As the federal government implements the landmark climate law signed by President Biden last week, several states are well advanced in their efforts to address climate change.
Climate resilience and emissions reduction projects have been underway for years in places like California and Maryland that have political momentum around climate action and in Florida and New York, where the effects of the changing weather conditions are visibly felt.
“Resilience planning and implementation, such as upgrading stormwater infrastructure and services to vulnerable populations, occurs primarily at the local level,” notes Allison Homer, senior community specialist and climate planner at Fairfax County Environmental and Energy Coordination Office.
The Biden administration has supported these efforts with smaller initiatives, such as the recently announced announcement PROTECT program which has allocated $7.3 billion to support states in climate resilience. The Cut Inflation Act will invest a much larger $375 billion in climate change projects over the next decade in a bid to reshape the country’s energy mix.
It includes provisions that would advance state-level efforts to reduce emissions and develop clean energy, such as a $27 billion national green bank that would support state and regional green banks. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who is also president of the bipartisan Climate Mayors Network, said federal support was slow in coming to “bring real and equitable change to communities on the front lines of the climate crisis”.
Federal support could accelerate key climate initiatives already underway at the state level. Here are four notable ones:
Zero emission mission
California has set ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets: 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. In order to achieve these targets, the Governor Gavin Newsom announced a $10 billion zero-emission vehicle package earlier this year.
It is expected to accelerate the automotive industry’s shift to all-electric by 2035. It also sets aside $256 million for purchases by low-income consumers and invests another $900 million in expanding vehicle infrastructure. to zero emissions in low-income neighborhoods. Additionally, the plan supports sustainable transportation projects in low-income neighborhoods with an investment of $419 million and electric school buses with $1.5 billion.
“California has become a working model of how to aggressively address the climate crisis while strengthening the clean energy economy, and what we are doing here is unprecedented both in nature and scale. “, the state said in a statement. Press release.
In April, Maryland went the Climate Solutions Now law, establishing a comprehensive strategy to achieve a 60% reduction in statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 2031 and net-zero emissions by 2045, one of the most ambitious goals from the country. The law focuses on climate equity and created a group to oversee policy recommendations on how to transition workers from fossil fuels to clean jobs.
The legislation also created a fund to support projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in overburdened communities, which includes transportation electrification and a green bond program, as well as the development of new standards for reduce emissions from buildings.
A century ago, New York City covered a creek that ran through the Bronx to the Harlem River, fearing the polluted water could carry disease. Pushing water underground caused another problem: In 2021’s Hurricane Ida, billions of gallons of rainwater that the creek would have carried into the river were pushed above ground, causing flooding. sudden events and loss of life.
Now the city plans to daylight tibbetts brook, creating a mile-long green space for low-income residents of the area. The project would free up space in the city’s sewer system, which was overloaded during Hurricane Ida, and thus potentially prevent further flash flooding.
City planners hope the $130 million project will help protect the city from flooding. They aim to secure funding from federal relief money, as well as a $1 trillion infrastructure deal Biden signed in 2021 that unlocks funds for transportation. However, the project still faces a significant hurdle: For years, New York City tried unsuccessfully to purchase the land where the restored creek would flow from its owner CSX. The city has so far been unable to meet the company’s asking price.
Earlier this year, Florida announced it would invest $700 million on more than 185 climate resilience projects, the largest investment in state history. The White House also pledged $50 million to protect lower South Florida neighborhoods from storm surges as part of a larger $1 billion program to support states with climate resilience.
A project to create ‘living shorelines’ is already well underway, rebuilding Florida’s coastline to make it more resilient to sea level rise and erosion using both man-made and natural resources . The project was rolled out across the state, strategically placing oyster reefs, mangroves, salt marshes, terracing techniques and retaining walls to stabilize the shoreline. The facilities restore steep banks to a gradual slope that will absorb wave energy and prevent erosion.
Even with these state-level plans and the new federal climate law, experts warn that there are still many hurdles to overcome. It will be essential that stakeholders work in tandem to achieve meaningful results.
“The design of federal, state, or even municipal legislation each offers different and often complementary protections, resources, and jurisdictions,” says climate strategist Tamara Toles O’Laughlin. “Our first task is to clearly define which forum is relevant for the resolutions we need and for a healthy democracy and a healthy planet.”
This story is part The path to zero a special series exploring how businesses can lead the fight against climate change.