The Under2 Coalition is a group at the subnational level which represents states, provinces, regions and cities from six continents with a joint commitment to an ambitious climate protection policy.
Purpose and intent
The basis is a signed memorandum of understanding (Under2 MOU) drawn up by California and Baden-Württemberg in advance of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP 21) in 2015. The signatories commit themselves to reducing their emissions of greenhouse gases by 80–95 % below 1990 levels by 2050. Another aim is to limit annual greenhouse gas emissions to less than two metric tons per capita by this date. The central objective of the Under2 MOU is to limit the rise of the global average temperature to less than 2 °C, with a goal of 1.5 °C. This is in line with international agreements such as the Rio Declaration (1992), the Montreal Declaration (2009), the Cancún Statement (2011), the Lyon Declaration (2011) and the Paris Agreement (2015).
The signatories individually define their measures and strategies for complying with these limits. This takes account of the fact that they have differing responsibilities and fiscal means when it comes to shaping climate protection policy and can place different emphases to achieve these goals.
The signatories share information about their activities relating to climate policy. Topics include energy efficiency, traffic & transport, protection of natural resources, waste reduction, science & technology and short-lived climate pollutants. The members learn from one another through the network and share their experiences. They also collect data on greenhouse gas emissions and publish it in their disclosure report. In this way, the Under2 Coalition is able to check whether the measures are having the hoped-for effect.
Background of the Under2 Coalition
In the past, the United Nations Climate Change Conferences were dominated by the signatory states. Jurisdictions at the subnational level did not play an active role. However, a growing number of states, regions and cities found this unsatisfactory and looked for ways to take an active part in international climate protection. Now participation at the subnational level is seen as critically import to the success of the Paris Climate Agreement. California Governor Jerry Brown has been appointed as special advisor for states and regions at the 23rd United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn in 2017.
The idea for worldwide cooperation at the subnational level arose at a 2014 meeting in San Francisco between Minister Franz Untersteller and Governor Jerry Brown. On 15 May 2015 Minister President Winfried Kretschmann, Governor Jerry Brown and ten other government leaders signed the Under2 MOU. The Climate Group acts as Secretariat to the Under2 Coalition.
Further development of the Under2 Coalition
As a member of the Under2 Coalition, Baden-Württemberg joined other regions in sending out a clear message at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015/Bonn 2017. Baden-Württemberg and California successfully drew attention to the role of subnational governments in climate protection.
The Under2 Coalition has gained increased importance following the announcement by the United States of America in June 2017 that it would withdraw from the Paris Agreement. In spite of this change in course by the administration, several US states have become members of the Under2 Coalition, thus demonstrating their commitment to serious climate protection.
At the UN climate conference in Bonn in 2017, the profile of the Under2 Coalition was sharpened. A Steering Group was established and the “States and Regions Alliance” was transferred into the Under2 Coalition.
The “Under2 Coalition Annual Report 2017” illustrates the manifold activities and successes of the Under2 Coalition in 2017: download the report.
In September 2018, the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) took place in San Francisco. It exemplified the diverse efforts of states, regions, cities, companies, investors and citizens. Under this frame, the General Assembly of the Under2 Coalition has taken place as well. Baden-Württemberg was re-elected as one of the Co-Chairs of the Under2 Coalition. Moreover, 18 new members were welcomed in the coalition. In addition, members committed to challenges and new targets at GCAS. For instance, Baden-Württemberg pledged to attain a climate-neutral state administration in 2050 at the latest.
Importance of the Under2 Coalition
In the meantime, the Under2 Coalition has acquired more and more members. The number of states and regions that have signed the MOU exceeds now 220. The Under2 Coalition thus represents more than 1.3 billion people from more than 40 countries on six continents and almost 43 % of the global economy.
Former Secretary-General of the UN Ban Ki-moon praised the Under2 Coalition as an ambitious, forward-looking climate protection initiative: “This is the most ambitious commitment made to date from states and provinces worldwide. It could be a game changer.”
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Articles and interviews
In this blog, Franz Untersteller, Minister of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector Baden-Württemberg, reflects on the past four years of state and regional climate action through the Under2 Coalition.
The Minister discusses the state’s pioneering efforts to almost entirely decarbonize its power sector, its controversial move away from a dominant nuclear power mix, and the key role of sub-national governments in the global climate talks.