From Mannheim to Montreal: How cities and regions across the globe are leading the charge in climate action

By Climate Champions | June 21, 2023

The global climate crisis presents a clear call to action for regions, states, and cities worldwide to shift towards sustainable practices and contribute to the fight against global warming. Various regions, including Antioquia in Colombia, Australian states, British Columbia, California, and Peru, as well as cities like Montreal, Mannheim, Jakarta, and others across Spain, have undertaken initiatives and introduced policies aimed at curbing emissions and promoting sustainable development. These range from monitoring and reducing emissions and implementing carbon taxes to promoting regenerative ranching and advancing sustainable practices in the hospitality industry.

Antioquia: Monitoring and reducing emissions

Antioquia, Colombia, has created two tools to calculate greenhouse gas emissions as part of ongoing climate efforts by the Secretary of Agriculture and rural development. These were shared with the Regional Hub Node of Climate Change (Nodos de Cambio Climatico) during an in-person workshop of the Climate Footprint Project, which resulted in two regional corporations – CORANTIOQUIA and CORNARE – expressing an interest in adopting them as part of their existing systems.

In 2022, Antioquia reached a consensus on sectoral climate targets and announced its intention to become carbon neutral by 2050. As a member of the Race to Zero, the state also intends to develop a new emissions reduction pathway over the next 12 months to accelerate its progress towards reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 or earlier.

Australian states: Net Zero Policy Forum

The Net Zero Futures Policy Forum is an international partnership of governments committed to addressing the practical challenges of achieving net zero emissions and accelerating this transition. It’s an Under2 Coalition initiative, open to state, regional, and other interested governments, including those who have not joined the Under2 Coalition. The Forum’s focus is on practical collaboration and action to inform the development of best-practice policy solutions. The founding members include all Australian state and territory governments as well as the Scottish Government, and it’s co-chaired by New South Wales and Scotland. The Forum is growing its membership base to ensure all members can benefit from the diverse perspectives and experiences of governments globally. A Ministerial Leadership Group (MLG), consisting of political officeholders from participating jurisdictions, sets the Forum’s direction. This group has identified three initial priority policy areas for engagement: carbon sequestration, transport emissions, and green hydrogen.

British Columbia: Carbon tax

In November 2019, British Columbia introduced first-of-its-kind climate legislation in North America, setting out legal accountability requirements to help ensure the province achieves its emissions reduction targets. Its carbon tax is now one of the most effective regional taxes in terms of revenue generation (per unit of GDP) and is an example of best practice in terms of climate finance. The tax has broad coverage, at around 70% of provincial emissions, with a carbon price of CAD 50 per tCO2e ($37 USD) (British Columbia, 2022). It also has mechanisms to reduce the challenge that carbon pricing may have a disproportionate impact on low-income households.

California: Clean vehicle standards

The U.S. EPA has approved two Clean Air Act waivers for California’s world-leading heavy-duty truck regulations — including the Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) rule. The ACT rule requires truck manufacturers to increase the percentage of zero emission trucks in new truck sales to 55% (Class 2b-3), 75% (Class 4-8), and 40% (semi-tractor sales) by 2035. Eight states have already moved to adopt, or are working to adopt, ACT and follow California’s lead, while a 27-country coalition (including California) is working towards 100% ZEV new truck sales by 2040. Following Governor Newsom’s 2020 Executive Order to develop new rules, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) also approved one of the world’s first regulations last year requiring 100 per cent of new car sales in California to be zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) by 2035. Nearly 19% of cars sold in the state in 2022 were ZEVs, thanks to billions of dollars in new incentives and rebates for consumers. As part of the California Climate Commitment, the Governor and the legislature have dedicated over $5 billion to the transition to cleaner trucks and buses.

Peru: Alliance for Regenerative Ranching in the Peruvian Amazon (AGRAP)

The Alliance for Regenerative Ranching in the Peruvian Amazon (AGRAP) pilot project introduced nature-based solutions in Madre de Dios – a department in the Peruvian Amazon. These interventions have helped to sequester and store greenhouse gas emissions, improve local livelihoods, and support Peru’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) towards 2050. The project involved local capacity-building through farmer field schools, knowledge sharing with wider state and regional governments and creating platforms for stakeholder dialogue to generate and facilitate conditions for marketing and financing.

