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20 Subnational Governments Lead Emissions-Reduction Commitments Ahead of COP21

Regional and state governments around the world are committing to ambitious emissions-reduction targets in the lead-up to December’s COP 21 meeting.

Today, the Climate Group’s Compact of States and Regions announced record commitments to reducing GHG emissions from 20 governments representing 220 million people and $8.3 trillion in GDP. All reporting governments have a series of reduction targets across their operations, with some as ambitious as 90 percent reduction by 2050 and 100 percent reduction by 2060. 18 governments have also reported renewable energy targets.

The Compact expects the potential emission savings through these commitments to be one of the most significant presented ahead of COP21; participating governments currently represent about 5 percent of all global emissions.

“Sub-national governments play a vital role in the run up to COP21, and we want to work together, both in our own country and globally, to help ensure that this climate leadership is represented ahead of the international negotiations,” said Premier Jay Weatherill of South Australia, one of the regions reporting its climate data to the Compact. “More sub-national leaders need to follow suit, leading by example and report ambitious targets to the Compact.”

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In addition to South Australia, other participating governments that submitted climate data to the first round of reporting include: British Columbia, California, Ontario, Oregon, Quebec, New York and Washington in North America; Jalisco, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo in Central and South America; Basque Country, Catalonia, Lombardy, Rhone-Alpes, Scotland and Wales in Europe; and Australian Capital Territory in Australia.

The Compact represents the first-ever global assessment of GHG reduction contributions being made by state and regional governments around the world. Data submitted to the Compact will be part of the Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Action (NAZCA) platform, an online tool developed by the United Nations with the governments of France and Peru ahead of COP21. Through NAZCA, businesses, cities, regions and investors have already showcased 2,763 climate initiatives.

“Regions, States and territories representing the interests of billions of people are leading by example — they are underlining their determination to make the UN climate conference in Paris a success,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). “[NAZCA] is an open invitation for others to get on board, register their commitments and make this wave of climate action unstoppable for generations to come.”

The Compact of States and Regions is encouraging all global state and regional governments to join its effort. Governments have until July 31, 2015 to submit their own climate data to be included in its COP21 disclosure report.

Leaders of subnational governments are emphasizing the importance of local initiatives to advance global climate mitigation. “I wanted the Rhône-Alpes region to join the Compact of States and Regions, because the history of our climate now writes itself at the sub-national level,” said Jean-Jack Queyranne, President of the Rhône-Alpes Region. “Countries sign treaties, but it is local governments who, through their actions and contributions, play a major role each day to tackle climate change.”

The Compact’s efforts follow other recent climate action at the subnational level ahead of the COP21 meeting in Paris. In May, 12 state and province leaders signed an agreement designed to keep the global average temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius. And in April, over 40 CEOs signed an open letter to leaders attending the Paris Conference, urging them to deliver an ambitious climate agreement.

Here at home, President Obama signed an executive order in March directing the federal government to cut its GHGs by 40 percent from 2008 levels by 2025 and to increase its use of renewable energy sources to 30 percent of total consumption by 2025 in March. But a report released in May said that while the U.S. leads the world in cleantech investments, patents, renewable energy generation and electric vehicle adoption, it has been slow to reduce energy consumption and GHGs.

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