Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and the Under2 Coalition of states and regions today released a handbook detailing five transformative actions regional governments can take to limit the effects of climate change while bringing other beneficial impacts to society.
The guide, Regions Take Action: The Benefits of Major Climate Policies, uses case studies from India, Brazil, Europe and the United States to show how climate-friendly policies can create better outcomes across society. It looks particularly at economic development, air quality, public health, equity and resilience to provide a model for how regional governments around the world can implement similar actions in their own areas.
“The stories in the guide are exciting because they illustrate how governments are addressing very immediate problems while also leading the way on climate change solutions,” said Jacob Corvidae, RMI principal and co-author of the guide. “There is so much that can be achieved for society as a whole when governments take a comprehensive approach to making their communities more climate-friendly.”
Benefits Beyond Emissions Reduction
Developing and using low-carbon technologies and strategies is critical to tackling greenhouse gas emissions. However, research now shows that benefits derived from low-carbon solutions extend far beyond environmental gains.
For example, one study estimates that decreased air pollution resulting from climate action to meet a 1.5°C warming scenario could lead to around 153 million fewer premature deaths worldwide. In the United States alone, the economic value of the avoided deaths is estimated at $37 trillion.
The Regions Take Action guide illustrates five key climate actions regional governments can take across different sectors that will also benefit other areas of society:
- Clean electricity: Commit to creating clean electricity. Renewables are cost-effective investments, and clean electricity is fundamental to a carbon-free society.
- Carbon-free buildings: Construct and upgrade buildings to be all-electric and efficient, which will also create healthier, more comfortable places to live and work.
- Healthy transportation: Create better mobility options and electrify vehicles, which can reduce air pollution while giving people more choices for transportation and for taking climate action.
- Innovative industry: Use clean energy supplies to move industry to electric power while also creating solutions to drive a clean energy economy. This includes new processes, low-carbon materials, digital technologies and more.
- Sustainable land use: Preserve and enhance the natural resources that create beautiful places, economic opportunities and essential carbon “sinks” that pull pollution from the air.
“Climate champions alone can’t be responsible for acting on climate change. We need to see a combined effort across all areas of government, including transport, housing, education and agriculture,” said Libby Ferguson, director of policy and knowledge at the Under2 Coalition Secretariat. “Not only does this increase the impact of individual efforts, but it shows the value of sustainable, climate-friendly choices in all areas of our everyday lives.”