Despite U.S. Moves to Leave Paris Agreement, Commitment “Within Striking Distance”
The university installed solar canopies, including more than 7,000 separate solar panels, on the roofs of Regents Drive Garage (shown here) and two others. (Photo by John T. Consoli)
Actions by states, cities, businesses and universities have put the United States two-thirds of the way to its original commitment in the Paris climate agreement, according to research released today by the School of Public Policy’s Center for Global Sustainability.
In the report’s best-case scenario, this coalition of private and public entities has the potential to reduce emissions by more than 24 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, placing the U.S. “within striking distance of the Paris pledge.” The European Union and 179 nations have ratified the global agreement; President Donald Trump announced his intent to pull the U.S. from it in June 2017.
The report is the most comprehensive assessment of progress to date, and creates a roadmap to bolster clean energy policies and cut emissions by over 3,000 municipalities and others who have set emissions targets and remain committed to the goals of the Paris Agreement. These entities are part of the America’s Pledge initiative that is led by California Gov. Jerry Brown and former New York City mayor and businessman Michael Bloomberg, the United Nations secretary-general’s special envoy for climate action.
“The America’s Pledge initiative on climate change is an extraordinary phenomenon happening in U.S. climate policy in real time,” said Associate Professor and CGS Director Nathan Hultman, who led the study with Paul Bodnar of the Rocky Mountain Institute. “It is not only connecting actors and advancing policy discussions, but also building an analytically grounded understanding of how diverse actors in our federal system are using the policy levers at their disposal to advance actions on climate that they have determined will support a cleaner and more robust economy for their constituents.”
The report advocates doubling down on renewable energy targets, accelerating the retirement of coal power, reducing methane leaks in cities and other strategies to reduce emissions.
The study was funded by a research grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. Funds from this grant will also support development of a platform to support others globally who are interested in similar analysis.
CGS will also collaborate with universities across the nation to develop models to connect their research with local, state and national policymakers and other stakeholders. As the research lead of the University Climate Change Coalition, UMD is participating in several events at this week’s Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco.
“We are thrilled to be able to help build out an analytical approach and engagement platform to better understand and communicate about the implications of climate actions happening now in the United States,” Hultman said.
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