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Local Leaders Push Forward as Trump Signals Climate Action Pullback

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The incoming Trump administration appears determined to reverse much of what President Obama has tried to achieve on climate and environment policy. In position papers, agency questionnaires and the résumés of incoming senior officials, the direction is clear — an about-face from eight years of policies designed to reduce climate-altering emissions and address the effects of a warming planet. The Republican-led Congress appears to welcome many of these changes.

But mayors and governors — many of them in states that supported President-elect Donald J. Trump — say they are equally determined to continue the policies and plans they have already adopted to address climate change and related environmental damage, regardless of what they see from Washington.

“With a federal government that’s hostile to climate action, more and faster climate action work from cities, states and businesses will be required to stay anywhere near on track with our carbon pollution goals,” said Sam Adams, the former mayor of Portland, Ore., and current director of the World Resources Institute United States…

Republican mayors also govern some cities that are especially vulnerable to climate change. James C. Cason, the mayor of Coral Gables, Fla., is working to protect the city from some of the flooding it is already experiencing and to prepare it for more flooding that will most likely accompany rising sea levels. Florida has a Republican governor, Rick Scott, who has questioned the cause and extent of climate change, but that has not stopped Mr. Cason and other Republican mayors in South Florida from making pragmatic decisions on the issue.

Cities have also seen lots of benefits from networks — the Compact of Mayors, which has been signed by more than 120 American cities, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, Climate Mayors and others — most notably, information sharing and solutions, and reaffirming commitments to each other and to their citizens, as many mayors did in a recent letter to the president-elect….

In most states, governors and legislatures have the authority to regulate the two biggest sources of emissions: power plants and transportation.

States can set automotive fuel-efficiency standards, and in the case of California, effectively set them for the whole country, experts said. Twenty-nine states require that a certain percentage of their electricity comes from renewable sources, known as a portfolio standard, and another eight have voluntary portfolio standards or targets. In addition to California, nine other states, grouped in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, known as R.G.G.I., and 17 governors, mostly from that group of 29, have also signed the Governors’ Accord for a New Energy Future, which commits their states to certain sustainability goals…

Republican-led states, which may not be favorable to climate policy, have still achieved meaningful progress, especially when it comes to renewable energy, because of the economics of the wind and solar industries. Texas, for instance, has more wind power than any other state, largely a product of deregulating the utility market, but also of subsidies from the federal government and tax credits….

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