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Thanks to its new Democratic governor, Wisconsin becomes 20th state to join U.S. Climate Alliance

40 percent of states across the country are committed to Paris climate goals.

People walking to work in the early morning on South Pinckney Street in downtown Madison, Wis. as extreme temperatures hit the region. (Credit: Lauren Justice for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
People walking to work in the early morning on South Pinckney Street in downtown Madison, Wis. as extreme temperatures hit the region. (Credit: Lauren Justice for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) announced on Tuesday that the state had joined the U.S. Climate Alliance, making it the 20th state, plus Puerto Rico, to pledge to uphold the Paris climate agreement goals.

Momentum behind local-level climate action continues to grow, and since the start of the year, three others have also joined the alliance: Michigan, New Mexico, and Illinois. This comes as federal action on climate change under the Trump administration continues to slide backwards.

With Wisconsin as the newest member, 40 percent of all states are part of the Alliance. Together, this bipartisan coalition of 21 governors represents nearly half (49 percent) of the U.S. population and over a $10 trillion economy.

“It’s a new day in Wisconsin and it’s time to lead our state in a new direction where we embrace science, where we discuss the very real implications of climate change, where we work to find solutions, and where we invest in renewable energy,” Evers said in a statement.

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Joining the alliance, he said, will demonstrate “that we can take climate action while growing our economy at the same time.”

The alliance emerged in response to President Donald Trump’s June 2017 announcement that he would withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement.

As a member of the alliance, states agree to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. States must also track and report their progress just as country signatories to the Paris Agreement do, and they must also “accelerate new and existing policies to reduce carbon pollution and promote clean energy deployment.”

According to the Alliance, the climate and clean energy policies adopted by the member states have created 1.6 million renewable energy and energy efficiency jobs — equal to half of all clean energy jobs in the country. And the policies implemented by the states target 35 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

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Last September, several other commitments were announced by the Alliance, including spending $1.4 billion to decarbonize transportation.

All of this comes as a growing number of Democratic politicians push for a Green New Deal — a plan to rapidly decarbonize the entire country, from energy and transport to infrastructure and agriculture, all the while providing jobs and protecting frontline communities.

Last week, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced a resolution for a Green New Deal which outlines the goals and focus for such a proposal. Building on the post-midterm momentum for ambitious climate action, the resolution, combined with Democrats taking back the House of Representatives along with widespread state-level ambition, means that for the first time in at least a decade, climate change is a policy priority.