Business

Accounting for scientific uncertainty in a dangerously warming world

Most people at some point develop a “Plan B” – in case their first choice of college doesn’t accept them, or it rains on the day of their planned outdoor party, or the deal for the house they wanted falls apart. The same principle applies for more dire situations, such as a city having plans in hand for an orderly evacuation in case of a large-scale disaster. We hope such an event will never happen, but the mayor had better be prepared in case it does.

In a commentary today in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change, three colleagues and I discuss the need for a “Plan B” for climate change: How will we cope with increasingly severe climate impacts if we are unsuccessful in limiting global warming to a chosen target?

In the 2009 Copenhagen climate accord, countries set a goal of limiting global warming to below 2 °C (3.6 °F) above the average global temperature of pre-industrial times. However, given that the planet has already warmed by 0.8 °C, additional warming is already locked into the system, and global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, this “Plan A” has become increasingly difficult and may become impossible to achieve if widespread emissions reductions do not begin within this decade. A maximum warming target is a necessary goal of climate policy, but what if our efforts fall short?

Some voices in the environmental community will feel that asking this question is ceding failure, but I disagree. Instead, it means admitting that we can’t perfectly foresee the future and that we need to be prepared for surprises. This is called risk management and everyone from parents, to mayors, to companies, to the U.S. military uses risk management every day to cope with uncertainty.

Climate Leadership Award Winners Announced

Media Advisory

February 25, 2014

Climate Leadership Award Winners Announced

SAN DIEGO – Fifteen organizations and two individuals are being honored today with Climate Leadership Awards for their accomplishments in driving climate action and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The awards are given by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Center for Corporate Climate Leadership, in collaboration with the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), the Association of Climate Change Officers and The Climate Registry. Awardees will be honored this evening at the Climate Leadership Conference in San Diego.

Awardees came from a wide array of sectors, including finance, manufacturing, retail, technology, higher education and local government. Recipients have demonstrated leadership in managing and reducing emissions in internal operations and the supply chain, as well as integrating climate resilience into their operating strategies. 

Information highlighting the award winners is here:

http://www.epa.gov/climateleadership/awards/2014winners.html

Following is EPA's press release:

EPA Honors Corporate Leadership in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Release Date: 02/25/2014
Contact Information: Carissa Cyran, cyran.carissa@epa.gov, 202-564-4363, 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Center for Corporate Climate Leadership announced the third annual Climate Leadership Award winners in partnership with the Association of Climate Change Officers (ACCO), the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) and The Climate Registry (TCR). Nineteen awards were given to 15 organizations and two individuals in the public and private sectors for their leadership in addressing climate change by reducing carbon pollution.

The 2014 Climate Leadership Award recipients are:

Organizational Leadership Award: City of Chula Vista, Sprint, and University of California, Irvine

Individual Leadership Award: Sam Brooks, Associate Director, D.C. Department of General Services, and Robert Taylor, Energy Manager, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission

Supply Chain Leadership Award: Sprint

Excellence in Greenhouse Gas Management (Goal Achievement Award): The Boeing Company; Caesars Entertainment; Cisco Systems, Inc.; Ecolab; The Hartford; IBM; Johnson Controls; Kohl's Department Stores; Mack Trucks; and Novelis

Excellence in Greenhouse Gas Management (Goal Setting Certificate): Fruit of the Loom, Inc.; Hasbro, Inc.; and Kohl's Department Stores

“Our Climate Leadership Award winners have made great strides in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and are providing leadership nationwide in many sectors of our economy,” said Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. "Their innovative approaches and commitment to reducing carbon pollution demonstrate that efforts to address climate change are repaid by saving money and energy, while supporting more livable and resilient communities, and a healthier, better protected environment now and for future generations."

The national awards program recognizes and incentivizes exemplary corporate, organizational, and individual leadership in response to climate change. Award recipients represent a wide array of industries, including finance, manufacturing, retail, technology, higher education and local government.

“The Association of Climate Change Officers is pleased to recognize another exceptional class of organizations and individuals who are demonstrating leadership in driving climate action into their organizational cultures,” said Daniel Kreeger, ACCO’s co-founder and executive director. “These award recipients are demonstrating critical devotion and leadership to managing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the risks and challenges posed by climate change. These recipients are role models for corporate, organizational, and individual leaders who can and should be responding proactively to climate change risks and opportunities.”

