International Consortium to Cut Carbon to 2 Tons Per Capita

COP21

In Under2MOU, a consortium worth $4.5 trillion pledged to achieve an under 2 degree temperature rise by cutting carbon to 2 tons per capita.

Initially, a concentrated nucleus of 12 densely populated progressive cities and regions got together at COP21 in Paris and founded the Under 2 Memorandum of Understanding. Under2MOU began with just sub-national governments representing more than $4.5 trillion in GDP and 100 million people.

It has now ballooned to include $20 trillion in GDP – a quarter of the global economy!

Although all the nations of the world that signed the historic Paris Agreement at COP21 at Paris agreed to develop clean energy and efficiency policies that would reduce emissions in line with limiting temperature rise to 2 degrees, these signatories believe that a goal under 2 degrees, and are confident they have the political clout to deliver the lower target.

The initial states and regions that signed on as founding members to the compact include the 6th largest economy in the world: California, as well as fellow west coast states of Oregon, Washington, as well as Vermont (and Burlington, Vermont’s capital  is already 100% renewable, powered by a combination of hydro, biomass, solar and wind) Baden-Württemberg, Germany; Jalisco and Baja California in Mexico; Catalonia, in Spain; the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia in Canada, Acre, Brazil; and Wales in the UK.

From just a month ago, signups have surged to include Italy, Germany, Scotland (which already had a 100% renewable goal) and two provinces in China; Jiangsu Province which already boasts some of the biggest solar developments in the world, and Sichuan Province which has a rapidly growing wind power industry. (Overall, China leads the world in wind power capacity.)

Cities are where the highest concentrations of people live. So when cities lower emissions it has the most effect on whether the nations they are in lower their emissions.

Cities signing on include some improbable entities like Mexico City and Manchester in the UK – how they manage to reduce emissions will certainly make for some interesting news!

The city of Austin in Texas, Zhenjiang in China, and New York City will have an easier time, as all are well under national emissions rates already and have a path to further reductions through building efficiencies and solar power.

It’s not just greenwashing. The standards they agreed to require each signatory city, state, province or country to reduce per capita emissions to under 2 tons annually per year.

The US average carbon footprint was 20 tons in 2008. Since then, the extraordinary expansion of solar and wind power has lopped 3 tons off of our average.

The US average is now down to 17 tons. California is 9 metric tons, New York is 8.

They chose under 2 tons per capita because this is the emissions level believed necessary to limit global warming to under 2°C by the end of this century.

Image Credit: via FlickR under Creative Commons Licence

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