Analysis & Opinions - The Washington Post

Americans Agree with Their State and Local Officials on Climate Action

| July 26, 2022

Although Congress seems unable to act, enough states, cities, and counties are mobilizing to make a dent in U.S. carbon emissions

In the next few weeks, California's government is expected to issue regulations requiring that all new cars sold in the state be electric or zero-emission by 2035. The regulation would be the first of its kind in the United States. Gasoline-powered cars accounted for 41 percent of the state's carbon emissions in 2019, so this rule would have a major effect. California state regulators project that the rule would reduce emissions by about 384 million metric tons of greenhouse gases by 2040. Meanwhile, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) announced in February that over 60 percent of the energy consumed by the city's population now comes from carbon-free sources.

California's efforts are part of a trend. Around the United States, local leaders are taking action on climate policy. Hundreds of mayors and county executives have committed to upholding the Paris climate agreement, finding ways to significantly reduce their town, city or county's greenhouse gas emissions. For example, New York City and Boston have set themselves targets of zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Such local action may be particularly important, given the Supreme Court's ruling limiting the Environmental Protection Agency's authority and the fact that Congress recently failed again to come to an agreement about passing laws that would combat climate change. As a result, the United States may not meet its Paris agreement commitments — unless state and local governments take action.

But would cities and towns outside these liberal bastions adopt ambitious enough policies to get closer to those targets? Our new research suggests it's possible — and can make a real difference....

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Schwartz, Joshua A and Sabrina B. Arias .“Americans Agree with Their State and Local Officials on Climate Action.” The Washington Post, July 26, 2022.

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