Fight­ing cli­mate change re­gion by re­gion

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

A new global agree­ment to ad­dress cli­mate change is tak­ing shape, with the United States join­ing the Euro­pean Union in for­mally sub­mit­ting its plan to cut green­house-gas (GHG) emis­sions to the United Na­tions Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change (UNFCCC). The US has sent a strong sig­nal by be­ing one of the first to of­fer this com­mit­ment to con­crete cli­mate ac­tion. In the days ahead, many other coun­tries, in­clud­ing China and In­dia, are ex­pected to add their plans to the mix.

To­gether, th­ese plans (known as “in­tended na­tion­ally determined con­tri­bu­tions,” or “INDCs”) will rep­re­sent a col­lec­tive global ef­fort to in­vest in a pros­per­ous, low-car­bon fu­ture.

And to­day, we, as co-chairs of The Cli­mate Group’s States & Re­gions Al­liance, call on na­tional gov­ern­ment lead­ers to join that ef­fort with am­bi­tious cli­mate plans. We make this call to our na­tional lead­ers be­cause we be­lieve it is right, and be­cause we know it is pos­si­ble.

We be­lieve it is right be­cause, as the lead­ers of large state and re­gional gov­ern­ments, re­spon­si­ble for im­ple­ment­ing our own cli­mate plans, we have learned that ad­dress­ing cli­mate change is both a duty and an op­por­tu­nity. It is a duty, be­cause cli­mate change now af­fects our ev­ery­day lives. And it is an op­por­tu­nity, be­cause pro­mot­ing sus­tain­able devel­op­ment cre­ates new clean-tech­nol­ogy jobs and more di­ver­si­fied, greener and re­silient economies.

We know it is pos­si­ble be­cause we are do­ing it. Each of our re­gions has re­duced GHG emis­sions to 1990 lev­els or be­low; and, since we be­gan, our economies have more than dou­bled in size. This has been achieved partly through the in­no­va­tive poli­cies adopted by our re­spec­tive gov­ern­ments.

A car­bon mar­ket cov­er­ing 85% of GHG emis­sions is at the cen­ter of the Québec gov­ern­ment’s strat­egy for fight­ing cli­mate change. On Jan­uary 1, 2014, Québec linked its car­bon mar­ket with Cal­i­for­nia’s, cre­at­ing the largest re­gional car­bon mar­ket in North Amer­ica. All the rev­enues gen­er­ated by the sale of Québec emis­sion units go into the prov­ince’s Green Fund, and are rein­vested in ini­tia­tives aimed at fur­ther re­duc­ing GHG emis­sions and help­ing Québec’s res­i­dents adapt to the ef­fects of cli­mate change. Québec will in­vest more than $3.3 bln to­ward this goal by 2020, con­tribut­ing to the growth of its econ­omy.

The Basque Coun­try es­tab­lished a pro­gramme called Lo­cal Agenda 21, de­signed to sup­port the cre­ation of lo­cal sus­tain­abil­ity plans across the re­gion. As a re­sult, al­most all Basque mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties have adopted such plans, con­sist­ing of more than 25,000 projects in ar­eas such as mo­bil­ity, waste man­age­ment, and eco­nomic devel­op­ment. Th­ese lo­cal plans are now driv­ing sus­tain­able devel­op­ment in the re­gion, with knowl­edge shar­ing among mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties lay­ing the foun­da­tion for fur­ther progress.

South Australia, mean­while, has de­vel­oped the most sup­port­ive reg­u­la­tory frame­work for re­new­able en­ergy in­vest­ment in Australia, en­abling an in­crease in re­new­ables’ share in power gen­er­a­tion from vir­tu­ally zero in 2003 to al­most 40% to­day.

This shift is putting down­ward pres­sure on whole­sale elec­tric­ity prices and off­set­ting the cost of South Australia’s Re­new­able En­ergy Tar­get in the short term, all to the ben­e­fit of con­sumers. This also po­si­tions South Australia as a leader in new en­ergy in­dus­tries. The state now ac­counts for more than 40% of the coun­try’s op­er­at­ing ca­pac­ity for wind­gen­er­ated power, and has one of the world’s high­est pen­e­tra­tion rates for so­lar (one in four house­holds has a pho­to­voltaic sys­tem).

Now we are look­ing to the fu­ture. We have taken the lead, work­ing to cut emis­sions by 20% by 2020 in the Basque Coun­try and Québec, and by 60% by 2050 in South Australia – but we need part­ners at the na­tional level. In our re­gions, busi­nesses need con­sis­tent, long-term pol­icy sig­nals in or­der to make fur­ther in­vest­ments to­ward a low-car­bon econ­omy. Work­ing to­gether, sub­na­tional and na­tional gov­ern­ments can achieve much more than when work­ing apart.

So, as we pre­pare for the UN Cli­mate Change Con­fer­ence in Paris in De­cem­ber, we en­cour­age our na­tional lead­ers not to waver. On the con­trary, they should join us at the fore­front of the fight against cli­mate change by putting for­ward am­bi­tious na­tional plans that lever­age the lead­er­ship of sub­na­tional gov­ern­ments to achieve the needed GHG emis­sions re­duc­tions.

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