Climate Policy Tracker Reveals Progress by 33 States

The New America Foundation's Climate Policy Program team on May 5 released an online tool that allows state-by-state tracking of hundreds of carbon and energy-saving measures now being implemented across the country.

The State Climate Policy Tracker takes the form of a single spreadsheet with one tab devoted to each state that has completed or is in the process of completing a climate action plan. A seven-column matrix captures the climate actions taking place across six economic sectors and reports on the progress of each measure, its cost or cost-saving potential, and the estimated reduction in carbon emissions expected on an annual basis.

"Examine the Policy Tracker and you see that U.S. states—many with economies the size of nations—have shown leadership on climate action, but it hasn't been sufficiently appreciated," said Climate Policy Program Director Terry Tamminen. "We expect the Policy Tracker will be extremely useful to policymakers in the White House and on Capitol Hill, to staff at EPA, Energy, Interior, Agriculture and other federal agencies, as well as for other nations preparing for Copenhagen, to see what's working in real time."

The Policy Tracker was compiled from publicly available information. Since 2006, 33 U.S. states have created climate action blueprints to guide greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction efforts. These blueprints, often guided by a reduction target, contain on average 50 policy recommendations, and states have already started to implement many of them. The Policy Tracker provides a snapshot of where things stand, state-by-state.

Much of the state climate action planning was facilitated by the Center for Climate Strategies, a non-profit expert group that works with state governments across party lines to build consensus among stakeholders around a blueprint for climate action. The large majority of measures in these state plans were approved unanimously, and so the Policy Tracker also provides a snapshot of an effective collection measures that have already surmounted political hurdles.

"This is an extremely useful tool that aggregates the tremendous work states have been doing on climate and energy issues," said Tom Peterson, chief executive officer of the Center for Climate Strategies. "It will help educate federal policymakers about what has been happening in state laboratories of innovation and allow us to scale up best practices to a national level."

Until the United States approves federal climate legislation, the state climate policies being followed by the Policy Tracker essentially add up to a de facto federal policy. The tracking tool includes information both on states that have completed plans and those that are in process of completing plans. Each page includes contact and Web site information.

"We've been loyal supporters of state climate planning for many years, impressed by the leadership of a growing group of bipartisan governors and the hard work of many stakeholders to reach common ground," said Michael Northrop, program director for Sustainable Deveopment at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. "This Policy Tracker highlights beautifully all that has been done, what's possible for the nation as a whole to achieve and to use to lead the world to a global solution."

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