Subnational governments reinforce central role in Clean Revolution

24 November 2011

BRUSSELS: The Climate Group’s States and Regions Alliance, an important group of influential sub-national governments acting locally and advocating globally on climate action, confirmed its official governance structure at its annual meeting yesterday, in a bid to forge ahead with its crucial Clean Revolution strategy.

The meeting saw the first general assembly, with Ministers and high level representatives from States and Regions from Europe (Basque Country, Brittany, Catalonia, North Rhine Westphalia, Rhone-Alpes, Scotland, Wales, Upper Austria), North America (Manitoba, New York State, Ontario, Quebec), Latin America (Quintana Roo, Sao Paulo) and Australia (South Australia), and incoming member, the State of Baden-Württemberg, agree on the governance principles to become an official body and to set out headlines for the workplan of the Alliance. 

Other members such as California, Ile de France and Bavaria will be invited to support the decisions made.

As part of the governance structure, Quebec and Basque Country were officially designated as Co-chairs. Brittany, Scotland, Catalonia and Sao Paulo were confirmed as Steering Group members. The Alliance invited South Australia for the Asia Pacific Co-chair position and New York State and North Rhine Westphalia as Steering Group members pending decision from Premiers and Governors. 

States and Regions work has been a major focus of The Climate Group’s operations since its outset in 2004, so the meeting’s structural results mark an important stepping stone in the Alliance's development and is particularly essential on the eve of COP17.

Luc Bas, Director of European Programmes and International States and Regions, The Climate Group says: “Sub-national governments play a core role in the Clean Revolution, as it is at this level that many frameworks are set and fruitful business partnerships developed that drive the transition to a low carbon economy, while providing immense benefits for regional job creation and prosperity. We are proud to be working with some of the most ambitious regions worldwide to develop this agenda. The new governance structure will further strengthen their commitment, and provide a solid basis for driving states’ and regions’ leadership in the many areas involved.”

Bernabè Unda, Minister of Industry and Innovation for Basque Country, sees a strong potential for further collaborations within the Alliance: “As one of the new co-chairs, the Basque Country is eager to cooperate with the Alliance on Public Private Partnerships, as it has recently signed agreements with industrial giants like Mercedes and Repsol to accelerate deployment of electric vehicles and Iberdrola to develop smart grids. These projects involve state-of-the-art technology and show that the Clean Revolution is not only a needed transition but also good business in the long term”. 

Pilar Unzalu, Minister for Environment, Territorial Planning, Agriculture and Fishery for Basque Country added: “Nowadays everybody is concerned with the scarcity of raw materials and commodities, that is why the Basque Country wants to introduce eco-design as another central theme for the work of the Alliance as it puts us on a path to clean growth in our regions.

As well as providing one of the first critical foundation-forming meetings for the States and Regions Alliance, the fact that the cross-continent meeting was held via video conferencing will inspire regional government leaders to adopt the more time-efficient, low carbon format, and to lead by example in the Alliance's Clean Revolution operations.

The Climate Group’s SMART 2020 report found that dematerialization (which includes videoconferencing) could save 5 Gigatons of CO2e in 2020. The average emissions savings of this meeting was estimated at 3.39 tons of CO2 per person, as compared to everyone having flown to Durban for COP17 from their regions’ capitals.

Pierre Arcand, Minister of the Environment, Sustainable Development and Parks for Quebec, commented on the innovative digital format of the key meeting: "International cooperation between sub-national governments that share common interests and ideals is a major driver for Quebec's commitment to driving the low carbon economy. Video conferencing offers welcome opportunities to intensify these contacts without the necessity of international travel and the greenhouse gas emissions that come with it. " 

The meeting was also a concrete example of public private collaboration with Techamerica and Microsoft, who provided technological support for the meeting and of which we explicitly thank for making this virtual high level meeting possible. 

The States and Regions' Alliance was formed at the first Climate Leaders’ Summit hosted with the support of the governments of Quebec and Manitoba in Montreal in 2005. Here, the Montreal Declaration was signed by worldwide sub-national governments, committing themselves to and setting targets for climate action within their jurisdictions. Today the States and Regions’ Alliance currently holds 20 full members plus 30 affiliates, all focused on accelerating global climate action.

Read more about the States and Regions' Alliance
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