The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions seeks to inform the design and implementation of federal policies that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Drawing from its extensive peer-reviewed published works, in-house policy analyses, and tracking of current legislative proposals, the Center provides research, analysis, and recommendations to policymakers in Congress and the Executive Branch. Read More
There is growing recognition within the scientific and policy communities that efforts to address climate change should focus not only on substantially reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, but also on near-term actions to reduce climate-warming substances with much shorter atmospheric lifetimes. These are called short-lived climate forcers (SLCFs). This two-pronged strategy would accomplish two goals:
- Reducing CO2 emissions limits the ultimate amount of warming. Because CO2 represents by far the largest source of climate-warming emissions, and because it stays in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, large reductions in CO2 emissions are required to meet any long-term climate stabilization goal, such as the 2°C goal set by the international community.
- Reducing emissions of short-lived climate forcers would, on the other hand, slow the near-term rate of climate change. Scientists estimate that SLCFs account for 30 to 40 percent of the human-induced warming to date. Yet as SLCFs remain in the atmosphere for periods of only a few days to a few decades, their warming effect is short-lived, and reducing their emissions would result in more immediate benefits. In addition to limiting climate impacts already underway, including important regional impacts such as glacial melting, SLCF reductions would reduce local air pollution and produce other co-benefits. The U.N. Environment Programme recently estimated that aggressive efforts to reduce SLCFs would avoid 2.4 million premature deaths by 2030 and reduce warming between now and 2040 by a half a degree.
Key Short-Lived Climate Forcers
Methane has an atmospheric lifetime of about 12 years. Human-induced methane emissions result primarily from oil and gas production and distribution, coal mining, solid waste landfills, cultivation of rice and ruminant livestock, and biomass burning. Reductions in methane emissions improve local air quality by reducing ground-level ozone, which harms agriculture and human health, and is itself an SLCF.
Black carbon (BC) results from incomplete combustion of biomass and fossil fuels. Its major sources are diesel cars and trucks, cook stoves, forest fires, and agricultural open burning.
Because of a very brief atmospheric lifetime measured in weeks, black carbon's climate effects are strongly regional. BC particles give soot its black color and, like any black surface, strongly absorb sunlight. In snow-covered areas, the deposition of black carbon darkens snow and ice, increasing their absorption of sunlight and making them melt more rapidly. BC may be responsible for a significant fraction of recent warming in the rapidly changing Arctic, contributing to the acceleration of sea ice loss. BC also is contributing to the melting of Himalayan glaciers, a major source of freshwater for millions of people in Asia, and may be driving some of the recent reduction in snowpack in the U.S. Pacific Northwest.
Black carbon's short lifetime also means that its contribution to climate warming would dissipate quickly if emissions were reduced. Additionally, since BC contributes to respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses, reductions in BC emissions would have significant co-benefits for human health, particularly in developing countries.
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are a family of industrially produced chemicals widely used in refrigeration and air conditioning. They were developed to replace ozone-depleting substances a few decades ago, HFC-134a, the most widely used of these compounds, has an atmospheric lifetime of 13 years.
As many ozone-depleting substances are also potent greenhouse gases, their phase-out under the Montreal Protocol has contributed indirectly but very significantly to climate mitigation efforts to date. The treaty's net contribution to climate mitigation is estimated to be five to six times larger than the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period targets.
Many countries now favor working through the Montreal Protocol to phase down HFCs. A proposal by the United States, Mexico and Canada would require an 85 percent reduction in specified HFCs by 2033 for developed countries, and 2043 for developing countries. A proposal by the States of Micronesia and Mauritius calls for a 90 percent reduction by developed countries by 2030, but specifies no schedule for developing countries.
- Fast Action to Reduce the Risks of Climate Change: U.S. Options to Limit Short-Lived Climate Pollutants, Feb. 2012
- Bodansky, Daniel, Multilateral Climate Efforts Beyond the UNFCCC, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, Nov. 2011.
This report looks at a number of multilateral entities that could play a role in addressing certain of the SLCFs including: the Montreal Protocol as a possible venue for HFCs and the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution as a possible venue for BC, methane and other ozone-precursors.
- Bachmann, John, Black Carbon: A Science/Policy Primer, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (formerly the Pew Center on Global Climate Change), 2009.
