NCEL Events

Keeping Cool: How States Are Leading on Climate Action

September 21, 2021 @ 12:00pm ET

Region

National

NCEL Point of Contact

Clara Summers
Climate and Energy Manager

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Event Recap

States have significant power to direct their own climate action. On September 21, NCEL hosted a panel at Climate Week NYC on how states are taking bold actions to meet Paris Agreement goals while addressing systemic inequities. State legislators from Colorado, North Carolina, Oregon, and Washington discussed how they are leading the transition to a clean energy economy, and what lessons there may be for other states and the federal government.

Main Takeaways

  1. Strong climate policies are directly tied to addressing inequities. We cannot solve the climate crisis without listening to the leadership and input from the most impacted communities.
  2. States have the ability to take strong climate action beyond the baseline of the federal government. However, partnership with the federal government is crucial in ensuring a strong baseline for all states to follow. 
  3. States can all learn from one another. Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and North Carolina have all passed strong climate policies but took different paths to get there. They serve as examples and models for other states across the country.

Climate Policy Examples

  • Washington – This year, Washington passed a cap-and-invest program sponsored by Sen. Reuven Carlyle. The revenue raised from carbon credits will be reinvested into projects to increase sustainable transportation and climate change resilience. Read more about this bill.
  • Oregon – In most states, utility commissions only consider reliability and overall cost when setting electricity rates. Rep. Pham sponsored a bill in Oregon to ensure the disproportionate energy burden that low-income and environmental justice customers bear is considered.
  • Colorado – Buildings constitute more than 70% of electricity and 29% of gas consumption. Rep. Valdez sponsored a bill to make Colorado one of the first states to pass a Building Performance Standard, which requires large commercial buildings to publicize their energy usage and meet reduction milestones.

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