Tackling Climate Change Across Party Lines Works for America
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder joined other state leaders in taking climate action, announcing that Michigan will develop a plan to reduce carbon pollution from power plants. This strong commitment from a Republican leader confirms once again that climate action is a practical solution, in the interest of every state. Cutting carbon pollution will make the air safer to breathe, generate good-paying jobs and help protect our families from destructive climate change.
Michigan is seizing an opportunity presented by the Clean Power Plan, which gives every state the freedom to create its own approach to meeting these new carbon pollution limits on power plants. NRDC analysis shows that ambitious state plans are readily achievable. We have mapped out how 12 states — ranging from Michigan to Montana, Ohio to Florida — can slash carbon pollution with renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Our findings show that states with strong plans will reap the greatest benefits in public health, economic growth and cost savings.
Strong clean power plans will also shield residents from the consequences of climate inaction.
Climate change is already taking a toll on our communities. This summer alone, mega fires burned homes in Washington State, heavy rains damaged crops in Indiana and heat waves threatened people’s health in the Northeast.
These hazards will only get even worse if we fail to reduce carbon pollution now. And so will the price. Citibank released a report this week showing that clean energy investments will save the world $1.8 trillion in the next 25 years compared to business-as-usual. Failure to act, meanwhile, will cost an additional $44 trillion from the “negative effects” of unchecked climate change.
America’s leaders will also feel the consequences of inaction. Poll after poll after poll shows the vast majority of Americans support measures that reduce carbon pollution from power plants. In Michigan, 90 percent of businesspeople favor state-based efforts to meet the carbon pollution limits set out in the Clean Power Plan. And American leadership through strong implementation of the Clean Power Plan is a critical part of climate action around the world. People want leaders to tackle the climate threat now, and they will grow weary of those who deny, delay or block forward movement.
Fortunately, strong climate action is possible for every state in the nation.
NRDC analysis confirms that states can use existing energy resources and build on existing energy policies to slash carbon pollution and unleash benefits.
Illinois, for instance, can meet its carbon pollution limit largely by expanding wind and solar power and improving the energy efficiency of its buildings and industry. Complementary state clean energy policies will support this clean energy expansion. The Illinois Clean Jobs Bill would double the state’s investment in efficiency and expand the renewable energy target from 25 percent by 2025 to 35 percent by 2030. The bill would also put tens of thousands of people to work across the state and help people save an average of $100 a year on utility costs, according to the Citizens Utility Board, a consumer watchdog group. Cleaning up power plants will also help save 2,100 lives and prevent 760 hospitalizations in Illinois from 2020 to 2030, according to a Harvard study.
Similar benefits await all states that craft ambitious plans under the Clean Power Plan. The best compliance approaches are simple, tested, and low-cost. They have high environmental integrity and are easily interconnected across states and regions.
State clean power plans protect from the worst consequences of climate inaction. Climate change doesn’t respect political party boundaries. Governor Snyder’s commitment for Michigan shows the kind of leadership that helps all of us tackle the climate change challenge together.
Susan Casey-Lefkowitz is director of programs for the Natural Resources Defense Council. She joined NRDC in 2000 as director of NRDC’s work in Canada. From 2009-2014, she directed NRDC’s international program.
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