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Climate Week:
State and Regional Governments Pledge a Cut to GHG Greater Than US Annual Emissions

The leaders of state and regional governments, spanning North and South America, Europe and Australia, on Tuesday announced collective climate targets that would save 7.9 gigatons of equivalent carbon dioxide (GtCO2e) by 2030 — greater than the U.S.’s carbon emissions in 2012.

Announced at Climate Week NYC, the pledges come from the Compact of States and Regions, a UN supported initiative that aims to drive major emissions reductions after the COP climate summit in December, where the expected deal will come into force in 2020.

Altogether, the sub-national governments making up the Compact represent 10 percent of global GDP and 220 million people.

The plans will be achieved through a combination of measures including renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, the Compact said in a statement.

The current commitments come from the first 20 subnational governments to sign up to the Compact, but over 40 states and regions have now submitted emissions reduction targets. These are being verified and compiled in time for the COP climate conference in December.

The Compact commitments will also be part of the Non-state Actor Zone for Climate Action (NAZCA) platform, the 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 3,704 climate initiatives.

This announcement shows that, even as national governments dawdle on climate change action, state and regional governments already are stepping up to the challenge. And the transition to a low carbon economy could be a great business opportunity.

“Rapid action to a low carbon economy will benefit everyone,” Nicola Sturgeon, first minister of Scotland, said in a video message. “It tackles climate change, supports the development of new technologies and creates new jobs.”

There is data to back up these claims. Investing in public and low emission transport, building efficiency and waste management in cities could generate savings with a current value of $17 trillion by 2050, according to new research from the New Climate Economy, the flagship project of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.

Recently, Rio de Janeiro became the first city in the world to reach full compliance with the Compact of Mayors, a global coalition of city leaders dedicated to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, making urban communities more resilient to climate change and regularly reporting their progress publicly.

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