Commitments for 1.5 billion tons of GHG emissions reductions made at the World Summit Climate & Territories

Cities and regions announced commitments representing 1.5 billion tons of CO2 emissions reductions by 2020 on Thursday (July 2) at the World Summit Climate & Territories in Lyon, France. Ronan Dantec, French Senator and summit co-organizer, noted that this level of GHG emissions reductions will be made possible “on the basis of decision taken by municipalities and regions from five continents, who will commit to submitting their emissions to regular reporting and verification.”

Amongst these commitments are the first targets released under the new Compact of States and Regions, introduced at the UN Climate Summit in New York in 2014. The Compact is a global platform that records greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets and inventory data from sub-national governments, and supplies this data to the UNFCCC NAZCA platform. According to The Climate Group, “the Compact of States and Regions provides the first ever single, global account of GHG reduction targets made by state and regional governments,” and will support “climate negotiations by providing a clear and accurate picture of sub-national government contributions through reliable and publically available data”. In this first step, 20 governments, representing over 220 million people and $8.3 trillion GDP, have committed to a series of ambitious targets to reduce GHG emissions.

The 2-day World Summit Climate & Territories conference, hosted by the Rhône-Alpes Region of France on July 1st and 2nd, was publicized as the main gathering of subnational and local governments and civil society before the COP21 Paris Climate Conference in December, where local authorities could present concrete commitments and specific proposals to the negotiating states that will ultimately participate in a climate deal in Paris. The premise of the Summit was that subnational and local governments are at the forefront of the climate movement as they are both taking action to reduce GHG emissions and to adapt to the impacts of climate change, and that their participation is critical to the success of COP 21. 800 participants were invited to attend the event, including 400 elected officials from cities, states, regions and provinces and 400 representatives of other major groups of non-state actors.

At the close of the Summit, 50 organizations representing subnational and local governments and civil society groups signed the World Summit Climate & Territories General Declaration. The three pillars of the declaration, “Placing territorial action at the heart of the response to climate challenge”, include supporting a local and subnational approach to climate action, emphasizing the importance of financing for territorial initiatives, and committing to acting and strengthening engagement. Signatories are said to represent more than two-thirds of the global population.

President of COP21, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Laurent Fabius, reaffirmed participants as to the importance of the Summit, noting that “The efforts of countries are essential, but they are not enough. They must be supported by mobilized non-state actors. In Paris, we want to gather commitments and concrete initiatives from all these non-state actors in support of climate: this is what we call a ‘solution agenda’… In that respect, the mobilization for climate of cities, regions and territories – your mobilization – is absolutely essential. This is not an option. It is an obligation. By your commitments, you have the capacity to encourage governments to set themselves more ambitious targets, and increase our chances of staying below the two-degree limit.” The commitments and proposals presented at the World Summit Climate & Territories will be submitted to all the parties to the UNFCCC.

(Image: French President Hollande at the World Summit Climate & Territories, July 2015, Lyon, France. Photo credit: © Région Rhône-Alpes)