The heat pump target is part of a broader push to decarbonize buildings—which currently contribute more than 30% of the U.S.' climate-heating emissions.
The U.S. Climate Alliance—a group of 25 governors leading states that make up 60% of the U.S. economy and 55% of its population—pledged Thursday to quadruple the number of heat pumps installed in their states by 2030.
Heat pumps work by either pumping hot air in during winter or hot air out during summer, The Associated Press explained. Because they don't have to first work to heat a coil or other device, they are more energy efficient than other heating methods. They also run on the electric grid, so they don't use extra fossil fuels like oil or gas furnaces.
They're "almost a miraculous solution," Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, one member of the alliance, told AP, adding that they solve the problems of "heating in the winter, cooling in the summer, and a reduction of carbon pollution."
"This coalition continues to prove that when we come together, we can make a greener future more equitable and accessible for all."
The alliance made their announcement at Climate Week NYC Thursday. The heat pump target is part of a broader push to decarbonize buildings—which currently contribute more than 30% of the U.S.' climate-heating emissions.
"We are in a climate emergency and the window to act is closing," Inslee said in a statement. "U.S. Climate Alliance states get that."
The heat pump commitment means that participating states will install 20 million heat pumps by the end of the decade, up from 4.8 million today, according to energy transition nonprofit RMI.
"Heat pumps and heat pump water heaters are core decarbonization technologies that allow buildings to switch from burning fossil fuels for heating and hot water to using electricity instead," the group wrote in response to the news. "Making this switch can reduce home heating emissions in every US state by 35–93% while saving lives through improved air quality and protecting residents from volatile gas commodity prices."
U.S. Climate Alliance members also pledged to ensure 40% of the benefits from the green-buildings mobilization go to marginalized communities.
"This coalition continues to prove that when we come together, we can make a greener future more equitable and accessible for all," New York Gov. and alliance member Kathy Hochul said in a statement.
Fellow alliance member and Maine Gov. Janet Mills spoke of her state's positive experience with heat pumps. Maine set a goal in 2019 of installing 100,000 by 2025 and ended up significantly overshooting that, installing 104,000 by the end of August, as The Cool Downreported at the time.
"Transitioning to heat pumps in Maine is creating good-paying jobs, curbing our carbon emissions, cutting costs for families, and making people more comfortable in their homes," Mills said Thursday, adding that her state would ramp up its target to 275,000 installations by 2027.
The alliance, which was first formed by Washington, New York, and California in response to former President Donald Trump's decision to pull the U.S. from the Paris agreement, is partnering with the Biden administration for their new endeavor.
Other goals include supporting the development of codes and standards for net-zero buildings, working to speed the process of retrofitting homes and businesses to electrify them and make them more efficient, and creating well-paying career-track green building jobs.
"Combined with President Biden's historic climate leadership, these bold commitments by governors to cut emissions from buildings will have a catalytic impact across America," White House National Climate Advisor Ali Zaid said in a statement Thursday. "It will clean up the air our children breathe, save hardworking families money on their monthly energy bills, strengthen America's climate resilience, and create good-paying jobs in every corner of the country."