States, provinces, and regions around the world are leading the way when it comes to setting and meeting climate goals, and are putting the possibility of keeping global warming from surpassing 2°C within reach.
At last year’s COP21 Paris climate talks, a group of 44 individual states, provinces, and regions committed to transparent climate goals, strong engagement from non-Party stakeholders, and ambitious commitments, under the Compact of States and Regions. Since then, another 18 states have joined their ranks, and together represent 443 million citizens, 3.1 GtCO2e of greenhouse gas emissions, and $12.9 trillion in GDP, equivalent to 17% of the global economy.
“The fight against climate change cannot simply be a ‘top-down’ strategy — climate change should also be tackled using a bottom-up approach,” added Johannes Remmel, Minister for Climate Protection, Environment, Agriculture, Conservation and Consumer Protection, North Rhine-Westphalia. “It is therefore on us — the states and regions around the world — to incorporate climate action in all aspects of local governance.”
The Compact also boasts in a new report that its disclosing governments will reduce the per-capita carbon intensity by roughly 65% by mid-century, while nearly a fifth of governments with 2020 reduction goals have already met their targets.
“The report is powerful evidence how these governments continue to go the extra mile in bold climate policies and action,” explains Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in the report’s foreword. “It is particularly heartening to see that some states and regions are already targeting net zero emissions. The [Paris] Agreement’s strength rests not just on central government action but the unprecedented support and growing enthusiasm of business, investors, citizens, cities, states, provinces and regions.”
The authors of the Compact’s second annual report, published in partnership with CDP, claim that “our analysis illustrates how the commitments from these states, provinces and regions are putting a 2 degrees Celsius world within reach.” Specifically, the report explains that “Delivering on all disclosed 2020 targets in time would result in savings that puts these governments on track to stay under the 2 Degrees Scenario,” as seen below:
However, the authors of the report note that “While the near-term ambition is exemplary, there is definitely room for progress, as only around half of the governments included in the analysis have a 2050 target” — reinforcing an oft-quoted analysis that long-term policy certainty and ambition is absolutely vital, but is thoroughly lacking. “The lack of long-term targets translates into emissions reduction levels that are not sufficient to stay below the 2 Degrees Scenario post 2030,” the authors continue, subsequently urging governments “to increase their long-term ambition to match the required rate of decarbonisation and deliver on climate targets that achieve a well-below 2 degrees Celsius world by 2050.”
The report itself provides learned insights from participating states and regions in an effort to support national governments heading into the “2018 facilitative dialogue” — a dialogue throughout 2018 which will take stock of what has worked or is working, and what hasn’t — which is aimed at raising ambition in the next series of Nationally Determined Contributions due in 2019/20.
“The high level of action that we have seen from state, provincial and regional governments over the past two years has taken place against the remarkable backdrop of the signing and ratification of the landmark Paris Agreement,” said Damian Ryan, the acting CEO of The Climate Group. “The work by these states and regions show that as the world becomes more uncertain at national level, governments of states and regions are in the vanguard for driving climate action forward.”
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