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Under2 General Assembly 2021

States and regions at COP26 – going further, faster, together towards net zero

8 November 2021, 9:43 GMT 4 min read

The Under2 Coalition held its annual General Assembly meeting on 7 November, in the margins of COP26, at the Technology and Innovation Centre of the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

This was the biggest members meeting to date, with 60 governments in attendance and more than 30 Governors and Ministers speaking at sessions throughout the day on subjects including transitioning to low carbon energy, transport and industry infrastructure; methane; agriculture, forestry and other land use; reducing methane emissions; and accelerating finance and investment.

Under2 General Assembly 2021

This year, the General Assembly aimed to:  

  • Demonstrate a critical mass of high ambition states and regions (Net Zero Leaders) committed to action as part of the Under2 Coalition's Net Zero Futures Initiative as well as in line with the new climate leadership MOU. 
  • Set the 2030 agenda for transformative climate action, starting with setting strong objectives  for action in 2022, and ahead of COP27. 
  • Convene the global Under2 Coalition community to assess key opportunities and needs of  states and regionals across the world. 

Recognising the achievements of 2021

With a growing membership of over 260, representing 50% of the global economy and 1.75 billion people, the Under2 Coalition is the largest network of states and regions committed to bold climate action.

Following last month’s revised MoU, Climate Champions Nigel Topping and Gonzalo Munoz called for more coalition members to sign and help to build momentum for the year ahead. 22 governments followed this call throughout the day, with more expressing their intention to do so before the end of 2021.

New South Wales, South Australia and ACT also announced a new net zero emissions policy forum to build on the success of Net Zero Futures. Launching in the new year, this will bring together different states across Australia to ensure they are in a strong position to meet net zero targets and bring down Australia’s emissions overall.

Meanwhile in India a new State Climate Fellows Project will soon begin, helping to build the profile of climate action at this level of government. Navarra has also announced it will be contributing to the Future Fund, enabling developing states and regions to continue participating fully in Under2 Coalition events, and Scotland has launched a Just Transition Commission to recognise the unequal impacts of a changing climate.

Over 2021, many members have taken an active role in Under2 Coalition projects, including the Climate Footprint Project, Climate Pathways Project, Net Zero Futures and the Industry Transition Platform. This has helped to build expertise across states and regions: paving the way for more effective measures to reduce emissions.

Tim Ash Vie, Director of the Under2 Coalition Secretariat at Climate Group, also welcomed the newest members of the Under2 Coalition that have joined in 2021 – many of which were represented at the General Assembly throughout the day.

The new members are:

  1. Antioquia, Colombia
  2. Guanajuato, Mexico
  3. Isle of Man, UK
  4. Jujuy, Argentina
  5. Maharashtra, India
  6. Maine, US
  7. Minas Gerais, Brazil
  8. Nevada, US
  9. New South Wales, Australia
  10. Northern Ireland, UK
  11. Pará, Brazil
  12. Västra Götaland, Sweden
  13. Xunta de Galicia, Spain

Each of these states and regions will help to boost subnational representation in important climate discussions and increase pressure for their voices to be heard at the highest levels.

New actions for 2030

In the afternoon break Governor Inslee of Washington State led a large group of Governors and Ministers, including co-chairs Governor Yang of Chungnam and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, in committing to strong sectoral actions ahead of 2030.

68 states, regions and cities came together in a show of unity around actions in sectors such as energy, transport, nature-base solutions and climate justice. In holding themselves to account for pledges made, these governments were also calling for stronger national and international progress in this Climate Decade.

We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to effectively mitigate climate change. The actions we take in the next five years will determine the fate of our species. I’m proud to stand with this global coalition of governors and mayors to go beyond pledges. Together, we are charting a path to make tangible, meaningful progress to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and get to net zero by 2050. Now is the time for leaders to buckle down and get it done.

Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State

Among the many issues taking centre stage in these commitments, and across the General Assembly as a whole, was reducing methane emissions. There was a spotlight session on this as part of the day’s events and a resolution to keep working on this key contributor to climate change in the months and years ahead.

Rewarding ambition

Although this weekend was an opportunity to step up and work harder on current issues, it also provided moments to celebrate success.

At a Gala Dinner hosted by the Scottish Government on Saturday, the Coalition announced the first ever winners of its Leadership Awards. These recognised governments that have gone above and beyond this year to implement change in their jurisdictions. The winners were:

  • Maharashtra, India for Regional Leadership
  • British Columbia, Canada, for Creative Climate Solutions
  • Quebec, Canada, for Climate Partnerships

Québec has taken significant steps in recent years to address climate change, including its Plan 2030 for a Green Economy, the electrification of its transportation, its membership in the Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance and the announcement of its withdrawal from oil and gas exploration and development.

Today, I am honoured that the Under2 Coalition recognizes Québec’s leadership in building partnerships. The fight against climate change requires collective and concerted action. I firmly believe that by joining forces, we can act more quickly and effectively to build a low-carbon, resilient and sustainable global economy. That's why Québec is reaching out to all those who share its desire to be part of the solution.

Benoit Charette, Minister of the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change of Québec

Looking ahead

At the conclusion of the General Assembly a number of key themes had emerged as priorities for the Coalition:

  • Building a stronger identity for states and regions internationally
  • Working towards a just transition that meets the needs of all people
  • Continuing with deep exchanges on technical issues related to climate
  • Aiming for more radical collaboration across the year

The next Under2 Coalition General Assembly will be held during COP27 in Egypt. There is much work to be done in advance of this date, and we look forward to working with our members and supporters on projects, statements and plans that reflect our collective ambition and recognise our unique strengths and abilities.