Report: U.S. leadership critical foundation for an international agreement on climate

Environment New Mexico Research & Policy Center

Albuquerque, NM – New Mexico is poised to play a major role in U.S. progress to address climate change, a new report said today. In the next decade, the state will cut the global warming pollution equivalent of 1.6 million cars.

The Environment New Mexico Research & Policy Center report comes as pressure mounts on the U.S. to play a leading role in negotiations for an international climate agreement in Paris.

“The best way to lead is by example,” said Sanders Moore, director with Environment New Mexico Research & Policy Center. “With New Mexico’s help, that’s just what we are poised to do.”

The analysis, Path to the Paris Climate Conference: American Progress in Cutting Carbon Pollution Could Pave the Way for Global Action, documents expected carbon pollution reductions from existing state-level and federal policies by 2025, including renewable energy standards and energy efficiency.

“New Mexico and the Southwest are in the bull’s eye when it comes to the impacts of climate pollution,” stated U.S. Senator Tom Udall. “Prolonged droughts, more frequent wildfires and increased threats to forests and agriculture present some of the biggest economic and public health challenges we face in our state and nation.”

The report shows that state and federal policies underway across the country can reduce carbon pollution 27 percent below 2005 levels.

The biggest slice of these reductions will come from the Clean Power Plan, the proposed federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants expected to be finalized this summer. The plan requires a 34 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from power plants in New Mexico, and compels state leaders to accelerate the transition to clean energy sources such as wind and solar.

“The Clean Power Plan can help provide what every New Mexican wants for our children: clean air, fresh water and good health. And it allows each state to shape our own path to lower carbon emissions based on their unique situations,” said Senator Udall. “Despite the partisan and special interest attacks, I’ll keep fighting to ensure we seize the opportunity now to spur innovation and job creation, strengthen industries New Mexico does well, like solar, wind and biofuels, and build a clean energy future for the generations to come.”

“The City of Santa Fe is committed to ensuring the health and wellbeing of its community for generations to come. Combating and mitigating the effects of climate change is a top priority,” said Javier M. Gonzales, Mayor, City of Santa Fe. “Continuing to focus on using more renewable energy will greatly reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, and enable us to protect our environment and secure our energy future.”

However, fossil fuel interests and their allies in Congress are trying to block the Clean Power Plan, with full House and two key Senate panels voting this month to derail it.

“America can’t lead with polluters and climate deniers blocking the way,” said Moore. “That’s why we’re grateful to our U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, who continue to defend the Clean Power Plan against attack, and who continue to raise the bar on climate action.”

To avoid devastating impacts of climate change, scientists estimate that an 80 percent cut in global warming pollution will be necessary by mid-century. As the report notes, a more rapid transition to clean energy sources, beyond those already required by existing policies, will be required to achieve these levels.

“New Mexico is poised to play a major role in American progress to cut global warming pollution,” said Moore. “We must build on that progress to ensure a better, healthier future for our climate and our children.”