Subnational governments unveil major climate actions at COP15

15 December 2009

Over 60 ministers and regional leaders gathered today in Copenhagen at The Climate Group's Climate Leaders' Summit to unveil major new climate actions. It is the governments of the worlds cities, states, and regions that will end up implementing most of the low carbon technologies and policies necessary to curb global warming and deliver a fair ambitious and effective global deal on climate change. Click here to watch the video of the Opening Commitment Ceremony.

The efforts and ambition of sub-national government leaders are acting as vital laboratories for the innovation and development of low carbon technology and policies. Helen Clark, representing the UN Secretary-General speaking at the commitment ceremony said: "Sub-national governments are responsible for implementing the majority of the climate change solutions.  Mitigation measures to reduce greenhouse gases of between 50 per cent and 80 per cent will be influenced by decisions at sub-national level."

Representatives of assembled governments reported on a plethora of concrete measures they have implemented to curb climate change since last years UN climate summit in Poznan.

Last year, members of The Climate Group states and regions alliance signed an action statement at the Climate Leaders Summit at COP14 in Poznan, Poland, committing to fight climate change and find opportunities to create a low carbon economy.

Steve Howard, CEO of The Climate Group, said the pledges and actions reported in Copenhagen will make a very large contribution to a greener planet: "The states and regions taking part in todays summit can make a huge difference and represent 360 million people, a combined GDP of USD$10.5 trillion, and businesses of every sector with a collective turnover of USD$620 billion."

Here is a rundown of just a few of the climate actions announced today:

  • Sao Paulo state has passed a climate change law with a very ambitious target to reduce emissions by 20 per cent in 2020, and a carbon tax to fund C135 in clean investment by 2012;
  • Ile-de-France will renovate 200,000 homes yearly to meet new environmental norms, and has committed to cut CO2 emissions by 2.5 tons a year within 15 years. It plans to build 420,000 square kilometers of new photovoltaic panels, half of them in Paris, within a decade;
  • The state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany aims to have 250,000 electric vehicles that are commercially viable circulating by 2020. It is also engaged in a program with multiple international partners to spread more efficient city lighting throughout the state;
  • The state of South Australia is matching Californias ambitious target of generating 33 per cent of its power from renewable sources by 2020. The Australian state also aims to purchase half of its power used in government buildings, schools, and hospitals from certified green energy sources. It will also introduce a payroll tax rebate next July for new wind and large-scale solar power;
  • The principality of Monaco has been working  on clean mobility for 15 years and with the business community to nurture greener solutions. A local entrepreneur, Venturi, designed a green vehicle that is under evaluation for adoption by the French postal service.  Speaking at the signing ceremony, HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco said: We (Monaco) can hopefully serve as a model for small cities, and for bigger ones as well.
  • The Maldives is issuing in Copenhagen a climate 'survival kit, which it hopes will be a model for other nations with similar existential effects from climate change. The Maldives has committed to become carbon neutral in 10 years.  President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed said: Climate change is not some future concern. Its a threat thats happening now: a number of islands have to move as we speak.
  • Scotland has set itself the target of reducing carbon emissions by 42 per cent in 2020 and by 80 per cent in 2020, while generating half its energy from renewable sources in 2020 and to get all its energy from green sources by 2030. It also aims to become a major developer of wave and ocean energy;
  • Sending a powerful message of support for a global climate deal, the group of sub-national governments committed to plant one billion trees by 2015, and issued a call to national governments to join them in building one tree for everyone on the planet. Much of the mass tree-planting will be done in the developing world.

Also during the summit, US networking giant Cisco unveiled its new environmental monitoring project, The Planetary Skin Institute, in partnership with NASA. Ground sensors placed in all major regions, working in tandem with the next generation of web technology, and in collaboration with agencies worldwide, will sense, predict and thus provide a tool so that farmers will know when to plant. It will also serve as an early warning system for droughts and floods.  PSI is as an open research and development platform for governments, the private sector, NGOs and academics.

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