SACRAMENTO – California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today signed a first-of-its-kind agreement with international leaders from 11 other states and provinces, collectively representing more than $4.5 trillion in GDP and 100 million people, to limit the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius – the warming threshold at which scientists say there will likely be catastrophic climate disruptions.
The dozen-state agreement, called the “Under 2 MOU,” provides a template for the world’s nations to follow as work continues toward an international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions ahead of this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.
“This global challenge requires bold action on the part of governments everywhere,” said Governor Brown. “It’s time to be decisive. It’s time to act.”
The 12 founding signatories to the agreement span seven countries in both advanced and developing economies on three continents and would collectively constitute the fourth largest economic entity in the world by GDP. The signatories include: California, USA; Acre, Brazil; Baden-Württemberg, Germany; Baja California, Mexico; Catalonia, Spain; Jalisco, Mexico; and Ontario, Canada, who participated in today’s signing ceremony in Sacramento, as well as; British Columbia, Canada; Oregon, USA; Vermont, USA; Washington, USA; and Wales, UK.
Under today’s agreement, the signatories commit to either reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 to 95 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 or achieve a per capita annual emission target of less than 2 metric tons by 2050. These targets allow each individual government to tailor emission reduction plans to fit regional needs.
The pact seeks to enhance cooperation to achieve these goals through a range of activities, including:
– Developing mid-term targets needed to support long-term reduction goals;
– Sharing technology, scientific research and best practices to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy;
– Collaborating to expand the use of zero-emission vehicles;
– Taking steps to ensure consistent monitoring and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions;
– Improving air quality by reducing short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon and methane; and
– Assessing the projected impacts of climate change on communities.
The agreement’s signatories have also committed to recruiting additional global partners ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris this December. To that end, California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols hosted a reception with European partners today at the Business and Climate Summit in Paris organized by the French chapters of the United Nations Global Compact.
Other governments have already indicated an interest in signing onto the agreement in the months ahead.
“The commitments taken today are an important step of the mobilisation of non-state actors towards COP21, and I am glad to be part of it. The Rhône-Alpes Region will be honored to formally sign the MoU during the World Summit Climate and Territories, which will take place in Lyon on 1&2 July, and will bring together a large number of subnational governments and all international networks represented in the UN Major Groups to come forward with their commitments and proposals for COP21,” said Rhône-Alpes Regional Council President Jean-Jack Queyranne.
Statements from Signatories
Acre Governor Tião Viana: “The Under 2 MOU is an historical opportunity to share our common efforts towards the sustainability. The state of Acre reaffirms its determination to pursue its sustainable production goals, enhance social inclusion and promote the conservation of forests.”
Baden-Württemberg Minister-President Winfried Kretschmann: “Governments at all levels must act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and bring the climate back into balance in the long run. There are measures in the field of climate protection that also offer economic opportunities, for instance, in sustainable energy production. This signed memorandum is one of those important measures. With this memorandum the signers agree to not wait for the consensus of the international community, but to lead decisively and by example in matters of climate protection.”
Baja California Governor Francisco A. Vega de Lamadrid: “The State of Baja California takes pride on being invited and joining California in signing this most important and historical document.”
Catalonia Minister of Territory and Sustainability Santi Vila: “This international agreement is an example of how pioneering governments in the fight against climate change, who truly believe that global warming must be one of the main concerns of the international community, are able to join efforts, take the lead and foster an ambitious agreement, which we believe may be also extended to other regions and nations. It will always be easier and smarter to adapt to than to react to the impact of climate change. By signing this Memorandum of Understanding today, we take one more step forward towards this goal: we are increasingly aware of what the problem is, and we are fully convinced that what we need is to continue on implementing ambitious environmental policies to protect future generations.”
Jalisco Governor Aristóteles Sandoval: “With a shared economy of 2.5 trillion dollars and a migrant population of 2 million people, Jalisco and California assume their joint obligation to protect the environment and contribute to global wellbeing.”
Ontario Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Glen Murray: “The Under 2 MOU reflects a global commitment to tackle one of the most urging issues facing humanity today. As a leader in addressing climate change, Ontario is proud to stand with its global subnational partners in this effort to prevent catastrophic climate change by limiting global warming to less than 2°C and increase its actions to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.”
British Columbia Premier Christy Clark: “As a recognized world leader on climate action, British Columbia is pleased to join California and other sub-national governments in committing to take ambitious new actions to tackle climate change. Building on the success of BC’s climate actions to date, which include a revenue neutral carbon tax and support for our growing clean tech sector, a recently appointed BC Climate Leadership Team will be engaging British Columbians to develop new climate actions that continue to reduce emissions while continuing to support development and a growing economy.”
Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin: “There is no greater challenge than climate change. From disastrous flooding in Vermont to devastating drought in California, we are already seeing the disruptive effects of changing weather on our lands, in our communities, and on our economy. Vermont is making this commitment because we know that states and regional governments have to work together for solutions on the ground to make a real difference. We must get this right for our kids and grandkids.”
