During New York Climate Week, the Global Covenant of Mayors (GCoM) announced that they will launch Integrity Matters for Cities, States, and Regions, a report applying UN standards on net-zero commitments to subnational contexts, this December at COP28.

Following up on last year’s Integrity Matters report launched at COP27, this edition acknowledges subnational governments’ unique capacities and accordingly outlines recommendations to ensure the transparency, credibility, and accountability of their climate commitments.

DDL Director Angel Hsu was appointed as part of the expert working group tasked with drafting recommendations for how to make the UN High-Level Expert Group (HLEG)’s guidelines for net-zero integrity relevant and actionable specifically for cities. She is the only academic researcher nominated for the committee, which is primarily comprised of practitioners, including former Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson and networks like C40 and GCoM. 

Since the adoption of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, the number of climate and net-zero pledges by subnational actors has increased substantially. However, the lack of consistency, robustness, and clarity of climate commitments makes it difficult to accurately track progress. Responding to this need, the UN High-Level Expert Group (HLEG) on the Net-Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities was convened by the UN Secretary-General with the intent of addressing the net-zero progress of Non-Party actors, including companies, states, cities, and regions.

However, clarity is still needed on how to apply HLEG standards. This report meets this need by providing more context on applying HLEG standards, HLEG standards specific to subnational governments, and highlighting where subnational governments are already meeting, or exceeding, standards established in last year’s Integrity Matters report.

As accountability and transparency around climate commitments and progress are still needed from cities, regions, and businesses, the imminent release of this report will provide clarity on progress made so far and how to effectively improve efforts moving forward.