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State, Regional Governments Outshine National Counterparts on Climate Action

Image Credit: Aniek Wessel

Corresponding with the kick off of the 23rd UN Climate Change Conference (COP23), CDP has released a new report finding that over 100 of the world’s state and regional governments are taking action to address climate change, particularly in the short-term.

Key findings from the updated Global States and Regions Annual Disclosure show that sub-national governments are leading the way on climate action — which is up 80 percent in 2017 — across 10 sectors, including buildings, energy, transport and land use. On average, there was an 8.5 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to the state and regional governments’ base years. The data has been provided by the States and Regions Climate Action Tracker, developed by CDP and The Climate Group in partnership with Climate-KIC.

The report is an analysis of the annual disclosure of climate targets, GHG inventories and climate actions from states and regions around the world. It is released together with the States and Regions Climate Tracker. The tracker contains the latest climate data from disclosing states and regions and showcases their increasingly important role in driving climate action.

Six sub-national governments, including Lombardy, Italy, Carinthia, Austria and Wallonia, Belgium, have already met or exceeded their 2020 climate targets, while four governments, including Scotland and Lower Austria, are on track to meet their targets.

The report also found that on average, the ambition of the states and regions’ 2020 targets exceeds that of their national counterparts. However, while they are on course for limiting global temperature rise to below two degrees by 2020, this is not the case in 2050, which will require states and regions to set more ambitious emissions targets. Currently, only 22 of the disclosing states and regions have committed to reduction targets of 80–90 percent by 2050. Sweden’s Jämtland region has set the most ambitious goal, with a target of 100 percent emissions reductions by 2030.

“The 2017 Annual Disclosure Update shows that states and regions are now moving into the implementation phase of the Paris Agreement and are key players in its delivery. Knowing what other governments have done reinforces the case for action, with visible progress being made against headline commitments and targets. This proves that we can continue to raise ambition and drive the world to an under 2 degrees Celsius economy without delay,” said Helen Clarkson, CEO of The Climate Group.

CDP and The Climate Group also highlighted the actions most taken by states and regions in each sector. Among them, governments are making significant headway on increasing awareness of energy efficiency and clean energy programs, improving infrastructure to integrate renewables, investing in clean tech R&D, promoting conservation efforts for natural areas and collaborating with other local and national governmental bodies.

“This momentum is both driving up standards of climate leadership and putting transparency and accountability at the heart of government environmental action. Now we need to see longer-term targets from states and regions to ensure their ambition is aligned with limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees,” said Paul Simpson, CEO of CDP.

As we reach a tipping point on global climate action, increased disclosure of environmental data will help sub-national governments to understand their environmental impact and the risks and opportunities of climate change.


Launched in 2006, Sustainable Brands has become a global learning, collaboration, and commerce community of forward-thinking business and brand strategy, marketing, innovation and sustainability professionals who are leading the way to a better future. We recognize that brands today have… [Read more about Sustainable Brands]