Study finds critical role for subnational action in fight against climate change

Morgan Edwards


Research by La Follette School Assistant Professor Morgan Edwards and colleagues demonstrates how combining existing subnational climate action with expanded national strategies in the United States will be critical to reach scientifically informed climate goals.

Their research, published in the open-access, peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications, finds that this comprehensive policy approach could reduce emissions up to 49 percent by 2030, relative to 2005 levels. The paper illuminates how the significant scale of action driven by subnational actors can form a critical part of national strategies in the United States and other countries as they increase their ambition to address climate change under the Paris Agreement.

The paper, Fusing subnational with national climate action is central to decarbonization: The case of the United States, is available online.

“Our findings underscore the importance of this week’s election,” said Edwards. “Cities, states, and businesses across the United States are making commitments to act on climate change. Combining strong federal policy with these subnational actions can lead to even greater emissions reductions.”

Edwards, who received her doctorate in engineering systems from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, also recently participated in the Wisconsin Energy Institute’s Forward in Energy Forum on Energy and the Election with Professor Greg Nemet. A video of the October 20 discussion is available online.

Edwards’ research and teaching focus on human-centered energy responses to the climate crisis across policymaking scales. Before joining the La Follette School this fall, she was a President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for Global Sustainability at the University of Maryland.