A new report by Environment New Jersey released today highlights the role that clean energy and environmental policies have played in moving states toward meeting targets for reducing global warming emissions, while challenging claims that actions that reduce emissions undermine economic growth.
According to “A Record of Leadership: How Northeastern States are Cutting Global Warming Pollution and Building a Clean Economy,” New Jersey and the 9 other states that participate in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) have cut per capita carbon dioxide emissions 20 percent faster than the rest of the nation, even as the region’s gross product per capita grew 87 percent faster than the rest of the United States.
“New Jersey’s experience over the past decade gives us confidence that, with state leadership and more strong policies to promote clean energy and to limit carbon emissions, we can continue to make progress in meeting our goals for reducing the pollution that causes global warming” said Matt Elliott, with Environment New Jersey.
“Unfortunately, after a decade of leadership on climate change and clean energy, Governor Christie is moving us backward, not forward,” Elliott said. We’ve seen little more than rollbacks and broken promises on these issues, even clean energy programs implemented by previous administrations are successfully cutting pollution and growing the economy.”
Over the past decade, New Jersey, in partnership with other states in the region, has taken meaningful steps to reduce its carbon emissions, including:
• Capping Carbon Emissions:
o In 2007, New Jersey enacted the Global Warming Response Act, requiring emissions to be lowered to 1990 levels by 2020 and to 80 percent below current levels by 2050.
• Reducing Power Plant Emissions:
o In 2005, New Jersey officials joined with nine other Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States including, New York, Maryland, Delaware, and other states in the Northeast to establish the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the first program in the United States to limit global warming emissions from power plants, sell permits to emit carbon, and invest the revenues in energy efficiency and clean energy initiatives.
• Cleaner Cars:
o New Jersey led the Northeast adopted the Clean Cars program to limit tailpipe emissions for carbon dioxide and require cars to have better fuel economy.
• Expanding renewable energy:
o New Jersey and all the states in the RGGI program have adopted renewable energy standards and other policies to ramp up renewable energy. In New Jersey, 22.5% of the state’s electricity must come from renewable sources by 2020.
• Improving energy efficiency:
o New Jersey and the other Northeast states have adopted a variety of energy efficiency programs; including standards for appliances, utility energy efficiency programs, building codes and other programs. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy , six of the top ten ranked states on energy efficiency are in the Northeast. New Jersey ranks 15th in the nation. (See energy efficiency scorecard at http://aceee.org/sector/state-policy/scorecard.)
“There is strong support for programs to promote clean energy and reduce pollution in New Jersey,” said Elliott. “A majority of state lawmakers continue to side with the people of New Jersey in supporting these types of anti-pollution, pro-jobs programs. Unfortunately, Governor Christie is out of step with this vision for a cleaner, more prosperous New Jersey.”
“For example, while the governor continues to attack RGGI, a majority of lawmakers have stood in support of this program. RGGI has been a key part of our efforts to promote energy efficiency and clean energy while creating jobs that will improve the quality of life for our citizens. We can and must strengthen the program so that we can secure even more gains in the future.”
“In addition to RGGI, clean energy in general has been a bright spot in the economy in this region,” said Elliott. “The environment and the economy will be much better off if New Jersey and other officials in the Northeast keep adopting policies and programs that move us to cleaner, more efficient energy options. “
The report called on the states to:
• Continue to set aggressive goals and develop concrete plans to reach them.
o States like New Jersey with a mandate to reduce global warming pollution should redouble their efforts to identify and tap all available sources of emission reductions, and engage and inform the public about their efforts.
• Strengthen the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
o Northeast states can help secure more emission reductions and drive more investments into clean energy by improving this successful program.
“We’ve made tremendous progress, but with global warming and fossil fuel dependence continuing to threaten the Northeast – and with even greater emission reductions needed in the years ahead – the region cannot afford to rest on its laurels,” said Elliott. “We look forward to working with our state leaders and other stakeholder continue that progress by improving RGGI and other policies that will lead to a cleaner more secure energy future.”