Analysis: US Cities and States Take Action to Meet Paris Climate Goals

July 6, 2017 by Ellie Johnston

In the wake of President Trump’s announcement that he will withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement, hundreds of cities, states, tribes, counties, and universities have committed themselves to reducing CO2 emissions in line with the Paris Agreement’s goals to limit climate change.

Overall, more than half of the US population lives in an area that has committed to the Paris climate goals, representing about 36% of United States carbon emissions.

If these cities, states, and counties, that have stepped forward to adopt the Paris goals are successful, they could deliver 20% to 36% of the emissions reductions in 2025 that the US initially pledged under the Paris Agreement.

Behind the Analysis

Dr. Elizabeth Sawin, Co-Director of Climate Interactive, said of this result, “It is encouraging that cities and states have already stepped forward to offer around a third of the emissions reductions that were anticipated under the Paris Agreement. But more is needed, both from those yet to adopt Paris goals, and in terms of federal policy that can help enable the success of those cities and states who have stepped forward.”

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Implications and observations

  1. The mobilization of commitments was rapid and strong. In less than two weeks, decision makers representing about half of the US population 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, but are now connected in a common pursuit. These ties will be important in the work and shared learning that will be required to meet Paris goals.
  2. 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. While the jurisdictions currently pledging to uphold US action is significant, more will be needed.
  3. Momentum is possible. The reasons to align with Paris goals extend beyond protecting the global climate. The drivers include improving public health, seizing economic opportunity, and creating more equitable communities.

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