While Congress continues to face partisan gridlock on climate issues, many states have moved forward with climate action.
In 2021, five states – Illinois, Massachusetts, Oregon, North Carolina, and Rhode Island – passed laws requiring a shift to 100% carbon-free electricity or net-zero emissions. Washington State passed a law that helps to implement its strong 2019 and 2020 climate and clean energy laws. Washington’s new legislation establishes a carbon trading program that will help the state to meet its goals of economy-wide emission cuts and 100% carbon-free electricity.
Several other states made progress on climate and clean energy by taking targeted actions not quite as aggressive as 100% laws, but significant, nonetheless.
The five states that entered the so-called 100% club joined with the six states that had earlier passed such legislation. Those are California, Hawaii, New Mexico, New York, Virginia, and Washington. Both Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. are also members of the club.
The past year may well be the biggest year yet for significant clean energy legislation. Some of the states that finally passed laws had been gearing up for it for years. This is particularly true of Massachusetts and Illinois.
Actions by individual states are not an antidote to inaction by the federal government, but they help. At this point, about one-third of the country’s population lives in states that have laws requiring a transition to 100% carbon-free electricity, 100% renewable electricity, or net-zero emissions.
All of this activity began in 2015, when Hawaii passed its renewable energy law.
Photo, posted August 12, 2021, courtesy of Glacier NPS via Flickr.