State Climate Policy Maps


  • Twenty-four states plus the District of Columbia have adopted specific greenhouse gas reduction targets to address climate change.
  • As states fit policies to their unique circumstances, they help innovate and test climate policy design.
  • Policies include carbon pricing, emission limits, renewable portfolio standards, and steps to promote cleaner transportation.

For years, U.S. states and regions have been addressing climate change in the absence of stronger federal action. A wide range of policies have been adopted at the state and regional levels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, develop clean energy resources, promote alternative fuel vehicles, and promote more energy-efficient buildings and appliances, among other things. Although climate change ultimately requires an effective national and international response, the actions taken by states and regions play a vital role by developing and testing innovative solutions, delivering near-term emission reductions, and laying the groundwork for broader action.

Many other state policies not directly linked to greenhouse gas targets also help reduce emissions. Such policies exist in every state in the nation.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Targets

Twenty-four states plus the District of Columbia have adopted specific greenhouse gas emissions targets. While each state has adopted a target and baseline year that suits its circumstances, the prevalence of these targets shows the widespread support for climate action.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Targets

State Climate Action Plans

Climate action plans generally include greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and detail actions the state can take to help meet those goals. The plans may also include additional components such as resilience strategies, clean energy targets, and economic and social goals.

33 states have released a climate action plan or are in the process of revising or developing one. This includes 32 states that have released plans and 1 state that is updating its plan.

U.S. State Climate Action Plans

Carbon Pricing

One of the most direct policies that states use to address emissions is carbon pricing. Currently, this is only implemented via cap-and-trade programs, though carbon taxes are being considered in a few states as well.

The eleven states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) have implemented cap and trade in the power sector. California’s cap-and-trade program covers nearly its entire economy and is linked with the Canadian province of Quebec. Massachusetts has two separate cap-and-trade programs to reduce GHG emissions in the power sector: It participates in RGGI and also has a separate cap-and-trade program (Reducing CO2 Emissions from Electricity Generating Facilities) that runs in parallel to RGGI. Washington state’s cap-and-invest legislation will take effect beginning in 2023.

State Carbon Pricing Policies

Electricity Sector Policies

A wide range of state policies help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector. Some were enacted explicitly to address climate change, while others have complementary objectives such as supporting in-state producers of preferred energy sources (typically wind, solar, or nuclear) or reducing customer costs by promoting energy efficiency.

One of the most common state policies is a portfolio standard that requires electric utilities to deliver a certain amount of electricity from renewable or clean energy sources. Most of these take the form of:

  • A renewable portfolio standard (RPS), adopted in 29 states and the District of Columbia, which require a certain percentage of a utility’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources.
  • A clean energy standard (CES), adopted by seven states, which requires electric utilities to deliver a certain amount of electricity from renewable or clean energy sources.

U.S. State Electricity Portfolio Standards

Transportation Policies

The transportation sector is the largest source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, with light-duty passenger vehicles accounting for approximately two-thirds of those emissions. In order to address this, 36 states and the District of Columbia have put in place some form of clean vehicle policies. These include emissions standards, zero-emission vehicle deployment–which include both battery electric vehicles and fuel cell electric vehicles, and rebates and incentives for zero-emission vehicles and infrastructure, such as charging stations and hydrogen fueling infrastructure.

A popular policy choice today is providing rebates or other incentives for consumers who purchase electric vehicles. But state policies can reduce transportation sector emissions in other ways as well.

low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS) is aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by requiring a shift to lower-carbon transportation fuels, such as biofuels, without prescribing a particular fuel type. Currently only California and Oregon have LCFS policies in place. They require fuel providers to continually decrease the carbon intensity of the fuels they sell, and allow for credit trading to reduce costs of compliance.

Land use decisions and public transportation investments also affect transportation sector emissions.

Low Carbon and Alternative Fuel Standard