Five Women Setting Net-Zero Emissions Targets in States and Regions

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6 March 2020

Ahead of International Women’s Day (IWD), The Climate Group is celebrating female Ministers from the Under2 Coalition who are pushing for bolder action on net-zero emissions in states and regions globally.

In Scotland, Wales, California, Victoria and the Basque Country significant progress is now being made in showing not just the importance of urgent climate action, but the value of this action below national government level.

The role of women in tackling rising global temperatures has been particularly topical in 2020. A report from the IUCN in January showed that climate change is contributing to an increase in gender-based violence, and this year’s IWD theme, #EachforEqual, calls for gender equality for a healthier, wealthier and more harmonious world.

Below we profile five Under2 Coalition pioneers whose voices are being heard on this crucial topic:


Since 2016, Lesley Griffiths has been leading the Welsh Government’s approach to tackling climate change. Wales became the first parliament in the world to declare a climate emergency and has since raised its ambition in line with the Paris Agreement. In addition to helping secure a 2050 net-zero emissions pledge, Griffiths has set ambition for the public sector to be carbon neutral by 2030 and for stringent targets around energy generation in Wales.

“2020 is the year of climate action, the recent global weather events highlight there is no longer space for inaction. Now more than ever, it is important to hear everyone’s voices. Whilst women may be more exposed to the effects of climate change, they are also a big part of the solution. We need leaders such as those in the Under2 Coalition, to help us avoid dangerous climate change and unlock the clean growth opportunities.”


Minister D’Ambrosio is the longest serving energy minister in Australia. Through her leadership, Victoria became the first Australian state to legislate a 2050 net-zero emissions target and she is now driving the decarbonization of Victoria’s electricity sector: includnig a renewable energy generation target of 50% by 2030. This includes the $1.3 billion Solar Homes program which will help 770,000 households invest in solar by offering rebates for solar panels.

We’re proud of what we’ve achieved with our Australian-first climate legislation – and we want to make sure we continue to lead the way in reducing our carbon footprint. Our Climate Change Act is one of ambition and action, putting us on track to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.”


As Deputy Minister of Environment of the Basque Government, Elena Moreno has described climate change as a challenge that transcends borders. The Basque Country is part of the Climate Ambition Alliance, launched at last year’s Conference of the Parties (COP), and set emissions targets in 2015 of 40% below 2005 levels by 2030 and 80% below 2005 levels by 2050.

“Today more than ever women are playing an essential role in addressing climate change. The Basque Country, subject of study of Basque matriarchy, emphasizes the importance of women in building the social welfare of its members and the future of a society. The Basque Strategy Klima 2050 gathers the strategic lines of action on climate change, both in terms of mitigation and in adaptation to the challenges already present. The Basque Government’s declaration of climate emergency responds to the commitment and need for a decisive and coordinated climate action by our society.”


After supporting the US administration’s work on the Paris Agreement at COP21, Lauren Sanchez was appointed Deputy Secretary for Climate Policy and Intergovernmental Relations at the California Environmental Protection Agency in 2019. Her role is central to California’s work on climate change, following former Governor Jerry Brown’s 2018 commitment to state-wide carbon neutrality by 2045.

"California has a long history of tackling air pollution and climate change while growing our economy. With the passage of AB32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, California became a global leader on climate. We have repeatedly set ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets and met our 2020 target four years early.

“Our communities across the state are already feeling the devastating impacts from climate change - including destructive wildfires and prolonged drought - and we remain committed to implementing our ambitious climate agenda. We will continue our transition to a climate neutral economy by 2045 while becoming more resilient to climate impacts. As we chart a path to climate neutrality, we are also working to increase equity, opportunity, and public health, especially in our most disadvantaged communities."


Roseanna Cunningham became Scotland's Minister for the Environment in 2009 and took on responsibility for climate change in 2010. Last year the Scottish government declared a climate emergency and passed its Climate Change Act with a target to reduce emissions by 75% by 2030. Minister Cunningham is now chairing a group to find practical ways of meeting this target.

“Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions have already been reduced by almost half since 1990, but we recognise that urgent action is needed now to address the global climate emergency. That is why we have set legally binding targets to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045 - one of the most ambitious targets in the world.

“I believe that ending Scotland’s contribution to climate change is a truly national endeavour, and changes are needed across the whole of our society and economy. We must build a net-zero economy, but in doing so we must ensure that no one is left behind. Our Green New Deal for Scotland will involve people, communities and business to deliver the just transition we need. 

“We planted 22 million trees last year, and this year will aim to plant 12,000 hectares of woodland. Scotland’s peatlands provide a vast natural sink of CO2 if left undisturbed, and their protection and restoration will play an absolutely crucial role in our efforts to reach net-zero. I am particularly proud of our work to restore peatland, and we will continue to invest to protect this valuable resource.

“The Scottish Government is delighted COP26 will be hosted in Glasgow and we look forward to welcoming the world to Glasgow in November. We are determined that COP26 sets the world on course for a net-zero future by mid-century.”

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