By William Patrick | The Center Square
Gov. John Bel Edwards has entered Louisiana into a United Nations climate change initiative called Race to Zero.
The global campaign includes cities, states, regions, businesses and investors from around the world and centers on a zero carbon emissions platform, achieved no later than 2050.
Edwards, a Democrat, said joining the campaign will help prevent worsening effects of climate change, while creating jobs and “opening the door for inclusive, sustainable growth in a decarbonizing economy.”
“No state in our country is more adversely impacted by climate change than Louisiana – in just the last year alone we’ve experienced major hurricanes, flash flooding and a severe winter storm,” Edwards said Wednesday. “But at the same time, no state is better positioned to be a leader in reducing carbon emissions and bolstering coastal resiliency.”
The initiative coincides with an upcoming international climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, Edwards said. The conference is aimed at accelerating policies associated with the U.N. Paris Agreement and the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.
“By joining Race to Zero, Louisiana redoubles its commitment to achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions of net zero by 2050, to make interim progress toward that goal in the next decade, to establish a plan of action to achieve these goals, and to make that plan a reality through implementation,” Edwards said.
Louisiana is a leading oil and gas producing state, with 250,000 related jobs, according to the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association. The industry generated $73 billion in state GDP last year and $4.5 billion in state and local tax revenue in 2019, the group reported.
Conservative groups such as the Heritage Foundation, a Washington think tank, oppose climate change plans such as the Paris Agreement, saying compliance will “reduce incomes, drive up energy costs, and eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs (nationwide), while producing only trivial benefits.”
Edwards issued two executive orders last year creating a Climate Initiatives Task Force and appointing a state chief resilience officer. In May, he entered Louisiana into the U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition of states with mostly Democratic governors.
The Climate Initiatives Task Force has set several emission benchmarks, including a net greenhouse gas reduction of 26-28% by 2025. A reduction target of 40-50% is set for 2030, and a 100% reduction is planned for 2050.
Edwards, who will end his term-limited governorship in 2023, said Louisiana is on the “front lines” of climate change.
“Extreme heat, devastating storms, flooding, and other harmful impacts to human health and financial well-being are putting our state to the test,” Edwards said. “If humanity does not reduce greenhouse gas emissions, these conditions will only worsen and adaptation will become even more difficult.”