For decades, many states have worked to reduce CO2 emissions. Although the federal government has failed to enact official plans, some individual states prioritize policies to cut emissions. Washington state’s ambitious carbon control policies are so popular that some of them have been adopted by Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Despite this, some pro-green energy states such as Washington fall behind in statistics on reduced emissions.

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a graph on CO2 Emissions Changes in the U.S. from 2005 to 2017, showing the reduction or increase rates for each state.

A new report from the World Resources Institute reveals that over 41 states significantly cut their carbon emissions between 2005 and 2017. While some states known for progressive policies, such as Washington and California, rank among the 41, they don’t lead in emission reduction statistics. 

According to the report, Maryland leads with a 38% reduction in carbon emissions. Following closely behind, New Hampshire and Maine reduced carbon emissions by 37% and 33% respectively. The Northeast as a whole also performed well, leading to a 24% reduction. In contrast, many western states saw only slightly reduced carbon emissions. According to Devashree Saha, Senior Associate at the World Resources Institute and co-author of the study, several factors contributed to the northern region’s performance. The region’s initial reliance on coal-generated power, which led to higher pollution rates than western states, represents one such factor. Consequently, a shift from coal-generated power to natural gas significantly reduced carbon pollution in northern states.

Saha further clarifies that many western states already emitted less carbon and thus have a lower carbon intensity (a measure of carbon emitted per dollar of economic growth) than northern states. Though the report shows northern states making progress, they must still work harder to meet the carbon intensity level of states such as California.

The report also emphasizes the need for a consolidated framework to manage carbon emissions. Without widespread initiatives, efforts made by individual states to control emissions may not affect national rates accordingly. As Saha said, “It is high time that the federal government starts taking action.”

+ World Resources Institute

Via Grist

Images via Pixabay and World Resources Institute