CFE’s Sarah Ganong is a passionate climate activist. This week, she has been visiting the UN climate talks in Paris. Click here to read her first report from the field and learn more about COP 21. Here is her second report:
This is another update from the COP 21 climate talks, where negotiators and politicians from around the world are walking the halls and trying to keep climate change at a safe level below 2°Celsius. Negotiators are arguing fiercely over fundamental concepts like whether to enshrine human rights in the text or if rich countries should help poorer countries adapt to climate change, and little compromise has yet been reached. But while things seem to be moving slowly here in Paris, a big step was made at home this week.
I was thrilled to hear about Governor Malloy’s recent signing of the “Under 2 MOU.” Connecticut has joined 57 other governments from 19 nations around the world to make commitments and keep climate change below 2°C—the absolute maximum we can reach on warming to still protect vulnerable populations now and future generations all over the world. This is huge, and sends a strong signal to negotiators here at the Le Bourget conference center that everyone wants a strong agreement.
The “Under 2 MOU,” or Subnational Global Climate Leadership Memorandum of Understanding, is an agreement among local, county, state, provincial, and regional governments to do their part to keep warming of the planet to below 2° C. To achieve this, the governments commit to limiting carbon dioxide emissions from all sectors to less than two tons per person per year by 2050, or to an equivalent drop in total emissions levels—about 80 to 95 percent below 1990 levels. (Under the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act, Connecticut is already legally obligated to reduce its total greenhouse gas emissions to at least 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and to at least 80 percent below 2001 levels by 2050. In spring 2015, Governor Malloy announced that Connecticut is on track to meet the 2020 targets and formed the Governor’s Council on Climate Change to develop strategies to reach the 2050 targets.)
This added pressure from outside government is welcome, because inside the talks it seems like negotiators are stuck on basic points and haven’t yet gotten to the details of the treaty. So having outside governments, at the subnational level, means additional pressure from below—if cities are stepping up to make strong commitments on their own initiative, why can’t national governments with an established mandate to act on climate (enshrined in previous agreements like the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) even get started on acting?
- Commit the U.S. to a course of action that limits warming to 1.5°C.
- Protect human rights in both the preamble and Article 2 of the final treaty.
The Under 2 MOU is a great step and Governor Malloy should be commended for joining with other environmental leaders from around the world. I look forward to continuing the fight against climate change on two fronts—through CFE’s work on the state level with legislative advocacy and the Governor’s Council, and on the international level through my own activism at COP21—to create strong and equitable climate policy around the world.
Posted by Sarah Ganong