Virginia has become the latest US state to commit to action on climate change, becoming a member of the Under2 Coalition of leading sub-national governments at a side event hosted during the 23rd UN Climate Change Conference (COP23) in Bonn.

Led by states and regions internationally, the Coalition, for which The Climate Group acts as Secretariat, brings together signatories and endorsers of the Under2 MOU from across 39 countries to fight climate change and support the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal of keeping global warming below 2°C. The Coalition now represents over 1.2 billion people and 39% of the global economy ($US29.4 trillion).

At a ceremony attended by Governor Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, COP 23 Special Advisor for States Regions California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. and other member governments, Virginia became the 11th US state to join the Coalition, alongside California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York State, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. As the US federal government steps away from the Paris Agreement, Virginia joining the Coalition is further evidence of state and regional governments both in the US and globally, uniting to help drive climate action forward.

In recent months, Virginia has expanded efforts to cut emissions. On Tuesday, Virginia released a draft regulation under Governor McAuliffe’s Executive Directive that is aimed at reducing carbon emissions from the electric sector by thirty percent between 2020 and 2030. The draft regulatory program will enable Virginia to link to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which will increase investment in clean energy resources.

At the event, Governor Terry McAuliffe, Virginia, said: “Virginia is driving clean energy investment and carbon reduction despite the President’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.

“In the absence of leadership in Washington, Virginia is stepping up to sign the Under2 Memorandum of Understanding. Virginia will meet the challenge of climate change head on, and we will do so in a way that grows our clean energy sector and supports our new Virginia economy.”

Helen Clarkson, CEO of The Climate Group, secretariat for the Coalition said: “It is great to see another US state ready and willing to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by committing to the Under2 Coalition. This is another example of the strong leadership on climate action that we’ve seen from US states over the past few months, despite the position of the federal government.

“We hope that more sub-national governments around the world take up such ambitious climate action.”

COP 23 Special Advisor for States Regions California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. said: “The state of Virginia is joining a global force of states, regions and cities to combat dangerous global warming.”

Virginia becomes 189th government to join The Coalition. Signatories and endorsers commitment to limiting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80-95% on 1990 levels, or to two metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent per capita annually, by 2050.

The Climate Group has been at the forefront of state and regional climate leadership for over a decade. At COP23, the international not-for-profit announced the Governors and Premiers who will lead the Under2 Coalition in 2018: Winfried Kretschmann, Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg; Edmund G. Brown Jr. Governor of California; Aristotoles Sandoval, Governor of Jalisco; Willes Mchunu, Premier of Kwa-Zulu Natal; Philippe Couillard, Premier of Québec; Jay Weatherill, Premier of South Australia.

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