La Réunion joins Under2 Coalition and commits to bold climate targets

Reading time: 5 minutes
6 October 2017

LONDON: La Réunion has become the latest member of the Under2 Coalition of leading sub-national governments that are working together to fight climate change and support the Paris Climate Agreement.

The Coalition, for which The Climate Group acts as Secretariat, brings together states, regions and cities as well as national governments, committed to reducing their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions towards net-zero by 2050.

Didier Robert, President of the Regional Council of La Réunion, signed the Under2 MOU on Friday during a meeting with Helen Clarkson, CEO, The Climate Group at the International Conference on Climate Change Adaptation being hosted by the small island region. It is the eighth region of France, a national endorser of the Under2 Coalition, to sign.

Clarkson congratulated La Réunion - an island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar - saying: “We are delighted to welcome La Réunion to the Under2 Coalition. The signing of La Réunion, a small island region, is a significant moment as we build towards COP23 in November hosted by fellow small island state Fiji.

Helen Clarkson, CEO, The Climate Group (pictured middle) was speaking at the International Conference on Climate Change Adaptation

"Members of the Under2 Coalition are demonstrating global leadership and commitment on the defining challenge of our era. In signing the Under2 MOU, La Réunion has adopted it as a guiding principal for its ambitious climate actions.”

SUB-NATIONAL CLIMATE LEADERSHIP

Signatories make a public commitment to reduce their GHG emissions by 80-95% on 1990 levels, or two metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent per capita, by 2050. La Réunion has become the 188th member of the Coalition.

The Coalition was founded in 2015 by California and the German state of Baden-Württemberg to galvanize ambitious climate action from sub-national governments in the build up to the COP21 climate summit when the historic Paris Agreement was reached.

Coalition members include sub-national governments from around the world and it is also endorsed by 17 nations with the Marshall Islands becoming the latest endorser at Climate Week NYC in September. Other small islands that have signed or endorsed the Under2 MOU include the Azores, Madeira, Sardinia and Fiji.

President Robert, who attended the Under2 Meeting at Climate Week NYC 2017, said: “The French and European territory of La Réunion in the Indian Ocean, along with other small island economies in this part of the world, is one of the first sentinels of climate disruption.

“We are heavily impacted and have no other real alternative than to take action. For several years in La Réunion, we have committed ourselves fully to the concept of positive initiative.

“Sustainable development, the fight against global warming, and the protection of biodiversity are at the heart of the public policy and innovative actions that we promote.”

COLLABORATIVE APPROACH

La Réunion is aiming to develop an ecological tourism sector, with the objective of welcoming 600,000 tourists by 2020. The local economy's primary sector is dominated by sugarcane, the secondary sector's main added value is provided by the agriculture and food industry, and the island's tertiary sector has become its main employer.

Didier Robert, President, La Réunion

Didier Robert, President, La Réunion, interviewed during Climate Week NYC 2017

Currently, nearly half (47%) of the island’s power is generated by coal-fired power stations. However, owing to its rich natural environment, La Réunion has exceptional potential for renewable energy generation (solar energy, marine energy, wind energy and biomass).

The region has adopted a strategy for sustainable development which is largely based on renewable energy sources, and it aims to attain energy autonomy by 2030. In order to reach these goals, La Réunion has implemented a new Energy Governance since 2013, led by the Regional Council and including energy stakeholders from both the public and private sectors. With this collaborative working platform, La Réunion aims to be the first territory in the world where all low carbon innovations are integrated into society, by 2030. The topics developed by the governance and its working committees include transport, tourism, energy production, storage and use, town planning and construction.

President Robert (second from left) signed the Under2 MOU at the special event in La Réunion

President Robert added: “To move towards a decarbonized world, I believe in the strength of action taken at the local level. This starts from citizens and regions who act to alert their states. It is the meaning behind the partnership we have nurtured with The Climate Group as a member of States & Regions Alliance, which La Réunion joined in 2012.

“Signing the Under2 MOU, an agreement I consider to be fundamental and full of hope, comes naturally as part of our territory’s willingness for well-reasoned management of natural resources and the search for a better global balance for the future.”

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