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Tony Evers

Gov. Tony Evers delivers his State of the State Address last month.

Gov. Tony Evers says he’s joining a group of governors vowing to combat climate change at the state level, in part by pursuing reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

The U.S. Climate Alliance, which aims to implement elements of the international Paris Agreement on climate change, includes governors from 20 states including Wisconsin, as well as Puerto Rico. It was formed in 2017 in response to President Donald Trump’s announced intent to withdraw the United States from the agreement.

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state’s influential business lobby, criticized Evers for joining the alliance, saying it would harm Wisconsin manufacturers and boost the cost of energy.

“Unfortunately, Gov. Evers’ choice to join the U.S. Climate Alliance is just another decision that will negatively impact our state’s economy,” said the group’s CEO, Kurt Bauer.

According to the Evers release, governors joining the alliance commit to implement policies “that advance the goals of the Paris Agreement.”

That includes “aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025,” according to the release, as well as tracking and reporting progress and promoting clean energy development.

Participation in the climate alliance is nonbinding. Asked about his specific plans to reduce emissions, Evers told reporters Tuesday that his administration is discussing it and that he wants to review what other states are doing.

Evers said his proposal for the next state budget may include “some ideas of where we should be” on renewable energy development. He said he believes there’s an emerging consensus between energy companies and environmentalists on the increasing viability of renewable energy.

“I think there’s some wind at our back on this issue, and I think that’s going to be very helpful,” Evers siad.

In a statement, Evers said the move is “demonstrating that we can take climate action while growing our economy at the same time.”

“It’s a new day in Wisconsin and it’s time to lead our state in a new direction where we embrace science, where we discuss the very real implications of climate change,” Evers said.

The announcement is a sharp departure from former Gov. Scott Walker, who generally avoided acknowledging or discussing climate change. Under Walker, the state Department of Natural Resources scrubbed language from its website regarding the need to curb human activity that scientists say has accelerated climate change.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Evers is the fourth of a wave of newly elected Democratic governors joining the alliance. Others include Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

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Mark Sommerhauser covers state government and politics for the Wisconsin State Journal.