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Cancun ‘Can Do’: Governments representing 15% of global GDP report real climate action

Date
07 December 2010
Cancun ‘Can Do’: Governments representing 15% of global GDP report real climate action
  • World’s states & regions show they can make a clean revolution a reality but still need a global deal
  • Mexican State Quintano Roo, and EU regions Upper Austria, and Rhône-Alpes join The Climate Group
  • Chinese provinces of Guangdong, Henan and Jiangsu share low carbon insights at COP16


CANCUN, 7 December 2010: The world’s most influential coalition of state and regional governments on climate change met today to report on substantial actions they have taken to cut emissions since Copenhagen, and to announce new commitments to further drive a clean industrial revolution. The states, representing more than 15 per cent of world GDP, joined leading businesses at The Climate Group’s annual Climate Leaders Summit, on the sidelines of the UN climate talks in Cancun.

The Alliance of over 60 state and regional governments committed last year in Copenhagen to pursue tangible actions to reduce emissions, and to report back on their progress here in Cancun. Today, the states reported concrete achievements on those commitments, and set ambitious new targets in all areas of the growing low carbon economy. These included incentivizing energy efficiency, investing in clean energy, supporting smarter urban development and low carbon transport, reducing emissions from waste, and capturing the mitigation potential of agriculture and forestry.

Some of the more eye-catching and innovative initiatives presented by the sub-national government alliance include:

  • São Paulo legislating for a 20 per cent cut in emissions by 2020, the first region of any non-Annex 1 country to do so
  • Upper Austria setting a target for 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030
  • New York’s Public Service Commission approving 95 energy efficiency programs representing a commitment of US$992 million, which could save the annual energy use of approximately 70,000 homes
  • California approving six large-scale solar projects totalling nearly 3000  MW, including the world’s largest solar energy project at 1000 MW
  • Bavaria aiming to have 200,000 electric vehicles driving on its roads by 2020, or 20 per cent of all electric vehicles registered in Germany
  • Rhône-Alpes setting an emissions reduction target of 40 per cent by 2020
  • South Australia setting targets including recycling 75 per cent of household waste, 90 per cent of construction and demolition waste, and 75 per cent of commercial and industrial waste by 2015
  • Scotland being the first region to commit to the Billion Trees Initiative, with a pledge to plant 100 million trees by 2015

Motivated by the enormous benefits of climate action, including long-term sustainable growth, enhanced energy security, increased competitiveness and new, green jobs, the Alliance issued the Cancun Statement of Federated States & Regional Governments on Low Carbon & Climate Resilient Development. In the Statement, Alliance members pledge to ramp up efforts to promote energy efficiency, support the transition to a low carbon transport system and encourage renewable energy generation.

The group also pledged to expand their Alliance and share their knowledge on the clean revolution with developing economies. Senior officials from China’s cities and regions attended the summit for the first time to share low carbon insights. The Mexican state of Quintana Roo, along with Rhône-Alpes and Upper Austria, announced today they would join The Climate Group.

Jean Charest, Premier of Quebec and co-Chair of the States & Regions Alliance says: “We are proving that while a global agreement is important, we do not need to wait for it to start building the path to a new low carbon future. As our national counterparts meet here in Cancun to continue the negotiations, states and regions are continuing to show the leadership necessary to make practical headway on climate action.”

Steve Howard, CEO, The Climate Group says: “A clean industrial revolution is not only possible, but it is well underway in the world’s leading states, cities and regions. The subnational governments in our Alliance are not waiting for a global agreement but are forging agreements of their own to lead a growing global market for low carbon goods and services already estimated at $4.7 trillion*.  They are accelerating bold, new climate policies that will also boost jobs and growth in their economies. These laboratories for low carbon development should provide real confidence to international negotiations in Cancun.”

Mike Rann, Premier of South Australia and co-Chair of the States & Regions Alliance, says: “We are proving that even in the midst of a recovering global economy, it is possible to move with purpose and ambition to cut global emissions. And we are proving that action on climate change goes hand in hand with securing the competitive, prosperous economies of the future.”

Governor Felix Gonzalez of Quintana Roo, the Mexican state hosting the conference, says: “It is worth stressing the important role local and regional governments have in meeting the climate change challenge. I congratulate The Climate Group due to its great effort in forming and leading the strongest and most important world coalition of regional and state governments, all of whom are committed with decided actions against climate change, necessary for the beginning of the Clean Revolution.”

Representatives from the Chinese provinces of Guangdong, Henan and Jiangsu also joined the discussions for the first time, following on from ‘China Day’ on day one of the Climate Leaders Summit:

Zhao Jianhua, Deputy General Director of Guangdong Provincial Development and Reform Commission, says: “Guangdong is joining other leading regions to share policies and ideas on how best we can harvest the economic opportunities that climate-smart policies will bring to our economies and citizens. We hope that the progress being made by this group will give confidence to national governments around the world that we can tackle climate change and will foster economic growth.”

The Climate Leaders Summit provided an opportunity for business leaders and investors to discuss the most effective policy measures and partnerships for delivering a clean revolution that continues to create economic growth and jobs. The states of North Rhine Westphalia and Bavaria joined The Climate Group’s ‘EV20’ – a global initiative to fast track the scale up and deployment of electric vehicles (EVs).

Following the Summit, it is hoped that the governments will quickly make one or more progressive sectoral agreements and set targets for working with business to roll out efficient and new energy vehicles, energy efficient lighting systems, and SMART information and communications technology (ICT) in cities.

Despite this progress, the group of sub-national governments recognized that their actions alone would not be enough to keep the world on track to meet the 2oC target set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and they re-stated their belief that a new global agreement by COP17 in Durban, South Africa was still vital to the world’s success in tackling climate change.

The Climate Group’s States & Regions Alliance was formed at the Montreal Climate Leaders Summit in 2005 with 46 state and regional governments now endorsing the Montreal Declaration. A larger coalition of over 60 subnational governments met and delivered a Copenhagen Statement at COP15 in 2009.


*As published in the UK’s Low Carbon Industrial Strategy, based on: Innovas (2009) Low Carbon and Environmental Goods and Services: an industry analysis.

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