Climate policy in the United States is at an inflection point. A new Oxford Net Zero report demonstrates that for the first time, a majority of Americans live in a jurisdiction with a net zero emissions target. Furthermore, US companies accounting for at least $5.2 trillion in yearly sales have committed to net zero.
But scaling up climate federalism to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement will require coordinated leadership from Washington, DC. Net zero pathways still require alignment along several critical dimensions, as well as tools that will enable subnational actors to connect ambition to action.
These four policies federal policies will enable US climate leadership to rise to the challenge of this decisive decade:
- Pledge: Pledge to reach net-zero emissions through a legally-binding commitment (first through executive order and then by legislation), accounting for all greenhouse gases, with an interim target of 50% emissions reductions by 2030.
- Plan: Produce a national net zero roadmap demonstrating how subnational pledges can consider issues of equity and justice and place constraints on the role of offsets.
- Proceed: Align economic recovery spending with long-term climate goals, develop sector-specific net zero strategies and mandate net zero alignment as a condition for federal bailouts.
- Publish: Publish an annual national progress report that includes the progress of subnational commitments.
There has never been a more urgent time to lead on climate. This report identifies how policymakers can leverage the base of support to further accelerate the net zero transition in the US. By centring climate discourse on net zero emissions and targeting recovery spending to accelerate the transition, the Biden-Harris administration can begin the decisive decade with evidence-based policy that catalyses the nation’s commitment to averting climate catastrophe.