The national governments of the world reached a ground-breaking agreement to reduce the production of greenhouse gas emissions at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Paris this past December. Responding to a growing sense of urgency among most nations and their populations that a comprehensive and meaningful agreement must be reached, national governments agreed to take action to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Nations made significant promises to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). Called “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” (INDCs), 195 countries set their own post-2020 targets – based on their own capacity and capabilities – rather than being obligated to make specific reductions in GHGs by treaty or other legal mechanism. The World Resources Institute has a nice summary of the INDC process here.
The INDCs are set by national governments and refer to the actions that the individual government will take. The United States will use the Clean Air Act, for example, to set limits on carbon pollution by new and existing power plants. The US EPA provides a brief summary of the United States' INDC here.
The INDCs, however, do not cover the contributions made to reductions in carbon pollution by local and regional governments. Cities are where most carbon pollution is produced. This Climate Progress article clearly lays out the importance of the climate mitigation and adaptation work now being done in cities around the globe. Why is that work happening there? Because it is in cities where the effects of climate change are being felt and where the most vulnerable residents can expect to experience the most serious impacts.
Image Courtesy of C40 CITIES
Our delegation demonstrated the success of California’s Community Choice programs in dramatically reducing the amount of GHGs associated with the production of electricity from fossil fuels and how Community Choice can hasten the transition to electric automobile fleets, and measurable reductions in electricity consumption though innovative energy efficiency programs and demand reduction incentives. You can view a brief video of our Civil Society presentation here.
The KyotoUSA delegation included Dawn Weisz (CEO, Marin Clean Energy), Shawn Marshall (LEAN Energy US), and Mayor Tom Butt (City of Richmond). Cliff Rechtschaffen, Governor Brown's Senior Energy Advisor, joined us on the panel.