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Source: Small Island Developing States

18 September 2019: Quantified climate commitments by more than 6,000 cities and regions and 1,500 companies in ten of the world’s major emitting economies could reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 1.2-2 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) per year by 2030 – or roughly 4% of global emissions today – in addition to planned reductions by the corresponding governments. This is one of the findings contained in the 2019 edition of a report on climate action by non-state actors issued by a group of think tanks.

Published ahead of the September 2019 UN Climate Action Summit, the report titled, ‘Global Climate Action from Cities, Regions and Businesses: Impact of Individual Actors and Cooperative Initiatives on Global and National Emissions,’ aggregates climate mitigation commitments reported to some of the world’s largest voluntary pledging and reporting platforms.

The analysis was conducted at a global level as well as for ten major emitting economies: Brazil, Canada, China, the EU, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, South Africa and the US. The participating cities and regions represent a collective population of 579 million, which is more than the combined population of the US and Brazil, while the corporations included represent a combined revenue of more than USD 20.5 trillion (equivalent to gross domestic product (GDP) of the US).

While not yet sufficient to stay below the 1.5°C global warming, implications of which were recently analyzed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the report notes that climate action by cities, regions and businesses allows national governments to raise their commitments and helps “keep global limits within reach.” It also concludes that such action may not only help achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change, but also support the delivery of other SDGs by 2030 by helping ensure that global climate efforts are implemented in a way that supports, rather than hinders, local sustainable development.

Among specific results, the report concludes that:

  • Full implementation of recorded and quantified individual commitments by cities, regions and companies in the EU could lead to an emissions reduction of up to 48% from 1990 levels by 2030, which “well beyond” the bloc’s Paris goal of at least 40%;
  • In India, commitments would add a 5.5% reduction to the current national policy projections for 2030, which already puts India on track to surpass its Paris pledge; and
  • In Japan, city, region and business commitments would lower emissions by up to 70 MtCO2e per year below the country’s Paris pledge by 2030.

The report notes that impact is enhanced when actors join their actions through international initiatives such such as the Global Covenant of Mayors, C40, We Are Still In and the Under2°Coalition. Projected emissions reductions by 17 high-performing international cooperative initiatives (ICIs) are found to be equivalent to roughly one-third of global greenhouse gases (GHGs), which could help keep the global average temperature rise within the 2°C limit.

According to additional analysis of the findings by the UNFCCC, the impact of subnational and corporate climate actions is particularly significant in countries with a weak or worsening climate policy environment. Projected reductions for the US, for example, could put the country in range of meeting its climate pledge for 2025, “despite efforts by the Trump administration to roll back policies.”

To fully harness the potential of such actions, however, the report notes that ICIs, in particular, must expand their membership, scale up their work and ensure that they do not displace climate efforts elsewhere. It also calls for better data and reporting to measure additional climate action outside of national governments that could not be assessed in the report.

The report was co-published by the New Climate Institute, Data-Driven Yale, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, German Development Institute/Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), Blavatnik School of Government and the University of Oxford.

The first report on actions by cities, regions and companies was launched at the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit. [Publication: Global Climate Action from Cities, Regions and Businesses: Impact of Individual Actors and Cooperative Initiatives on Global and National Emissions] [New Climate Institute Press Release] [UNFCCC Press Release]

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