The Compact of States and Regions is an initiative that gives a transparent global picture of the efforts that are being made to tackle climate change. It is the first dedicated reporting mechanism for states, provinces and regions to showcase and analyse their efforts. In order to join, Governments must make a public commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and report a standard set of GHG inventory data on an annual basis.
The 44 Governments in the Compact represent more than 325 million people and US$10.5 trillion in GDP respectively. Of these, only 2 are from Australia – South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory. The recently published Compact of States and Regions Disclosure Report 2015 discussed what climate change leadership looks like with respect to policies and associated levers, dedicating budgets to the cause and legislation.
In 2015, GDP has been successfully decoupled from emission for the first time. The global economy reportedly grew by 3.3% on average, while emissions increased by only 0.5%. Thirty seven of the 44 Governments have state-wide GHG inventories and emissions reductions targets, and the remaining Governments have committed to developing a GHG inventory and target within 2 years.
Since the Compact of States and Regions was launched in 2014, more than 150 countries have submitted post-2020 emission reduction pledges (INDCs) that account for more than 86% of global emissions. Publicly disclosing data informs discussion, fuels higher ambition and imparts greater responsibility to citizens. To date there has been an exceptional response with 77 emissions reduction targets reported, nearly 50% of the Governments have a target with a timeline beyond 2035, and two thirds of Governments have reported a target for renewable energy (e.g. as a percentage share of total energy or power mix).
In addition to renewable energy, many Governments have a focus on energy efficiency and productivity
Half of the near term renewable energy targets range from 15-25% while the others range from 27-90%. More than 40% of the mid term targets range from 40-50% and two of the three long term targets are in the 80-90% range. The most commonly reported power source is hydroelectric (33% of states, provinces and regions). The next most commonly reported sources are wind and biomass (both 5%) followed by solar (2%). In addition to renewable energy, many Governments have a focus on energy efficiency and productivity. Approximately 70% of Governments have reported an energy efficiency target, 52% reported sector specific efficiency targets and 36% reported region wide efficiency targets.
Despite not being compulsory, 33 states, provinces and regions have disclosed the climate risks they face and the adaptation measures they are taking. Approximately 66% of the reporting Governments have completed a vulnerability assessment and a further 21% have an assessment underway. All but 2 Governments indicated that the actual or anticipated impacts of climate change represent a significant physical risk. More than 180 risks were reported, with the most concerning being temperature increases and heatwaves (27%), frequent or intense rainfall (24%), droughts (17%) and sea level rise (12%). In addition to physical risks, 73% of the Governments indicated that the successful operation of businesses was at risk due to climate change, particularly businesses in the agriculture, fishing and forestry sectors. In total, 170 adaptation actions were reported however they were related to regional income. States, provinces and regions with a higher per capita GDP reported three times as many adaptation actions compared to those with lower per capita GDPs.
To limit global warming to a maximum of 2°C, global carbon emissions must be capped at 1 trillion tonnes
To limit global warming to a maximum of 2°C, global carbon emissions must be capped at 1 trillion tonnes. If a projected population of 9-10 billion is reached, the per capita carbon budget will be as little as 2 metric tonnes. According to the latest science, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 40-70% below 2010 levels by 2050 and carbon neutrality must be achieved by 2100 to achieve the 2°C ceiling. Establishing a long term decarbonisation path benefits Governments by ensuring a cost efficient, low carbon transition, maintaining consistent and ambitious climate policy and providing long term investment signals. The Under2MOU, a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% from 1990 levels by 2050 was launched in May this year by 12 states and regions. In less than 6 months, 57 jurisdictions from 19 countries have signed the MOU.
Governments reporting to the Compact of States and Regions have reported many examples of the direct economic benefits and opportunities that they are either experiencing or expect as a result of their ambitious climate change stance. The establishment of new industries was most commonly reported, with approximately half of the Governments reporting an increase in “green” and clean technology jobs driven by renewables being scaled up. North Rhine-Westphalia is now home to 250,000 clean technology jobs and 3500 companies, and in New York State, every dollar invested in the development of clean energy products realises 6 dollars in economic and environmental benefit. California, which has demonstrated clean technology leadership for many years, is now home to approximately 500,000 clean energy jobs.