NEW YORK, NY – Today, representatives of nine states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic are meeting to discuss taking stronger action to cut global warming pollution. These states, part of a regional program that limits pollution from power plants called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, are preparing to make a decision about how much to cut pollution from 2020 to 2030. Environment New York and a broad coalition are urging the states to be more ambitious.
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has already been a huge success – the states in the region have collectively reduced power plant pollution by an average of 5 percent per year since 2005, and the program has generated more than $2.5 billion for clean energy investment. Based on materials released by the states before today’s meeting, the states are now considering cutting pollution from power plants at a slower rate, between 2.5 and 3.5 percent per year. Instead of allowing slower progress, a broad coalition of non-profit groups, businesses and investors concerned about climate change are asking the states to step up their ambition and ensure that pollution continues to fall at least 5 percent per year.
Heather Leibowitz, Director of Environment New York, released the following statement to call for the states to set stronger pollution reduction goals:
“We can and must do more to fight climate change.
"2016 is going to be the hottest year in human history. We know why: pollution from burning coal, oil and gas is driving global warming. The longer we keep burning dirty fuels, the worse this problem is going to get.
"Time is short and we need to act faster.
"Last week, hundreds of people turned out to events across the region to support transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy to eliminate the pollution that is driving global warming. We must make the shift to protect our families, communities, and planet from the worst impacts of climate change.
"The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the nation’s first multi-state program to reduce dangerous climate pollution from power plants, is one of the most important tools we have to accelerate progress. It was established by a bi-partisan group of governors, and for the last 7 years, it has proven a resounding success – reducing pollution while creating economic growth.
"It is now more important than ever that our states use this tool to its full effectiveness and invest in creating a vibrant, clean energy future. The world is now looking to U.S. states for bipartisan leadership on climate at a critical time, as nations everywhere develop plans for implementing the landmark Paris Agreement on Climate Change. In particular, the world is looking at the states that belong to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to demonstrate leadership and commitment in reaching the goals that governors and state legislatures have set for cutting global warming pollution.
"We are calling on Governor Cuomo to re-commit to leading on climate and to accelerate the shift to clean energy by doubling the strength of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Sticking with the current trajectory of reducing pollution 2.5 percent per year (as the states are apparently considering based on materials released before today’s stakeholder meeting) is not enough. We should go twice as fast, and cut pollution by 5 percent per year.
"We know that this program works. And we know that reducing pollution brings lots of benefits for our health, our economy and our environment. Members of the public across the states – and across political parties – support doubling the strength of the program and accelerating our shift to clean energy.
"It is time to be ambitious and bold.”
The public can learn more about strengthening the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and take action through a recently-launched interactive website, cleanenergyeconomy.us.