Story at a glance

  • President Trump is withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, but many states have vowed to uphold the country’s goals for reducing carbon emissions.
  • At the United Nations climate change conference in Madrid, an alliance of 24 states working to keep the U.S. on track presented its first report card.
  • While alliance members are making greater strides than nonmembers in reducing emissions, their efforts are not enough to keep the entire country on track for its Paris goals without federal support.

As a nation, the United States is a climate delinquent. President Trump is working to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement in a move many worry could leave the landmark climate treaty in tatters. But states, cities and companies across the U.S. remain committed to upholding the emissions targets set in Paris. 

Two dozen states plus Puerto Rico have joined the U.S. Climate Alliance, a group designed to coordinate non-federal climate action, but what have they accomplished? The results of the group’s first report card are mixed, The Atlantic reports

On the one hand, these states are reducing their emissions much faster than those outside the alliance. But on the other hand, these smaller scale actions are not enough to keep the whole country on pace to meet its Paris goals — cutting American emissions by 26 percent by 2025. 

States in the alliance will cut their emissions by 20 to 27 percent by 2025, but with just less than half of U.S. states joining in, the efforts seem unlikely to reach a 26 percent national reduction. Alliance member states only account for 42 percent of U.S. carbon emissions. States outside the alliance are projected to reduce their emissions by just 3 to 11 percent by 2025, and some could actually increase their emissions by 2030, according to the report.

Members of the international community have called the alliance’s efforts “heroic” but insufficient.

“The U.S. Paris Agreement target has already drifted out of reach. As a direct result, the life has been sucked out of the agreement, and it’s currently on life support,” Joseph Curtin, a member of the Irish government’s climate-change advisory council, told The Atlantic. 

“So when the U.S. Climate Alliance says that it is ‘demonstrating to the global community that the United States continues to rise to the climate challenge,’ leaders across the world will raise an incredulous eyebrow.”

Published on Dec 09, 2019