This paper summarizes current knowledge on the effects of soot components—black carbon and organic particles—on climate, and identifies sources and technologies to mitigate their impacts. It also presents perspectives on the potential role of soot mitigation approaches in developing more comprehensive climate strategies.
- What is Black Carbon?, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (formerly the Pew Center on Global Climate Change), April 2010.
This factsheet provides an overview of black carbon as a major contributor to global climate change. It describes why reducing black carbon is a win-win scenario for both climate and health reasons.
- Read Eileen Claussen's statement on the Climate and Clean Energy Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollution
- UNEP and WMO, Integrated Assessment of Black Carbon and Tropospheric Ozone: Summary for Decision Makers, 2011
- UNEP, Near-term Climate Protection and Clean Air Benefits: Actions for Controlling Short-Lived Climate Forcers, 2011.
- Montzka, S.A., Dlugokency,E.J., Butler, J.H., Non-CO2 Greenhouse Gases and Climate Change. Nature, 476, 43-50. August 2011.
- Shindell, D. et. al., Simultaneously Mitigating Near-Term Climate Change and Improving Human Health and Food Security, Science, 335, 183-188 Jan 13, 2012.
- UNEP, HFCs: A Critical Link in Protecting Climate and the Ozone Layer, Nov. 2011.
- Velders, G.J.M., Fahey, D.W., Daniel, J.S., McFarland, M, Andersen, S.O., The Large Contribution of Projected HFC Emissions to Future Climate Forcing. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 106, 10949-10954. 2009
- US EPA, Report to Congress on Black Carbon: External Peer Review Draft, March 2011.
International Forums Focused on SLCFs:
- Climate and Clean Energy Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollution
- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's Remarks at the Climate and Clean Air Coalition To Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants Initiative
- Briefing on Global Climate Change and Clean Air Initiative
- Arctic Council
Arctic Council, Progress Report and Recommendation for Ministers, Arctic Council Task Force on Short-lived Climate Forcers, 2011
- Montreal Protocol
- Ministerial Meeting
Co-Chairs Summary, Ministerial Meeting on Short-lived Climate Forcers, Mexico City, 2011
February 14, 2012
Contact: Tom Steinfeldt, 703-516-4146
NEW REPORT OFFERS COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH TO ACCOUNT FOR
CO2 REDUCTIONS FROM CARBON CAPTURE AND STORAGE
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions’ Framework Lays Groundwork
for Future Energy & Climate Policy Action
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new report released today by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) provides the first-ever comprehensive framework for calculating carbon dioxide (CO2) emission reductions from carbon capture and storage (CCS). The framework equips policymakers and project developers with common methodologies for quantifying the emission impacts of CCS projects.
CCS involves a suite of technologies that can be used to prevent CO2 from power plants and large industrial facilities from entering the atmosphere. The three main steps are capturing and compressing the CO2 , transporting it to suitable storage sites, and injecting it into geologic formations for secure and permanent storage. CCS technology has the potential to achieve dramatic reductions in CO2 emissions from the electricity sector, including from coal-fueled power plants.
“Ensuring reliable, affordable energy while reducing carbon emissions is a critical challenge, and in the years ahead, carbon capture and storage will likely be an essential part of the solution,” said C2ES President Eileen Claussen. “This report provides an important technical foundation for crafting policies to put this technology to work to meet our energy, climate and economic objectives.”
The report, Greenhouse Gas Accounting Framework for Carbon Capture and Storage Projects, includes detailed methodologies to calculate emission reductions at each stage of the CCS process: CO2 capture, transport, and injection and storage. The methods were developed with input from CCS experts in industry, academia, and the environmental community (see report for list of participants).
For CO2 capture, the report outlines methods for multiple CO2 sources, including electric power plants with pre-combustion, post-combustion, or oxy-fired technologies, and industrial facilities involved in natural gas production, fertilizer manufacturing, and ethanol production. For CO2 transport, the framework focuses on pipelines, which are the most viable transportation option for large-scale CCS. With respect to the geological storage of CO2, the framework applies to saline aquifers, depleted oil and gas fields, and enhanced oil and gas recovery sites.