“Communities and businesses are already experiencing the impacts of climate change, and we need to act now to protect both our environment and our economy,” said C2ES President Eileen Claussen. “We join EPA in applauding the winners of the Climate Leadership Awards. These companies, organizations, and individuals demonstrate that we can save energy, reduce emissions, and take decisive steps toward a low-carbon future. We hope their accomplishments will serve as an example for others to follow.”

“The Climate Registry applauds this year’s Climate Leadership Award winners for demonstrating a meaningful, results-oriented response to climate change,” said David Rosenheim, executive director of TCR. “Exhibiting transparency, consistent metrics, and innovative mitigation measures, our deserving award recipients are building a stronger platform for policy, innovation, and business solutions to reducing carbon pollution.”

The President’s Climate Action Plan calls on the federal government to work with all stakeholders to take action to cut the harmful carbon pollution that fuels climate change. These organizations and individuals are working to do just that.

The awards are held in conjunction with the 2014 Climate Leadership Conference at the Hyatt Mission Bay Hotel in San Diego, Calif.

More information about the 2014 Climate Leadership Award winners is available at www.epa.gov/climateleadership/awards/2014winners.html

The EPA's Center for Corporate Climate Leadership was launched in 2012 to establish norms of climate leadership by encouraging organizations with emerging climate objectives to identify and achieve cost-effective GHG emission reductions, while helping more advanced organizations drive innovations in reducing their greenhouse gas impacts in their supply chains and beyond. The Center serves as a comprehensive resource to help organizations of all sizes measure and manage GHG emissions, providing technical tools, ground-tested guidance, educational resources, and opportunities for information sharing and peer exchange among organizations interested in reducing the environmental impacts associated with climate change.

More information about EPA’s Center for Corporate Climate Leadership: www.epa.gov/climateleadership

How Business Can Weather the Storm

By: Sara Kendall, Weyerhaeuser
Publsihed in The Environmental Forum, January 2014

Companies have long engaged in risk assessment and mitigation as a core business practice.

The Intergov­ernmental Panel on Climate Change in its 2012 report “Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation” observes that heavy precipitation, heat waves, and droughts have increased over the last half century. Businesses may not have a position on climate change, but they understand how a flood can shut down transportation, a hurricane can topple buildings and powerlines, or extreme temperatures can disrupt markets and threaten op­erations and supply chains.

As noted in a recent report by The Center for Climate and Energy Solu­tions, “Weathering the Storm: Build­ing Business Resilience to Climate Change,” there are significant costs as­sociated with these weather events. In 2012, over 800 major weather-related disasters worldwide led to $130 billion in losses. The most expensive events cost more than $1 billion each. Further, 90 percent of the S&P Global 100 In­dex identified extreme weather and cli­mate change as a current or future risk. Of those, more than one third stated they’ve already experienced adverse ef­fects. It isn’t about whether a company believes in climate change. This is about staying in business.

The C2ES report highlights compa­nies’ efforts to build business resilience. Not surprisingly, the insurance industry is among the first sectors to pay atten­tion. Utility companies are building redundancy and looking at innovative approaches to handling storm surges. Natural resource companies have the added risk that their “factories” are di­rectly exposed to weather conditions.

To get more insight on these issues, I asked Eileen Claussen, president of C2ES, to respond to a few questions raised by the report.

What does business resilience really mean?

"Companies have always navigat­ed a changing business environment. But now they face a changing physical environment, as climate change leads to more frequent and intense heat waves, higher sea levels, and more severe droughts, wildfires, and downpours. Business resilience means assessing and managing these impacts on a com­pany’s facilities, operations, supply and distribution chains, and costs."

Is building business resilience risk management or new business development?

"Both. Extreme weath­er is certainly a risk. It can close facilities, delay production, dis­rupt supply and dis­tribution chains, raise operation and capital costs, and reduce demand. Extreme weather can also keep employees from getting to work, disrupt communication systems, and threaten the availability of power and water supplies. But there also are busi­ness opportunities in becoming more resilient. Some companies are already working on drought-resistant crops, storm-resistant building materials, and weather-related insurance products. Forms of distributed generation, which provided resilient electricity in the after­math of Hurricane Sandy, are promis­ing growth areas as well."

