New guide shows climate actions are benefitting states and regions and provides blueprint for governments to replicate

1 October 2020

The Under2 Coalition of states and regions and Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) today released a handbook detailing five transformative actions regional governments can take to limit the effects of climate change while bringing other beneficial impacts to society.

The guide, Regions Take Action: The Benefits of Major Climate Policies, uses case studies from India, Brazil, Europe and the United States to show how climate-friendly policies can create better outcomes across society. It looks particularly at economic development, air quality, public health, equity and resilience to provide a model for how regional governments around the world can implement similar actions in their own areas.

Jacob Corvidae, RMI principal and co-author, said:

“The stories in the guide are exciting because they illustrate how governments are addressing very immediate problems while also leading the way on climate change solutions. There is so much that can be achieved for society as a whole when governments take a comprehensive approach to making their communities more climate-friendly.”

Benefits Beyond Emissions Reduction

Developing and using low-carbon technologies and strategies is critical to tackling greenhouse gas emissions. However, research now shows that benefits derived from low-carbon solutions extend far beyond environmental gains.

For example, one study estimates that decreased air pollution resulting from climate action to meet a 1.5°C warming scenario could lead to around 153 million fewer premature deaths worldwide.[i] In the United States alone, the economic value of the avoided deaths is estimated at $37 trillion.[ii]

The Regions Take Action guide illustrates five key climate actions regional governments can take across different sectors that will also benefit other areas of society:

  • Clean electricity: Commit to creating clean electricity. Renewables are cost-effective investments, and clean electricity is fundamental to a carbon-free society.
  • Carbon-free buildings: Construct and upgrade buildings to be all-electric and efficient, which will also create healthier, more comfortable places to live and work.
  • Healthy transportation: Create better mobility options and electrify vehicles, which can reduce air pollution while giving people more choices for transportation and for taking climate action.
  • Innovative industry: Use clean energy supplies to move industry to electric power while also creating solutions to drive a clean energy economy. This includes new processes, low-carbon materials, digital technologies and more.
  • Sustainable land use: Preserve and enhance the natural resources that create beautiful places, economic opportunities and essential carbon “sinks” that pull pollution from the air.

Libby Ferguson, Director of Policy and Knowledge at the Under2 Coalition Secretariat said:

“Climate champions alone can’t be responsible for acting on climate change. We need to see a combined effort across all areas of government, including transport, housing, education and agriculture. Not only does this increase the impact of individual efforts, but it shows the value of sustainable, climate-friendly choices in all areas of our everyday lives.”

Regions Taking Action

The case studies presented in the guide give clear examples of where regional climate actions have made a tangible difference in various parts of the world. The examples show how:

  • Hawaii, United States, has reduced price volatility on the path to 100% clean electricity. The island state committed to achieving 100% renewable electricity production by 2045. By producing its own power locally, it can create a more consistent, reliable energy source, rather than relying on imported fuels.
  • New York, United States, is ensuring equitable benefits to vulnerable communities while improving its building stock. The 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act created the strongest economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions limits in the United States. Buildings are a big focus, and the act requires that 35% of economic benefits go to disadvantaged communities.
  • The National Capital Territory of Delhi, India, is improving air quality with electric vehicles. The policy, launched in August 2020, calls for 25% of all new vehicles to be battery operated by 2024 to address the fact that 30% of particulate matter in Delhi is emitted from tailpipes.
  • Hauts-de-France, France, is dramatically increasing local jobs as it invests in reinventing its industrial base. Investing in innovation, the region now has over 700 projects building a new industrial base around digital solutions, renewable energy and low-carbon materials. It is projecting a 13% growth in industrial sector jobs.
  • Mato Grosso, Brazil, is creating diverse partnerships to tap a growing global market while preserving land and supporting local businesses and communities. This has created a way for farmers to create economic growth without resorting to deforestation. This builds the economy, while also preserving essential carbon-sinks and preserving local ecosystems and culture. It has also inspired a growth in these markets globally.

Other governments can draw on these examples to advance their own commitments and coordinate across ministries and departments to solve multiple problems at once.

The Regions Take Action guide is a complement to two books previously released to help governments act on climate: The Carbon-Free Regions Handbook and The Carbon-Free City Handbook.


[i] Shindell, Drew, Greg Faluvegi, Karl Seltzer, and Cary Shindell. “Quantified, Localized Health Benefits of Accelerated Carbon Dioxide Emissions Reductions.” Nature Climate Change 8 (April): 291–295. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-018-0108-y.

[ii] Shindell, Drew. “Health and Economic Benefits of a 2°C Climate Policy.” Testimony to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Hearing on the Devastating Impacts of Climate Change on Health". August 5, 2020. https://oversight.house.gov/sites/democrats.oversight.house.gov/files/Testimony%20Shindell.pdf.

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