Last December, at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 15), California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced the concept for a new global organization that would break through the negotiations impasse and lead in the climate challenge through concrete actions at the subnational level: the R20 – Regions of Climate Action.
Heeding this call to action, California and other leading states and provinces from around the world will officially launch the R20 in November 2010 at the third Governors’ Global Climate Summit in California. The R20 will include an expanding and globally diverse group of subnational government members from developed and developing countries that are committed to taking real action on climate change. In addition, the R20 will partner with organizations and individuals from the private sector, academia, national governments, international organizations, and civil society to build momentum for climate action at the national and international levels.
What will the R20 achieve?
The mission of the R20 will be to develop and implement low-carbon and climate resilient projects through cooperation among subnational governments from around the world.
During its first year, the R20 will facilitate public-private partnerships, share best practices, accelerate the development of green innovations, and begin implementing clean energy demonstration projects. Within five years, the R20 aims to have at least twenty subnational governments enact comprehensive low-carbon policies and implement projects, using successful models from progressive subnational leaders as a guide.
Through these efforts, the R20 will expand the global green economy, create new green jobs and build commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Demonstration projects will further show that 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions reductions needed by 2020 to limit the increase in world average temperature to 2°C can be achieved at no net cost and that many projects will generate new economic benefits.*
*Project Catalyst has determined that 75 percent of the 17.4 gigatons of CO2-equivalent that must be reduced from annual business-as-usual emissions by 2020 can be achieved through renewable energy, forest and land use practices, and energy efficiency at a net economic benefit to society. Center for American Progress & United Nations Foundation, Meeting the Climate Challenge: Core Elements of an Effective Response to Climate Change, October 2009.
Why is the formation of the R20 so significant?
COP 15 failed to produce a binding international agreement on climate change, and there is now growing recognition that a new climate treaty is politically unlikely in the short term. The key reason for this setback lies with fundamental disagreements between developed and developing countries over climate finance and emissions reduction targets.
This political situation does not change the climate reality: to avoid dangerous climate change, the world must reduce greenhouse gas emissions now. Further, between now and 2050, at least two-thirds of new emissions growth will occur in developing countries, many of which lack the capacity to develop and implement effective climate policies. While political debates continue, real actions must be taken to reduce emissions and build capacity on the ground.
Despite the disappointment of COP 15 and the lingering effects of the global recession, subnational governments such as California are pushing forward to move the world toward a low-carbon future and grow the global green economy. This momentum cannot be lost, and we must work to link these “bottom-up approaches” to national and global “top-down” goals.
The R20 will support, leverage, and extend subnational climate efforts to help build momentum for climate action at the national and international levels. By focusing on achieving concrete action through project activities, the R20 will achieve immediate results and demonstrate ways to move forward on clean technology deployment and accelerate low-carbon investment.
What is the relationship between the R20 and the United Nations?
The R20, while outside the United Nations framework, will maintain a close working relationship with the United Nations and play a complementary role, as it will with other international organizations.
Why should we address climate change at the subnational level?
As progress on climate change has stalled at both national and international levels, there is growing consensus that new actors must help tackle the climate challenge. Subnational governments are key actors for many reasons:
1. According to the UNDP, most investments to reduce GHG emissions and adapt to climate change—50 to 80 percent for reductions and up to 100 percent for adaptation—must take place at the subnational level;
2. Subnational governments implement national policies, and can also provide solutions to climate change when national-level action stalls;
3. Subnational governments, such as California, are global leaders in reducing emissions and creating green jobs and these efforts could be replicated and scaled up in both developed and developing countries;
4. Subnational governments are politically close to where projects must be implemented yet remain sufficiently elevated to achieve wider benefits by integrating projects into regional planning; and
5. Subnational governments provide a perfect interface for addressing both urban and rural issues and thus cover all key aspects of the fight against climate change.
How will the R20 impact national climate policy and action?
Environmental policies and projects successfully implemented at the subnational level are often adopted by national governments. Subnational action will spur action at national levels.
How will the R20 influence international climate action?
Climate change is an international issue that transcends political boundaries and requires actions at all levels. By fostering partnerships between subnational governments, businesses, NGOs, and academics around the world, and by encouraging national governments to take additional steps on climate change, the R20 can spur global climate action.
Further, the R20’s demonstration projects will serve as models to influence subnational and national governments to accelerate their implementation of international agreements, domestic targets, and nationally appropriate mitigation measures (NAMAs), as pledged under COP 15’s Copenhagen Accord. This cooperation between subnational governments of developed and developing countries will mobilize and leverage technology and private sector finance aimed at promoting robust economic recovery and based on a new green paradigm in partnership with the UNDP and International Energy Agency.
Who will be R20 members and partners?
We are inviting progressive subnational government leaders from around the world to join as the official founding members of R20. In addition, the R20 will invite national governments to become observers to the organization, and will also be recruiting founding partners of the R20 from the private sector, academia, international organizations, and civil society. At the Governors’ Global Climate Summit this November, the founding members and partners will be announced and they will sign the R20 Charter.
When will the R20 be established and where?
The R20 has been incorporated as a non-profit organization in Geneva, under Swiss law. As noted above, the official launch of the R20 will take place at the third Governors’ Global Climate Summit in Davis, California, on November 15 and 16.
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