The Climate Group and the German State of North Rhine Westphalia hosted a high-level meeting of 15 subnational governments and global businesses in Bonn – marking the half way mark on the road to COP16 in Cancun.
Discussions focused on the specific work being done and the leadership being shown by subnational governments to tackle climate change. Participants looked specifically at how states could partner further with businesses in order to accelerate the deployment of key low carbon technologies, as well as looking ahead to what new commitments can be developed on a subnational level for Cancun.
The day kicked off with a closed session of subnational government Ministers and representatives, meeting on behalf of the states and regions alliance and chaired by Climate Group CEO Steve Howard. The states discussed their ongoing efforts to deliver on the commitments made at Copenhagen, and reconfirmed their appetite for continuing to share expertise and experience with one another to produce smarter, more effective legislation and policies.
The states also issued the joint Bonn Statement, presented to the UNFCCC. The statement emphasized that 50 – 80 per cent of the actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to keep global temperatures below 2 degrees centigrade will happen at the subnational level, and called on world leaders to formally recognize this significant role of subnational governments.
The afternoon technology conference opened with UNFCCC General Secretary Yvo de Boer who noted in his speech that the current economic crisis has created a unique window of opportunity to shift the world’s energy sector onto a 450 ppm CO2 equivalent scenario. This is because the downturn had affected investments into unsustainable high carbon technologies much more significantly than investment in renewable energies, which have been less badly hit and quicker to recover.
Mr de Boer also noted that private investments into sustainable development had been identified by the financial sector as a new mega-trend with investment in renewable energy increasing markedly around the world since the second half of 2009.
Dominique Ramard, Vice President of Brittany, and Pilar Unzalu, Minister for Environment, Agriculture and Fisheries of The Basque Region, both announced that their regions were joining The Climate Group to further develop their work and policies on climate change.
Mrs. Unzalu said: “The challenge of tackling climate change requires joint and coordinated action by all, in particular, at the subnational level, where both public and private sectors can work in partnership to greater efficiency. Climate Change is a major political priority for the Basque Government. We are delighted to be joining The Climate Group today.”
Dominique Ramard said: “For us as a region, tackling climate change is not just a matter of developing green business – the job is to green the whole regional economy. That is the objective that Brittany has set itself in joining The Climate Group.”
In the first panel discussion, Clay Nestler, Vice President of Global and Sustainable Energy for Johnson Controls, Frank Robert, Director Smart Grid Business Unit at Cisco and Harry Verhaar, Director of Energy and Climate Change at Philips joined regional government representatives from Wales, Catalonia and South Australia in discussing how to progress smart infrastructure with states and regions – particularly focusing on smart grids, measurement and LED lighting. All participants emphasized that financially viable technologies were ready to go now, and the huge scope for public-private partnerships that will reduce emissions and improve people’s lives in the process – further galvanising support for action.
This was followed by a discussion which focused on ways of scaling up electric vehicles quickly in which Amit Yudan, European Business Development Director of Better Place and Jens Knoth from Ford Germany offered differing company perspectives. Representatives from Quebec, Ile de France, North Rhine Westphalia and The Basque Region all outlined separate regional approaches to increasing electric vehicle use in their region, illustrating an exciting number and variety of pilot projects currently underway at a range of levels of government.
Representatives of The Climate Group’s States and Regions Alliance will meet again at COP16 in Cancun, Mexico where they will report back on the commitments made in Copenhagen and make further commitments to advance the deployment of critical low carbon technologies in their regions.