SACRAMENTO July 12, 2017 – Today, California Governor Jerry Brown and Michael Bloomberg launched America’s Pledge on climate change, a new initiative to compile and quantify the actions of states, cities and businesses in the United States to drive down their greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
“Today we’re sending a clear message to the world that America’s states, cities and businesses are moving forward with our country’s commitments under the Paris Agreement – with or without Washington,” said Governor Jerry Brown, who was recently named Special Advisor for States and Regions ahead of the United Nations’ 23rd Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP23).
Since the White House announcement of its intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, an unprecedented number of U.S. states, cities, businesses, and colleges and universities have reaffirmed their support for the Paris Agreement through collaborations including the “We Are Still In” declaration, the Climate Mayors coalition of cities, the U.S. Climate Alliance group of states, and others.
Building on this positive momentum, the America’s Pledge initiative will for the first time aggregate the commitments of these and other “non-Party actors” in a report on the full range of climate-related activities across the whole of U.S. society. The process of developing America’s Pledge will also provide a roadmap for increased climate ambition from U.S. states, cities, businesses and others, and will transparently demonstrate to the international community how and in which ways these entities can help the U.S. deliver on its pledge under the Paris Agreement.
“In the U.S., emission levels are determined far more by cities, states, and businesses than they are by our federal government – and each of these groups is taking action because it’s in their own best interest,” said Michael Bloomberg, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change. “Reducing emissions is good for the economy and good for public health. The American government may have pulled out of the Paris Agreement, but American society remains committed to it – and we will redouble our efforts to achieve its goals. We’re already halfway there.”
In 2015, during the lead-up to the Paris conference on climate change, the U.S. submitted its “Nationally Determined Contribution” committing to reduce emissions 26-28% against 2005 levels by 2025. Last weekend, the G20 Leaders’ Declaration took note of the Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, confirming that “it will immediately cease the implementation of its current nationally-determined contribution” while underscoring that “the Leaders of the other G20 members state that the Paris Agreement is irreversible.” Through the America’s Pledge initiative, Brown and Bloomberg will work to demonstrate continued climate leadership across U.S. society, and that subnational action can significantly reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at a time of limited federal leadership.
Commissioned by Brown and Bloomberg, the Rocky Mountain Institute and the World Resources Institute will jointly lead an inclusive analytical effort supporting America’s Pledge, with involvement by a broad set of stakeholders to be announced later this year. In November, Brown and Bloomberg, along with other U.S. governors, mayors, and business leaders, will compile and showcase existing climate commitments of U.S. subnational and non-state actors at COP23, to be hosted by the Government of Fiji in Bonn, Germany.
In addition, the America’s Pledge initiative will work to quantify the aggregate impact of these commitments on projected future emissions, comparing against both a business-as-usual (BAU) trajectory of projected greenhouse gas emissions under likely Trump Administration policies, and the U.S. Nationally Determined Contribution of 26-28% reductions against a 2005 baseline by 2025.
Finally, the America’s Pledge initiative will present a game plan for raising the bar and expanding the map when it comes to non-Party actors driving down U.S. emissions. This set of options, which will highlight the significant levers available to states, cities, and businesses to further reduce U.S. emissions, will serve as a playbook for enhanced ambition among U.S. climate leaders who are committed to meeting America’s commitments under the Paris Agreement.
“I am convinced that to be effective, action to address climate change must be taken at all levels of society, including by mayors, governors, local leaders, chief executive officers and others,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. “This is demonstrably not an issue that can be addressed by national governments alone. The effort to aggregate and quantify the actions of subnational authorities and non-Party stakeholders in the United States via ‘America’s Pledge’ is welcome.”
Organizations that would like to become involved in America’s Pledge can visit http://www.americaspledgeonclimate.com.
California’s Climate Leadership
Last week, on the eve of the G20 Summit, Governor Brown announced that the State of California will convene the world’s climate leaders in San Francisco in September 2018 for the Global Climate Action Summit, where representatives from subnational governments, businesses, investors and civil society will gather with the direct goal of supporting the Paris Agreement.
Last month, Governor Brown was named Special Advisor for States and Regions ahead of this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 23) by the Prime Minister of Fiji Frank Bainimarama – incoming president of COP 23. This followed meetings with Germany’s top environmental official, Minister Barbara Hendricks, in San Francisco, and with China’s President Xi Jinping during the Governor’s week-long trip to China.
Governor Brown continues to build – and grow – strong coalitions of subnational partners committed to curbing carbon pollution in both the United States through the U.S. Climate Alliance and around the globe with the Under2 Coalition.
The Under2 Coalition, established in May 2015, is an international pact among cities, states and countries committed to limiting the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius – the level of potentially catastrophic consequences – by either reducing their greenhouse gas emissions from 80 percent to 95 percent below 1990 levels or holding emissions to less than 2 annual metric tons per capita by 2050. The coalition now includes 176 jurisdictions on six continents, collectively representing more than 36 countries, 1.2 billion people and $28.8 trillion GDP – equivalent to more than 16 percent of the global population and 39 percent of the global economy.
The U.S. Climate Alliance was formed in June with the Governors of Washington and New York in response to the White House’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. The alliance now includes 14 U.S. states – led by both Democrats and Republicans – committed to achieving the U.S. goal of reducing emissions 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels and meeting or exceeding the targets of the federal Clean Power Plan. The U.S. Climate Alliance complements the goals of the Under2 Coalition.
In recent years, Governor Brown has also signed landmark climate legislation to establish the most ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets in North America; set the nation’s toughest restrictions on destructive super pollutants; direct cap-and-trade funds to greenhouse gas reducing programs which benefit disadvantaged communities, support clean transportation and protect natural ecosystems; and require the state to generate half of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and double the rate of energy efficiency savings in buildings.
The Governor has also traveled to the United Nations’ 2015 Climate Conference (COP 21) in Paris, the United Nations headquarters in New York, the Vatican and the Climate Summit of the Americas in Toronto to call on other leaders to join California in the fight against climate change. These efforts build on a number of other international climate change agreements with leaders from the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Mexico, China, North America, Japan, Israel, Peru, Chile, Australia, Scotland,
Sweden and Germany as well as Governor Brown’s efforts to gather hundreds of researchers and scientists around a groundbreaking call to action called the consensus statement, which translates key scientific climate findings from disparate fields into one unified document.
California, the sixth-largest economy in the world, continues to advance its nation-leading climate goals while also growing its economy faster than the rest of the United States. In the past seven years, California has created more than 2.5 million new jobs, cut its unemployment rate in half, eliminated a $27 billion budget deficit and boosted its credit rating to the highest level in more than a decade.
The impacts of climate change are already being felt in California and will disproportionately impact the state’s most vulnerable populations.