WASHINGTON -- As 20 new governors take the helm this month, they have the power and opportunity to lead their states in adopting solutions to the climate crisis. Today, Environment America Research & Policy Center released a new report, Climate Solutions from Day One: 12 Ways Governors Can Lead on Climate Now, detailing actions governors can take immediately to significantly reduce planet-warming carbon pollution and ensure a more stable climate for their states and the nation.
"To avoid a climate change-fueled future of more extreme weather, wildfires and rising sea levels, we need to do all we can to cut global warming pollution today," said Andrea McGimsey, senior director of Environment America’s Global Warming Solutions program. "With the stroke of a pen, governors can increase renewable energy use, reduce transportation emissions and curb energy waste. These policies have proven effective and can bring immediate benefits to our health and environment."
While the federal government is headed in the wrong direction, pulling out of the international Paris Agreement and rolling back federal Clean Power Plan and Clean Car Standards, these 20 new governors -- and incumbent governors -- can demonstrate to their constituents, other states and the international community that the United States still cares about solving the climate crisis. Governors have many opportunities to lead on climate by making state government a positive example for climate action; setting goals around renewable energy deployment, electric vehicle adoption, and waste reduction; and creating or joining bipartisan, regional partnerships across state lines.
Over the past year, top climate scientists have issued reports with dire warnings about our future. Every ton of greenhouse gas emissions saved will help avert the worst impacts of global warming, and we have no time to delay. The latest update to the National Climate Assessment makes the stakes for regions across the country clear. Without urgent action to cut carbon pollution, we can expect droughts, storms, wildfires, flooding, and many more negative impacts of global warming to get much worse. We need rapid action by our elected leaders -- and the solutions are abundant.
"In dozens of states, governors of every political stripe have taken strong action to put their states on the path to a lower-emission future," said Gideon Weissman of Frontier Group, report co-author. “When you're facing a dire threat, you need to use every tool in the toolbox. It's just common sense to cut energy waste in state buildings and boost renewable energy, and governors can make a difference right away.”
In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf issued an executive order this week to reduce 26 percent of greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050. He also directed Pennsylvania state agencies to reduce energy consumption, shift to electric vehicles, and increase investment in renewable energy.
"We commend Gov. Wolf for helping Pennsylvania breathe easier,” said David Masur, Executive Director of PennEnvironment. “Other states should follow Gov. Wolf's examples to increase clean energy and reduce climate pollution."
“Americans understand that climate change is an existential issue, with growing threats to the health and well-being of their friends, family and neighbors,” added McGimsey, “We look forward to leadership from our governors to ensure that Americans can pursue their lives, liberty and happiness with a stable climate.”
Environment America Research & Policy Center works to protect clean water, clean air, and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives.