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Building blocks of state climate policy

The Building Blocks of State Climate Policy

State legislators can tackle climate change, revitalize the economy, and advance justice by legislating across these key secto

This toolkit provides a framework, links to model legislation, examples from states across the US, and further resources.

Understand the policy building blocks for your state

The infographic below shows an overview of what states can do on climate. For deep-dives into specific policies, click on one of the states below. There, you'll find more info on each policy - as well as the state's current status for each "building block." Don't see your state? Please check back soon as we're in the process of adding more.

Sector-Specific Policies
(% of total GHG emissions)

Industry
(22%)

Electricity
(27%)

Buildings
(12%)

transportation
(28%)

Agriculture & conservation
(10%)

Enact industrial emissions standards: Methane

Enact industrial emissions standards: HFCs

Establish a Buy-Clean Standard

Save money and reduce energy waste by enacting and expanding Energy Efficiency Resource Standards

Provide financial incentives to encourage low-carbon alternatives

Create jobs, stimulate private investment, and help homeowners and business save money on electricity bills

Increase renewable energy on the grid by enacting a renewable portfolio standard

Increase renewables and modernize the grid by upgrading transmission, distribution, and storage

Streamline permitting of renewable energy projects

Save money and reduce energy waste through Energy Efficiency Resource Standards (EERS)

Encourage distributed renewable energy generation through Net Energy Metering (NEM) and Community Solar

Align utility incentives with climate goals through Performance-Based Ratemaking (PBR) and decoupling

Consider the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) in energy decisions

Make utilities more accountable by creating Intervenor Compensation Programs (ICPs)

Provide financial incentives to encourage clean energy and energy efficiency

Promote and enable Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPCs)

Establish a statewide Revolving Loan Fund (RLF)

Establish or expand statewide or local Green Banks or Clean Energy Funds (CEFs)

Fund Research, Development, and Demonstration (RD&D) Efforts

Update energy codes to the most recent energy efficiency standards

Decarbonize buildings by enacting building energy performance standards

Empower local governments to set stronger codes by adopting stretch codes

Save money and reduce energy waste through Energy Efficiency Resource Standards (EERS)

Enact and update appliance efficiency standards

Provide financial incentives to encourage clean energy and energy efficiency

Adopt benchmarking and transparency requirements

Promote and enable Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPCs)

Establish a statewide Revolving Loan Fund (RLF)

Establish or expand statewide or local Green Banks or Clean Energy Funds (CEFs)

Prioritize low-income energy efficiency, upgrades, and protections

Adopt the Advanced Clean Car Low-Emission Vehicle (LEV) standards & Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) regulations

Encourage the Governor to join the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI) {Northeast states only}

Ensure utilities invest in electric vehicle infrastructure by requiring utility Transportation Electrification Plans

Encourage the Governor to join regional efforts in medium- and heavy-duty vehicle electrification

Leverage government's purchasing power by enacting Green State Fleets

Decarbonize fuels by Low-Carbon Fuel Standards (LCFS)

Remove legal barriers to charging stations

Provide financial incentives to encourage electric vehicle (EV) adoption

Expand private and public electric vehicle charging infrastructure

Expand and electrify Public Transportation

Invest in Smart Growth and Complete Streets

Expand and electrify rail – for passengers and freight

Fight food waste through policies such as organic waste reduction goals and donation standards

Support farmers practicing regenerative agriculture

Cross-Cutting Policies

adaptation & resilience

reduce reliance on fossil fuels

Equity & Justice

Create Clean Energy Jobs &
Support Economic Transition

Update building codes for disaster-preparedness

Incorporate climate science in infrastructure planning

Improve indoor air quality (IAQ)

Promote energy security through microgrids and distributed energy generation

Require comprehensive tracking of natural disaster spending

Identify vulnerabilities and ensure equity in long-term planning

Provide resilience education to local governments

Fund green infrastructure projects

Invest in conservation

Fund equitable relocation programs

Ensure equitable disaster preparation and response

Adopt economy-wide greenhouse gas reduction targets

Limit construction of new fossil fuel generation and close coal resources

Establish securitization for retiring facilities (most useful for regulated markets)

Institute stringent minimum statewide drilling setbacks

Establish carbon pricing

Undo state fossil fuel subsidies

Hold government accountable to climate action

Support impacted fossil fuel workers

Institute stringent minimum statewide drilling setbacks

Create permanent Environmental Justice Advisory Bodies

Transition off of fossil fuels

Hold polluters accountable

Identify at-risk communities and apply equity screens in policy design

Engage communities in decision-making

Identify vulnerabilities and ensure equity in long-term planning

Invest in frontline communities: prioritize access to clean energy, energy efficiency, and transportation

Provide relief for communities in economic transition

Ensure equitable disaster preparation and response

Establish securitization for retiring facilities (most useful for regulated markets)

Support impacted fossil fuel workers

Invest in clean energy to unlock a growing industry

Create and support job-training programs

Support clean energy projects that meet high-quality workforce requirements

Tactics Legend

We've color-coded the legislative actions for each section according to the tactics outlined below.

Set Standards
Align Incentives
Stimulate Investment