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Committing to the Climate Decade: the Under2 Coalition General Assembly 2019

7 December 2019, 17:10 UTC 4 min read

MADRID - At the 2019 General Assembly of the Under2 Coalition, states and regions called on Parties to increase their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) in 2020. The ambition showcased by leading state and regional governments on climate today should give national governments the confidence to raise their climate targets and catalyze broader action.

What the science is telling us is clear. Looking at the impacts of the world’s temperature trajectory, we need to urgently reduce global emissions. We must achieve net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050, and all greenhouse gas emissions must reach net-zero by 2070 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. State and regional governments are playing a crucial role in developing, testing and implementing the climate policies needed for this transformational shift.

The 2020s are the Climate Decade because CO2 emissions must decline by around 50% by 2030 and state and regional governments have already begun the journey.

States and regions gather at COP25

State and regional governments in the Under2 Coalition are already taking bold steps to make the Paris Agreement a reality. They are driving climate action by scaling innovative policy solutions, developing robust medium and long-term emissions reduction plans and mainstreaming transparency.

At the 2019 Under2 Coalition General Assembly, state and regional government leaders shared insights on how they are enhancing climate action in the next decade. More than 50 governments attended, with 36 senior officials taking the stage to tell peers about success stories coming from their jurisdictions, challenges they are facing and their experience of participating in Under2 Coalition projects.

With dynamic and diverse rounds of discussion, leaders of the Under2 Coalition touched upon:

  • Being fit to deliver the Climate Decade: Jose Bertotti, Secretary of Environment and Sustainability of Pernambuco, Raffaele Cattaneo, Minister for Environment and Climate Change of Lombardy and Ricardo Torres Hernandez, Under Secretary of the Environment of Querétaro discussed the benefits of being part of Under2 Coalition peer-learning and capacity-building projects in 2019. With an evident shift from discussing targets to implementing collaborative solutions, Minister Cattaneo highlighted how we need closer collaboration between the industrial sector and environmental policy makers; the Industry Transition Platform is supporting his government to develop new and effective ways to do so and engage with industrial stakeholders.  
  • Empowering developing regions to act on climate through the Future Fund: The funding governments and recipients discussed the value of the shared learnings element of the Future Fund. Marcos Penido, Secretary of São Paulo State and Minister Lesley Griffiths of Wales discussed the outcomes from a peer-learning secondment on long-term emissions reduction planning. The panel also explored opportunities around future program building with leaders from Québec, Chhattisgarh and Nariño.
  • Strategic direction of the Under2 Coalition:  The members of the Steering Group and the Co-Chair governments of the Under2 Coalition, the group guiding the work of the Coalition, met and discussed how to strengthen the Under2 Coalition ahead of its 5th year anniversary in 2020. Franz Untersteller, Minister of the Environment of Baden-Württemberg, detailed the efforts of the European members meeting 2019 in Brussels to improve its visibility in the EU and shared current options to increase resources for engagement activities of the Under2 Coalition.
  • Climate Decade Leadership: Senior political leaders at the Under2 Coalition General Assembly responded by showcasing their climate action on one of three key areas: setting net-zero goals, transparency and innovative policy and finance. This year, nine states and regions have been announced as the Climate Ambition Alliance, promoted by the Chilean government, committing to net-zero by 2050. Many stressed on how climate action at the regional level is faster and more likely to raise awareness with citizens, where it matters the most. Developing regions called for higher commitment to financing, with speakers highlighting the urgency of action required to meet ambitious targets.  
  • Vision for COP26 in Glasgow: Under2 Coalition members also looked ahead to 2020 and started exchanging priorities ahead of the climate summit. COP26 President Designate Claire O’Neill set the scene for the net-zero COP26 and talked of the great power that Under2 Coalition states and regions have. Lesley Griffiths, Minister of Environment of Wales and Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Environment of Scotland discussed with Helen Clarkson, CEO of The Climate Group, how they are planning to inspire and increase the level of ambition ahead of the COP26 in Glasgow. The Scottish government also invited all Under2 Coalition members to next year’s General Assembly that will be in Glasgow.

“As we head into the 2020s, the Climate Decade, the importance of raising ambition and accelerating implementation is stronger than ever. The Under2 Coalition General Assembly was a time to celebrate successes, reflect on difficulties and come together to agree on ways forward. While the climate challenge continues to evolve, states and regions must use their power to stimulate innovation, galvanize action and influence others to follow.”

Helen Clarkson, CEO of the Climate Group