After two days of discussion and debate in Lyon last week, representatives from regional communities around the world left the Climate & Territories summit on 2 July with a clear goal: to maximise their role in the COP 21 climate negotiations.
In a joint declaration signed by 50 organisations at the end of the summit, the local leaders committed to pushing forward their efforts to tackle global warming. Together, this declaration’s signatories represent over two thirds of the world’s population.
“Without a real territorial approach, it won’t be possible to tackle climate disruption efficiently,” the regional leaders stated.
While it contains no concrete or binding commitments, the declaration adopted by the world’s cities and regions enjoys broad support from many different regional community networks. Christiana Figueres, the Secretary General of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change welcomed this “federating” approach to climate action.
The declaration stated that regional commitments “should support ambitious contributions from national Governments for a robust, binding, equitable and universal agreement in Paris, that will serve as a clear call to action for the collective good”.
The commitments already made by the different community networks that took part in the summit, including the Compact of Mayors and the States & Regions Alliance, will “allow us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.5 gigatons by 2020”, according to Ronan Dantec, a French senator and co-organiser of the summit.
The senator added that regions could increase their commitments to cut up to 2 gigatons of CO2 ahead of the COP 21 in Paris this December.
A 1.5 gigaton reduction in greenhouse gas emissions represents “15% of the effort required” to stabilise climate change, the senator explained.
The summit conclusions also strongly focused on improving the accessibility of climate finance. European communities currently rely heavily on public funds, from both national and EU sources.
“We believe it is crucial that local and subnational Governments in developing countries get privileged access to international facilities, such as the Green Climate Fund,” the local leaders said.
This proposal was also supported by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who will preside over the COP 21. “In particular, I am thinking of the towns and regions in the global South, which have been a strong presence at this Lyon summit,” the minister said. He also underlined the need for “financial solidarity with developing or poor countries”.
“We believe it is relevant to explore whether specific funds dedicated to local and regional action could be rapidly established; revenues of such facilities could be provided directly by subnational Governments themselves or through innovative financial instruments,” the representatives stated in their declaration.
Negotiations on climate change began in 1992, and the UN organises an annual international climate change conference called the Conference of the Parties, or COP.
The 20th COP took place in Lima, Peru, from 1 to 12 December 2014, and Paris is hosting the all-important 21st conference in December 2015. The participating states must reach an agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol, the object of which was to reduce CO2 emissions between 2008 and 2012.
Agreeing on a framework, whether legally binding or not, is the priority between now and December.
So far around 40 countries have submitted their national contributions.