States and regions are showing national governments how to lead on climate: Libby Ferguson

Reading time: 8 minutes
22 November 2015

In just under two weeks The Climate Group will be hosting events at the global COP21 climate talks in Paris, to showcase the work of our States & Regions Alliance. Here, Libby Ferguson, States & Regions Director, The Climate Group, writes about the importance of these sub-national government leaders on the international stage at Paris and why their activities will continue to have a huge impact in cutting global emissions over the coming years.

Ten years in the making, today The Climate Group’s States & Regions Alliance has exceeded expectations and set ambitious emissions reduction targets within some of the biggest states and regions in the world.

By connecting with governments from both affluent and emerging economies, the States & Regions Alliance now represents a massive 340 million people, 11% of global GDP and 2.7 GtCO2e. That’s almost 10% of global emissions.  

Members of the States & Regions Alliance are influencing international climate action with innovative policies and ambitious targets. They are shaping our low carbon world.

In fact, around three quarters of the world’s policies that have carbon impacts are delivered at the sub-national level, covering diverse areas such as energy regulation, public planning and low carbon investment.

It is often argued that actions speak louder than words. And this is exactly what the States & Regions Alliance does. It acts, and leads others to act too. One of the most powerful examples of this leadership is the Compact of States and Regions.

The platform – which was announced at the UN Climate Summit in 2014 – is the first-ever single global account of climate commitments made by state and regional governments.


From transportation to energy efficiency and renewable energy, in just one year, 44 states and regions from every part of the world have been reporting their plans and actions to the Compact.

Basque Country in Spain has reported its target of using 27% alternative fuel energy sources by 2030. The goal rises to 100% by 2050. In Germany, Baden-Württemberg has a greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 90% by 2050 (below 1990 levels). And there are hundreds of commitments submitted like this, visible for the whole world to track through the Compact of States and Regions.

The domino effect of these commitments and the innovative policy solutions to deliver against them in peer regions is already evident. Connecticut was the first US state to develop a Green Bank Model to leverage public and private funds for clean energy deployment. Now, New York, Vermont and California have also announced Green Banks. In May this year, California and Baden-Wuerttemberg announced the Under 2 MOU - a joint commitment to reduce emissions by 80-95% by 2050. In just 6 months, 57 governments have joined them and committed to long-term decarbonization through the MOU.

And by recently joining forces with the Compact of Mayors, Governors and Premiers will stand alongside their city counterparts ahead of the UNFCCC global climate talks in Paris, COP21, creating a larger, stronger force of government climate leadership than ever before.


At Paris The Climate Group is taking part in a number of events across our various programs, including our campaign to support the world’s most influential businesses to commit to going 100% renewable, RE100. All actors from business and sub-national government have a crucial role to play in achieving action in Paris – and we all work with each other to amplify our impact.

But especially important to the States & Regions Alliance, the Compact of States and Regions will be showcased in Paris as a pivotal component in the global efforts to reduce temperature rise to below 2°C by 2050.

Following preliminary emissions reduction targets and inventory data from the first 20 state and regional governments announced in July – which saw total emissions cuts by 7.9 GtCO2e by 2030, which is greater than the 2012 emissions of the US – the first Compact disclosure report will be released in Paris. We look forward to presenting the results which demonstrate the powerful impact of state and regional climate leadership.

By encouraging more governments to join the Compact – and by building on this leadership, further collaborating with key partners and sharing our expertise – we will accelerate climate action, build stronger economies and enhance the lives of citizens everywhere.

Join us in our 10th year of the States & Regions Alliance. Make your mark in securing a low carbon future, during the most critical year for climate action in history.

By Libby Ferguson, States & Regions Director, The Climate Group


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