Interview with Baden-Wuerttemberg Minister President Winfried Kretschmann
San Francisco (May 21, 2015) - On May 19, 2015, heads of eleven subnational governments signed a Memo of Understanding (MOU) stating that they are willing to commit to reducing their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 80 - 95% of 1990 levels by 2050 or to achieving a per capita emissions target of less than 2 metric tons by 2050, goals in line with scientific conclusions on how to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius.
This effort was lead by the State of California in the U.S. and the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg in Germany, frontrunners in both their countries on combatting climate change with agreessive greenhouse gas reduction and clean energy targets.
The Renewables 100 Policy Institute helped facilitate the launching of this agreement at an initial roundtable meeting that the organization put together in July 2014 between California's Governor Brown and Environmental Minister of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany Franz Untersteller, among other energy leaders from California and Germany. (see this announcement for more details on this meeting)
California and Baden-Wuerttemberg have since partnered to bring on 9 additional signatories: Acre, Brazil; Baja California, Mexico; British Columbia, Canada; Catalonia, Spain; Jalisco, Mexico; Ontario, Canada; Oregon, USA; Wales, UK; and Washington, USA. More are hoped to join by the end of the year.
Renewables 100 Policy Institute Media and Outreach Director Matthias Bank met with the leader of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Minister President Winfried Kretschmann, at the German Consulate in San Francisco shortly after the MOU signing to get his perspective on this historic agreement.
Matthias Bank: Can you share with us what is the goal of the climate change agreement ?
Minister President Kretschmann: The aim of the agreement is that the undersigned regions reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% percent by under 2 tonnes per capita by 2050. The agreement also includes other ambitious targets for climate protection, such as activities in the fields of renewable energy, energy efficiency, zero emissions transportation, and resource efficiency. In addition, science and technology are to be networked and optimized.
How did this agreement come together ?
Minister President Kretschmann: The agreement was based on an initiative of my Environment Minister Franz Untersteller. Governor Brown and I then took the initiative to other regions of North America, Europe, and elsewhere in the world to get their support for the MOU. European engines like Catalonia were brought on, and other regions, such as Rhone Alps in France and Lombardy in Italy will be added. Strong regions should be the workhorses that promote action on climate change.
Why do we need an agreement among federal states / regions ?
Minister President Kretschmann: Because strong economic regions need to show that climate change is not only necessary, but also an opportunity to remain competitive with green technologies and products. The regions must be an example that with climate change, we also can ensure prosperity. The agreement tries to put the national governments under pressure, so that we will move forward at the Climate Change Conference 2015 in Paris.
So what are the next steps ?
Minister President Kretschmann: The individual governments should take concrete measures to implement the important objectives of the Memorandum. We in Baden-Wuerttemberg are doing this, for example, with a climate change law that calls for reducing carbon emissions at least 25 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 90 per cent by below 1990 levels by 2050.