In a shocking move, Louisiana’s Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards has announced his intentions to make the state carbon-neutral. For a state that has been so reliant on fossil fuels and has an economy that has thrived on offering tax incentives to oil companies, the announcement comes as a surprise to many. In a tweet, the governor said that he will be joining the U.S. Climate Alliance — a coalition of governors with the aim to reduce emissions through state-based actions.

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“Today, I announced my plans to join the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of governors committed to state-led action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Edwards’ tweet reads. His announcement to join the U.S. Climate Alliance aligns with a previous executive order to make Louisiana carbon-neutral by 2050.

Related: Louisiana wants to divert the Mississippi River to restore its coast

Louisiana is currently the fifth-largest carbon-emitting state in the U.S. due to the petrochemical industry, which has been growing thanks to tax incentives. The state is also known to have made it difficult to invest in clean energy, such as solar. With the new plan, the governor wants his new climate task force to explore other areas of potential, such as offshore wind power in the Gulf of Mexico and investment in mass electric car production.

“Our kids are counting on us,” the governor said at the first meeting of his Climate Initiatives Task Force. “If anyone can identify innovative and sustainable solutions for our future, it’s Louisiana.”

This move now puts the state of Louisiana in line with President Biden’s ambitious national climate plan. However, questions are raised as to whether the governor will be able to navigate economic challenges and deal with political opposition. There are already voices from the petrochemical industry that have shown skepticism to the proposal. Tyler Gray, president of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association and a member of the new climate commission, said that the governor needs to take slow actions instead of making a radical move.

“You don’t necessarily need to choose between energy production and being carbon-neutral,” Gray said.

However, even some oil industry executives agree that something has to be done about carbon emissions. Louisiana has been plagued with climate disasters year after year, and the residents now see the need to change the way things are done.


Image via Ken Lund