2018 Will Belong to ‘The Climate Doers’

On the tails of a State of the Union Address in which the effects of climate change already impacting America were not mentioned, it’s worth taking a moment to consider the state of climate change action and those working toward progress.

Deregulation is no answer, and it doesn’t advance investments in the future of American energy. In the long-term we need a comprehensive, common-sense legislative solution for our energy future and climate change. The urgency for action has not found its way  to Washington.

But outside the Beltway, this year is already proving it can maintain – and build on – last year’s momentum toward climate solutions. City, state, and business engagement were critical last year after the federal government stepped back from its leadership role. Our newly released Annual Report offers examples of how we’ve contributed to progress on these fronts.

Progress made in 2017 offers critical cues for the direction of further efforts to cut carbon emissions in 2018.

Last spring, C2ES rallied major companies for full-page ads in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, urging President Trump to stay in the Paris Agreement. At COP 23 in Bonn, a slew of congressional, state, city and business leaders staged dozens of events under the banner of We Are Still In. The world heard them: German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the conference, their efforts underlined “the importance attached to climate change in broad swaths of American society…”

Earlier this month, we saw more business community leadership when BlackRock Financial CEO Larry Fink called on U.S. CEOs to “serve a social purpose” and make “a positive contribution to society,” and to consider the impacts of climate change trends on their potential for growth.

So how is all this inspiring talk turning into action?

A major opportunity to rally “the climate doers” comes in just a few weeks with our Climate Leadership Conference, Feb. 28 – March 2 in Denver. C2ES co-hosts the conference with The Climate Registry, with the support of headline sponsor Bloomberg Philanthropies. Hundreds of climate, energy and sustainability leaders will share their knowledge and strategize on how to mobilize stronger climate action. The conference will contribute to the America’s Pledge effort and build momentum toward September’s Global Climate Action Summit in California.

There are many other examples of how American businesses, cities, and states are moving forward with innovative pathways to decarbonization, even without national leadership.

General Motors announced it will offer 20 new all-electric models by 2023, and Ford is investing $11 billion in bringing 40 electrified models to market by 2022. Here at C2ES we’ve been taking a look at energy efficiency and electric vehicles to ensure vulnerable communities are included in the clean economy transition.

Mayors across the country are committing to reduced carbon emissions through new policies and in their investments and purchasing. We’ve teamed up with the U.S. Conference of Mayors to create the Alliance for a Sustainable Future to promote climate cooperation between cities and businesses nationwide.

Our largest cities, like Los Angeles and New York, are taking steps that promote green buildings, electric vehicle infrastructure and other ways to reduce CO2 emissions. And cities like Des Moines, Santa Fe, and Salt Lake City are also among more than 300 U.S. cities whose commitments to the Paris Agreement goals were announced at COP 23 in Bonn.

States, too, are advancing unique climate solutions. Despite the presently dim outlook for market-based national action, governors and states are leading the way. California recommitted last summer to cap-and-trade, extending through 2030 a program that creates financial incentives for companies to reduce carbon emissions, and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee proposed a carbon price in Washington.

There may be more to come in 2018. Virginia and New Jersey are working toward joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in the Northeast, expanding its participation to 11 states. And the U.S. Climate Alliance – a nonpartisan coalition of 14 states and Puerto Rico committed to the goals of the Paris Agreement – has already added it’s 15th state – my adopted home state of Maryland.

Washington’s abdication has, in fact, had a galvanizing effect. Mayors, governors, world leaders, and CEOs are the new climate leaders, stepping up to the challenge. Ultimately, C2ES will continue working to make sure “the climate doers” – businesses, cities, states – are still moving forward, until the federal government is again leading the way.