The Paris Agreement belongs to all of us

Reading time: 4 minutes
13 December 2017

Following the One Planet Summit in Paris, Tim Ash Vie, Director of the Under2 Coalition Secretariat, The Climate Group, blogs about how sub-national governments are implementing the historic Paris Agreement through the Under2 Coalition and helping accelerate the transition towards a world of under 2°C of global warming and greater prosperity for all.

Two years ago, in December 2015, the 196 countries of the United Nations adopted the Paris Agreement.

This historic moment was the culmination of a decade of negotiations, which committed signatories to keep the increase in average global temperature to well below 2°C and paved the way for a low carbon future.

In May that year, the Under2 Coalition was born. Originally founded by 12 governments, led by California and Baden Württemberg, the Under2 Coalition brings together sub-national governments to support the Paris Agreement at the state and regional level, by committing to limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80-95% on 1990 levels, or to two metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent per capita annually, by 2050.

In the following two years the Coalition has grown to over 200 signatories and endorsers from all over the world, representing a third of the world’s population and almost 40% of the global economy.

REAL CLIMATE ACTION

As a group, the Coalition illustrates the critical role of states and regional governments in delivering the Paris Agreement. Even compared with national governments, some state and regional governments are among the largest economies and population centers in the world. Under2 Coalition members like California, Jiangsu province and the state of Sao Paulo have some of the largest economies in the world, while regions such as Telangana and Sichuan province are among the largest populations centers. Therefore, their action drives real change. 

States and regions are also innovative. In many parts of the world, new policy questions such as how to grow clean technology markets, how to regulate power companies, and how to leverage private climate finance are being tackled by their level of government.

In North America, the US state of California and Canadian provinces Québec and Ontario united last month to form the second largest carbon market in the world after the European Union. This Western Climate Initiative (WCI) now covers a population of more than 60 million people and about 4 trillion Canadian dollars. The WCI is also the first climate market developed and managed by federated agencies from two different countries, showing that states and regions are leading the way on innovative climate action.

Two weeks ago, the Government of South Australia announced that installation of the world’s largest lithium ion battery had been completed. This battery, which will store renewable energy to provide back-up power to the state, was manufactured and installed by the American company Tesla. This ground-breaking project from Under2 Coalition co-chair South Australia, sends a powerful message to the federal government that public-private clean energy partnerships can deliver innovative and efficient clean energy solutions, while supporting local economies and communities.

This impressive commitment to real climate action from Under2 Coalition members should serve to give national governments the confidence to maintain their commitment to the Paris Agreement and fuel their ambition to go further, faster.

State, regional and provincial actors

The Under2 Coalition also accelerates climate action by championing climate transparency. We know that for the goals of the Paris Agreement to be realized, we need a robust transparency model so that governments can measure and monitor collective progress towards an under 2-degree world.

At COP23 last month The Climate Group released the Annual Disclosure Update in partnership with CDP, with over 100 states and regions publicly disclosing their climate data. This is an increase of 150% in just two years.

The 2017 report shows that disclosing states and regions around the world have reduced their emissions by 8.5% compared to their base years. Twelve governments reduced their emissions by at least 20% since their base year, and six governments have already met or exceeded their 2020 climate target several years in advance.

Disclosure drives results. The actions show the rest of the world that action on climate change is now the norm. Ambitious and transparent climate action is spreading and governments who ignore the trend will be left behind.

In the two years since the Under2 Coalition was created we have seen again and again how effective sub-national governments can be in delivering real action on climate change.

The state and regional governments of the ever-growing Under2 Coalition are world leaders in driving a world of under 2°C of global warming and greater prosperity for all, without delay.

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