Released today (18 September) by NewClimate Institute and The Climate Group to coincide with start of Climate Week NYC, the report shows that current commitments by non-state actors would take the US around halfway towards achieving its climate pledge by 2025, if fully realised.

The Climate Group’s chief executive Helen Clarkson commented on the business community’s determination to drive the implementation of these goals to keep global warming well below 2C.

“Today, we are highlighting the unstoppable force of action from business and government in tackling climate change, and how this can drive innovation, jobs and prosperity for all – our central theme for the week,” she said.

“This report reaffirms our belief that states, cities and business will not waiver in their climate commitment, regardless of the US Administration’s decision to withdraw from Paris. It shows us that climate action is not solely dependent on the actions of national government. US states, cities and businesses have the power to mitigate the consequences of the Paris pull out.”

Underestimated impact

The study covers 342 climate pledges by individual actors, including 262 from companies headquartered in the US. If fully implemented, then US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions would fall by up to 14% below 2005 levels by 2025, according to the research.

US states such as New York, California and Colorado deliver more than two-thirds of the total estimated emissions reductions, while businesses have the steepest targets, aiming for a 25% reduction in the next 10 years.

“Strikingly, there are more reasons to believe that the calculated impact of states, cities and businesses in the report is currently underestimated rather than overestimated”, said co-author and NewClimate Institute professor Dr Niklas Höhne.

“We only included currently recorded and quantified commitments and the actors represented in this report currently only represent 44% of total US emissions. Much more action is happening that is not yet recorded or formulated in a quantified way.”

Non-state defiance

In the months since President Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement, the business community has expressed a sense of defiant optimism for climate action to continue in America and across the world. In the immediate aftermath, more than 900 companies, including Nike, Tesla, Google and Microsoft vowed to achieve and exceed the original commitment.

Only last week, BT set itself on the path to help limit global warming to 1.5C through a new science-based target to reduce emissions by 87% by 2030 against a 2016/17 baseline.

US cities and states have been quick to redouble climate ambitions. An open letter from 82 mayors representing 39 million Americans has promised to “adopt, honour, and uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement”.

Meanwhile, the clean energy revolution has rolled on. Global clean energy stocks have surged past investments in fossil fuels in the past year despite the political shockwaves caused by Donald Trump’s US presidency, research found last month.

George Ogleby

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