State, city efforts address US exit from Paris climate agreement
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
When President Trump announced the U.S.’ exit from the 2015 Paris climate agreement on June 1, 2017, committed state governments, cities, businesses and organizations initiated or continued carbon-reducing projects.
As it turns out, positive demand for alternative energy sources competes with federal inactivity and economic growth demands that still use readily available and cheap dirty energy.
What will steer the path of climate change initiatives in the years to come? That has yet to be decided.
Consider the We Are Still In joint initiative by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and California Gov. Jerry Brown. This 2,795-member organization operates as a coalition of businesses, including Walmart, Google, and Amazon, and state governments pursuing the Paris climate agreement’s goal of "curbing global temperature rise to under 2 C."
California has usually taken the lead when it comes to clean energy initiatives. The state has recently decided to require newly built single-family homes and apartment buildings of certain sizes to install solar panels, for example.
California has already reduced emissions to 1990 levels, and last year the state announced a plan for an additional 40 percent reduction in emissions by 2030.
Another state that is taking action against the reality of rising sea levels is Virginia. Then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe launched a market-based multi-state effort last year to curb power plant emissions.
On the city government level, one growing municipality on the clean energy bandwagon is Pittsburgh. Just days after Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris agreement, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto announced that the city planned to transition to 100 percent renewable energy sources, like solar and wind, by 2035.
That is quite an impressive goal, and you can read about other goals on the We Are Still In organization’s webpage.
But before we get too excited about all of the effort and money pouring into greenhouse gas reduction efforts, let’s not forget that global climate emissions have hit a record high — even after the Paris accord.
According to the Global Carbon Project, "CO2 emissions rose because of a 2.1 percent increase in global energy demand, 70 percent of which was met by fossil fuels, especially natural gas and coal-fired electricity." This rise is attributed to a world economy that grew by 3.7 percent last year.
In 2017, China met its 6 percent increase in electricity demands through coal production.
81 percent of the world’s energy demands are still met with fossil fuels. While governments remain committed to the Paris agreement goals, a global economy predicated on growth will continue to conflict with carbon-emission reduction goals.
While the alternative energy market grows, so is concern that economic factors will continue to determine use of cheaper and more widely available dirty energy sources. Also of worry for clean energy sources is the number of environmental regulations being rolled back by the current administration.
As we face the real-world impacts of climate change, more city and state governments are certainly taking matters into their own hands. We are sure to see more initiatives as states challenge federal inactivity regarding climate change prevention.
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