×

A year after Trump exited the Paris Climate Accord, here's how states are going even further

  • The Trump Administration exited the Paris Climate Agreement exactly one year ago.
  • This short-sighted decision was opposed by more than 550 state legislators from 45 states with a total population of over 298 million constituents.
  • Here's how states are taking action in lieu of the federal government.
President Donald Trump made the statement that the United States is withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, in the Rose Garden of the White House, June 1, 2017.
Cheriss May | NurPhoto | Getty Images
President Donald Trump made the statement that the United States is withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, in the Rose Garden of the White House, June 1, 2017.

June 1 marks the one year anniversary of the Trump Administration's retreat from the Paris Agreement, a framework backed by every country in the world to reduce climate pollution.

This short-sighted decision was opposed by more than 550 state legislators from 45 states with a total population of over 298 million constituents.

Although the President has declared climate change a hoax and isolated America as the only federal government in the world not to embrace the Paris Agreement, states throughout the country continue to lead the way on climate.

As state legislators, we understand that with the current federal administration's lack of care for the environment and our future, it is up to the states to champion the strong, coordinated climate action that is needed.

Over the past year, states have stepped up and are working to ensure the United States meets the terms of the Paris Agreement. We see this in actions such as the Massachusetts' State House's bill mandating the state abide by the Paris Agreement's greenhouse gas emissions standards.

"We cannot afford to delay so states are pressing forward with innovative policies to drive climate action.  Our colleagues across the country have stepped up to fill the climate action void left by the federal government."

President Trump's climate retreat has served as a call to action for state legislators to go even further on climate solutions.

Climate change is real and it is caused by human activity. People around the world, here in our country, in our states, and in our own communities, understand this and are already experiencing the impacts and will continue to see increased impacts in the coming decades.

We cannot afford to delay so states are pressing forward with innovative policies to drive climate action.

In Washington State, we introduced a bill to put a price on carbon pollution and joined our colleagues from eight other states in announcing the Carbon Costs Coalition to help drive this climate solution across the country.

Our carbon pricing bill progressed all the way to the Senate Floor--the farthest of any state--showing the progress we've made in building legislative support. Washingtonians demand action, and voters will directly decide on a carbon pricing initiative in the November elections this year.

At least eight states have introduced legislation to reach 100 percent renewable energy in the coming decades. Washington was one of these states to introduce a 100 percent renewable energy bill, mandating an ambitious goal that all of the state's electricity be generated carbon free by 2045.

This supports local jobs in growing renewable industries and protect communities and our natural resources by establishing a clean, efficient, carbon-free energy standard.

In California, we have enacted laws to require 50 percent of our electricity come from renewable energy resources and that doubles the amount of energy efficiency economy wide in the state by the year 2030.

We also have extended our cap and trade program through 2030, and have proposed legislation to ensure that 100 percent of our grid energy comes from zero carbon and renewable resources.

Because California's geography and population includes many disadvantaged communities, we have optimized all of our programs to help lower income and diverse communities first and foremost, spending billions in cap and trade funds.

States are also working to promote the use of electric vehicles. By electrifying our cars, we can reduce transportation emissions, the largest source of emissions in the U.S., and ensure cleaner healthier air for Americans.

States like Hawaii are ensuring more parking spots are reserved for EVs and that rental car companies transition quicker to EVs. Other states such as New York and Maryland implemented incentives for people to transition their cars to EVS such as the ability to receive discounts on tolls or use the carpool lanes.

States have taken action not only to address climate change but to prepare for a future of an altered environment. Maryland now requires that sea level rise be taken into account when building highway projects and Maine has created a Coastal Hazards Commission that will identify and prepare for future coastal hazards such as sea level rise and coastal flooding.

Our colleagues across the country have stepped up to fill the climate action void left by the federal government. We are committed to taking deliberate and coordinated efforts to move forward on climate action to ensure the U.S. does not fall behind the rest of the world.

The 2019 session will witness more states pursuing legislation to price carbon, advance 100 percent renewable energy and clean transportation, and protect our communities from the impacts of climate change.

President Trump might have elected to drop out of the Paris Agreement, but a year later, state legislators across the country stand united for climate action.

Commentary by Senator Kevin Ranker, a state senator from Washington and Senator Kevin De Leon, a state senator from California. They are both members of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators.

For more insight from CNBC contributors, follow @CNBCopinion on Twitter.