From subnational to international cooperation on climate change

The efforts of sub-national governments are significant not only on their own, but because we have agreed to work together across borders and across oceans. In addition to leading on climate actions at home, sub-national governments have formed partnerships with each other as a model for international cooperation on climate change. Out of the Montreal Declaration and state and regional partnerships, key bilateral agreements have been signed. For example, California has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with South Australia, Manitoba, British Columbia and many others to advance areas such as climate change legislation, the expansion of solar and geothermal power and the adoption of tailpipe emissions standards.

Not only are states and regions advancing bilateral partnerships, but they are also advancing expansive North American-wide initiatives to tackle climate change. Three regional cap-and-trade initiatives are currently being established in North America, spanning the East, the West and the Midwest. The first such initiative that arose is the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI or 'ReGGie'). Created in 2005, this is the first mandatory, market-based effort in the US to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Membership includes ten northeastern and Mid-Atlantic US states, while Eastern Canadian provinces are participating as observers. This initiative is targeting a 10 per cent carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reduction from the power sector by 2018.

On the West Coast, the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) emerged in 2007. This regional initiative has partners and observers from the US, Canada and Mexico. Partners currently include Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Manitoba, British Columbia, Utah, Montana, Quebec and Ontario. The states and provinces have the goal of reducing GHG emissions 15 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020 in different sectors across the economy through market-based mechanisms such as cap and trade.

The Midwest also jumped on board in 2007 with a Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord that will develop multi-sector, market-based mechanisms to achieve reduction targets, including cap and trade. The Midwest has also agreed to actively collaborate on such issues as energy efficiency and renewable energy.

An important mechanism in North America is the Climate Registry. This is a collaborative partnership among US, Canadian and Mexican states, provinces and tribes to develop and manage a common reporting system for GHG emissions. If we want to be effective in the fight against climate change, we need mechanisms that help us to measure, track, verify and publicly report GHG emissions, and the Climate Registry has been developed to do just that.

From California's perspective, we would like to see a federal cap-and-trade programme alongside complementary policies built upon, and compatible with, state and regional action. Success in combating climate change will require action at both the national and state levels. States have long been the incubators of innovation and led on policies such as energy efficiency, clean transportation, renewable energy, low-carbon fuels and many more.

Sub-national action doesn't stop there. States and regions have been building momentum towards effective international networks, working towards faster and more effective climate change action. In Bali in 2007, sub-national governments reaffirmed their engagement towards the objectives of the Montreal Declaration and told many of their inspiring success stories. Moreover, 80 regional participants from around the world recently met at the 2008 St Malo World Summit of Regions, which was hosted by the President of Brittany and organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Network of Regions for Sustainable Development (NRG4SD). The participants committed to partnerships between developed and developing country regions in areas such as the development of climate plans, low-carbon technology and best practice transfer.

California was proud to host the Governors' Global Climate Summit in 2008, which brought together regions from all over the world, including China, India, the US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Indonesia. Participants committed to focusing efforts on the largest emitting sectors, including forestry, cement, iron, aluminium, energy and transportation. States and regions also agreed to employ strategies to fight climate change such as technology transfer, incentive programmes, sharing of best practices and market- or non-market-based programmes. What is exciting about this type of climate change action is that it is a win-win situation - that is, these strategies can be implemented almost immediately and at little or no cost with substantial economic and environmental benefits. Governments also committed to focusing research, development and deployment activities on areas such as energy efficiency, renewable energy and zero and low-carbon electricity generation and fuels.

United Nations support for state and regional action also is increasing. The UNDP, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Climate Group and other networks of regions are moving forward on setting up the UN-Regions partnership Towards Low Carbon Emission and Climate Change Resilient Territories. The aim, over a period of five years, is to:

• Ensure at least 500 regions from developing and emerging countries are trained on the post-Kyoto process, the carbon footprint for emission diagnosis and mapping vulnerability for adaptation diagnosis, the existing and forthcoming carbon finance mechanisms and available technologies.

• Accompany at least 50 regions from developing countries in assessing their emission and vulnerability diagnosis and elaborating their mitigation and adaptation strategy and action plan.

• Design a whole set of public policy and investments projects in these 50 regions to be submitted to the different financial opportunities such as official development assistance (ODA), public-private partnerships (PPPs), decentralized cooperation, and the carbon finance mechanisms such as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), the Adaptation Fund, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), UN-REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries) and the Millennium Development Goals Carbon Facility.

The global carbon market is already reaching billions of US dollars and this is projected to increase in a post-Kyoto regime. Yet, these funds are not being adequately accessed by developing countries due to a lack of sound bankable projects. Reasons for this include a lack of well-defined targets at the national level, limited knowledge of the opportunities available and poor know-how on the design of such projects.

The UN-Regions partnership is investing in additional human resources and aims to fundraise an estimated US$1 million per region to support developing and emerging regions in the establishment of a climate change strategy and action plan, and to generate projects in each region. The final target is to reach more than US$45 million in investment for mitigation and adaptations measures per region.

These efforts culminated in the second Climate Leaders Summit in December of 2008, hosted by the Climate Group and chaired by Premier Rann of South Australia. The Climate Leaders Summit brought together sub-national efforts to focus on very specific sub-national partnerships to accelerate the low-carbon economy in several areas. These include energy efficiency such as green buildings, renewable energy, including solar and geothermal systems, low-carbon technology deployment in areas such as in electric vehicles and light-emitting diode (LED) lighting, sustainable land use such as agricultural best practice incentives, adaptation, and fiscal and regulatory measures to implement them. These partnerships are forming the basis for strategic exchanges throughout 2009 and beyond.

Getting Started With Solar

Getting Started With Solar

Do we really want the one thing that gives us its resources unconditionally to suffer even more than it is suffering now? Nature, is a part of our being from the earliest human days. We respect Nature and it gives us its bounty, but in the recent past greedy money hungry corporations have made us all so destructive, so wasteful.

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