NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana’s governor has signed an executive order setting a state goal for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, drawing swift praise from environmental groups.
At least 23 other states and the District of Columbia have set greenhouse gas targets, though specifics vary, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.
“The real unique part about it is this is a fossil fuel-driven state,” said Natalie Snider, senior director of coastal resilience for the Environmental Defense Fund.
Gov. John Bel Edwards laid out the state’s first goal for greenhouse gases in an order creating a climate initiatives task force to include members from state government, business, environmental justice, Indian tribes, academics and other areas.
A second order signed Wednesday creates a state resilience officer and directs all state agencies to work with that person toward protecting and restoring Louisiana’s vanishing coast.
The United States is among the world’s biggest carbon polluters. Louisiana’s ultimate and interim goals are in line with those in the Paris agreement of 2017 and those of many other states, Edwards said. He did not mention that President Donald Trump had pulled the U.S. out of the agreement.
See more PE coverage of net zero carbon goals by utilities and states
“In many ways, Louisiana is the poster child for climate change, we are the canary in the coal mine,” Edwards said during a Coastal Protection and Restoration Agency meeting livestreamed from Baton Rouge.
“We want to be the gold standard” for climate solutions, Edwards said.
He said that must include reducing emissions: “We cannot build our way out of this problem.”
But Edwards said there’s also tremendous development and jobs potential in renewable energy and such techniques as restoring wetlands, where green plants will take in carbon dioxide that is emitted into the air, and creating ways to capture the gas from refineries and factories and store it in underground formations rather than letting it into the air.
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“Destination 2050” is the theme of the Leadership Summit at POWERGEN International and DISTRIBUTECH International next year, focusing on utility and regulatory goals toward reaching net-zero carbon emissions in three decades. POWERGEN and DISTRIBUTECH will be co-located March 30-April 1 in Orlando, Florida.