Are you encouraged by what you see be­ing undertaken by businesses to prepare for and respond to extreme-weather events?

"What’s encouraging is that in our dis­cussions with CEOs and members of corporate boards, we’re not being asked, “Is this a problem?” We’re being asked “What should my company do?” Most of the largest global companies are us­ing existing business continuity and emergency management plans to as­sess and manage their climate risks. But only a few companies say they’ve used climate-specific forecasting tools to as­sess how these risks are evolving and the potential business impacts. These com­panies are generally dependent on a key commodity or operate in high-risk locations. So while the vast majority of firms acknowledge risks from extreme weather and climate change, their ac­tions so far to address the risks aren’t going much beyond business as usual."

Where do you think more should be done, and what do you see as the big­gest barriers for companies?

"Companies tell us they need user-friendly, local­ized projections of climate change, and models that can link these projections to specific business impacts. Those in regulated sectors such as water, electric­ity, and insurance need regulators to be open to the case for increased spending on resilience and policies that encourage cus­tomer decisions about sufficient levels of risk mitigation."

Is building business resilience private or public sector work?

"Both. Companies need to manage risks to their facilities and supply and distribution chains, but they also need governments to invest in strengthen­ing resilience of public infrastructure. That’s one reason why we recommend voluntary public-private partnerships to bring together government and busi­ness expertise to develop and improve resilience planning.

My view: The bottom line is that extreme weather events are likely to continue and companies should think about building business resilience in a changing climate. We all will be better off if we’re better prepared."

Sara Kendall is vice president, corporate affairs and sustainability, Weyerhaeuser Com­pany. She can be reached at sara.kendall@ weyerhaeuser.com.

Copyright© 2014 Environmental Law Institute®, Washington, DC. Reprinted with permission from ELI®.

 

Federal Surface Transportation Reauthorization

A Primer on Federal Surface Transportation Reauthorization and the Highway Trust Fund

January 2014

by Nick Nigro and Cindy Burbank

Download the full paper (PDF)

For the first 50 years of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), user fees were sufficient to fund the federal portion of building and maintaining the nation’s transportation system. Limiting fees to actual users of services is seen as a more equitable approach than paying for transportation out of the general fund. For the past decade, however, user fee income to the HTF has not kept pace with federal authorization levels, and Congress has not taken action to increase the level of user fees or decrease federal authorizations to bring the fund’s obligations and revenues into balance.

 

Cynthia J. Burbank
Nick Nigro
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'60 Minutes' story on clean tech omits climate change

A recent "60 Minutes" story highlighted the demise of a few high-profile clean-tech companies that received federal funding. The story neglected to report why clean technology is vital to the future of our economy and environment in the first place, and therefore why it makes sense for the government to promote the development of wind and solar energy, electric vehicles, and other clean tech. Simply put, the goal is to transform our economy from one based on fossil fuels that emit heat-trapping gases to one based on clean energy that won't contribute to global climate change.

Webinar: Building Business Resilience to Climate Change: Rio Tinto

Promoted in Energy Efficiency section: 
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Sue Lacey, Principal, Climate and Energy, Rio Tinto.View slides here.

The mining industry is especially susceptible to heavy rainfall, changing weather conditions and rising sea levels. Such events can stall transportation, halt electricity generation and threaten the safety of employees and facilities. Sue Lacey, Rio Tinto's Principle of Climate and Energy, will discuss strategies and opportunities for building a more resilient business.

Title: Building Business Resilience to Climate Change: Rio Tinto

Date: Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Time: 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM EST

View slides here.

Webinar: Building Business Resilience to Climate Change: American Water

Promoted in Energy Efficiency section: 
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Dr. Mark LeChevallier, Director of Innovation & Environmental Stewardship.View slides here.See video here.

Extreme weather poses some unique challenges and opportunities for the water industry. The variation and intensity of rainfall, flooding and drought can affect the ability to draw, treat, and provide water to customers. Extreme weather also plays a role in the location of plants and water treatment technologies. Dr. Mark LeChevallier of American Water will describe efforts by of the world's leading companies to confront these factors.

