U.S. states and local governments have long been at the forefront of climate and clean energy policy, testing and validating new models while driving down U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Today they are a driving force for change in the country. States and local governments committed to climate action in support of the Paris Agreement now represent 68% of the nation’s GDP, 65% of its population, and 51% of its GHG emissions. And, many others continue to play a role in shaping U.S. emissions, adopting policies and programs that are opening up new investments in clean energy.
The question confronting policymakers at the federal level is whether and how to leverage these efforts as they move forward with national policies and programs. WRI seeks to inform these efforts through engagement and analysis.
Engagement: The magnitude of the climate challenge demands thoughtful consideration of the roles each level of government should play across the many areas where action is needed. In some areas federal competence cannot easily be matched at the subnational level, suggesting a strong federal role is the way to go. In other areas it is difficult to imagine the federal government taking the primary implementation role. Often, a collaborative approach that involves significant roles at the federal and subnational levels is optimal. It will be important for federal policy makers to ask the right questions and apply sound principles in the development of U.S. policies. To help inform these decisions, WRI is convening state, local, and federal leaders to develop a practical model for climate federalism, one that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local governments. Through this work we will identify concrete policy recommendations for federal policymakers.
Analysis: WRI develops research and analysis to quantify the impact of policies adopted by state, local, and federal governments as well as actions taken by the private sector. This work leverages novel analytic tools, such as WRI’s ATHENA model, developed to ensure that these actions can be attributed and accounted for in national level assessments while avoiding double counting. Our work includes support for the America’s Pledge initiative, an effort to aggregate, analyze, and showcase non-national climate action in the U.S., report on progress made towards the US pledge under the Paris Agreement, and develop roadmaps for business-level, city, and state action in the US.