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Leon Kaye headshot

Businesses and Local Governments Aggressively Leading on Climate Action

By Leon Kaye

The Trump White House may have reaffirmed its commitment to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, but for the private sector and state and local governments, it is business as usual.

At least, that is according to a report jointly issued by The Climate Group and the New Climate Institute. The survey, launched to coincide with Climate Week NYC currently underway during the United Nations’ General Assembly, offers an encouraging assessment of climate action across the U.S., with or without the federal government.

The study’s authors evaluated data, much of which was provided by CDP, and determined that the U.S. can meet about half of its climate pledge by 2025 based on the commitments already made by leading companies as well as U.S. states and businesses. The combined emissions reduction targets set by California, Colorado and New York alone comprise a large portion of the collective goals set by U.S. states.

But the report also concludes the 54 cities that have committed to emissions reduction goals have, in general, been far more ambitious in implementing these plans. Cities as different as New York City and Salt Lake City have forged ahead and have outlined their plants to reduce their emissions no matter who is seated in the White House or Congress.

Furthermore, companies are also helping to drive reduced emissions targets as well as clean energy deployment nationwide. The report’s authors found that many of America’s largest corporations are amongst the most aggressive players in the drive to mitigate climate change, due mostly to their ambitious renewable energy investment programs.

In fact, when utilities’ climate change plans are factored in, analysts from The Climate Group and the New Climate Institute concluded that together, these various local governments and companies may actually be underestimating their impact rather than overestimating their contributions. As Helen Clarkson, CEO of The Climate Group said in a public statement:

“This report reaffirms our belief that states, cities and business will not waiver in their climate commitment, regardless of the U.S. Administration’s decision to withdraw from Paris. It shows us that climate action is not solely dependent on the actions of national government. U.S. states, cities and businesses have the power to mitigate the consequences of the Paris pull out.”

Actions taken by some of America’s most noted companies help buttress this report’s conclusion. Mars Inc., for example, recently said it plans on investing about $1 billion in climate change and sustainable supply chain programs over the next decade, on top of the renewables investments it has already made over the past several years. Technology giants such as Salesforce and Apple are also making long-term decisions to power more of their operations with clean energy technologies. And more energy companies, such as WGL Holdings (which owns the utility Washington Gas) are incorporating more sources of power, such as solar, into their portfolios.

Furthermore, those 342 commitments evaluated in this report shows that the local and state governments, as well as the companies surveyed, on represent 44 percent of U.S. emissions – suggesting that other climate change mitigation efforts evolving across the country are occurring under the radar.

Image credit: Garrett/Flickr

Leon Kaye headshot

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

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