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Subnational Governments to Reduce Emissions by 1.5 Billion Tons by 2020

world-climate-summit2 July 2015: Subnational governments from around the world have come together to pledge greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions that will total 1.5 billion tons of carbon by 2020. Gathered at the World Summit Climate and Territories, 50 local and civil society organizations adopted a declaration supporting a local and subnational approach to climate action, and calling for greater access to climate financing for subnational governments in developing countries.

Convened on 1-2 July 2015 in Lyon, France, the Summit was the principal gathering of non-state actors in the lead-up to the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the UNFCCC, scheduled to take place in Paris, France, in November-December 2015. During the Summit, territorial actors representing two-thirds of the world's population presented their commitments to tackle climate change.

The Compact of States and Regions announced that 20 subnational governments, which together represent more than 220 million people, US$8.3 trillion in gross domestic product (GDP) and 5% of global emissions, have put forward ambitious climate targets.

The Compact, which also serves as a platform for governments to report data and track progress, is anticipated to garner further commitments in the coming months. Some of the commitments received thus far are as ambitious as reducing emissions by 90% by 2050 and by 100% by 2060. The Compact will contribute to the UNFCCC-created Non-state Actor Zone for Climate Action (NAZCA) platform and all commitments received by 31 July 2015 will be included as part of a COP 21 disclosure report.

Both UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres and COP 21 President Laurent Fabius addressed Summit participants, commending their role in fighting climate change. Figueres called climate action a "unifier," adding that, "Collectively, you are getting the global economy ready for the 21st century […] and getting ready for the 21st century is what the Paris agreement is all about." Fabius emphasized that subnational and country action are both necessary and complementary. He also agreed to relay the messages from the Summit to delegates in advance of COP 21.

Among the messages in the Summit declaration are: conviction of the responsibility of individuals, groups and governments to act; a commitment to keep acting and strengthening engagement; confirmation of the important interaction between financing for development, the post-2015 development agenda, Habitat III and climate change discussions; and support for a collaborative approach to the fight against climate change. The signatories also highlighted the local nature of adaptation, the role of women and the need for multiple sources of finance.

Calling on national governments to include locally-implemented measures in their intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs), the signatories underline that their pledges should "support ambitious contributions from national governments for a robust, binding, equitable and universal agreement in Paris." [World Summit Climate and Territories Press Release] [World Summit Climate and Territories General Declaration] [World Summit Climate and Territories Website] [Compact of States and Regions Press Release] [UNFCCC Press Release]