As part of the Paris deal, countries are making pledges to curb their national greenhouse gas emissions. But they’re not alone. Companies and jurisdictions below the national level, including states and cities, are pledging to reduce their emissions too.
The Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Change (NAZCA), a UN organization that grew out of the negotiations leading to Paris, registers commitments to action on climate change by companies, investors such as banks, cities, and subnational regions. Nearly 2,000 companies—including Dow Chemical, Mitsui Chemicals, and Sinopec—and more than 900 cities have signed up so far.
California, which is one of the 10 largest economies in the world, is taking steps to curtain emissions separate from federal efforts. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) earlier this year issued an executive order to reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. In October, Brown signed a law to generate half of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
Brown helped start a global climate pact for cities, provinces, and states called the Under 2 MOU, which refers to a memorandum of understanding backing a goal of limiting global average temperature rise to less than 2 °C over preindustrial levels by 2100. So far, some 50 jurisdictions in 19 countries across five continents have joined the agreement, pledging to limit their greenhouse gas emissions either to 2 metric tons per capita or to 80–95% below their 1990 levels by 2050. Among the signatories to the deal are the states of New York in the U.S. and North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany and the Dutch province of North Brabant.
In the U.S., chemical, consumer product, and ethanol makers were among 81 companies that signed a pledge in October to curb their greenhouse gas emissions as part of a White House effort.
Cheryl Hogue oversees government and policy coverage at Chemical & Engineering News and has been covering climate issues for decades. Follow her coverage of #COP21 on Twitter @chogue