Worldwide, 15 large CCS projects are in operation or under construction, according to the Global CCS Institute. Their combined CO2 storage capacity exceeds 35 million tons a year, roughly equivalent to preventing the emissions from more than 6 million cars from entering the atmosphere each year. Four CCS projects – three in the U.S. and one in Canada – have started construction since 2010, and three of these are linked to enhanced oil recovery operations. Globally, 59 additional projects are in the planning stage.
C2ES also is facilitating the National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative, a group of policymakers and stakeholders seeking to increase U.S. domestic oil production and energy security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through enhanced oil recovery (EOR) using captured CO2. Recommendations for federal and state policy to ramp up CO2-EOR will be released later this year.
The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent non-profit, non-partisan organization promoting strong policy and action to address the twin challenges of energy and climate change. Launched in November 2011, C2ES is the successor to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, long recognized in the United States and abroad as an influential and pragmatic voice on climate issues. C2ES is led by Eileen Claussen, who previously led the Pew Center and is the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.
A lot has changed in the two years since I made my first visit to the Washington Auto Show. Back then, gas prices averaged $2.68 per gallon and the Nissan LEAF looked like a “car of the future” compared to the other vehicles on the showroom floor. Now, prices at the pump are 25 percent higher, averaging $3.50 per gallon in 2011, and fuel costs are eating up the largest share of the average American’s income in over 30 years. Meanwhile, the auto industry is adapting their product line to their new environment and cooperating more closely with regulators. The 2012 auto show includes many more alternative vehicles like the all-electric Ford Focus (see picture below) and the Prius V, a 42 mile per gallon hybrid station wagon.
The White House Jobs Council recently released its year-end report outlining a plan to strengthen the United States’ economic future. While the tax and regulatory reform proposals are bound to cause disagreements, the Council developed pragmatic recommendations regarding energy’s role in improving the economy. The report recognizes the state of politics and low-carbon energy deployment, while highlighting the economic opportunities—including energy savings, leading emerging technology markets, and enhanced energy security—made possible by transitioning to a low-carbon economy. The Council’s energy recommendations include:
Learn about the Climate Leadership Conference, Australia's new carbon pricing mechanism, the Make an Impact energy conservation challenge, and more in C2ES's January 2012 newsletter.
Statement of Eileen Claussen
President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
January 24, 2012
We share President Obama’s enthusiasm for homegrown solutions to America’s energy challenges. Without question, America has the resources and know-how to produce more energy at home, strengthening both our economy and our national security. But protecting the climate also has to be part of the equation. If we sensitively develop domestic reserves, get serious about ramping up new energy sources, and push efficiency across the board, we can both meet America’s energy needs and dramatically shrink our carbon footprint.
Even if comprehensive legislation remains off the table for now, we can make important progress tackling these challenges piece by piece. C2ES is working with policymakers and stakeholders on ways to expand enhanced oil recovery using captured carbon dioxide – an approach that can boost domestic oil production while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Similarly, we’re working with automakers, environmentalists and others on a plan for integrating plug-in electric vehicles into the U.S. electrical grid. We look forward to sharing the results of these and other C2ES initiatives aimed at practical solutions to our twin climate and energy challenges.
Contact: Tom Steinfeldt, 703-516-4146
Read the full transcript of the 2012 State of the Union Address
The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) was named the world’s top environmental think tank in a global survey of top public policy research institutes.
The University of Pennsylvania’s 2011 Global Go-To Think Tank Rankings are based on a survey of more than 1,500 policymakers, scholars, journalists, think-tank executives and others worldwide. The survey assessed more than 5,300 organizations nominated in 30 categories to create a global list of top think tanks by region and policy area.
C2ES’s predecessor organization, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, was named the world’s top environmental think tank in the same survey in 2009. The center began operating as C2ES in November 2011, and is listed in the new survey under its former name.
“While our name has changed, we remain as committed as ever to fact-based analysis and common-sense solutions to our climate and energy challenges,” said C2ES President Eileen Claussen. “We are thrilled to again be recognized as the world’s top environmental think tank. I’d like to commend the C2ES staff and thank all of our partners and supporters in the United States and abroad for helping to make this possible.”
The independent, nonpartisan center provides impartial information and analysis on energy and climate challenges; convenes policymakers and stakeholders to work toward consensus solutions; works with members of its Business Environmental Leadership Council and others to promote on-the-ground action; and promotes pragmatic, effective climate and energy policies at the state, national and international levels.
