Representatives from states and provinces in seven countries spread across Europe and North and South America yesterday committed to slashing per-capita greenhouse-gas emissions to less than two tons of carbon-dioxide equivalent – a cut of up to 95% – by 2050.
20 May 2015 | A dozen states and provinces representing 100 million people from seven countries yesterday committed to dramatically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The commitment is part of a growing momentum on climate action in the lead-up to the UN climate talks that will be taking place in Paris this December. Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) hosted the event commemorating the official signing of the “Subnational Global Climate Leadership Memorandum of Understanding” in Sacramento, where founding signatories committed to cut total emissions by 80-95% percent below 1990 levels or to cut per-capita emissions to below two tons, by 2050.
The twelve jurisdictions that signed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) come from three continents and represent about $4.5 trillion in combined GDP (gross domestic product). More state, regional and city governments are expected to sign the agreement in the coming months.
“This agreement is further proof that states, provinces, and cities are forging ahead with climate solutions, not waiting for others to act,” said EDF President Fred Krupp. “By taking this bold step, California and the other partners will not only secure significant emissions reductions but also demonstrate that climate action and prosperity go hand in hand. As we look ahead to the climate conference in Paris at the end of the year, yesterday’s announcement sets a strong example for countries to follow.”
Yesterday’s event was convened by California Governor Jerry Brown and attended by six other of the agreement’s founding signatories, including Acre, Brazil (Magaly Medeiros, President of the Institute on Climate Change); Baden-Württemberg, Germany (Winfried Kretschmann, Minister-President); Baja California, Mexico (Francisco Vega, Governor); Catalonia, Spain (Santi Vila, Minister of Territory and Sustainability); Jalisco, Mexico (Aristóteles Sandoval, Governor); and Ontario, Canada (Glenn Murray, Minister of Environment and Climate Change).
The UN Development Program estimates subnational governments’ decisions can influence 50-80% of greenhouse gas mitigation and adaptation initiatives needed to address climate change.
“These subnational leaders understand first-hand that the future of people and the planet are at stake, and they are committing to concrete measures that will help us turn the corner in the fight against climate change,” said Derek Walker, EDF’s Associate Vice President, U.S. Climate and Energy Program. “Today’s agreement demonstrates how dynamic climate leaders can create solutions that can be replicated elsewhere and can pave the way for more ambitious action.”
The agreement is being referred to as the “Under 2 MOU” for both its goal of limiting emissions to below 2 tons per capita by 2050, and the goal of limiting global temperature rise to under 2 degrees, which Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scientists say is needed to avoid dangerous climate change.
To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, signatories have committed to: establishing emissions reductions targets for 2030 or earlier that will be achieved through their regional actions and plans; increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy; and coordinating on specific areas, including science, short-lived climate pollutants, and monitoring, reporting and verification of emissions.
The subnational governments also committed in the Under 2 MOU to working on adaptation and resilience, and to carrying out strategies to implement and achieve their goals and targets.
With these subnational governments working together and building on their existing agreements, the agreement says, “subnational governments, together with interested nations, can help to accelerate the world’s response to climate change and provide a model for broader international cooperation among nations.