US cities mobilize against climate change without Trump

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Even as President Donald Trump steers the United States away from actively fighting climate change, a number of American cities and states are continuing to pursue renewable energies to reduce their carbon footprint.

Around three dozen states – even some headed by Republicans – have established policies that require power companies to expand the amount of renewable energy they produce in the coming decade.

Beyond the traditional Democratic and pro-environment bastions of California and New York, even states headed by Republican governors including Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Texas and Iowa have decided to invest massively in clean energy.

“I think the surprise to me is how Republican governors appreciate there are opportunities for economic development for investment for innovation by embracing new technologies, both energy efficiency and clean energy, and in spite of the Trump administration turning their back and in fact trying to put up barriers,” said Dick Munson, head of the Environmental Defense Fund’s energy program in the Midwest.

In Illinois, Republican governor Bruce Rauner recently signed a law, struck with the help of the majority Democratic legislature, setting out more than $200 million in investment annually for renewable energy.

“That is probably the most extensive clean energy legislation in the country,” Munson told AFP.

Large mobilization

In Ohio, governor John Kasich, who lost his battle for the Republican party’s nomination in the presidential race last year to Trump, vetoed a bill that would have weakened the state’s clean energy efforts.

And in the highly conservative state of Texas, former governor Rick Perry, also a Republican who became Secretary of Energy under Trump, has aggressively pursued wind energy, before saying he would advise Trump to stay in the Paris climate accord.

Texas “produces more wind power per year than every other state of the nation,” said Munson, making up a quarter of US wind capacity and 12.7 percent of Texas’s energy needs.

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