WRI examines the role of states in a federal climate program, and facilitates discussions between state officials and federal policymakers so that regional efforts support, inform, and influence the creation of federal policy.
Why do states matter?
States play a key role in U.S. climate change policy. They can drive meaningful emissions reductions through on the ground policies. They also serve as ‘learning laboratories’ for future federal policy, developing and testing new models for programs that could be implemented at the national level by Congress or federal agencies.
In the absence of comprehensive federal legislation, states have been busy testing out a variety of policies. Back in 2009, ten states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic launched the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from electric power plants. California is set to take this experiment one step further when it launches an economy-wide cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases in 2013. A number of states have developed climate action plans, and are implementing renewable electricity standards, energy efficiency standards, and smart growth initiatives. Together these policies are making a real difference in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
States will also be front-and-center in the implementation of several key EPA regulations, such as those for the power sector. They will have the ability to craft state-specific implementation plans that achieve the necessary reductions while optimizing benefits for their citizens and their economy.
WRI has worked with states on a variety of regional efforts and individual state programs, producing data-driven analyses and reports to assist policymakers. Moving forward, we will continue to do so as states react to an ever changing policy environment and develop new programs that reduce their emissions.