Washington commits to 100% clean energy and other states may follow suit

(Inside Climate News, 7 May 2019) At least six other states are considering similar legislation to fight climate change by shutting down coal power and ramping up renewable energy.

In the absence of federal action on climate change, more states are setting ambitious targets to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Washington became the latest on Tuesday when Gov. Jay Inslee signed a law requiring that 100 percent of the state's electricity come from clean energy sources by 2045.

Washington is now the fifth state or territory—following Hawaii, California, New Mexico and Puerto Rico—to commit to 100 percent clean electricity, and at least six other states are considering similar legislation.

"This means we can have a fighting chance at saving the things we cherish most — our land, our air, our water and our children's health," Inslee said in a prepared statement. "We aren't done. Our success this year is just a harbinger of successes to come. But we're ready. We can do this."

Inslee has an even more ambitious plan for a nationwide conversion to clean energy: Last week, his presidential campaign issued a proposal to get the country to 100 percent zero-emissions electricity by 2035. while also requiring all new vehicles and buildings to be zero emissions. That followed another 2020 candidate, former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke's announcement of his own climate plan with a goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050. Activists and some congressional Democrats supporting a Green New Deal want an even faster timeline: transform the nation's electric grid to 100 percent clean energy in just 10 years.

These policies and proposals follow a report last fall by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warning that net greenhouse gas emissions must be brought to zero by mid-century to limit global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius, the ambition of the Paris climate agreement. It said a 45 percent reduction from 2010 levels would be needed worldwide by 2030.

Meeting any of those timelines will require an unprecedented overhaul of infrastructure and policies to transform a national electricity system where only about a third of the power is currently generated by carbon-free sources. Renewable energy prices are falling, but many coal and natural gas power plants still have decades before their expected retirement dates.

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Inside Climate News, 7 May 2019: Washington commits to 100% clean energy and other states may follow suit