Local climate action: what it looks like and how to advance it through collaboration

Local and subnational governments have an important role to play in supporting implementation of the Paris Agreement, and are already taking action.

Their contributions to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions are critical, particularly given that national climate commitments are not yet on track to achieve the Paris Agreement targets. In fact, recent analyses by the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat show that in 2030, global emissions will be 22 gigatons of CO2 equivalent (GTCO2e) higher than the level needed progress towards the 1.5-degree target and 15 GTCO2e higher than the level needed for the 2-degree scenario.

Furthermore, climate change is already happening, which means local and subnational governments must quickly take steps to build a climate-resilient world. The fact is that the mean global temperature has already risen to at least one degree above pre-industrial levels, and the latest scientific findings forecast more frequent and intense heat waves, storms and accelerated rate of sea level rise, with disproportionately high impacts on urban areas.

So what are local and subnational leaders committing to and what strategies are they employing? What role does collaboration with national actors and the private sector have in advancing local climate action that supports progress toward global goals?

ICLEI convened local leaders, national representatives and the private sector in a panel at the Low-Emissions Solutions Conference at COP22, the 2016 United Nations Climate Conference in Marrakech, to address these very questions.

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This type of multistakeholder discussion helps us dig a bit deeper behind the message that local and subnational climate action is both vital and active. We know that they are making substantial short-term commitments and looking as far ahead as 2050 in their planning. Yet in addition to focusing on the scale of action, it is important to bring their specific implementation pathways into focus. This will help inform the development of an international implementation framework that is strong, supportive and cooperative pave the way for stronger multi-sectoral partnerships

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