Regions take active part in the COP21 in Paris

While the representatives of the different countries endeavoured in Paris, under the umbrella of the United Nations, to reach an agreement that will oblige them to reduce their emissions, the COP21 witnessed a myriad of regional initiatives and agreements in relation to climate.

The regions involvement in the COP21 began on Wednesday the 2nd of December with a Side-Event organised by the promoters of the World Summit Climate & Territories, held in Lyon last July. Bernard Soulage, Vice-President of the French region of Rhône-Alpes, member of ORU, explained in the opening that the preamble of the Draft Declaration already included a recognition of the role of regional and local governments. He added that during the Summit, this recognition would be at the heart of the debate. From thereon, the Side-Event focused on how would the issues addressed in Lyon be raised at the COP21, taking into account the proposals and dynamics of all non-state actors.  

All panellists agreed on dealing with both climate change and development challenges at the same time. They also noted that the fight against climate change has an unavoidable territorial component and, consequently, regional and local governments should have a clearly recognised role. Among the panellists was ORU’s Secretary General, Carles Llorens, who explained the conclusions of the Agriculture Workshop held in Lyon and led by ORU’s Food Security workgroup. The event ended with the public presentation of the "Non-party Stakeholders Declaration", which points out the need for political actors to contribute, as “the national contributions proposed by the states today would place us around a global warming of 3 %, a percentage that would be unsustainable for our societies".

Towards II WSCT and the COP22

In the afternoon, the Mayor of Nantes, Johanna Roland, and Ronan Dantec, Senator and UCLG’s spokesperson on Climate, presented the II World Summit Climate & Territories, to be held in September 2016 in Nantes (Loire Region, France).  Ronan Dantec, who will act as commissioner, expressed his belief that the territorial governments could go further than States in climate-related issues. Ségolène Royal and Hakima el Haite, French and Moroccan Ministers for the Environment respectively, attended the presentation. The latter brought the COP22 to the agenda, to be held in 2016 in Marrakech.
 
On the 3rd, nrg4SD took the baton with a Side-Event in the morning, in which regional governments shared their best practices to reduce emissions. The minister for the Environment of the Rio de Janeiro State, André Correa, opened the session talking about the policies to tackle the water crisis that in his state had affected the supply of 60% of the population. Different world leaders explained the projects developed in their respective regions to combat climate change. Josep Enric Llebot, representative of nrg4SD, closed the event defending the maximum involvement of intermediate governments, among other reasons, because 40% of emissions occur in the regions’ spheres of power, like mobility, waste treatment or water management. 
 
The commitment with RegionsAdapt
The presentation of the the initiative RegionsAdapt, led by nrg4SD and The Climat Group and signed by regions from the five continents, took place that same day in the afternoon, in the Maison de l’Europe. The Catalan Minister for the Environment and co-chairman of nrg4SD, Santi Vila, and the Minister of the Rio de Janeiro State, André Correa, presented this initiative whereby the regions undertake to adopt a strategy that prioritizes adaptation policies and to report annually on the process of such adaptation in a common platform. After the presentation, the following showed their commitment to the project: Ian Hunger, Minister of South Australia, Aka Aouele, President of Sud Comoé (Ivory Coast), Mary Polak, Minister of British Columbia (Canada), Bernard Soulage, Vice-President of Rhône-Alpes (France), and Matthew Rodríguez, Minister of California (United Stated). It was also signed by Ministers of Lombardy (Italy), Wales (Great Britain), Gossas and Fatick (Senegal) and Tocantins (Brazil), while other regions like Quebec, Jalisco or Minas Gerais undertook to sign it.
 
Another major event organised by local and regional actors during the COP21 was the Climate Summit for Local Leaders, held on the 4th December at the Paris City Hall, and co-hosted by Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris and the UN Special Envoy for Climate and Cities Michael Bloomberg. The focus of the event was on municipalities and local and regional entities that have supported the Compact of Mayors. On the same day, R-20 presented its most prominent initiatives in a few continents, funded in a public-private collaboration space. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Honorific President of R-20 and former Governor of California, took part in a variety of COP21 events, strongly defending the role of regions in the fight against climate change. He asked the negotiators in Paris to recognise this role.   
 
Under2MOU and Compact of States and Regions
On the 6th December, Jerry Brown, Governor of California, hosted a reception in the residence of the US Ambassador in France, for the signatories of the Under2MOU initiative. Eleven subnational governments committed to the joint reduction of emissions by the year 2050 signed the Under2MOU agreement, promoted by nrg4SD, on the 20th of May this year. During the meeting, more regional governments signed it. The event also provided an opportunity to share projects. The Catalan President, Artur Mas, explained that the Catalan Government has prepared a draft law on climate change that will be submitted to the Parliament, which shows their involvement and engagement with the path towards 2030: “Our goals will help us stay below the greenhouse emissions levels laid down”.  
 
The General Assembly of the States and Regions Alliance of The Climate Group was held on Monday the 7th. The meeting was officially opened by the Basque President, the Lehendakari Iñigo Urkullu, in his capacity as European Chairman of the Alliance. The Lehendakari presented the first results of the Compact of States and Regions, the initiative co-lead by TCG, CDP and Regions of Climate Action (R20) that “acts as the first reporting mechanism for States, Provinces and Regions, and allows to show in a clear manner our commitments and to analyse the efforts made”. Urkullu said that the 44 intermediate governments that make up the Compact of States and Regions “are the first line of action in the fight against climate change. We have ambitious climate goals, as well as in relation to clean energy, and we implement innovating policies”.  He also revealed the Compact’s main aim:  “Today we emit 2.81 gigatones of CO2 a year. Our commitment is to reduce it to 1.28 by 2050. Our mission is to extend the information and the collaboration to become a benchmark in the political engagements that will allow us to hand on a better world and a better climate to future generations”. 

 

Related Content:

From the World Summit on Climate and Territories to the COP21. Declaration of Non-Party Stakeholders. Signed at Le Bourgent, 2nd of December 2015.

Speech by the Lehendakari Iñigo Urkullu, Basque Country. Side Event "Driving Climate Action through the Compact of States of Regions and the Under2Mou". 7th December 2015.

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