Sacramento, California - Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced that with the addition of the Federal Republic of Germany, along with the German regions of Bavaria, Schleswig-Holstein and Thuringia and the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna to the Under 2 MOU climate agreement, the combined GDP of signatories and endorsers has surpassed that of the United States, the world’s largest economy.

“From Germany to Brazil to China and beyond, this pact is uniting the world’s leaders around a common goal: preventing catastrophic changes to our climate,” said Governor Brown. “If enough cities, states, regions – and even countries – join us, we can overcome the sheer complacency that threatens the well-being of humanity itself.”

The announcement comes as Governor Brown delivers keynote remarks at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ 6th Annual Clock Symposium – named after the iconic Doomsday Clock which represents a metaphorical countdown to possible global catastrophe – today in Chicago, Illinois. Citing “climate change, global nuclear weapons modernizations, and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals” as “extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity,” the Clock was moved from 5 minutes to 3 minutes to midnight in 2015.

The Under 2 MOU is a global pact amongst cities, states and countries to limit the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius – the warming threshold at which scientists say there will likely be catastrophic climate disruptions.

Collectively, 57 jurisdictions from 19 countries and five continents have now signed or endorsed the Under 2 MOU, collectively representing more than $17.5 trillion in GDP and 572 million people. If the signatories represented a single country, it would now be the largest economy in the world by GDP, surpassing the United States.

The milestone was reached when leaders of the Federal Republic of Germany and the German regions of Bavaria, Schleswig-Holstein and Thuringia endorsed the Under 2 MOU at the German Environmental Ministers’ Conference in Augsburg, Germany last week. Leaders from the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna also signed the pact during a visit to California last week.

Under the agreement, signatories commit to either reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 to 95 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 or achieve a per capita annual emission target of less than 2 metric tons by 2050. These targets allow each individual government to tailor emission reduction plans to fit regional needs.

The pact seeks to enhance cooperation to achieve these goals through a range of activities, including:

  • Developing mid-term targets needed to support long-term reduction goals;

  • Sharing technology, scientific research and best practices to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy;

  • Collaborating to expand the use of zero-emission vehicles;

  • Taking steps to ensure consistent monitoring and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions;

  • Improving air quality by reducing short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon and methane; and

  • Assessing the projected impacts of climate change on communities.

California's Leadership on Climate Change

As the clock ticks for national governments to reach a deal to reduce harmful emissions ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, Governor Brown continues to focus on building and broadening collaboration amongst cities, states and provinces at the “subnational level.”

Governor Brown recently joined an unprecedented alliance of heads of state, city and state leaders – convened by the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund – to urge countries and companies around the globe to put a price on carbon. The "Carbon Pricing Panel" includes: German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, French President François Hollande, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes.

In recent months the Governor has traveled to the United Nations in New York, the Vatican in Italy and the Climate Summit of the Americas in Toronto, Canada to call on others leaders to join California in the fight against climate change.

These efforts build on a number of other international climate change agreements with leaders from Mexico, China, North America, Japan, Israel, Peru and Chile. Governor Brown also helped convene hundreds of world-renowned researchers and scientists to issue a groundbreaking call to action – called the consensus statement – which translates key scientific climate findings from disparate fields into one unified document.

Last month, Governor Brown signed landmark legislation – SB 350 – that codified the goals he laid out in his January 2015 inaugural address to double the rate of energy efficiency savings in California buildings and generate half of the state's electricity from renewable sources by 2030. In the same remarks, Governor Brown also committed to reduce today's petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent within the next 15 years; make heating fuels cleaner; reduce the release of methane, black carbon and other potent pollutants across industries; and manage farm and rangelands, forests and wetlands so they can store carbon.

The impacts of climate change are already being felt in California and will disproportionately impact the state's most vulnerable populations.