States and regional climate leaders welcome Paris Agreement

Reading time: 7 minutes
18 December 2015

LONDON: Following the historic Paris Agreement, members of The Climate Group’s States & Regions Alliance from Canada and Australia outline some of their achievements at the COP21 climate talks, share their thoughts on the universal deal, and explain how they expect to support its implementation over the coming years.

COP21 in Paris saw a raft of impressive announcements from sub-national governments which clearly illustrate their ambitious commitment to act on climate and invest in low carbon growth.

During the second week, the Compact of States and Regions, a reporting mechanism for leading state and regional governments to submit climate targets, announced plans to reduce collective emissions by 12.4 GtC02e by 2030 – which is greater than China’s current annual output.

The commitments came in the initiative’s first Disclosure Report, which brings together the emissions reductions targets of 44 states and regions together representing 325 million people and over US$10.5 trillion in GDP – which is one eighth of the global economy.

A few days later, The Climate Group was announced as the secretariat of Under 2 MOU, an agreement for sub-national governments to limit global average temperature increase to below 2 degrees Celsius by cutting greenhouse gas emissions 80-95% below 1990 levels or limiting per capita annual emissions to less than 2 metric tons by 2050.

The governments of Baden-Württemberg and California welcomed 43 new signatories to the climate agreement at COP21, bringing the tally to 123 jurisdictions, representing more than 720 million people and US$19.9 trillion in combined GDP. This is more than a quarter of the global economy.

“The presence of state and regional governments at COP21 in Paris alongside nations, cities and business was essential to securing an ambitious and inclusive global climate deal,” said Mark Kenber, CEO of The Climate Group. “Governments of the States & Regions Alliance played a key role in pushing for this historic deal both through their activities behind the scenes at the negotiations, as well as most importantly through their public actions. Initiatives such as the Compact of States and Regions and the Under 2 MOU clearly demonstrate that delivery of a global climate deal is already underway and that global low carbon transition is inevitable, irresistible and irreversible.”

Quebec in Canada, and South Australia are leading governments that have signed up to both the Compact of States and Regions and the Under 2 MOU.

Commenting on the actions needed from states to support implementation of the Paris Agreement, Premier Jay Weatherill of South Australia, and Asia-Pacific co-chair of The Climate Group States & Regions Alliance, said: "Meeting the targets stated in the ambitious agreement reached in Paris will require collective action that extends beyond the jurisdiction of national governments. It will require action from sub-national governments, from cities, from businesses, from communities and from households. The South Australian Government will do its part, working in partnership with the Adelaide City Council to make our capital the world's first carbon neutral city. South Australia was also very pleased to become the first Australian State to sign the Under2MOU last week.

"Much like Scotland and California, we believe addressing global warming is an opportunity for our economy to create new jobs and new industries. Being first to act gives our jurisdictions a competitive advantage over others when it comes to attracting investment. I would like to thank The Climate Group and the Compact of States and Regions – a group representing 12% of global GDP - who are determined to lead the global change to a low carbon economy."

In the first week of COP2 the Quebec government also announced a contribution of $25.5 million to developing nations to act on climate, using revenue generated by its own carbon market.

Premier Philippe Couillard of Québec, and North America co-chair of The Climate Group States & Regions Alliance, said: “The Paris accord is a clear signal to the world that a coordinated effort is more than ever necessary to fight climate change. It recognizes that all levels of government have a significant role to play, particularly States and Regional governments. We are bound together by our common desire to act. Our common desire to take responsibility. Our common desire to meet this challenge. The youth of the world is counting on us. Let’s get to work and move forward together.”

Iñigo Urkullu, Premier of Basque Country, which is also co-chair of the Alliance, said: "After the signature of the Paris Agreement, the Basque Government has committed to multiply its international collaboration and cooperation with other countries, regions and cities; following the principle of shared responsibility, promoting sustainable transport and giving impulse to a low carbon economy that will give dynamism to innovation in a sustainable and competitive environment."

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