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International

New Guide Shows Climate Actions Are Benefiting States and Regions and Provides Blueprint for Governments to Replicate

Thursday, October 1, 2020, London

Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and the Under2 Coalition of states and regions today released a handbook detailing five transformative actions regional governments can take to limit the effects of climate change while bringing other beneficial impacts to society.

The guide, Regions Take Action: The Benefits of Major Climate Policies, uses case studies from India, Brazil, Europe and the United States to show how climate-friendly policies can create better outcomes across society. It looks particularly at economic development, air quality, public health, equity and resilience to provide a model for how regional governments around the world can implement similar actions in their own areas.

“The stories in the guide are exciting because they illustrate how governments are addressing very immediate problems while also leading the way on climate change solutions,” said Jacob Corvidae, RMI principal and co-author of the guide. “There is so much that can be achieved for society as a whole when governments take a comprehensive approach to making their communities more climate-friendly.”

Benefits Beyond Emissions Reduction

Developing and using low-carbon technologies and strategies is critical to tackling greenhouse gas emissions. However, research now shows that benefits derived from low-carbon solutions extend far beyond environmental gains.

For example, one study estimates that decreased air pollution resulting from climate action to meet a 1.5°C warming scenario could lead to around 153 million fewer premature deaths worldwide. In the United States alone, the economic value of the avoided deaths is estimated at $37 trillion.

The Regions Take Action guide illustrates five key climate actions regional governments can take across different sectors that will also benefit other areas of society:

  • Clean electricity: Commit to creating clean electricity. Renewables are cost-effective investments, and clean electricity is fundamental to a carbon-free society.
  • Carbon-free buildings: Construct and upgrade buildings to be all-electric and efficient, which will also create healthier, more comfortable places to live and work.
  • Healthy transportation: Create better mobility options and electrify vehicles, which can reduce air pollution while giving people more choices for transportation and for taking climate action.
  • Innovative industry: Use clean energy supplies to move industry to electric power while also creating solutions to drive a clean energy economy. This includes new processes, low-carbon materials, digital technologies and more.
  • Sustainable land use: Preserve and enhance the natural resources that create beautiful places, economic opportunities and essential carbon “sinks” that pull pollution from the air.

“Climate champions alone can’t be responsible for acting on climate change. We need to see a combined effort across all areas of government, including transport, housing, education and agriculture,” said Libby Ferguson, director of policy and knowledge at the Under2 Coalition Secretariat. “Not only does this increase the impact of individual efforts, but it shows the value of sustainable, climate-friendly choices in all areas of our everyday lives.”

Regions Taking Action

The case studies presented in the guide give clear examples of where regional climate actions have made a tangible difference in various parts of the world. The examples show how:

  • Hawaii, United States, has reduced price volatility on the path to 100% clean electricity. The island state committed to achieving 100% renewable electricity production by 2045. By producing its own power locally, it can create a more consistent, reliable energy source, rather than relying on imported fuels.
  • New York, United States, is ensuring equitable benefits to vulnerable communities while improving its building stock. The 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act created the strongest economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions limits in the United States. Buildings are a big focus, and the act requires that 35% of economic benefits go to disadvantaged communities.
  • The National Capital Territory of Delhi, India, is improving air quality with electric vehicles. The policy, launched in August 2020, calls for 25% of all new vehicles to be battery operated by 2024 to address the fact that 30% of particulate matter in Delhi is emitted from tailpipes.
  • Hauts-de-France, France, is dramatically increasing local jobs as it invests in reinventing its industrial base. Investing in innovation, the region now has over 700 projects building a new industrial base around digital solutions, renewable energy and low-carbon materials. It is projecting a 13% growth in industrial sector jobs.
  • Mato Grosso, Brazil, is creating diverse partnerships to tap a growing global market while preserving land and supporting local businesses and communities. This has created a way for farmers to create economic growth without resorting to deforestation. This builds the economy, while also preserving essential carbon-sinks and preserving local ecosystems and culture. It has also inspired a growth in these markets globally.

Other governments can draw on these examples to advance their own commitments and coordinate across ministries and departments to solve multiple problems at once.

The Regions Take Action guide is a complement to two books previously released to help governments act on climate: The Carbon-Free Regions Handbook and The Carbon-Free City Handbook.

Notes to Editors
Regions Take Action: The Benefits of Major Climate Policies can be downloaded at under2coalition.org/news/regions-take-action or rmi.org/regions-take-action.

Contact
For media inquiries with Rocky Mountain Institute, or to request an interview with Jacob Corvidae, principal at the Rocky Mountain Institute, or Jules Kortenhorst, CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute, please contact Alexandra Chin: +1 973-262-0002 or achin@rmi.org

For media inquiries with the Climate Group, or to request an interview with Libby Ferguson, Director of Policy and Knowledge at the Under2 Coalition Secretariat, or Tim Ash Vie, Director of the Under2 Coalition Secretariat, please contact Sophie Benger: sbenger@theclimategroup.org.

About Rocky Mountain Institute
Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)—an independent nonprofit founded in 1982—transforms global energy use to create a clean, prosperous, and secure low-carbon future. It engages businesses, communities, institutions, and entrepreneurs to accelerate the adoption of market-based solutions that cost-effectively shift from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables. RMI has offices in Basalt and Boulder, Colorado; New York City; the San Francisco Bay Area; Washington, D.C.; and Beijing.

More information on RMI can be found at rmi.org or follow us on Twitter @RockyMtnInst.

About the Under2 Coalition
The Under2 Coalition is a global community of state and regional governments committed to ambitious climate action in line with the Paris Agreement. Governments in the coalition commit to keeping global temperature rises to well below 2°C with efforts to reach 1.5°C. Ten states and regions in the coalition have committed to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 or earlier. The Climate Group is the Secretariat to the Under2 Coalition and works with governments across three key workstreams. The Climate Group also works directly with state and regional governments on capacity-building projects to support the implementation of climate policy. Visit under2coalition.org or follow #Under2Coalition on Twitter.

About the Under2 Coalition
The Under2 Coalition is a global community of state and regional governments committed to ambitious climate action in line with the Paris Agreement. Governments in the coalition commit to keeping global temperature rises to well below 2°C with efforts to reach 1.5°C. Ten states and regions in the coalition have committed to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 or earlier. The Climate Group is the Secretariat to the Under2 Coalition and works with governments across three key workstreams. The Climate Group also works directly with state and regional governments on capacity-building projects to support the implementation of climate policy. Visit under2coalition.org or follow #Under2Coalition on Twitter.

About the Climate Group
The Climate Group drives climate action. Fast. Our goal is a world of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, with greater prosperity for all. We focus on systems with the highest emissions and where our networks have the greatest opportunity to drive change. We do this by building large and influential networks and holding organizations accountable, turning their commitments into action. We share what we achieve together to show more organizations what they could do. We are an international nonprofit organization, founded in 2004, with offices in London, New Delhi and New York. We are proud to be part of the We Mean Business coalition. Follow us on Twitter @ClimateGroup