Washington Governor Jay Inslee: “Acting to reduce carbon pollution requires bold action at every level, and many of these actions must be done by local and state governments. Today we join jurisdictions representing more than 100 million people and more than $4.5 trillion GDP asking the world community to do its part and take decisive action this year.”
Wales Minister for Natural Resources Carl Sargeant: “I am delighted that Wales has become one of the founding signatories to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Subnational Global Climate Leadership. I believe that we have a strong track record of action and innovation at a subnational level in tackling climate change in a way which has sustainable development at its heart. The landmark Well-being of Future Generations Act and Environment Bill that we have recently brought forward in Wales underlines our commitment to tackling climate change and fully recognises our responsibility to act. They also put in place a legal framework that integrates the UN focus on climate change, sustainable development goals and biological diversity. In signing this memorandum, we further emphasise Wales’ commitment to the global effort and the importance of the work at a subnational level as we approach COP21 in Paris. When the ink is hopefully dry on a new global agreement, the work at a subnational level as demonstrated by our partners like Baden-Württemberg and California will be vital to its delivery. The growing track record of subnational governments is already building momentum, creating innovation and delivering results. This MoU represents a commitment to continue that work and we hope other subnational governments will join us. Together we have a shared responsibility and a shared opportunity too great to miss.”
World Leaders React
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres: “Science clearly underlines that to stay under a 2 degrees C temperature rise and spare the world and its people from dangerous climate change, a long term aim is needed–one that leads to a deep, decarbonisation of the global economy while triggering the financial and technical support that will assist developing economies to engage, grow and develop. The Under2 initiative supports this reality and I congratulate those launching the initiative including leaders from California and Baden-Wurttemberg for putting their efforts behind this aim of a super low emission future by the second half of the century–it represents yet another positive signal towards a transformational Paris agreement.”
World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change Rachel Kyte: “Local and sub-national governments are critical innovators in the fight against climate change. Their proven track record of building up solutions–from carbon pricing to electric vehicle roll-out to green buildings–provides an excellent model for national governments to follow as they advance plans for an ambitious Paris Agreement.”
United Nations Assistant Secretary-General on Climate Change Janos Pasztor: “These bold commitments by states and provinces to tackling climate change show that leaders at all levels of government around the world are taking ownership of this critical issue and leading by example. This agreement can help to accelerate climate action and inspire further local, national and international cooperation.”
Natural Resources Defense Council President Rhea Suh: “As these states and provinces know so well, change begins at home. Regional leadership is an essential ingredient in the global response to climate change. Today’s announcement will help galvanize the groundswell of climate actions that is growing from every corner of the world.”
The Climate Group CEO Mark Kenber: “This global group of state and regional governments are not only signaling their commitment to act in line with climate science, but by putting the timetables and policies in place, they are also ensuring that these long term targets are achieved. The Climate Group is proud to be working with this leadership group, through our States & Regions Alliance, to replicate best practice, measure impact and support governments to share solutions in addressing both the challenges and opportunities of climate change.”
Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp: “This agreement is further proof that states, provinces, and cities are forging ahead with climate solutions, not waiting for others to act. By taking this bold step, California and the other partners will not only secure significant emissions reductions but also demonstrate that climate action and prosperity go hand in hand. As we look ahead to the climate conference in Paris at the end of the year, today’s announcement sets a strong example for countries to follow.”
California’s Response to Climate Change
Last September, Governor Brown attended the United Nations Climate Summit in New York and committed to further state-led action on climate change. Today’s agreement follows last month’s executive order from Governor Brown to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 – the most ambitious target in North America – and is consistent with California’s existing commitment to reduce emissions 80 percent under 1990 levels by 2050. The agreement also builds on international climate change pacts with leaders from Mexico, China, North America, Japan, Israel and Peru. Governor Brown also helped convene hundreds of world-renowned researchers and scientists to issue a groundbreaking call to action – called the consensus statement – which translates key scientific climate findings from disparate fields into one unified document.
In his inaugural address earlier this year, Governor Brown announced that within the next 15 years, California will increase from one-third to 50 percent our electricity derived from renewable sources; reduce today’s petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent; double the efficiency savings from existing buildings and make heating fuels cleaner; reduce the release of methane, black carbon and other potent pollutants across industries; and manage farm and rangelands, forests and wetlands so they can store carbon. The impacts of climate change are already being felt in California and will disproportionately impact the state’s most vulnerable populations.
Photo captions can be found here:
1.)Governor Brown delivers toast
2.)Governor Brown meets with founding signatories to Under 2 MOU
3.)Governor Brown and international leaders sign Under 2 MOU
4.)Governor Brown gives remarks
Photo Credit: Joe McHugh, California Highway Patrol. For high resolution copies of these photos, please contact Danella Debel, Office of the Governor at Danella.Debel@gov.ca.gov.