Late yesterday, California sealed a Memorandum of Understanding (“Under 2 MOU”) with 11 other states and provinces in the Americas and Europe to limit their greenhouse gas emissions to 80-95% by 2050 from 1990 levels.
The tricontinental pledge is without precedent and very forward-looking. It will help keep global temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius, the warming threshold thought to push climate change from unavoidable but mitigable to unmanageable consequences.
The Under 2 MOU agreement represents 100 million people (about one and a half percent of world population) and more than $4.5 trillion in GDP. It resembles the current United Nations proposal, scheduled for approval in Paris this December, in that it respects the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities from each region.
Said California Governor Jerry Brown:
“This global challenge requires bold action on the part of governments everywhere. It’s time to be decisive. It’s time to act.”
Under 2 MOU signatories: Acre, Brazil; Baden-Württemberg, Germany; Baja California, Mexico; Catalonia, Spain; Jalisco, Mexico; Ontario, Canada; British Columbia, Canada; Wales; and the US states of Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.
California and Quebec already have a carbon cap-and-trade system, which was joined by Ontario in April, making it North America’s largest. The US Northeast (9 states) also has a working carbon price system. And so far, 75 cities internationally (the C40) have pledged to mitigate and adapt to climate change together, with a financing mechanism delineated earlier this week. About 40 countries (nearly 25% of world governments, including major regions in China) and numerous subnational jurisdictions also have individual plans at work.
Recent agreements by the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) and China-India bilaterally have also been positive, directing these areas toward coalition on emissions and renewable energy. Taken in this context, the upcoming talks between the European Union and China in June have great potential to increase global decarbonization and climate change efforts, perhaps to the point where a solid agreement in Paris (COP21) is inevitable. A worldwide carbon pricing agreement may no longer seem United Nations fantasy.