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Subnational climate action: a spotlight on Brazilian states

17 March 2020, 12:43 UTC 3 min read

States and regions are crucial actors in the fight against climate change. Their position between national and local governments puts them in a strong position for adapting to climate change and introducing policies that have the greatest impact on emissions reduction.

Nine Brazilian states and one city are members of the Under2 Coalition1, representing over 79 million people and over 65% of Brazil’s GDP. Through taking part in projects and reporting on their climate action and progress, these states are raising their bar of ambition despite slower action at the national level.  

Recently, Brazilian subnational leadership was highlighted at BIO2020 where São Paulo State Government – the largest economy in the country and third largest contributor to Brazil’s total emissions – signed the Carta de São Paulo (São Paulo Charter) which outlines the need for a mechanism to engage subnational and local governments in the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. The Charter will be taken to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) in China later this year, which is taking place ahead of COP26 in Glasgow.

In Brazil, a large amount of emissions come from land use changes and the forestry sector. Considering the global importance of the Amazon rainforest for biodiversity and environmental services, a strong focus must be placed on strengthening mitigation action in this sector in order to achieve the country’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

Over the past year, Brazilian Under2 Coalition members have demonstrated their climate action potential and, in this crucial climate decade, the Secretariat team will continue to support them in driving forward their commitments.


  • At the Brazilian Conference on Climate Change 2019, NGOs, social movements, governments and representatives of the private and public sector convened to discuss proposals that will contribute to the achievement of the Paris Agreement goals. The conference was co-hosted by Under2 Coalition member, Pernambuco.
  • The Declaration of Santa Fe was introduced at the Climate Summit of the Americas in August 2019 and has been signed by 14 Under2 Coalition members, including Mato Grosso, Amazonas, São Paulo, Pernambuco and São Paulo City. Signatories have committed to sharing strategies to tackle climate change and developing strong adaptation plans.
  • Through the Under2 Coalition’s Climate Footprint Project, Pernambuco is improving its greenhouse gas emissions tracking and reduction efforts and launched its first GHG Inventory in November 2019 to enhance the design of its emissions reduction strategies.
  • Mato Grosso, Amazonas and São Paulo are developing a long-term emissions reduction pathway with the support of the Climate Pathway Project and Amazonas will be hosting the Annual Meeting for Governors’ Climate Task Force (a partner of the Climate Pathway Project) in May 2020.
  • Four Brazilian states attended Climate Week NYC 2019, with a number also present at the Under2 Coalition Members’ Forum - an event that celebrated the work of the coalition, showcased member examples of climate leadership and identified opportunities to accelerate climate action while influencing global ambition.
  • In 2019, 10 Brazilian states reported on their climate action and targets in The Climate Group and CDP’s Global States and Regions Annual Disclosure2. In the report, Pernambuco was highlighted for its adaptation work on building and renovating 67 water desalination units in response to increased water stress, to diversify their water supplies and provide almost 5,000 homes with water.
  • In April 2019, a representative of São Paulo’s State Government travelled to Wales for a two-day peer-learning secondment on the effectiveness of the DECC 2050 Calculator as a tool to support governments in achieving their long-term emissions reduction goals. This secondment was part of the Under2 Coalition’s Future Fund initiative.

1 Brazilian members of the Under2 Coalition include: Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Mato Grosso, Pernambuco, Rondônia, São Paulo City, São Paulo State, Tocantins (signatories) and Rio de Janeiro (endorser).

2 Brazilian states that took part in the 2019 Global States and Regions Annual Disclosure were: Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Mato Grosso, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro State, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, São Paulo State and Tocantins.