A slew of states and electricity companies are committing to aggressive targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a trend underway since President Trump took office.
Why it matters: These actions show that substantive efforts — not just rhetoric — are underway across America in the face of Trump's rollback of climate policy at the federal level.
Between the lines: The actions over the past year signal a subtle, but significant shift away from policies promoting just renewable energy — like wind and solar — toward those that target emissions reductions no matter the technology. This brings into consideration other non-renewable but still clean-burning technologies like nuclear power.
“We’re now focusing on what actually matters, which is the atmosphere, and not the technology pathway, which people have been focused on.”— Armond Cohen, executive director, Clean Air Task Force
By the numbers:
- Since last fall, 5 states have enacted standards mandating 100% carbon-free electricity within the coming decades, according to new data compiled by Clean Air Task Force, an environmental group.
- 4 additional states are actively debating similar measures.
- More than 20 utilities have committed to carbon reductions of at least 80%, most of which have come since Trump was elected.
- Added up, these moves represent nearly 40% of U.S. electricity sales and almost a third of national utility carbon dioxide emissions.
But, but, but: These policies only target the electricity sector, which emits the second-most greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., after transportation. Carbon emissions in the electricity sector also went back up in 2018, after a few years of declining.
What to watch: Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) is poised to introduce a clean electricity standard as soon as Wednesday, according to multiple sources tracking the policy. A spokesperson for her office says the senator is "still hoping to introduce [the bill] soon."
- Under the bill, America's electricity could reach around 90% carbon-free by 2050, according to multiple sources familiar with the proposal. Right now, the breakdown is more than 60% coal and natural gas.
- No Republicans are expected to sign on, at least initially.