Will You Under 2 MOU?

The subnationals are firmly in the game.  At COP19 in Warsaw, they had their orange pinnies on while stretching and sprinting on the sidelines, showing the ADP coaches that they were ready.  “Bring in the subs” was my favorite 2014 blog headline.

CuomoYesterday New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo decided that California’s Jerry Brown shouldn’t get all the playing time. Cuomo signed the Under 2 MOU, committing his state to take actions to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. Under 2 MOU “brings together states and regions willing to commit to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and will galvanize action at the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) in Paris this December.” Thus far, forty-three other subnational governments have signed this MoU, ranging from Canadian provinces British Columbia and Ontario to cities like Los Angeles and Nampula, Mozambique, and regional governments in Spain’s Basque Country and Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley.

What will the Empire State do after the ink dries?  Governor Cuomo announced several specific actions, some new and some that build on those already in play.  One new plan is to expand the Northeast’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and link it with the Western Climate Initiative, creating a North American carbon market. Another new initiative is requiring the State University of New York (SUNY), the largest statewide public university system in the U.S., to install renewable energy in its 64 campuses by 2020. SUNY currently has 20% energy efficiency improvement and 30% GHG reduction goals for 2020.  Governor Cuomo challenged private colleges and universities to match SUNY.  Finally, in the category of adding new to old, a commitment to bring solar energy to 150,000 more homes and businesses by 2020 builds on the $1 billion of public funds invested inNY Rev New York’s solar industry in 2013 via NY SUN Initiative and the additional $270 million and solar installations in 30,000 homes and businesses since then. A new twist in this 2015 announcement is the Shared Renewables program, which allows commercial projects to share power generated on their properties with surrounding community members.

Earlier this year, as part of the 2015 State Energy Plan, New York pledged to reduce GHG emissions 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050 below 1990 levels. To do this, New York started Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), which we have blogged about.

At yesterday’s Under 2 MOU signing ceremony, Cuomo did not mince words about the need for subnational action on climate change. Failure to address the causes of climate change represents “gross negligence by government,” the Albany Times Union quotes him as saying, along with the public’s failure to hold their elected representatives responsible.  “In the case of climate change, denial is not a survival strategy.”