Sacramento, California - Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today welcomed Massachusetts and regional governments from Colombia - Guainía and Guaviare – and Austria - Lower Austria - as new signatories to the Under 2 MOU climate agreement, the global pact among cities, states and countries to limit the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius.
“The Paris climate agreement was a breakthrough and California was there leading the way. Over 100 states, provinces and regions have now signed on to our Under 2 MOU,” said Governor Brown in his State of the State remarks last week. “The goal is to bring per capita greenhouse gases down to two tons per person. This will take decades and vast innovation.”
Today’s announcement follows a flurry of action at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, where 58 jurisdictions were added to the coalition. A total of 127 jurisdictions representing 27 countries and six continents have now signed or endorsed the Under 2 MOU. Together, they represent more than 729 million people and $20.4 trillion in GDP, equivalent to more than a quarter of the global economy.
“Massachusetts is proud to join with other states and regions around the world in endorsing the Under 2 MOU as part of our state’s commitment to addressing climate change and our support of ongoing global efforts to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker. “The MOU complements our pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Massachusetts by 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020, and will allow us to work with, and learn from, other leaders in combating climate change as we attempt to reduce emissions through the pursuit of a diversified energy portfolio.”
Massachusetts is the 10th American state to sign the Under 2 MOU, joining California, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
Leaders of the Colombian governments of Guainía and Guaviare also signed the agreement, adding to a growing contingent of signatories from the Amazon basin. In a joint statement, Governor of Guainía Oscar Armando Rodríguez Sánchez and Governor of Guaviare José Octaviano Rivera Moncada noted that due to their location in the Amazon region, the Colombian territories enjoy rich biodiversity and natural resources.
“For this reason, it is of great strategic importance for Guainía and Guaviare to work closely with the State of California and the other signatories of the Under 2 MOU in order to avoid the destruction of our forests and to secure the sustainable development of our regions,” the Governors said. “In this way, we want to make our best effort to contribute towards the global goal of limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius by the end of this century.”
Additionally, Lower Austria became the first Austrian state to sign the agreement.
The Under 2 MOU is an agreement to limit the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius, the warming threshold at which scientists say there will likely be catastrophic climate disruptions. Signatories commit to either reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 to 95 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 or achieving a per capita annual emission target of less than 2 metric tons by 2050. These targets allow each individual government to tailor emission reduction plans to fit regional needs.
California's Leadership on Climate Change
While California emits around 1 percent of the world's greenhouse gases, the state is playing a leading role in broadening collaboration among subnational leaders.
The Governor last year traveled to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, the Vatican in Italy, the United Nations in New York and the Climate Summit of the Americas in Toronto, Canada to call on others leaders to join California in the fight against climate change. Governor Brown also recently joined an unprecedented alliance of heads of state, city and state leaders – convened by the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund – to urge countries and companies around the globe to put a price on carbon.
These efforts build on a number of other international climate change agreements with leaders from Mexico, China, North America, Japan, Israel, Peru and Chile and Governor Brown's efforts to convene hundreds of world-renowned 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.
Last October, Governor Brown signed landmark legislation – SB 350 – that codified the goals he laid out in his January 2015 inaugural address to double the rate of energy efficiency savings in California buildings and generate half of the state's electricity from renewable sources by 2030. In the same remarks, Governor Brown committed to reduce today's petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent within the next 15 years; make heating fuels cleaner; reduce the release of methane, black carbon and other potent pollutants across industries; and manage farm and rangelands, forests and wetlands so they can store carbon.
The Governor also issued an executive order last year to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 – the most ambitious target in North America and consistent with California's existing commitment to reduce emissions 80 percent under 1990 levels by 2050.
The impacts of climate change are already being felt in California and will disproportionately impact the state's most vulnerable populations.