Title: Building Business Resilience to Climate Change: American Water

Date: Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Time: 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM EST

View slides here.

See video here.

 

C2ES Events in Warsaw

Promoted in Energy Efficiency section: 
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November 18: Weathering the Storm: Building Business Resilience to Climate ChangeNovember 18: Reception: “Increasing Stakeholder Engagement”November 19: U.S. Climate Policy: An Update on Federal and State Action

Weathering the Storm: Building Business Resilience to Climate Change

Date: Monday, November 18, 18:00-19:00
Location: US Center, National Stadium

Building off the C2ES report, “Weathering the Storm: Building Business Resilience to Climate Change,” corporate leaders will discuss the risks of extreme weather and some ways to begin assessing and managing those risks. Among the steps that could help are: creating a clearinghouse for up-to-date data and analytical tools; investing in public infrastructure; considering resilience needs in regulation; and developing voluntary, public-private partnerships.

Panelists include:

  • Nancy Sutley, Chair, White House Council on Environmental Quality
  • Giles Dickson, Vice President, Environmental Policies & Global Advocacy, Alstom
  • Jennifer Layke, Executive Director, Institute for Building Efficiency, Johnson Controls
  • Timothy Juliani, Director of Corporate Engagement, C2ES

Reception: “Increasing Stakeholder Engagement”

The Edison Electric Institute (EEI), Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), and International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) invite you to a reception recognizing the importance of increasing the involvement of stakeholder groups in the UNFCCC process – one of the key themes of COP-19. 

Date: Monday, November 18, 19:30
Location: US Center, National Stadium
 

U.S. Climate Policy: An Update on Federal and State Action

Date: Tuesday, November 19, 18:00-20:00

Location: EU Side-events (1st floor), Room Brussels, National Stadium

Senior U.S. and California officials and business and environmental stakeholders will examine progress and challenges in advancing domestic policies to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

Speakers include:

  • Matt Rodriquez, Secretary, California Environmental Protection Agency
  • Jonathan Pershing, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Climate Change Technology and Policy, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Marnie Funk, Senior Advisor, CO2 Advocacy, Oil Sands & Renewables, Shell Oil
  • Jake Schmidt, International Climate Policy Director, Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Elliot Diringer, Executive Vice President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions

Efforts to limit aviation emissions advance at ICAO

The United Nations’ body that oversees civil aviation has reached an important milestone in international efforts to craft effective and equitable solutions to climate change from this fast-growing sector. And this success last week in Montreal should send a hopeful signal to other UN organizations as they grapple with the challenges of limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

At the 38th General Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), governments endorsed a comprehensive set of actions aimed at achieving an aspirational mid-term goal of zero carbon emissions growth for the aviation industry beginning in 2020. The October 4 accord brings together a number of measures being developed by ICAO, including: a certification requirement for a global CO2 efficiency standard for aircraft; support for an updated, more efficient air traffic control regime; continued development of sustainable biofuels; and updating national action plans laying out country strategies to reduce emissions.

Proud of what we've done, but there's still more to accomplish

When I founded a new nonprofit organization 15 years ago, the United States and the world urgently needed practical solutions to our energy and climate challenges. That need has only grown more urgent.

Earlier today, I announced my plans to step aside as the President of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) once my successor is on board. As I look back, I find we have come a long way. That said, any honest assessment of our progress to date in addressing one of this century’s paramount challenges must conclude that we have much, much further to go.

When our organization, then named the Pew Center for Global Climate Change, first launched in 1998, 63 percent of the world’s electricity generation came from fossil fuels. Incredibly, that number is even higher today – 67 percent. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the main driver of climate change, is also higher than it was then – in fact, at its highest level in more than 2 million years.

Scientists around the globe have just reaffirmed with greater certainty than ever that human activity is warming the planet and threatening to irreversibly alter our climate. Climate change is no longer a future possibility. It is a here-and-now reality. It’s leading to more frequent and intense heat waves, higher sea levels, and more severe droughts, wildfires, and downpours.

We at C2ES have believed from the start that the most effective, efficient way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and spur the innovation needed to achieve a low-carbon economy is to put a price on carbon. It’s a path that a growing number of countries, states, and even cities are taking.

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