Pan-American states and regions pave way to Paris with climate agreement in Ontario

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16 July 2015

LONDON: A total of 22 states and regions across North and South America have committed to implement bold climate action to keep the global warming increase under 2 degrees Celsius, the internationally agreed limit to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

The states signed the Climate Action Statement during the Climate Summit of the Americas in Ontario, Canada, a meeting that gathered the continent’s most forward-thinking sub-national governments.

The discussion saw the participation of important climate figures such as Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States and Chairman of The Climate Reality Project, and Felipe Calderón, former President of Mexico and Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.

“The Summit has been an important occasion to showcase the extraordinary impact of states, regions and cities on tackling climate change,” comments Libby Ferguson, States & Regions director, The Climate Group. “We praise Ontario, one of the most active members of our States & Regions Alliance, for bringing together other like-minded governments committed to make the difference.

“We know that climate change is an issue that cannot be tackled by one single government alone – and this year, the climate talks in Paris will demonstrate once again the value of collaboration. However, sub-national governments are already a step ahead, making bold commitments to reduce emissions, collaborating to develop world leading climate initiatives and share their policy successes on lowering emissions while raising living standards for their citizens.

“We are pleased that the Climate Action Statement explicitly calls on signatories to join the Under2MOU and report their goals and progress to the Compact of States and Regions, an invaluable instrument for providing the clarity necessary to spur an informed conversation in Paris.”

 

UNDER 2 °C

The Statement commits the states and regions to support carbon pricing, an area in particular where CaliforniaQuebec and Ontario are leading the whole region. The first two states even linked their systems last year, creating the largest regional carbon market in North America.

In April, summit host Ontario announced a plan to implement a carbon market linked to California and Quebec. Once operative, the mechanism will cover more than 75% of Canada’s population, and is expected to raise US$1-2 billion per year – which will be reinvested in projects aimed to reduce emissions and help businesses.

The document also commits the signatories to bold GHG emission reduction targets, in particular in the energy and transport sector. Even giving some difference between developed and developing areas, the final aim of the agreement is to limit the increase in global temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius by joining the Under2MoU initiative. The Compact of States and regions and the Compact of Mayors will also be central in reporting such progress in a public, verifiable way.

“Across the Americas, sub-national regions like Ontario are leading the way on climate change policy,” stresses Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario. “The Pan-American action statement that we signed today unites us and takes us a step closer to achieving a progressive agreement at COP21 in Paris. Together, we are finding innovative ways to combat climate change while driving growth in a more sustainable, prosperous and equitable low-carbon economy.”

“We now have clear evidence of states, provinces, cities, and businesses leading the way on climate action,” concludes Felipe Calderón, “and achieving strong economic growth at the same time.”

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