America’s Pledge Outlines 7 Ways For US States, Cities, & Businesses To Step Up On Climate

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America’s Pledge, an initiative launched to compile and quantify actions taken by US non-federal actors to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, last week published its first report in which it outlines seven ways in which states, cities, and businesses can step up to address climate action.

Launched in July by California Governor Jerry Brown and United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change Michael Bloomberg, America’s Pledge serves to “assess the scope and scale of climate actions being taken by US states, cities, businesses, and other non-federal actors, examine the factors contributing to the low-carbon transition currently underway across the country’s most GHG-intensive economic sectors, and identify ways in which further non-federal climate action can help accelerate the US transition to a low-carbon economy.”

In response specifically to that third point, America’s Pledge last week published its Phase 1 report, States, Cities, and Businesses in the United States Are Stepping Up on Climate Action, written in conjunction with  the World Resources Institute and Rocky Mountain Institute — which jointly led an inclusive analytical effort supporting America’s Pledge. The report, which was launched on the sidelines of COP23 in Bonn, Germany, in November, was recently heralded at the first-ever North American Climate Summit held last week in Chicago, where 50 mayors from around the world also signed the Chicago Climate Charter, a first-of-its-kind international charter on climate change that seeks to allow cities to commit to the Paris Climate Agreement.

Speaking at the Summit, former US President Barack Obama presented the keynote address and thanked Michael Bloomberg and Governor Jerry Brown for creating America’s Pledge.

“They have been working on climate change issues for a long time and they continue to show the kind of leadership that is needed at this moment. And most of all, I’m here to say thank you to all of the mayors, whose work requires you to actually work and not just talk,” Obama continued. “The work is up to each of us — wherever we have some impact, wherever we have some influence. That’s why America’s Pledge on Climate is so important — it’s about more than living up to our responsibilities on the world stage, it’s about keeping our word on the world stage. And cities, states, businesses, universities, and nonprofits have emerged as the new face of American leadership on climate change.”

The report outlines seven ways in which states, cities, and businesses can step up to address climate change and bring their policies in line with the Paris Climate Agreement. Primary author Kristin Igusky, along with Karen Chen and Tom Cyrs from the World Resources Institute highlighted 4 of these opportunities in a recent blog post.

The 4 primary “key opportunities” highlighted by the World Resources Institute include the opportunity to “boost renewable energy by setting tougher renewable portfolio standards that require utilities to generate an increasing share of their power from solar, wind and other renewable sources.” Despite increasing levels of interest, voluntary power purchases only represent around 3% of total annual electric utility sales, a number which must increase.

Voluntary renewable PPAs signed by sector, by year (MW)

The tech industry has led the PPA market (with the largest purchases coming from Google, Amazon, and Apple), with a spike occurring in 2015 amid uncertainty over federal tax incentives for renewables. (Source:NREL 2017).

The WRI also highlights the need to tighten building energy codes, introduce new policies to cut vehicle emissions, and capture methane in an effort to cut down on methane emissions which currently contribute approximately 10% of US total greenhouse gas emissions.

Example output of a methane-sensing technology for the City of Boston created by the Environmental Defense Fund, Google, and Colorado State University (Source: Environmental Defense Fund)

Other opportunities for states, cities, and businesses to step up highlighted in the report include:

  • Boost efficiency and distributed generation for manufacturers through financing, regulation and other support to enable US industries that rely mostly on fossil fuels to upgrade facilities with more efficient equipment, renewable energy and lower-carbon energy.
  • Cut back on hydrofluorocarbon use and emissions by banning sales of refrigerants, foams and aerosols that contain these climate-warming chemicals, using less harmful alternatives where available and encouraging development of alternative technologies.
  • Expand carbon pricing networks by adopting policies in individual states or joining  existing markets such as California’s or RGGI’s, as Virginia has recently proposed. Existing carbon markets can expand to cover emissions from more sectors, and private companies can adopt internal carbon pricing to manage climate risk.

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Joshua S Hill

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (, and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at for more.

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