Earth Day is celebrated on April 22, and those who celebrate it this year will do so in light of the increasingly grim news surrounding global climate change. Even some of the more conservative climate models predict dire consequences should global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions fail to improve. While some parts of the world have made aggressive commitments to reduce emissions, the United States — the world’s second largest greenhouse gas emitter — has fallen behind most affluent countries in efforts to reduce emissions.
Some states, however, are actually very eco-friendly compared to the rest of the country. While the United States announced in 2017 its plans to back out of the Paris Climate Agreement, many state governments have set their own goals to reduce emissions in line with the international agreement.
The burning of fossil fuels is one of the primary causes not just of greenhouse gas emissions, but also of other forms of air pollution and environmental harm. While some U.S. states generate over 90% of electricity by burning coal, oil, or natural gas, others have a largely green electricity generation profile. In Vermont, for example, 99.6% of electricity generated comes from alternative sources.
Eco-friendly states enact more aggressive local restrictions on energy use for its businesses and transportation systems, use more renewable energy sources and less fossil fuels, and generally have less pollution. 24/7 Wall St. created an index of air pollution levels, state energy generation and efficiency policy, and employment in green jobs to identify the 16 most eco-friendly states.
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