State Legislators Call on Strong Federal Climate Action Ahead of COP26
November 1, 2021
Over 500 State Legislators Call for Federal Climate Commitments to Achieve Full Decarbonization and Limit Warming to 1.5°C or Lower by 2050
Ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26), more than 500 state legislators sent a letter to President Biden calling for stronger federal climate commitments to achieve full decarbonization and limit warming to 1.5°C or lower. The bipartisan letter was signed by 537 legislators from 47 states and territories.
For years, states have carried the weight of climate action. States across the country are passing bills to reduce emissions, with nearly two-thirds of US states and territories having adopted some form of Renewable Portfolio Standard or Clean Energy Standard, and over a dozen having committed to 100% clean energy.
States are laboratories of democracy and have led the way in reducing emissions and building a clean energy economy while addressing systemic inequities. States were the first to set 100% clean energy goals, economy-wide net-zero emissions targets, and to implement carbon pricing.
“Washington has passed sweeping climate legislation that sets us on the path to Paris Accord level emission reductions,” said Reuven Carlyle, Washington State Senator. “This isn’t rhetoric or aspirations or goal-setting alone, it is a core policy framework that is enforceable and binding. We’re all in to show the country and the world that decarbonization, with equity and environmental justice at the core while growing our economy is indeed possible. I’m thrilled to share the Washington story with the global community to inspire hope that progress is genuinely, authentically possible.”
However, legislators know that state action is not enough. States, localities, and the world depend on the U.S. government to implement bold climate policies in order to avoid even worse effects from climate change. Americans are already being forced to adapt to and pay for the repercussions of a changing climate.
“Now is the time for climate action,” said Dawn Euer, Rhode Island State Senator. “This issue has been debated for decades with not nearly enough progress. We cannot afford and have no excuse to be anything but totally committed to negating our climate emissions. This is, without question, our battle and our responsibility.”
This year alone we have seen catastrophic damage from hurricanes, wildfires, droughts, flooding, heatwaves, and cold snaps. All of these events are taking an increasing toll on local environments, communities, and economies.
“The climate crisis is already here, and the COP26 must be the inflection point where global powers come together to meet the challenge,” said Nicole Lowen, Hawaii State Representative. “Hawaii has been a leader among US states in taking strong climate action, along with other state and local governments, but this moment calls for the US government to step up and set the course for all states and for the planet.”
The benefits of decarbonization stretch far beyond mitigating climate change. American towns, states, and tribal nations stand to grow jobs, reduce energy prices, and curb toxic pollution through decarbonization. That is why it is the hope of the 537 legislators who signed this letter that the federal government can follow the example set by states and commit to full decarbonization by 2050.
“These state legislators are committed to reducing emissions and are leading the charge towards a decarbonized future,” said Jeff Mauk, Executive Director of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. “But without a strong federal baseline, states know they alone cannot prevent the worst impacts of climate change.”
In addition to raising their voices through the letter, legislators across the country are raising their voices through opinion pieces and editorials this week. The legislators’ op-eds are available below.
Created by and for state legislators, the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that organizes over 1,000 environmentally-committed state legislators from all 50 states and both parties. NCEL provides venues and opportunities for lawmakers to share ideas and collaborate on environmental issues.
Arizona State Senator Victoria Steele:
The climate crisis has huge costs for Arizona, but state leaders can’t fight it alone
California Assemblymember Richard Bloom:
A mandate from California to achieve full decarbonization
Colorado State Rep. Brianna Titone:
We have a moral responsibility to take bold climate action now
Delaware State Rep. Stephanie Hansen:
Now is the time for governments to take strong action on climate change
Illinois State Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz: A once-in-a-generation opportunity for action
Maryland State Delegates Ben Brooks and Lorig Charkoudian:
More Than 500 State Legislators in 47 States Agree: We Should Strengthen our National Climate Commitments
Michigan State Rep. Padma Kuppa, Rep. Shri Thanedar, and Sen. Mallory McMorrow:
3 Mich. lawmakers sign onto national letter asking Biden to commit to zero emissions by 2050
Montana State Rep. Mary Ann Dunwell:
Montana needs US to lead at climate conference
New Mexico State Senators Mimi Stewart Peter Wirth:
World must act on climate crisis
North Carolina State Rep. Pricey Harrison:
NC is fighting climate change. Washington must support us
North Dakota State Sen. Tim Mathern:
It’s our responsibility to address climate change
Ohio State Rep. Kent Smith:
Ohio is missing out by not supporting more offshore wind projects
Pennslyvania State Rep. Mary Isaacson:
As COP26 gets underway, I’m standing up for climate action and calling on federal leaders to do the same
Tennessee State Sen. Brenda Gilmore: A unified local and federal effort is vital to combating climate change
Texas State Rep. Erin Zwiener:
Don’t Blackout the Blackout: United States must take action on climate change
West Virginia Delegates John Doyle, Evan Hansen, and Kayla Young:
Climate change is real, let’s get to work
Wisconsin State Rep. Greta Neubauer:
We need action at all levels to tackle climate change