Climate Finance | July 26, 2018

America’s Pledge: Bottom-up climate solutions to America’s low-carbon future

Dennis Price
ImpactAlpha Editor

Dennis Price

Since President Trump announced he was pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement, hundreds of cities, states, businesses, universities, and others have stepped up to say, “We are still in.”

Led by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and California Gov. Jerry Brown, and representing more than half the U.S. economy, the group formalized the commitment under the banner America’s Pledge.

Now, America’s Pledge is trying to turn commitments into action. The group has collected 10 immediate, nonfederal emissions- reduction opportunities. Among them:

  • Doubling down on renewable energy targets. Already, 29 U.S. states have set renewable portfolio standards. Cities and businesses are following. The Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance is helping city and corporate energy buyers follow. Salesforce, which is more than halfway towards its goal of matching 100% of global electricity use with renewable energy, is one of 250 organizations that collectively have announced more than 12GW of new renewable energy capacity.
  • Carbon sequestration in natural and working lands. Bolstering U.S. land-sector carbon sinks could push land sequestration from 10% to 25% of annual emissions. The Nature Conservancy of Pennsylvania’s Working Woodlands program, for example, rewards landowners that protect sustainable management forests with forest certification and carbon credits. That boosts the value of their land, while creating rural jobs, cleaner water and air, and halting biodiversity loss. The Pennsylvania program has helped protect over 62,000 acres and accelerate restoration on 5,000 acres. The model is being replicated in Tennessee, Michigan, and New York, is in development in eight other states.
  • State coalitions for carbon pricing. Economy-wide limits on carbon pollution can be enforced with emissions-trading or other form of carbon pricing. California’s cap-and-trade initiative and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative are models. In a little over a year, the state of Virginia has near-final regulations expected to be compatible with theRegional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.