As the United Nations COP21 climate-change talks continue in Paris, a group of local and national governments plans drastic reductions in vehicle emissions over the next 35 years.

Members of the International ZEV Alliance have committed to making all new cars in their jurisdictions emission-free by 2050.

The Alliance was first announced in September, and has since grown to include 12 more members--encompassing European nations, U.S. states, and one Canadian province.

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Founding partner California is joined by fellow U.S. states Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont, as well as Quebec in Canada.

Outside North America, the governments of Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom have also committed to the 2050 goal.

Norwegian officials have already proposed making nearly all new cars in the country emission-free by 2025.

Oslo street scene: Nissan Leaf, Volkswagen e-Golf, Tesla Model S, July 2015

Oslo street scene: Nissan Leaf, Volkswagen e-Golf, Tesla Model S, July 2015

The International ZEV Alliance is one example of how local governments plan to take action against climate change independent of their national governments.

Several of the participants in the Alliance--including California--also signed the Under 2 MOU, a global agreement among cities and states to limit the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius.

That is generally recognized by scientists as the threshold for catastrophic climate change.

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Under 2 MOU commits signatories 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.

Eight jurisdictions recently signed, including Connecticut, the Brazilian state of Pernambuco, and six European jurisdictions: the Swiss cantons of Basel-Stadt and Basel-Landschaft, the French region of Alsace and Department of Bas-Rhin, and the Dutch regions of North and South Holland.

That brings the total numbers of signatories to 65, collectively representing more than $17.9 trillion in GDP and 588 million people.

Electric Avenue charging stations in Portland, Oregon [photo: Portland General Electric]

Electric Avenue charging stations in Portland, Oregon [photo: Portland General Electric]

If they were a single country, the Under 2 MOU participants would represent the largest economy in the world, California officials say.

The Golden State--along with fellow Under 2 MOU signatories Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia--is participating in yet another regional climate-change action plan, called the Pacific Coast Collaborative.

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Its mission is to work with cities and businesses to "build thriving, livable, low-carbon economies along the West Coast," according to a joint op-ed from California Governor Jerry Brown, Oregon Governor Kate Brown, British Columbia Premier Christy Clark, and Washington governor Jay Inslee published in the Seattle Times.

The governors hope that regional action can replace what they perceive as national inaction from the governments in Washington, D.C. and Ottawa.

"We will be lifting our collective voice and sharing our model at the global climate talks in Paris," they said, "so we can illuminate the way forward for national leaders."

[hat tips: Brian Henderson]


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