Under2 Coalition marks two-year anniversary

Ilario D'Amato
Reading time: 4 minutes
19 May 2017

LONDON: Two years ago today, ahead of the historic Paris Agreement on climate, the States of California and Baden-Württemberg initiated a partnership to galvanize sub-national leadership on climate change. Together with ten other states and regions, the Under2 Coalition was born.

In the two years that have followed, the Coalition – of which The Climate Group acts as Secretariat – has helped to drive sub-national commitments to climate action. It now encompasses 170 governments, spanning six continents and 33 countries, comprising over 1.18 billion people and more than a third of the global economy. Signatories are committed to either reducing their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from 80% to 95% below 1990 levels or limit emissions to less than 2 annual metric tons per capita by 2050.


As well as the growing number of signatories and national endorsements, the Coalition has achieved some key milestones during this two-year period.

A key moment includes December 2015 during COP 21, where the Coalition galvanized action from states and regions, whilst lobbying national governments to help drive an ambitious Paris deal. Here, following the signing of the Paris Agreement, a further 66 new members joined, extending the reach of the Coalition to encompass 6 continents and a quarter of the global economy. The signing of the Paris Agreement helped the Coalition move its focus from commitment to action.

This change in focus was further reflected at another milestone moment in June 2016, where California convened the world’s state and regional leaders at the inaugural sub-national Clean Energy Ministerial in San Francisco. The Sub-CEM event brought together Under2 signatories to share best practices on clean energy policy, to help support the global clean energy transition and the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Building on this event, The Climate Group will be hosting the Under2 Clean Energy Forum on June 7, 2017 in Beijing in partnership with the State of California, the People’s Government of Sichuan Province and the Energy Foundation. The Forum will bring together government ministers and other high-level delegates to showcase the climate leadership of Under2 Coalition members and to drive ambitious, clean energy policies and actions.

“The progress of the Under2 Coalition – from a handful of states and regions to a world-leading coalition of forward-thinking governments in just two years – clearly shows the unstoppable momentum around climate action,” says Libby Ferguson, States & Regions Director, The Climate Group. She adds: “These governments are demonstrating how innovative policies can help their citizens and economy, not just through bold climate commitments but through measurable action.”

Recent CDP data shows that Under2 Coalition members are already delivering on emissions reduction goals, well ahead of their 2020 target dates. In 2016, Catalonia achieved a 25% reduction in emissions, four years ahead of time. In addition, Lombardy – originally aiming for a reduction of 20% by 2020, achieved 25% in 2016. Also, Scotland exceeded its 2020 target of a 42% reduction, plummeting its emissions by 46% between 1990 and 2014.

Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, praised the Coalition for setting pathways toward a sustainable, prosperous economy: “[The governments in the Under2 Coalition] … are leading the fight against climate change. They know that investing in clean growth will help all members reach their ambitious climate change goals and grow their countries’ economies. I applaud their leadership in reducing emissions and supporting clean innovation. Canada is proud to endorse their actions.”


The Under2 Coalition already includes leading jurisdictions from all over the world, working together to find shared solutions to the common issue of climate change.

The Coalition is currently setting up programs to support its members in developing deep de-carbonization pathway plans, including the creation of a platform for sharing their planning processes and approaches.

The Under2 Coalition is also highlighting the importance of transparent climate action. Therefore, The Climate Group has partnered with CDP to incentivize all the Under2 Coalition signatories to disclose their climate data and targets, to make sure sub-national governments are on the path to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change.

“By 2020, our aim is to enlarge this pool of leaders,” says Libby Ferguson, “bringing on board the most significant sub-national governments in the world based on emissions, GDP, and population.

“Through direct action to reduce emissions within their own jurisdictions, these leaders will continue to develop bold policies that will ensure they are on track to meet their 2050 goals. A key element for this is clear, transparent reporting of their progress.

“This will send a strong signal to the international community that setting goals and reporting on science-based emissions targets is the new normal, and that solutions are shared to reach the global climate commitments agreed in Paris.”

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