US governors show climate action leadership at Climate Week NYC

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23 September 2019

The Opening Ceremony of Climate Week NYC saw two US governors from Under2 Coalition states – Governor Gavin Newsom, California and Governor Jay Inslee, Washington – address the audience to highlight the high potential of subnational governments in accelerating climate action.

California co-founded the Under2 Coalition in 2015 alongside Baden Württemberg with the aim of bringing together ambitious states and regions willing to make a number of key commitments toward emissions reductions.

Speaking on ‘What governments must do’, Governor Newsom highlighted California’s leadership in climate change mitigation and the strength that the state has in accelerating change despite drawbacks from the national government.

“Climate Change isn’t an abstract thing. Mother nature has joined the conversation. Wildfires. Storms. Floods. Hots getting hotter. Wets getting wetter. It’s a human issue. It’s a health issue. It’s about what we leave behind. In the absence of federal leadership — California will lead.” – Governor Newsom, California.

Newsom’s address at the Climate Week NYC Opening Ceremony comes just days after the announcement of executive action to leverage the state’s $700 billion pension investments, transportation systems and purchasing power to strengthen climate resiliency. The executive order continues the Governor’s commitment to strengthening California’s resilience while investing in new technologies, programs, and best practices to lower carbon emissions.

“California is a global leader in climate change mitigation efforts through bold climate goals and actions, as well as leadership in the U.S. Climate Alliance and Under2 Coalition, using the state’s power as the fifth largest economy in the world to drive positive action.” – Governor Newsom, California.

The North American chair of the Under2 Coalition, Governor Inslee of Washington, commended the value of subnational government action and offered re-assurances of the commitment of North American states and cities to making climate change mitigation progress in spite of the federal government’s record.

“States are just as powerful as federal governments to act against climate change. In fact, states are leading the charge” – Governor Inslee, Washington.

Inslee focussed on the importance of state and regional governments in increasing ambition announced that he is “undaunted” by the challenge of climate change, stating that he believes:

1) We are all capable of action against this threat,

2) We believe in the power of imagination,

3) We have a new ally in this, youth.

“I was honoured to deliver opening remarks at Climate Week NYC as North American chair of the Under2 Coalition, the largest group of state and regional governments committed to fast and bold climate action in line with the Paris Agreement.

“I'm looking forward to sharing the Washington story and hearing what other state governments are doing to reduce emissions and tackle the transition to a clean energy economy, despite the Trump administration's efforts to roll back vital policies.” – Governor Inslee, Washington.

California and Washington will convene again tomorrow – alongside a number of other Under2 Coalition members from around the world - at the Under2 Coalition Members’ Forum at Climate Week NYC. Together, they will celebrate the work of the coalition, showcase their climate leadership and identify opportunities to accelerate climate action while influencing global ambition.

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