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Under2 Coalition moves to become 'net zero coalition'

19 October 2021, 9:00 BST 4 min read

Today the Under2 Coalition – the world’s largest subnational climate leadership group – has announced its transition to become a ‘net zero coalition’ by 2050.

Spearheaded by its five co-chairs, California, Chungnam, KwaZulu-Natal, Querétaro and Scotland, and the governments of its Steering Group, the Coalition will now have net zero emissions targets as a baseline for membership. This will significantly raise ambition across states and regions while pushing national governments to follow their lead at COP26 in November.

States and regions have demonstrated the will and the ability to lead the way on climate change, and they are fueling our progress around the world. This more ambitious agreement by the Under2 Coalition will help them do more, faster and show national governments what’s possible – and it couldn’t come at a better time. COP26 is just around the corner and the window to avoid the worst impacts of climate change is rapidly closing.

Michael R. Bloomberg, UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Climate Ambition and Solutions and Founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies

COP26 in Glasgow is one of the world’s last chances to deliver on the aims of the Paris Agreement. To achieve that it is essential that countries turn promises into action, and it is crucial that states, regions and devolved governments play our full part.

Collectively, we share the responsibility for delivering the actions required to achieve over half of the emissions cuts needed at a global level. As European co-chair of the Under2 Coalition, which now represents almost two billion people around the world, I urge state, regional and devolved governments to up their ambition. By doing so, we can spur national governments to go further and faster, too.

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland and European Co-Chair of the Under2 Coalition

The climate crisis is on our doorstep and responding to it requires all nations and states to be pulling in the same direction. The Under2 Coalition is a powerful forum for making that happen. As a founding member and current co-chair of the Coalition, California welcomes this renewed MOU’s even more ambitious path toward meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. It is only by working together on these bold actions that we can together avert the worst possible impacts of climate change.

Gavin Newsom, Governor of California and North America Co-Chair of the Under2 Coalition

Today’s new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which aligns with the most recent climate science, will be signed by all states and regions in the coming months, recognising the need to substantially reduce emissions over this crucial decade of climate action.

As a commitment document for members, this MoU reflects the leadership of a group that first pushed for greater ambition in the Paris Agreement and is now doing so again ahead of COP26 in Glasgow. As a result, it looks not just at 2050 targets but at the short term actions that all actors must take now to meet them.

States and regions have long been at the forefront of tangible climate action, and it’s time for them to take the lead once again in moving to net zero and sending a signal to markets that this is the new normal. We hope that our enhanced ambition will encourage bolder actions from states and regions and inspire national governments to follow suit.

Tim Ash Vie, Director of the Under2 Coalition Secretariat

The Under2 Coalition has again been named one of the international partnerships with the highest potential for emissions reduction - 3.3-3.9GtCO2e/year by 2030 - by the New Climate Institute[1]. This is equivalent to more than the current annual emissions of the EU and clearly demonstrates the impact that can be made by governments at subnational level.

Under2 Coalition states and regions have already reduced their emissions by 16% on average from their respective base years, even while global emissions rose by around 42% (1990-2015). They are also among the most engaged groups in planning for net zero, with more than 80 governments having taken part in Net Zero Futures, led by the Scottish Government and Bloomberg Philanthropies, and around 40 joining the United Nations’ Race to Zero campaign.

With COP26 on the horizon, and while all eyes are on national governments, state and regional governments are increasingly stepping in and stepping up - showing leadership in the face of the climate crisis. The Under2 Coalition, through its enhanced ambition baseline, will continue to bolster the voices of subnational governments to drive ambitious subnational climate action, deliver the changes that we need to see, and support national governments to step up and act.

[1] Global Climate Action from Cities, Regions and Businesses Report

Supportive video messages from our Co-Chairs:

Nicola Sturgeon MSP, First Minister of Scotland and Under2 Coalition Europe Co-Chair
Sihle Zikalala, Premier of KwaZulu-Natal and Under2 Coalition Africa Co-Chair
Yang Seung-jo, Governor of Chungnam Province and Under2 Coalition Asia-Pacific Co-Chair
Gavin Newsom, Governor of California and Under2 Coalition North America Co-Chair

Supportive quotes from our members, ambassadors and supporters:

Franz Untersteller, Former Minister of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector for Baden-Württemberg and current Under2 Coalition Global Ambassador

“Anyone who has read the latest IPCC report knows that achieving net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest will be key to ensuring that future generations have good living conditions on this planet. I therefore very much welcome the step that the Under2 Coalition - the world's largest subnational alliance in the fight against climate change - is taking to raise its ambitions in this crucial climate decade.”

Jerry Brown, Former Governor of California and current Under2 Coalition Global Ambassador

“With this new net zero target, the Under2 Coalition and its states, regions and provinces are once again stepping up, confronting the climate crisis and showing the world the path forward.”

Sihle Zikalala, Premier of KwaZulu-Natal and Africa Co-Chair of the Under2 Coalition

“Seven years ago, the Paris Agreement ushered the world into an era of a paradigm shift on ambitions as well as rethinking leadership in order to prepare for the Climate Decade. As states and regions forming part of the Under2 Coalition, we were not going to allow such an opportunity pass us by.

“As the Under2 Coalition’s African co-chair region, we support the adoption of the net zero by 2050 commitment for the Coalition by COP26.”

Yang Seung-jo, Governor of Chungnam Province, and Asia-Pacific Co-Chair of the Under2 Coalition

“Amidst global climate challenges, the Under2 Coalition has continuously driven a wide range of comprehensive, cooperative initiatives to realise carbon neutrality and has exercised global leadership with its new MoU on subnational climate action.”

Winfried Kretschmann, Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg

“As a co-initiator of the Under2 Coalition and co-author of the previous Memorandum of Understanding, Baden-Württemberg has a great interest in ensuring that this agreement remains up-to-date and ambitious. We have therefore actively participated in the process of revising and adapting it to the latest scientific findings. In this way, we are laying the foundation for successful global cooperation in the coming years, which will be crucial for successful climate protection.”

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

“More than ever, the global dimension of the climate change challenge emphasizes the importance of international cooperation to ensure that we are collectively able to meet the challenges we face. State and regional governments, along with cities and businesses, are not only tackling climate change directly, but also demonstrating to nations that change is possible and the Paris goals are achievable. Through the enhanced Under2 MOU, we are showing that action goes further than commitment.”

Christiana Figueres, Founding Partner, Global Optimism and former Executive Secretary, UN Convention on Climate Change 

"I very much welcome the efforts of the Under2 Coalition to increase ambition in this Decisive Decade. In addition to national governments, the states, regions and provinces of the Under2 Coalition are crucial for timely and effective action on climate change. There is no time to waste. We now need all hands on deck."

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Under2 MOU_English_2021.pdf

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Date added: 15/10/21

Under2 Coalition Memorandum of Understanding