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The Dirty Truth About Utility Climate Pledges (Version 2)

By Cara Bottorff, Noah Ver Beek, and Leah Stokes - Sierra Club, October 2022

Rapidly cleaning up the electric sector is key to achieving our climate goals. We need electric utilities to retire coal plants, cancel plans to build new gas plants, and accelerate clean energy deployment to achieve 80 percent clean electricity by 2030 and 100 percent clean electricity by 2035. This is in line with the United States’ climate commitments and scientific consensus of what is needed for a livable planet.

Many utilities have pledged to clean up their electricity production, but our research shows these promises often amount to little more than greenwashing. In our 2021 report, released a year and a half ago, we analyzed the plans of 77 utilities owned by the 50 parent companies most invested in fossil fuel generation. We found that despite pledges to reduce emissions from many of these companies, most utilities did not have plans that would actually achieve the necessary emissions reductions by 2030.1, 2 This updated report investigates what progress, if any, these utilities made over the last year and a half to turn their pledges into real action. We want to know: have utilities stepped up to meet the challenge and make the changes needed to save lives, reduce costs, and address climate change by transforming our power system?

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