President Donald Trump’s stand notwithstanding, U.S. cities and states are increasingly seeking ways to play an active role in international climate change efforts. In an apparent move to complement this role, the Sabin Centre for Climate Change Law of Columbia Law School has released a new resource to help them engage in climate action.
The report, entitled “Act Locally, Reflect Globally: A Checklist of Options for U.S. Cities and States to Engage Internationally in Climate Action,” aims at helping cities and states to demonstrate leadership in climate action, to exchange best practices, and to join the global movement towards low-emission and resilient communities.
While U.S. cities and states cannot join the Paris Agreement as Parties, the agreement emphasises the role of “non-Party stakeholders,” promoting climate actions by cities, regions and the private sector. The Sabin Centre report highlights opportunities for them to engage in international climate action.
Interested U.S. cities and states can register their commitment through the NAZCA portal, which references over 12,500 climate-related initiatives, coming from a wide range of non-Party stakeholders, including cities and regions.
The UNFCCC secretariat has also developed its interaction with non-Party stakeholders over the last few years. It hhas invited U.S. cities and states to participate in non-Party stakeholder activities and to submit their views on the dedicated UNFCCC website.
According to thhe UNFCCC, cities and states can also join the 2050 Pathways platform, which aims at supporting both Parties and non-Party stakeholders seeking to devise long-term, net zero-greenhouse gas, climate-resilient and sustainable development pathways.
Cities interested in taking on a commitment as part of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, an international alliance of cities and local governments which support voluntary action to address climate change.
U.S. cities and states also have the option of participating in the U.S.-China Climate-Smart/Low-Carbon Cities Initiative and identify their own commitments, or in the Under2 Coalition, which sets out minimum standards in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition to taking on commitments to specific climate action or strategies, U.S. cities and states can also indicate their support for the Paris Agreement in the form of legislation or policy statements, or establish cooperative arrangements with counterparts in other countries.