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Germany And California Intensify Collaboration on Climate Change Solutions

Former governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger during a 2013 visit to the European Commission headquarters in Brussels. Photo: European Commission

Germany and California have agreed to intensify their collaboration on climate change and vow to “redouble” their commitment to the Paris Agreement.

Germany’s state secretary for the environment, Jochen Flasbarth, and his Californian colleague secretary Matthew Rodriquez met on the sidelines of the COP22 climate summit in Marrakesh on 15 November, just days after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States.

Germany’s environment ministry announced the news on social media, tweeting “Germany and California want to intensify collaboration on climate change” along with photos of the meeting.

The pair discussed “how solutions to climate change, like investing in renewable energy, energy efficiency and climate smart technology, will help grow our economies and create jobs,” according to a statement by California’s Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA).

The agreement highlights the increasing role of sub-national governments and cities in implementing climate change solutions and signals that European countries could keep engaging with US states on climate change and innovation – regardless of which way the wind may be blowing in Washington D.C.

Global Coalition

“Our partnership with Germany and its regions has grown into a global coalition that sets an example and encourages action by other state and national governments,” said Rodriquez.

“We look forward to strengthening our collaboration to confront climate change and lead the transition to a clean energy economy,” he said.

The two governments agreed to support the work of the Under2 coalition on sub-national climate leadership, a growing pact of 165 cities, states and countries committed to limiting the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius.

With the addition of 29 new members during the Marrakesh climate summit, the coalition has grown to represent more than one billion people and $25.7 trillion in GDP – the equivalent of more than a third of the global economy.

Germany and California are also two of the founding members of the International ZEV Alliance, in which the governments pledge they “strive to make all passenger vehicle sales in our jurisdictions zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs) as fast as possible.” The alliance brings together a range of European countries, US states and Canadian provinces.

European Union

A day ahead of the meeting between Flasbarth and Rodriquez, the European Commission already announced it is setting up a North American chapter of its Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. The new regional covenant will cover the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The covenant is supported by the European Commission, and co-chaired by EU commission vice-president Maroš Šefčovič and UN special envoy Michael Bloomberg, the US media magnate and former New York City mayor.

Climate-KIC, the EU’s climate innovation partnership, is already working with cities across North America.

Earlier this month, cities like Washington D.C., Toronto and Puebla took part in the global Climathon, a 24-hour hackathon to find local climate change solutions. Germany was represented by Berlin and Frankfurt am Main.

Low Carbon City Lab, another Climate-KIC programme, is helping Mexico City create its first green bonds to fund sustainable infrastructure.

Explore our COP22 coverage for more announcements and concrete outcomes from the Marrakesh summit.