Now in its second stage, AGRAP is continuing to implement learnings in Madre de Dios, including training in financial management and entrepreneurship. It has also expanded to a new jurisdiction, Oxapampa, Pasco, where it is replicating the Madre de Dios “farm field school model,” involving all value chain actors to improve their business plans.

Climate action in cities

The Forum of the Secretaries of the Environment of Brazilian Capital Cities, or CB27 – a collaboration between the 26 Brazilian state capitals and Brasília, the national capital – have taken collective climate action and advocacy to change the policy discourse. Its goal is to strengthen and coordinate the actions of the heads of its departments of the environment, exchange ideas and experience, and drive progressive environmental agendas.

The groups in DKI Jakarta have developed interfaith guidebooks to tackle the climate emergency, namely Religious Perspective on Human and Climate Change, Eco-Worship Building, and Eco-Preaching for Islam, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Hindu, and Confucian. These guidebooks are part of the Ikhtiar Jakarta, a document showcasing the low-emission development strategies pledged by different local stakeholders of Jakarta. The production of the Ikhtiar Jakarta is in line with the city’s commitment to reducing its emissions by 30% by 2030.

The city of Mannheim, Germany, has become the pilot city for The European Green Deal with the goal of making Europe the world’s first climate-neutral continent. As a part of this pilot, the city established the Local Green Mannheim Deal, which covers the “eight thematic fields of climate action, zero pollution, circular economy, biodiversity, mobility, food, clean energy, and buildings. The city has gone the further step of advocating for and cultivating broad-based support for these goals by mobilizing citizens, politicians, administration, companies, researchers, and civil society to take climate action.

The cities of Tshwane, Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban have been working together to assess the legal feasibility of municipal by-laws to implement building energy efficiency requirements that are more stringent than national regulations. Their legal feasibility assessment will strengthen both the design and impact of such bylaws and ensure that they complement, rather than contradict, national regulations.

The PJM Cities and Communities Coalition in the U.S. (including Alexandria, VA; Arlington County, VA; Charlottesville, VA; Chicago, IL; Cincinnati, OH; Columbus; OH; Dayton, OH; Delaware County, PA; Newark, NJ; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Richmond, VA, and Washington, DC) advocates for the advancement of decarbonization and energy storage through policy statements, op-eds, and joint letters. They have also engaged with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, calling for increased funding to frontline communities.

To tackle emissions from the built environment, the city of Montreal has implemented a Roadmap Towards Zero emission Buildings by 2040. This new sector-specific regulation requires that all buildings in Montreal be fueled by renewable energy by 2040, and all new city construction must reach net zero by 2025. There is a clear willingness of cities and municipalities across Quebec to commit to the fight against climate change, and Montreal’s announcement has already influenced neighbouring cities and municipalities in the province to impose new obligations for building owners with the objective of reducing GHG emissions.

Hostelería #PorElClima works in cities across Spain, including Barcelona, Zaragoza, Valencia, Vitoria, and Madrid, to help decarbonize the hospitality industry. This is done in collaboration with hospitality associations, public institutions, Mayor’s offices, and project partner Coca-Cola Spain, which offers both finance and technical support. Cities carry out an emissions analysis of their hospitality establishments, which is then shared with public institutions to align the actions with the city’s climate policies and emission reduction activities at hospitality establishments.

The collective efforts and initiatives highlight the significance and potential of localized climate action. Each of these examples showcases how local and regional governments, using their authority and influence, can drive meaningful change towards a net zero, nature-positive and resilient world. Their dedication to decarbonizing their economies, advocating for sustainability, and taking practical action towards their emission reduction targets serve as an inspiration and model for other jurisdictions worldwide. As we continue to grapple with the climate crisis, such efforts underscore the need for continued and expanded local and regional action to mitigate the impact of climate change.

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