As the world grapples with the harsh reality of falling off the Paris Agreement track, the COP28 Coalition for High Ambition Multilevel Partnership (CHAMP) for Climate Action, provides a small ray of hope for getting back on track. The initiative commits endorsing countries to enhance cooperation with their local, regional and other subnational governments – including cities, towns, states and regions – to collectively pursue efforts to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. The goal of the pledge is to help nations to achieve Paris Agreement goals, by working with and harvesting contributions from local and other subnational governments for planning, financing and implementation of climate strategies and actions. CHAMP shows that leaders at every level are working together to solve the climate crisis.
CHAMP was developed in consultation with subnational leaders and stakeholders, including America Is All In, Bloomberg Philanthropies, C40 Cities, CDP, European Climate Foundation, the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, ICLEI, NDC Partnership, UN Climate Change High-Level Champions, Under2 Coalition, UN-Habitat, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities and others.
In the time from COP28 to COP30, nations will recalibrate their climate goals, and the hope is, realize the indispensable role of subnational governments. With endorsements from 70+ countries, CHAMP is not merely an initiative; it’s a powerful movement bridging the voices of cities and regions to reignite global climate ambitions. Germany, The Dominican Republic, and Rwanda, among others, have already signed the pledge.
“Global climate finance translates into local climate action,” said Asif Navaz Shah from the COP28 Presidency team, a key driver of the newly released CHAMP initiative.
What could COP28 add to the current ecosystem of initiatives that support subnational climate action? “There is an evident disconnection between what is happening on the ground with local and regional governments at the frontline of climate change and the commitments that are taken at a national, regional, and global level. This is where CHAMP fits in,” explained Shah.
The alarming results of the first Global Stocktake revealed our shortfall in achieving the 1.5-degree goal set out in the Paris Agreement. While subnational action holds promise for substantial climate change progress, it is often overlooked in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and climate plans. Currently, only 24% of NDCs incorporate “strong” urban content, highlighting the need for bringing subnational governments into the national decision-making table ahead of the next round of NDCs by 2025, at COP30.
CHAMP signatories pledge to “consult, collaborate, develop 2025 NDCs” in partnership with subnationals, and ensure 2025 NDC investment plans include subnational action, conduct voluntary national reviews of progress; and meet in High-Level Political Dialogues ahead of COP29 and COP30.
European Union and Germany: Leading the CHAMP charge
Eleven European Union (EU) Member States have already backed CHAMP, with more expected to follow as the EU Executive Vice-Presidency issued an official supporting statement.
The European Committee of the Regions, representing over one million local and regional leaders, is at the forefront of this multilevel action. Alison Gilliland, Dublin City Councillor and European Committee of the Regions Representative, sees CHAMP as a pivotal move towards the implementation phase, where local authorities play a crucial role by emphasizing the need to address the finance gap directly at the regional and local levels. “As local leaders, we are solutions facilitators,” she stated. She cites initiatives like the Green Deal Going Local, driving a clean energy transition and contributing to the EU’s goal of becoming the first climate-neutral continent globally.
Germany is one of Europe’s CHAMP endorsers. “This is a way to reinforce our commitment to subnational climate action with a domestic investment of 1.5 billion euros, and at the international level through IKI,” stated Dr. Lutz Morgenstern from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK).
The International Climate Initiative (IKI), a vital component of Germany’s global climate finance pledge, has approved over 950 projects, allocating nearly 6 billion euros (2008-2022). Through IKI, German ministries collaborate to support developing nations in implementing ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) anchored in the Paris Agreement.
To exemplify CHAMP’s potential benefits, Morgenstern cited the City Climate Gap Fund, a German-partnered initiative that helps unlock the urban investment needed to meet global climate targets. “In Bogotá, Colombia, the transformative impact is evident as children now go to school in electric buses, highlighting the link between climate investment and improved quality of life,” he concludes.
Voices from the Global South
The Dominican Republic adopts a unique approach to climate policy by establishing an umbrella organization led by the Dominican President and involving all relevant ministries and stakeholders that are part of the climate agenda, including local governments and civil society.
The National Determined Contributions (NDC) outlines 46 mitigation measures and 37 adaptation options, requiring an estimated US$18 billion investment. 25% is not conditioned to foreign cooperation and needs to be sought independently. Here, the work with ICLEI is vital as technical support for capacity-building and resource identification.
Alan Ramirez, Technical Director of the National Council for Climate Change and Clean Development Mechanism of the Dominican Republic, emphasized the importance of countries and networks endorsing CHAMP, stating, “The bridge has been identified, and we should take advantage of this new initiative as we believe that it will close the gap between limited resources and the number of necessities that are required for the implementation of our NDCs and our accomplishments of mid and long-term goals.”
*This blog was written based on the COP28 session “From commitment to delivery: Financing multilevel action,” organized by ICLEI and the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy (GCoM). Watch the webcast here.