Climate Mayors Charge Ahead Despite Proposed Clean Power Plan Repeal
Climate Mayors Speak Out
As of today, 236 U.S. mayors have signed a letter to the EPA opposing the proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan. Representing 69 million Americans, Climate Mayors are a bipartisan coalition of city government leaders upholding the U.S. commitment to the Paris Agreement and to climate action. In their letter, mayors voiced strong opposition to the repeal, “which would put our citizens at risk and undermine our efforts to prepare for and protect against the worst impacts of climate change.”
The goal of the Clean Power Plan is to reduce CO2 emissions from power plants by 32 percent from 2005 levels. While not enough to meet Paris Agreement goals on its own, the Clean Power Plan is nevertheless pivotal to climate progress in the United States. Impacts of failure to mitigate climate change would be grave. Costs of damage to coastal properties alone, from stormwater surge and sea level rise, are estimated to reach $5 trillion by 2100.
Although U.S. cities have independently taken strides toward climate action, a repeal would severely set them back. Climate Mayors stated in the letter that the “legal authority of cities and other municipalities generally extends only as far as their state governments and federal law allow, and as a result, our local efforts to address climate change are highly sensitive to national policies like the Clean Power Plan, which shape markets, steer state action, and have large direct impacts on nationwide emissions.”
“Our local efforts to address climate change are highly sensitive to national policies like the Clean Power Plan, which shape markets, steer state action, and have large direct impacts on nationwide emissions.”
A Path Forward Without the Clean Power Plan
With that said, there’s still hope in sight. A research report from Carnegie Mellon University found that the U.S. may be able to meet, or even exceed, the emissions reduction requirements of the Paris Agreement without the Clean Power Plan. According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, emissions have declined from 2.7 billion tons to 1.9 billion tons, meeting the Clean Power Plan’s original goal for 2025 ahead of schedule.
Thus far, emissions reduction has primarily been driven by falling natural gas prices, naturally replacing the need for heavy-emitting coal-fired power plants. However, in order to drive continued progress towards initial targets, reliance on natural gas won’t be enough. To protect against fluctuation in natural gas prices, the report recommends proactive regulation, incentives for low or zero-emission sources, and energy efficiency and retrofitting investments.
Although the future of the Clean Power Plan stands in question, with steadfast commitment from cities and local governments, as well as ambitious initiatives in energy efficiency, the U.S. can still forge a path to climate progress from the ground up.
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About Amy Hou
Amy Hou is a Marketing Manager at Urjanet, overseeing content and communications. She enjoys writing about the latest industry updates in sustainability, energy efficiency, and data innovation.