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Washington Post: 3 trends to watch in U.S. climate policy in 2023

January 3, 2023
The Washington Post predicts that states will be central to U.S. climate action in 2023.

“But with Republicans taking control of the House, dimming the prospects for more ambitious climate legislation at the federal level, the epicenter of U.S. climate action could shift to the states this year.


  • At the moment, 15 states and territories have enacted requirements for achieving 100 percent clean electricity, including Hawaii, California, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.


  • Six states have enacted requirements for phasing out sales of new vehicles powered by gasoline or diesel, while two states have updated their building codes to phase out gas appliances, according to a tally by Evergreen Action, a climate advocacy group.


More states could adopt or strengthen such standards this year. In November’s midterm electionsDemocrats gained a ‘trifecta’ — control of the governor’s office and both chambers of the legislature — in four states that are expected to pursue bolder climate policies:


  • In Maryland, Gov.-elect Wes Moore has called for 100 percent of Maryland’s power to come from clean sources by 2035, with an interim target of 80 percent by 2030.


  • In Massachusetts, Gov.-elect Maura Healey wants the state to achieve 100 percent clean electricity by 2030. She has also pushed for ending the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035, and she has appointed the state’s first Cabinet-level ‘climate chief.’


  • In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order requiring the state to become carbon-neutral by 2050 during her first term. With the state Senate flipping for the first time since 1983, she could now pursue major climate policies through legislation as well.


  • And in Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz has adopted stricter vehicle emission standards, but the Republican-controlled state Senate has stymied his goal of 100 percent clean electricity by 2040. Now under Democratic control, the state legislature is expected to start considering a clean electricity bill as soon as this month.


‘States will take center stage this year in confronting climate change,’ said Casey Katims, executive director of the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of governors committed to meeting the goals of the Paris climate accord.


‘Governors are assuming office and entering second terms with fresh energy, new resources and increased momentum to move boldly on climate — particularly where there is strengthened legislative support,’ he said.”

About the Alliance

Launched on June 1, 2017 by the governors of Washington, New York, and California to help fill the void left by the previous administration’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, the Alliance has grown to include governors from across the U.S. Governors in the Alliance have pledged to collectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025, at least 50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030, and collectively achieve overall net-zero greenhouse gas emissions as soon as practicable, and no later than 2050.


Alliance states and territories are achieving lower levels of air pollution, delivering more energy savings to homes and businesses, preparing more effectively for climate impacts, generating more electricity from zero-carbon sources, and collectively employing over 40% more workers in the clean energy sector than the rest of the country. For more information on Alliance members’ bipartisan, cross-sector climate action, see our Fact Sheet.