States and regions stepped up, now let’s get it done

Author: Tim Ash Vie
Reading time: 5 minutes
4 October 2018

Tim Ash Vie, Director of the Under2 Coalition Secretariat at The Climate Group reflects on the last month and looks forward to the upcoming implementation projects for the Under2 Coalition.  

September has been a busy month for climate action. Importantly, it was also a crucial one in delivering more commitments to action. For the Under2 Coalition, the focus was on the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) where states, regions, cities and businesses gathered in San Francisco to step up their climate ambition and call on their national counterparts to do the same.

The message that came out of the California summit was clear. Since Paris, the world has set its sight on decarbonizing the global economy and states, regions, cities and business are leading the way.

States and regions stepped up

In San Francisco, the Under2 Coalition convened its best-attended General Assembly yet, making it the biggest ever meeting of global states and regions. Seventy-three governments were there in person, represented by governors, ministers and senior officials, and the result was a lively and diverse discussion. We were delighted that 21 of these governments were from developing countries and were supported to attend the General Assembly by the Under2 Coalition's Future Fund, an initiative conceived by developed regions to support their peers from developing and emerging economies with their climate action.

During the Assembly, we were treated to a stirring address from Governor Brown of California, who commended the members of the coalition for what they’ve already achieved and urged us to now "get it done" and the Under2 Coalition’s Global Ambassador Christiana Figueres reminded us that now was the time "to step up".

Christiana Figueres addresses the Under2 Coalition

In fact, ahead of the summit many Under2 Coalition governments made new commitments across several areas of climate challenge. For example, California committed to being zero emission by 2045 and the state of Baden-Württemberg will be carbon neutral by 2050. We now need to take this energy and commitment to focus on driving this forward into action.

The potential is clear

The potential impact of the states and regions in the Under2 Coalition has recently been assessed in a report from Data Driven Yale, NewClimate Institute, and PBL. The report recognizes the Under2 Coalition as the global initiative with the highest potential for emissions reduction. By signing the Under2 MOU, coalition members have collectively committed to remove between 4.9-5.2 Gigatons of Co2 equivalent emissions per year by 2030, which is more than the current annual emissions of the European Union.

Ensuring that this potential is fulfilled will be the focus of the Under2 Coalition Secretariat team at The Climate Group from now and throughout 2019.

From commitment to action

We will work with the Under2 Coalition signatories to disclose their climate targets and actions through CDP’s Annual Disclosure Platform. Disclosing helps governments to better understand the risks and opportunities of climate change and to increase the impact of their climate action. The update of this report that includes the climate action of over 100 governments and will be released in the coming months.

With funding from the German government, we will also be supporting regions in developing countries to develop robust greenhouse gas inventories for the first time. This improvement in measuring and reporting on their emissions helps to increase climate transparency, which is crucial if we are to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

With the Norwegian government’s support, we will be embarking on a new project to support governments to develop ‘2050 pathways’ (long term plans for decarbonizing their economies between now and 2050). Again, these pathways are of vital importance for meeting the Paris Agreement.  

For all our projects, peer learning will be employed to ensure that we can share and scale policies that have succeeded to other regions. For example, we will support governments committed to the ZEV Challenge, to achieve their goals through the learning and sharing of experience offered by the Under2 Zero Emission Vehicle Project.

Governor Brown at Under2 Coalition Signing Ceremony
Governor Brown of California welcomes 16 new jurisdictions to the coalition

Towards 2019

It’s clear that next year will be an important year for implementation ahead of the UN Secretary General’s Summit in September 2019. We believe that the momentum we will generate through the Under2 Coalition should provide national governments with the confidence to step up their climate action ahead of 2020.

The wave of climate action over the past months shows that victory is in our grasp and that the state and regional governments have stepped up. Now let’s keep moving forward by getting it done! Thank you to the governments of the Under2 Coalition for your continued leadership. We look forward to supporting you to drive these forward to build a prosperous future for all.  

Photos from the Under2 Coalition General Assembly are available here and you can view a short film recap of the Under2 General Assembly below. 

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