Scotland's cities in support of the Paris Agreement on climate change

February 12th 2018

The Scottish Cities Alliance has successfully supported and coordinated the signature of the Under2 MOU by the leaders of the seven Scottish major cities to join a growing coalition of regions, states and cities, covering over 1 billion people and a third of the global economy, in support of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

2018 will see a crucial increase in the global ambition under the Paris Agreement and Scotland will support the progressive international messaging which emphasises the key role of non-state actors – states, cities and businesses – demonstrating vertical alignment between national, state and city governments.

Currently, a total of 176 jurisdictions spanning 36 countries and six continents have signed or endorsed the Under2 MOU, including two UK cities – Greater Manchester and Bristol City.

By subscribing to the Under2 MOU the seven major Scottish Cities signalled that Scotland is a leader at all levels of government in making the transition to a cleaner, sustainable, low carbon economy and society.

The Scottish Government signed the Under2MoU in 2015, as it is consistent with Scotland’s current level of long-term climate change ambition for 2050. In April 2017 the First Minister signed a letter of cooperation with Governor Jerry Brown of California to provide practical support to the Under 2 Coalition.

The Coalition is formed by a diverse group of civic administrations around the world who set ambitious targets and actions to combat climate change. Central to this work is the Under2 MOU, a non-binding agreement from all signatories to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 80 to 95 percent below 1990 levels, or limit to 2 annual metric tons of CO2-equivalent per capita, by 2050. Though the initiative pre-dates the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, this is now the primary focus for what the combined effort will contribute towards. There is close alignment between the Under2 MoU and the ‘Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy’ initiative where there was already some Scottish engagement, including amongst Cities Alliance members (Aberdeen/shire, Dumfries & Galloway, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling).

The Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham, referred to the Scottish Cities Alliance in her statement to Parliament on 31 October before going to COP:

“Scotland plays an active and strengthening international role. I mentioned the under2 coalition of high-ambition states, regions and cities. I am delighted that the Scottish Cities Alliance has agreed to support the coalition and I look forward to working with our seven cities to promote their progressive position on climate change." Official Report, Meeting of Scottish Parliament, 31st October 2017.

The benefits of the agreement will be to demonstrate domestic and collective action in support of the Paris Agreement whilst offering opportunities for states, regions and cities to share ideas, best practices and diversity of approaches according to local context on how to reduce greenhouse gases and expand renewable energy development; bring International attention to the actions and ambitious reduction goals of climate leaders at a subnational level around the world and demonstrate the collective impact of these actions and commitments across states, regions, cities and countries.

The only headline objective is that combined effort aims or contributes to a cut in emissions by 80 to 95 percent below 1990 levels, or limit to 2 annual metric tons of CO2-equivalent per capita, by 2050. Action will typically be in the areas of energy, transport, infrastructure, natural resources and waste, science and technology, and monitoring and transparency.

Scottish Government headlined their COP23 leaflet with Scotland and the Scottish Cities Alliance supporting the Paris Agreement and the Under2 MOU.

The next steps will be to continue working with Scottish Government on Scotland’s support for the Co-Operation Agreement with California and their Summit this year.

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