The annual survey, first published in 2007, is directed by James G. McGann, assistant director of the University of Pennsylvania’s International Relations Program and director of the Think Tanks and Civil Society Program.
The World Resources Institute and Chatham House ranked second and third, respectively, among the study’s top 30 environmental groups. Brookings Institution was named the top overall think tank. Additional categories in which the report ranks organizations include health policy, international development, and security and international affairs, among others.
The complete study, released in January 2012, is available online here.
More about C2ES's work to advance climate and energy solutions can be found here.
Yesterday, EPA announced the public release of reported greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from large facilities across the country. Under legislation signed by President George W. Bush, most large sources of GHG emissions, including refineries, power plants, chemical plants, car manufacturers, and factories emitting more than 25,000 tons of CO2 equivalent a year, have been reporting their annual emissions electronically to EPA since 2010, while small sources are specifically exempted from the rule. Now, in accordance with the law, EPA is making that data public.
Some similar information was public already. Power plants have been required to report their CO2 emissions since the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, while many other companies have voluntarily reported their emissions through programs like the Carbon Disclosure Project
What is the GHG Reporting Rule?
As part of the Fiscal Year 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act, signed into law on December 26, 2007, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was ordered to publish a rule requiring public reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from large sources. The GHG Reporting Program database, published for the first time on January 11, 2012, and consisting of data reported under the rule, provides the first comprehensive nationwide GHG emissions data for the United States, although electric power plants have been reporting their carbon dioxide emissions for two decades under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.
One model for the GHG Reporting rule is the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), established by the 1986 Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act, which, for the first time, required businesses to disclose releases of a wide range of toxic chemicals. When the TRI was first published in 1989, many businesses voluntarily began reducing their releases, clean technology developers used the data to identify potential customers, and policymakers used the data to develop and refine toxic chemical policy. The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) expects similar activity as a result of the establishment of the GHG Reporting Program.
Who are the covered entities?
Forty-one sectors are included for possible reporting including: fossil fuel and industrial GHG suppliers, boilers, motor vehicle and engine manufacturers, and other industrial facilities. Annual reporting is required for facilities that emit 25,000 metric tons or more of CO2 equivalent per year, except for sources in nineteen large source categories such as: refineries, cement manufactures, and chemical plants for which there is no minimum threshold. An estimated 85 to 90 percent of stationary source emissions from approximately 13,000 facilities are covered by the rule, while most small businesses would fall below the reporting threshold.
What is the status of regulation?
The first rulemaking following the Congressional mandate came on September 22, 2009, when EPA announced that it will require large emitters of GHGs to begin collecting data under a new reporting system. Data collection through online reporting began in January 2010 with the first annual reports submitted to EPA in 2011.
On January 11, 2012, EPA announced that the first year of data, 2010, is publicly available. EPA's online tool has data from 6,700 facilities from 29 source categories, searchable by state, location, company, or facility. Additional facilities will be included in future years.
A main feature of the site is an interactive map with facilities marked by location. Searching and sorting of facilities can be accomplished through 20 different reporting categories, by the amount of emissions of any of six GHGs. Each reporting facility has a profile with: location and address; NAICS code; GHG monitoring technology; GHG emissions amounts; emissions by source, fuel and process; and other information. Emissions data across sectors and locations is comparable in a variety of visual formats, like bar charts, pie charts, and data trees. Search results can be shared via printing, email, Facebook, Twitter and other ways.
Read more from EPA on the GHG Reporting Rule.
Statement of Eileen Claussen
President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
January 11, 2012
We’ve seen before that what you measure, you can manage. Two decades ago, when EPA published the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), the public, policymakers and business all got a better handle on toxic emissions across the U.S. and how to reduce them. We can expect similar results now that EPA is publishing greenhouse gas data from major emitters. Businesses shrinking their carbon footprints will have a metric credible with the public. Clean technology developers will know who and where their potential customers are. Policymakers will know better how to develop policies that reduce emissions while contributing to economic growth. Simply getting this data out is an important step in tackling climate change.
Click here for more on EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule.
Click here for a related blog post.
Contact: Tom Steinfeldt, 703-516-4146