States and regions make case for deeper engagement in COP processes

The Climate Group

The Under2 Coalition’s membership was out in force at COP27 in Egypt, demonstrating their determination to be part of the solution to the global climate crisis. States and regions from Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and Latin America took part in a range of events and held meetings with national governments to push for bolder, faster action on climate change.

Loss and damage

The week began with loss and damage commitments from the Scottish Government and the Government of Wallonia. Following Scotland’s announcement that it would be investing £5 million in a fund for loss and damage to support some of the world’s poorest people, Wallonia pledged to double its financial support to €1 million in 2023.

Loss and damage has become an increasingly topical issue in recent years as extreme weather events intensify and governments struggle to adapt to the changes this brings. Following on our members’ leadership at COP26, it was encouraging to see a breakthrough this year, with the final text of COP27 acknowledging the problems of loss and damage and committing to extra funding.

L&D event

Moving to net zero

We aim to be a net zero Coalition by 2050 at the latest, which means each and every one of our members stepping up and pledging to cut their emissions. One of our oldest members, North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany, expressed the importance of this target as they signed the new Under2 Coalition Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at an international reception for subnational governments and supporters organised in partnership with UN Action for Climate Empowerment.

All governments that sign the Coalition’s updated MoU pledge to take immediate action on emissions and lay out their plans for reaching staggered targets on the way to 2050. More than X members have now taken this step, and the MoU has become a baseline requirement for membership moving forwards.

Greater representation in Africa

A significant highlight of COP27 for the Under2 Coalition was all 12 Moroccan States signing the Under2 Coalition’s updated MoU. With support from FMDV (the Global Fund for Cities Development) and the Association of Regions of Morocco (ARM), each government expressed its intention to join the group and push for greater collective action on net zero goals and emissions reduction. This will boost the Coalition’s representation in Africa and therefore its understanding of – and action on – key climate issues across the continent.

Morocco and its regions are once again making history. In addition to the national Climate ambition, already recognized for its international commitment, the Presidents of our Regions also wished to commit themselves resolutely to the transition of the Moroccan territory. Joining the Under2 Coalition will be an opportunity for us to learn from our peers and innovate together.

Ms Mbarka Bouaida, President of ARM and President of the Guelmim-Oued Noun Region

Reflecting international change

The timing of this year’s COP aligned closely with national elections in Brazil and state elections in the US. While this raised questions about NDCs and ongoing climate commitments, Under2 Coalition members continued to lead the way on climate solutions.

Washington State led an event on state-level initiatives, where they joined the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA) and updated delegates on the Further, Faster, Together pledges from COP26. During 2022:

  • Baden-Württemberg made it mandatory for new residential buildings to have solar roofs;
  • Washington State set a target of 2035 for phasing out gas vehicles;
  • New South Wales announced it will invest £218.9 million to decarbonise its bus fleet;
  • British Columbia expanded its home composting pilot project to divert more food waste from landfill.

At the same time, we had substantial representation from Brazil led by our Latin America co-chair, São-Paulo. Over the course of COP27 states made a series of individual announcements, including Espirito Santo’s new funding from Conservation International to reforest 3 million acres of degraded land. They also had the opportunity to meet President Elect Lula when he arrived at the conference, and were therefore able to highlight the key role states have been playing in trying to minimise environmental damage in Brazil and the contribution they can now make as Brazil once again focuses its attention on the climate crisis.

Building partnerships

COP27 provided an opportunity to forge new partnerships at the subnational level, which in turn will lead to more intensive action in the near and longer term.

As well as an Under2 Coalition Ministerial meeting, the Secretariat worked with Regions4 and the Scottish Government on an event about the Global Stocktake and with the COP26 Unit on an official side event around multi-level action and the ambition loop. Taken together, these well-attended meetings gave momentum to broader conversations about how states and regions can take a more active role in COP negotiations.

Following these events, the Under2 Coalition joined with partners on two public statements. The first, led by Regions4, highlighted the importance of shifting focus to issues of adaptation in response to the growing concerns of states and regions in this area. The second, spear-headed by the Committee of the Regions (CoR), called for subnational actors to have a much more active role in the overall COP process. It emphasised the need for broader consultation and for consideration of solutions beyond the standard responses often seen following conferences.

The US State Department, alongside Bloomberg Philanthropies, also announced the formation of a Subnational Climate Action Leaders Exchange (SCALE) to help cities and subnational governments develop and implement effective net zero policies and speed up action on methane emissions reduction globally. The Under2 Coalition will be a key partner on implementation.

SCALE

Towards CBD and COP28

Under2 Coalition members will be keeping up momentum on the environment as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) COP begins next week in Quebec. This will focus on the undeniable links between the climate and biodiversity crises, with governments working on new measures to halt the overall decline in global biodiversity.

After this attention will move on Climate Week NYC, the G20 in India and then the next COP, which is taking place next December in Doha. Before countries meet once again to find common ground on the most global pressing challenges, states and regions will be looking for meaningful progress on issues such as climate finance and loss and damage as they continue to push for change locally, nationally and internationally.

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