Regional climate change initiatives in the United States

Twenty-eight states have climate action plans and nine have statewide emission targets. The states of California and New Mexico have committed most recently to emission reductions targets, joining New Jersey, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Washington and Oregon.

Regional initiatives can be more efficient than programs at the state level, as they encompass a broader geographical area, eliminate duplication of work, and create more uniform regulatory environments. Over the past few years, a number of regional initiatives have begun developing systems to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, increase renewable energy generation, track renewable energy credits, and research and establish baselines for carbon sequestration.

State initiatives

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

In December 2005, the governors of seven Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states agreed to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cap-and-trade system covering carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from regional power plants. Currently (at the time of this edit), Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont have signed, and Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich signed legislation in March 2006 that commits Maryland to join RGGI by 2007. To facilitate compliance with reduction targets, RGGI will provide flexibility mechanisms that include credits for emissions reductions achieved outside of the electricity sector. The successful implementation of the RGGI model will set the stage for other states to join or form their own regional cap and trade systems and may encourage the program to expand to other greenhouse gases and other sectors.[1] RGGI states, along with Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, are also developing a GHG registry called the Eastern Climate Registry.

On November 29, 2011, New Jersey withdrew from the initiative, effective January 1, 2012.[2] Groups such as Acadia Center have since reported on lost revenue resulting from New Jersey's departure, and argued for renewed participation.[3]

After the election of Ralph Northam in the 2017 Virginia gubernatorial election and Phil Murphy in the 2017 New Jersey gubernatorial election, New Jersey and Virginia began to make preliminary moves to join RGGI.[4][5]

The Western Governors' Association

The Western Governors' Association (WGA) Clean and Diversified Energy Initiative, including 18 western states, has begun investigating strategies to increase efficiency and renewable energy sources in their electricity systems. Governors Richardson (NM), Schwarzenegger (CA), Freudenthal (WY) & Hoeven (ND) serve as lead Governors on this initiative. To meet its goals, the Initiative's advisory committee (CDEAC) appointed eight technical task forces to develop recommendations based on reviews of specific clean energy and efficiency options. The CDEAC made final recommendations to the Western Governors' Association on June 11, 2006.[6] Additionally, the WGA and the California Energy Commission are creating the Western Renewable Energy Generation Information State (WREGIS). WREGIS is a voluntary system for renewable energy credits and tracks renewable energy credits (RECs) across 11 western states in order to facilitate trading to meet renewable energy portfolio standards.

Other initiatives

The governors of Arizona and New Mexico signed an agreement to create the Southwest Climate Change Initiative in February 2006. The two states collaborated to assess greenhouse gas emissions and address the impacts of climate change in the Southwest[7] and on September 8, 2006, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano issued an executive order to implement recommendations included in the Climate Change Advisory Group's Climate Action Plan.[8] The West Coast states—Washington, Oregon, and California—are cooperating on a strategy to reduce GHG emissions, known as the Western Coast Governors' Global Warming Initiative. Finally, on February 26, 2007, these five Western states (Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, and New Mexico) agreed to combine their efforts to develop regional targets for reducing greenhouse emissions, creating the Western Regional Climate Action Initiative.[9]

In 2001 six New England states committed to the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers (NEG-ECP) Climate Change Action Plan 2001, including short and long-term GHG emission reduction goals. Powering the Plains, launched in 2002, is a regional effort involving participants from the Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and the Canadian Province of Manitoba. This initiative aims to develop strategies, policies, and demonstration projects for alternative energy sources and technology and climate-friendly agricultural development.[10]

Municipal initiatives


In 1993, at the invitation of ICLEI, municipal leaders met at the United Nations in New York and adopted a declaration that called for the establishment of a worldwide movement of local governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, and enhance urban sustainability. The result was the Cities for Climate Protection (CCP) Campaign. Since its inception, the CCP Campaign has grown to involve more than 650 local governments worldwide that are integrating climate change mitigation into their decision-making processes.[11]

U.S. Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement

On February 16, 2005, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels launched an initiative to advance the goals of the Kyoto Protocol through leadership and action by at least 141 American cities, and as of October, 2006, 319 mayors representing over 51.4 million Americans had accepted the challenge.[12] Under the terms of the Mayors Climate Protection Center, cities must commit to three actions in striving to meet the Kyoto Protocol in their own communities.[13] These actions include:

  • Strive to meet or beat the Kyoto Protocol targets in their own communities, through actions ranging from anti-sprawl land-use policies to urban forest restoration projects to public information campaigns;
  • Urge their state governments, and the federal government, to enact policies and programs to meet or beat the greenhouse gas emission reduction target suggested for the United States in the Kyoto Protocol—7% reduction from 1990 levels by 2012; and
  • Urge the U.S. Congress to pass the bipartisan greenhouse gas reduction legislation, which would establish a national emission trading system.

See also


  1. "Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) CO2 Budget Trading Program - Welcome". Retrieved 2010-01-30.
  2. "Program Design Archive". RGGI, Inc.
  3. "New Jersey and RGGI: Potential Benefits of Renewed Participation" (PDF). Acadia Center. March 2015.
  4. "Virginia moving forward with cap-and-trade plan soon after Democratic win".
  5. "With Christie Out, New Jersey Poised To Rejoin New England In Climate Pact".
  6. "Clean Energy, a Strong Economy and a Healthy Environment" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 20, 2009. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  7. (PDF) Archived from the original (PDF) on March 20, 2009. Retrieved May 3, 2011. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. Archived 2006-09-28 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved May 3, 2011. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. Archived from the original on May 1, 2008. Retrieved May 3, 2011. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. Archived from the original on February 7, 2009. Retrieved May 3, 2011. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. Mulady, Kathy (16 February 2005). "Seattle dreams of 'green' team". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 4 May 2011.
  13. (PDF) Archived from the original (PDF) on March 20, 2009. Retrieved May 3, 2011. Missing or empty |title= (help)
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