Under2 Coalition pushes for greater action on climate change after COVID-19

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19 May 2020

Tuesday 19 May 2020: Today, more than 220 state and regional governments have called for a resilient and environmentally sustainable response to the COVID-19 pandemic from decision-makers at all levels.

The Under2 Coalition, for which The Climate Group is Secretariat, is the largest global coalition of states and regions. In today’s statement, they urge decision-makers at all levels to place the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals at the core of economic recovery measures, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the statement, members have pointed to the economic potential of meeting Paris Agreement targets, which could avoid climate-related damages of $127-$616 trillion by 2100.

Coalition members have also reaffirmed their commitment to playing their full role in:

  • Delivering new jobs and businesses through a clean, green transition.
  • Ensuring that where taxpayers’ money is used to rescue businesses, it is tied to achieving green jobs and sustainable growth.
  • Using fiscal stimulus to drive a shift from the grey to green economy and make societies and people more resilient.
  • Ensuring public funds are used to invest in sustainable sectors and in phasing out fossil fuel subsidies.
  • Incorporating climate risks and opportunities into the financial system as well as all aspects of public policymaking and infrastructure.
  • Working together as an international community.

The statement comes as the Coalition marks five years of empowering states and regions to lead the fight against climate change. From just 12 members in 2015, the Coalition has now grown to represent over 1.3 billion people and 43% of the global economy.

Tim Ash Vie, Director of the Under2 Coalition at international non-profit The Climate Group, said:

State and regional governments have a key role to play in the fight against climate change. They are uniquely placed to take innovative climate action and to step up when national governments are unwilling or unable.

“We are proud to say that through the Under2 Coalition, more states and regions are becoming bolder, more ambitious and setting the standard of climate action high while influencing others to follow suit, even in the face of global emergencies such as COVID-19. Now, as we begin a new decade, we recognize that drastic action is needed to avoid the worst impacts of global temperature rise and believe that the power of state and regional governments in tackling this challenge will only increase and become ever more relevant.”

The role of states and regions in managing a green recovery has also been made clear in the Coalition’s anniversary report published today. In particular, it outlines five key contributions[i] that can be made at state and regional government level to fight climate change in the Climate Decade. These include developing climate pathways that set individualized short and long-term milestones for cutting emissions and implementing regional policies for resilient and sustainable systems in areas such as food and agriculture.

Former Governor of California, Jerry Brown, announced as new Global Ambassador for Coalition

The Under2 Coalition has also appointed Former Governor of California, Jerry Brown, as its new Global Ambassador to work with states and regions on enhancing their climate goals. Brown, who co-founded the Coalition in 2015, will represent its members on a global level: building momentum for meaningful change.

Jerry Brown said:

“What's been built over the past five years is remarkable. But now is not the time for celebration or complacency. We must shift from commitment to bold, forceful climate action. Time is running out. We have to take the steps now to reverse the rise in carbon emissions and get all nations on the path to net-zero carbon emissions by 2045. What we do in the next five years will determine whether we are headed for success or catastrophic failure.

“Fortunately, states like California, and 15 other Under2 Coalition members, have shown what the path forward looks like and set ambitious net-zero carbon emission targets. But this means little unless we bring other states, regions and countries along with us. The whole world must be part of the solution or it won’t happen.”

Since 2015, members of the Under2 Coalition have led groundbreaking climate projects, including on zero-emission vehicles, developing climate pathways, building inventories of emissions at state level, reducing industry emissions and supporting climate finance initiatives.

Each of these states and regions has committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80-95% below 1990 levels – or to 2 metric tons per capita – by 2050 and some have gone further still. To date, 19 members have set net-zero emissions targets: putting them amongst the most ambitious and influential actors in taking action on climate change globally.

[i] The five key contributions are:

  • Demonstrating global leadership by halving regional emissions in ten years, including through increased net-zero targets;
  • Developing climate pathways, which set individualized short and long-term milestones for cutting emissions across different sectors;
  • Creating and implementing regional policies for more resilient and sustainable systems, including in areas such as food and agriculture;
  • Measuring and disclosing emissions data for full transparency and to encourage greater collaborative action among states and regions;
  • Pushing for more ambitious action at a global level, and particularly through Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCS) that set out nations’ climate goals.


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