States, regions, cities and businesses have crucial role to play in meeting Paris Agreement ambitions

31 August 2018

A new report finds that action by cities, states, regions and business makes up a significant contribution to meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, but to hold global temperature increase well-below 2°C and work towards limiting it to 1.5° C, more support from national governments is needed.

The report is the most comprehensive assessment to date of city, region, and company commitments to reduce greenhouse gases. It examines the impact of international cooperative initiatives addressing climate change, and lists the Under2 Coalition, for which The Climate Group is Secretariat, as offering the greatest potential for reducing emissions by 2030, as well as a significant contribution from RE100.

It is authored by experts at Data-Driven Yale, NewClimate Institute, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, in partnership with CDP.

In response to the launch of the report, Helen Clarkson, CEO of The Climate Group, said: “As the secretariat to the Under2 Coalition and through leading RE100, The Climate Group is at the forefront of the bold climate action being driven by states and regions and businesses. We are delighted to see their crucial role in achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement being recognised in this report and hope that these actors will be able to use this as proof of what they are capable of, to inspire further climate action.”

Key findings from the report include:

  • By 2030, global greenhouse gas emissions could be lowered by as much as twice the size of Canada’s 2016 greenhouse gas emissions through the actions of nearly 6,000 cities, states and regions, and over 2,000 companies.
  • In the United States, full implementation of the reported city, region and company commitments could provide at least half of the emissions reductions needed to meet America’s Paris pledge.
  • In the European Union, city, region and company commitments could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 230 to 445 MtCO2e/year – roughly equivalent to Italy’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2016. In China, these actions could reduce emissions by up to 155 MtCO2e, roughly equivalent to what the country’s industrial processes generated in 2014.

“The potential of these commitments to help the world avoid dangerous climate change is clear – the key is now to ensure that these commitments are really implemented,” said Angel Hsu, Director of Data-Driven Yale.

“What our report shows is many actors are signing up to take actions, but their ambition and ability to move us faster and closer to reach the Paris climate goals in time is limited. What’s needed now is the financing, policies, and support to urgently realize these efforts.”

According to the report findings, global greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 would be approximately one-third (15-23 GtCO2e/year) lower than what will be achieved through national policies alone if international cooperative initiatives like the Under2 Coalition and Global Covenant of Mayors grow their membership, meet their goals, and add to existing action. The United States, for example, could meet and even exceed its original Paris Agreement pledge if US states, cities and businesses, which are part of international initiatives, reach their goals.

The report will inform deliberations at next month’s Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS), held in San Francisco – The Climate Group is part of the Summit Advisory Committee and leading on one of the five focus areas of GCAS, Healthy Energy Systems. The event, convened by California Governor Jerry Brown, will showcase the climate leadership of states, regions, cities, businesses, investors and citizens and serve as an opportunity for them to announce significant new commitments to climate action across topics such as zero emission vehicles, net-zero buildings and land use.

As Secretariat to the Under2 Coalition, The Climate Group will also host the biggest ever Under2 Coalition General Assembly ahead of the Summit on September 12. As this report shows, states and regions are key drivers for bending down the emission curve by 2020, which we must do to prevent the worst effects of climate change. At the General Assembly, over eighty state and regional governments will showcase the progress they’ve made, and how they will step up ambition to make the Paris Agreement a reality.

“Our results confirm that city, region and business commitments to climate action represent a significant step forward towards the Paris Agreement’s goals,” said Prof. Dr. Niklas Höhne of NewClimate Institute. “The effect of international cooperative initiatives’ climate goals is particularly encouraging and speaks to the potential for deeper emissions cuts when national governments partner with city, region, company, and civil society actors. The pledges under the Paris Agreement for all studied countries would be more ambitious, if they were brought in line with the stated goals of the international cooperative initiatives.”

Find out more about the Under2 Coalition, and The Global Climate Action Summit.

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