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U.S. to Withdraw from Paris Agreement, but Many CSG/ERC States Committed to Carbon Reductions

Image courtesy of NASA.

President Trump today announced that the United States will exit the historic Paris Agreement, whose 195 signatories agreed to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions in an effort to combat climate change. Only two other nations in the world are not party to the accord: Syria and Nicaragua.

In a memo released by the White House, Trump called the pact “a bad deal for Americans.”

The Paris Agreement seeks to limit the rise in Earth’s temperature to 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) above pre-industrial levels. Under the Obama administration, the U.S. had committed to lowering nationwide carbon emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

Several northeastern states have policies in place that would meet or exceed those targets, and have been implementing programs to reach their goals (see chart below).

In a letter last month, governors from 12 states, including five in the CSG/ERC region, urged the President to remain in the agreement, noting their successful track records in lowering carbon emissions while growing their economies and producing jobs. “Given the progress our states have made in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, we are convinced that the United States’ goal of 26-28 percent below 2005 levels is readily achievable,” they wrote.

The Paris accord lays out a four-year exit process starting in November 2016, when the agreement took effect.

During the upcoming 2017 CSG/ERC Annual Meeting in Uncasville, Connecticut on August 13-16, CSG/ERC’s Energy & Environment Program will bring together policymakers from the northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada to discuss the challenges, and opportunities, for state clean-energy and carbon policies in the absence of the U.S.’s participation in global efforts to address climate change.

Carbon and Renewable Energy Policies in the Eastern Regional Conference

State/Province Carbon-Trading Program Statewide Carbon-Reduction Goals & Participation in International Efforts Renewable Portfolio Standard
Connecticut RGGI[i] 10% below 1990 levels by 2020 (goal reached in 2012); 80% below 2001 levels by 2050.
Signatory of the “Under 2 MOU.”[ii]
Member of the Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Alliance.[iii]
27% by 2020
Delaware RGGI 30% below 2008 levels by 2030 (target recommended by a cabinet committee). 25% by 2026
Extra credit for solar or customer-sited renewables.
Maine RGGI 10% below 1990 levels by 2020; 75% -80% below 2003 levels in the “long term.” 40% by 2017.
Maryland RGGI 25% below 2006 levels by 2020; 40% below 2006 levels by 2030; 80% below 2006 levels by 2050.
Member of the Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Alliance.
25% by 2020.
Massachusetts RGGI 25% below 1990 levels by 2020; 80% by 2050.
Signatory of the “Under 2 MOU.”
Member of the Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Alliance.
15% by 2020 (new resources) and additional 1% per year thereafter; 6.03% by 2017 (existing resources). Mandated in-state solar PV target of 1600 MW by 2020. Legislation enacted in 2016 requires distribution companies to enter into cost-effective long-term contracts for 1,600 MW of offshore wind power by 2027 and 9,450,000 megawatt-hours of hydropower or other renewables by 2022.
New Hampshire RGGI 20% below 1990 levels by 2025; 80% by 2050. Signatory of the “Under 2 MOU.” 24.8% by 2025.
New Jersey None 20% below 1990 levels by 2020; 80% below 2006 levels by 2050. 20.38% by 2020, plus 4.1% solar by 2027. Legislation enacted in 2010 requires that at least 1,100 MW of Class I renewable power come from offshore wind.
New York RGGI 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 from the energy sector; 80% below 1990 levels economy-wide by 2050.
Signatory of the “Under 2 MOU.”
Member of the Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Alliance.
50% by 2030.
Pennsylvania None No clear targets. 18% by 2021
Puerto Rico None No clear targets. 20% by 2035
Rhode Island RGGI 10% below 1990 levels by 2020; 45% by 2035; and 80% by 2050.
Signatory of “Under 2 MOU.”
Member of the Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Alliance.
38.5% by 2035
U.S. Virgin Islands None No clear targets. 20% by 2021.
Vermont RGGI 50% below 1990 levels by 2028; 75% below 1990 levels by 2050.
Signatory of the “Under 2 MOU.”
Member of the Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Alliance.
20% by 2025; 75% by 2032; 90% by 2050.
Canada
New Brunswick None 10% below 1990 levels by 2020; 75%-85% below 2001 levels by 2050. 40% by 2020.
Nova Scotia None 10% below 1990 levels by 2020; 80% from “current levels” by 2050. 40% by 2020.
Ontario Cap-and-trade program currently being developed.[iv]  Plans to link to Québec and California programs. Manitoba is expected to join as well. 15% below 1990 levels by 2020; 37% below 1990 levels by 2030; 80% by 2050.

Signatory of the “Under 2 MOU.”

2009 Green Energy Act created feed-in-tariffs for a number of energy sources. Goal for 20,000 MW of renewable energy by 2025, representing half of Ontario’s installed capacity.
Prince Edward Island None 75%-85% below 2001 levels by 2050. 15% renewable energy per year, beginning in 2010. Requirement eliminated in 2016. (25% of PEI’s electricity currently comes from wind energy.)
Québec Cap-and-trade program[v] linked to California and in the future, Ontario and potentially, Manitoba. Covers 85% of province-wide carbon emissions. 37.5% below 1990 levels by 2030.
Signatory of the “Under 2 MOU.”
Member of the Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Alliance.
Increase renewable energy production 25% by 2030. (99.5% of Québec’s electricity comes from hydropower, wind and residual biomass.)

 

[i] RGGI applies to fossil-fuel fired electric power generators with a capacity of 25 megawatts or greater.

[ii] Signatories of the “Under 2 MOU” agree to either reduce greenhouse gas emissions 85% to 90% below 1990 levels by 2050 or achieve a per-capita annual emissions target of less than 2 metric tons by 2050. As of April 2017, 170 governments had signed the agreement, representing 37% of the global economy.

[iii] The Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Alliance is an effort among 13 North American and European governments to make all new passenger vehicles sold in their jurisdictions emission free by 2050.

[iv] According to proposed Bill 172, “The Climate Change Mitigation and Low-Carbon Economy Act of 2016,” the program would apply fossil-fuel distributors, industrial and large commercial operators and institutions that emit at least 25,000 metric tons of equivalent CO2 per year.

[v] Québec’s cap-and-trade program applies to businesses that emit at least 25,000 metric tons equivalent of CO2 per year. This includes the industrial and electricity sectors and fossil-fuel distributors.

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