Center for American Progress

RELEASE: What the Federal Government Can Learn From States and Cities in Fighting Climate Change
Press Release

RELEASE: What the Federal Government Can Learn From States and Cities in Fighting Climate Change

Washington, D.C. — As states and local governments around the country launch ambitious programs to tackle climate change, some of the most effective plans use a whole-of-government strategy to address the issue from all angles.

A new report from the Center for American Progress examines case studies from six states and two cities to show what the federal government can learn from these approaches to climate action. These examples illustrate the benefits of greater collaboration and coordination across departmental boundaries to maximize emissions reductions and implement clean energy and climate resiliency projects across all sectors of government.

The examples of climate leadership from Alaska, California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, and New York—along with two local examples from Honolulu and Philadelphia—show how climate ambition can be driven through the leadership of states and cities. The breadth of lessons offered in the report gives the Biden administration a comprehensive look into how it can tailor its whole-of-government approach across a diverse nation.

“The Biden administration and Congress should draw from the experience that these states and cities have to offer when it comes to deploying transformative climate policies,” said Chris Chyung, campaign manager for the State House to the White House initiative with Energy and Environment Advocacy at CAP and co-author of the report. “Federal leaders should also pursue a policy and investment agenda that directly engages states and further empowers state, tribal, and local governments to continue their climate leadership.”

The authors of each case study offer best practices to inform the Biden administration as it enacts a whole-of-government approach capable of meeting the urgency that the climate crisis demands.

The case studies offer the following lessons for federal officials:

  • Internalize climate policy as integral to the respective missions of federal agencies.
  • Establish mutual metrics between and across agencies to measure and maximize a program’s co-benefits.
  • Centralize stakeholder engagement throughout the planning, implementation, and revision processes of interagency programs.
  • Expand federal funding for state and regional coordination to allow projects at scale to reduce emissions in line with the Biden administration’s 2030 and 2050 climate goals.
  • Localize climate adaptation and mitigation solutions and uplift community-led strategies.

Read the report: “Fighting Climate Change, From Capitol Hill to City Hall: How 8 States and Cities Are Mobilizing Whole-of-Government Climate Action” by Hannah Argento-McCurdy, Aimee Barnes, Chris Chyung, Camile Cleveland, and Diana Madson

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at shananel@americanprogress.org.