Colorado, states make sure U.S. doesn’t show up in Copenhagen empty-handed

Environment Colorado

Denver, CO— Today, Environment Colorado released a new report showing that state policies, like Colorado’s renewable energy standard, are getting the job done in addressing global climate change.

 “America on the Move” a report by Environment America Research & Policy Center, shows that the country is poised to achieve large reductions in global warming pollution thanks to clean energy policies adopted by states like Colorado.

 “Colorado’s New Energy Economy is quickly becoming a national model, demonstrating how states can create tens of thousands of jobs, spur innovation and lead the way toward a clean-energy future for the entire country,” Gov. Ritter said. “States like Colorado are strengthening our economy, diversifying our energy resources and addressing the perils of unchecked climate change. Our future depends on the kind of progress that is occurring at the state level all around the country.”

 “America on the Move,” a report released just days before Pres. Obama joins other world leaders in Copenhagen to negotiate an international agreement on global warming, found that state policies will reduce global warming pollution by approximately 536 million metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent per year by 2020 compared to business as usual. The report reviewed more than 100 policies adopted by states, most of them over the past decade, and estimated the significant emission reductions. These savings represent:

  •  More global warming pollution than is currently emitted annually by all but eight of the world’s nations.
  • Approximately 7 percent of U.S. global warming pollution in 2007.
  • Annual emissions from 104 million cars (about 42 percent of the nation’s motor vehicles).
  • Annual emissions from 163 coal-fired power plants (about 27 percent of the nation’s coal-fired plant fleet).

“American on the Move” shows that states like Colorado have delivered a down payment on cutting global pollution,” said Pam Kiely, program director for Environment Colorado. “Under the leadership of the Ritter Administration, in just the past three years we’ve put in place a strong renewable energy standard and an efficiency resource standard, creating a New Energy Economy that is a true model for the country and doing our part to tackle global warming.”

According to the report, reductions will result from a variety of clean energy policies adopted by the states. In the last three years Colorado has joined 28 other states in implementing a renewable energy standard and 21 other states in adopting an energy efficiency standard.

For example, while the U.S. Congress has yet to adopt a binding national limit on global warming pollution, six U.S. states (California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland and New Jersey) have adopted such limits. Those six states account for nearly a quarter of America’s economic output and 13 percent of its fossil fuel-related carbon dioxide emissions. If these six states were a separate country, they would rank as the world’s fifth-biggest economy and seventh-leading emitter of carbon dioxide.

Collectively, these six states have committed to reducing global warming pollution by approximately 13 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

Including a regional cap on power plant emissions adopted by 10 northeastern states, mandatory emission caps will reduce U.S. emissions by approximately 270 million metric tons per year by 2020, a level of carbon dioxide pollution comparable to that produced annually by the Netherlands or Turkey.

Moreover, since President Obama’s inauguration in January, the federal government has implemented several policies initiated by the states nationwide – including limits on vehicle global warming pollution adopted by 14 states, strong energy efficiency standards for appliances and lighting, and strong building energy codes. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, passed by Congress in February, also supports a variety of state and local programs to save energy and reduce global warming pollution.

“When it comes to America’s response to global warming, what’s happening on Capitol Hill is only half the story,” continued Kiely. “States have great power to reduce global warming pollution within their borders. And many states are now using that power to implement clean energy and efficiency policies that rival those in place anywhere in the world.”

The report urged the federal government to require reductions in global warming pollution in the United States consistent with the reductions necessary to prevent the worst impacts of global warming. It also encouraged the federal government to implement the best clean energy policies in place at the state level, and urged states to continue to take leadership in adopting and implementing policies to reduce global warming pollution.

“States have been called America’s ‘laboratories of democracy,” concluded Kiely. “By taking strong action to address global warming, states are showing the nation – and the world – that a clean energy future is within our reach.”

 A full copy of the report can be downloaded from