The New England governors and the premiers of Eastern Canada have consistently been climate change leaders and have influenced their respective federal governments to act on climate change.
In 2000, with NEG/ECP Resolution 25-9, the New England governors and the premiers of Eastern Canada acknowledged the need to address the problem of climate change and directed that a plan be developed. The subsequent 2001 Regional Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP) was the world’s first multi-government initiative to address climate change and was approved four years before the Kyoto Protocol. The CCAP represented the first scheme adopted by both provincial premiers and state governors to tackle climate change and present a clear long-term vision on the issue. It has since earned international recognition for the leadership vision it set forth. It also served as the basis for the action plans and targets adopted by each jurisdiction in the region.
The 2001 CCAP came at a time when none of the member states and provinces had a plan of its own. The plan set a series of regional GHG goals:
- Reduce GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2010 (Achieved)
- Reduce by at least 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 (On track to achieve)
- Long-Term: Reduce to 75-85 percent below 2001 levels by 2050
The NEG/ECP adopted the goals and climate plan at a time when the science of climate change already was established but was not widely recognized by the world’s policy makers and when no single country had adopted a long-term vision on climate change. In 2005 and 2013, the NEG/ECP received awards acknowledging their leadership.
A Transportation and Air Quality Action Plan was added to the CCAP in 2008. In 2013, the Transportation and Air Quality Committee (TAQC), in keeping with Resolution 36-2, submitted an update to the plan. That same year, the governors and premiers unanimously signed Resolution 37-4, which renewed their commitment to mitigate GHG emissions and adapt to climate change, and accepted a 2013 Regional Climate Change Action Plan: Strategic Overview. The resolution further tasked the environmental secretaries, commissioners and ministers to develop and submit a 2030 regional “progress marker” and a strategic work plan in support of achieving the regional GHG emissions reductions by the time of the 39th NEG/ECP annual conference.
At the 39th conference in 2015, the NEG/ECP adopted Resolution 39-1, which established a formal regional GHG reduction progress marker: 35 to 45 percent below 1990 emissions levels by 2030. By establishing a regional 2030 GHG reduction progress marker, jurisdictions within the NEG/ECP provide industries and other stakeholders with the direction necessary for more informed infrastructure and technology investments for the medium and long term. The 2030 progress marker adopted extends the region’s standing as a climate leader.
Such regional collaboration has considerable potential for broad influence, because the NEG/ECP region’s combined gross domestic product in 2014 was $1.4 trillion USD/$1.6 trillion CAD¹, which is larger than the 13th largest national economy, ahead of that of South Korea and just behind that of Australia. By leveraging their respective efforts and mutual economic and energy interdependencies, the eleven jurisdictions have the potential to substantively foster climate change actions throughout the region and beyond.
2017 Regional Climate Plan Development
Resolution 39-1, adopted in 2015, directed the NEG/ECP’s Committee on the Environment (COE) to advance regional discussions and collaborative efforts to reduce GHG emissions by identifying strategies, policies and measures through which the region could achieve its 2030 reduction marker and 2050 target. The resolution further directed the COE to engage the CCSC to work collaboratively with the TAQC and the Northeast International Committee on Energy (NICE) to identify a common set of regional environmental, transportation and energy strategies, policies and measures through which GHG reductions are possible.
The NEG/ECP committees formed a temporary Staff Working Group (SWG) to address the collaborative, cross-sector directives of Resolution 39-1. The SWG worked during the first half of 2016 to consider current commitments and initiatives within the region, existing external plans and agreements, as well as additional regional opportunities to accomplish these directives. The SWG, with the review and approval of the standing NEG/ECP committees, identified six broad categories to advance regional GHG emissions reduction actions.
- Cross-Cutting: Options that affect multiple sectors
- Government Leadership by Example: Options that reduce GHG emissions from government facilities, fleets and operations
- Energy Supply and Transmission: Options that deal with centralized electricity generation, the transmission of electricity and natural gas, and delivered heating fuels
- End-Use and Distributed Energy: Options that increase energy efficiency and conservation and the deployment of distributed energy resources in buildings and industry (thermal and electric)
- Transportation: Options that address transportation choices and accessibility, vehicle technology and fuels.
- Natural Resources: Options that enhance the amount of carbon being captured and stored in agricultural and forested lands and other natural systems, and that encourage sustainable materials management.
Within each of these categories, the SWG identified a series of high-level options that describe opportunities for the states and provinces to consider implementing, as a region, in order to make progress toward the regional GHG emissions reductions targets. The revised regional climate change plan will be developed following more robust qualitative and quantitative assessment of options by the SWG, working under the COE, in coordination with the NICE, TAQC and CCSC, and relying on available technical resources.
¹ Calculated by the NH Department of Environmental Services based on data obtained from Statistics Canada (http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/econ15-eng.htm), US Bureau of Economic Analysis (http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/regional/gdp_state/gsp_newsrelease.htm), and the World Bank (http://data.worldbank.org/data-catalog/GDP-ranking-table).