Leaders from 12 states and provinces spanning three continents signed an agreement on Tuesday to cut their greenhouse gas emissions 80-95% under 1990 levels by mid-century, in an effort to limit global temperature rises to 2C above industrial levels.
Dubbed the “Under 2 MOU” – or Memorandum of Understanding, the non-binding pact unites the efforts of regions that together represent 100 million people and about $4.5 trillion in GDP, economic output roughly equivalent to that of Japan.
The signatories were four US states: California, Oregon, Vermont and Washington; the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Ontario; Baja California and Jalisco of Mexico; Acre of Brazil, Baden-Württemberg of Germany; Catalonia of Spain and Wales of the UK.
“Under2MOU confirms and advances the crucial role subnationals play in the international effort to stabilise the world’s climate,” said Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board on Twitter.
While long on intentions, the agreement is short on specific policies and mechanisms for achieving the reductions and instead spells out that each region will be free to implement plans suited to its own unique challenges.
The signatories agreed to cooperate and coordinate activity in areas like renewable energy development, efficiency, transportation, and technology, as well as the monitoring and reporting of emissions across their various jurisdictions.
Absent from the MOU is any mention of a coordinated cap-and-trade scheme among the signing parties, although footnotes to the agreement spell out intentions by the US state of Washington and the Mexican state of Jalisco to develop emissions trading schemes as part of their own efforts.
Sub-national governments play no formal part in the UNFCCC negotiations, but France, the hosts of this year’s conference in Paris, want non-governmental achievements to be logged as one of four ‘pillars’ to a global climate pact.
Earlier today, France’s President Francois Hollande and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel both said a collective long term goal should be part of the global agreement. They said the goal should be at least 60% below 2010 levels by 2050, with an end to fossil fuel pollution by 2100.
“We will strive to decarbonise fully the global economy over the course of this century,” the pair said in a joint statement at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue in Berlin.
UN-backed scientists at the IPCC last year said global GHG cuts of 40-70% below 2010 levels by 2050 would be needed to stand a good chance of keeping temperatures from rising more than 2C.
By Robert Mullin – firstname.lastname@example.org