The U.S. state of Oregon is about to reduce carbon pollution a lot. It will cut emissions by 30 million metric tons under a new plan developed by power utilities and environmental groups. That’s the equivalent of taking 6.4 million cars off the road.

State and local initiatives like these are a big part of why U.S. carbon emissions are down. And the Oregon model shows how businesses, environmentalists and government working together can deliver big results in combating climate change.

How they did it

In January, utilities and environmental groups came together to map out the state’s clean-energy transition. Bob Jenks, the executive director of the state’s Citizens Utility Board, said that a clean-power future was a given. “The question becomes what’s the responsible way to get there,” he said.

Working together, they mapped out a strategy that became the core of a new “Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan” law. Among other measures, the law:

  • Phases out the use of coal used by the state’s two biggest electric utilities by 2035.
  • Requires that a majority of the state’s power come from renewable sources by 2040.

“We have meaningfully advanced Oregon’s clean-energy future,” said Scott Bolton, a vice president at Pacific Power, one of the two utilities that provide most of Oregon’s power.

Another key: Energy innovation and research have lowered the cost of renewables. That means clean energy makes sense — even for power companies.

Chart comparing renewable and fossil-fuel energy costs (State Dept.)

Learn more about how the U.S. and other nations are stepping up to address global climate change.