We estimate that approximately 53% of residents in the US live either in a state that has adopted goals in line with Paris Climate Agreement or in a city that has. Together these cities and states generate about 40% of US CO2 emissions.
On June 1st President Trump announced the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. The days since have seen a flurry of announcements as tribes, colleges and universities, businesses, cities, counties, and states have announced, under various agreements, their intention to adopt the goals of the agreement (see our map for a visualization of the scope and scale of these commitments).
We looked at the question: ‘how much of the US is involved in these efforts’ in terms of:
- the fraction of US residents living in places that have adopted goals in line with the Paris Agreement
- the fraction of US CO2 emissions generated in those places
We started our analysis with two groups of states:
- those that had joined either the newly formed US Climate Alliance or the Under2 MOU, or both; or
- those that are on record (we used a list maintained by C2ES) with quantified emissions reduction goals that we determined to be aligned with Paris Agreement goals. (You’ll find our criteria for including states download our detailed analysis here).
Using data from the US Census and the Energy Information Agency we calculated the share of population and CO2 emissions represented by the two groups of states.
We then reviewed two lists of cities aligning with Paris goals – the Climate Mayors and We Are Still In – and identified the cities in those groups that are located outside of any of the states described above. We used US Census data to calculate the share of US population living in those cities. To estimate their contribution to CO2 emissions we made the simplifying assumption that per capita emissions from those cities are slightly less than average US per capita emissions and applied a correction factor as explained in our detailed analysis.
The pie chart above shows our results. We estimate that a little more than half of US residents live in a place working towards Paris goals and together those places represent close to 40% of Co2 emissions.
Implications and observations:
- The mobilization of commitments was rapid and strong. In less than two weeks, decision makers representing of half of the US population have aligned themselves with climate protection and the transition to a low-carbon economy. From very small towns like Bayfield, WI (pop 530) to New York City and Los Angeles, the communities stepping forward are very diverse and yet, they now are connected in a common pursuit. These ties will be important in the work and shared learning that will be required to meet Paris goals.
- More is needed. Climate Interactive analysis showed that, even when the US was a committed participant in the Paris Agreement, the collective ambition of countries wasn’t yet enough to meet the Paris goal of limiting temperature increase to well below 2°C. Without 100% commitment to Paris goals in the US, that gap will have widened, although more analysis will be needed to say by how much.
- Momentum seems possible. The reasons to align with Paris goals extend beyond protecting the global climate. The drivers include improving health, seizing economic opportunity, and creating more equitable communities. To the extent that half the country is embarking together on a change process that is expected to produce these multiple benefits, the number of dots on the map below may well grow during the coming weeks and months.