news/2017-05-31-california-moves-closer-100-clean-energy

Walton, Robert. (2017, June 6). US States, cities vow to uphold Paris climate accord goals. Retrieved June 9, 2017, from http://www.utilitydive.com/news/us-states-cities-vow-to-uphold-paris-climate-accord-goals/444285/

Washington Governor, Jay Inslee. (2017, June 5). United States Climate Alliance adds 10 new members to coalition commited to upholding the Paris Accord. Retrieved June 9, 2017, from http://governor.wa.gov/news-media/united-states-climate-alliance-adds-10-new-members-coalition-committed-upholding-paris