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Evers Joining Alliance To Uphold Paris Climate Goals

Evers Becomes 4th New Democratic Governor To Join US Climate Alliance

Gov. Tony Evers speaks at the State of the State
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers addresses a joint session of the Legislature in the Assembly chambers during the State of the State speech at the state Capitol, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. Andy Manis/AP Photo

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers says he’s joining the U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition of governors formed in 2017 to implement the Paris climate agreement.

The group initially organized after President Donald Trump vowed to remove the United States from the Paris agreement, which seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Evers is the latest of four newly elected Democratic governors to join the U.S. Climate Alliance, which now includes 21 states.

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“It’s a new day in Wisconsin and it’s time to lead our state in a new direction where we embrace science, where we discuss the very real implications of climate change, where we work to find solutions, and where we invest in renewable energy,” Evers said in a written statement. “By joining the U.S. Climate Alliance, we will have support in demonstrating that we can take climate action while growing our economy at the same time.”

Joining the alliance requires a commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions “by at least 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025,” according to the alliance’s website.

It also requires the state to “track and report progress to the global community in appropriate settings, including when the world convenes to take stock of the Paris agreement.”

In addition, the agreement means Wisconsin must “accelerate new and existing policies to reduce carbon pollution and promote clean energy deployment.”

Speaking to reporters in Madison, Evers said he wanted to learn from the other states.

“Do I believe in climate change? Yes,” Evers said. “Do I believe in science? Yes. Do I think that we can create a green economy that’s good for our state? Yes. But I’m real interested in seeing what other states are doing that are ahead of us.”

Environmentalists praised the governor’s announcement.

“It’s great to watch as the state begins to wake up from nearly a decade of climate denial, destructive environmental policy, and environmental injustice,” said Wisconsin Conservation Voters Executive Director Kerry Schumann in a statement. “It truly is a new day in Wisconsin.”

The state’s largest business group, meanwhile, said complying with the Paris agreement would raise electrical rates and endanger manufacturing jobs.

“Unfortunately, Gov. Evers’ choice to join the U.S. Climate Alliance is just another decision that will negatively impact our state’s economy,” said Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce President and CEO Kurt Bauer.

It’s unclear what steps Evers could take unilaterally to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. The most aggressive policies would likely require the approval of the state Legislature, which is controlled by Republicans.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said Republicans would not support any proposals that increase the cost of electricity in Wisconsin, but said he didn’t know what Evers had in mind.

“I think it’s probably symbolic,” Vos told reporters. “But I certainly will be anxious to see what he thinks it means.”