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

Climate silence will cost the United States

I recently replied to ta question on the National Journal blog, "How is the absence of discussion about global warming going to affect our ability to do something about it?"

You can read more on the original blog post and other responses at the National Journal.

Here is my response:

An energy solution with true bipartisan support

Two out of three respondents in a new University of Texas poll said energy issues are important to them. But the harsh rhetoric of campaign season makes it seem like politicians can never agree on important policies needed to provide safe, reliable and affordable energy while also protecting the environment.

Well they can, and they did. Right now in Washington, D.C., we have a bipartisan bill that would reduce carbon emissions and develop domestic energy resources.

House and Senate Energy Efficiency Standards Bill and Amendments

House and Senate Energy Efficiency Standards bill and amendments

On September 22, 2012, its last day before the November elections, the U.S. Senate passed a bill that combined energy efficiency measures from both the Senate (S.1000) and the House of Representatives (H.R.4850). Some version of the bill may be enacted during the "lame duck" session of Congress between the elections and the end of the year.

In the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee (September 2011):

The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, S.1000, introduced by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH), would promote the use of energy efficient technologies. Some of the highlights of the bill include: strengthening building codes for homes and commercial buildings by requiring them to be more energy efficient; facilitating energy efficient upgrades by manufacturers; establishing loan programs at the Department of Energy (DOE) to fund the development and commercialization of innovative energy efficient technology and processes for industrial applications; supporting private investment in energy efficient technologies as a result of joint ventures between DOE and private sector partnerships; and requiring the Federal Government – the single largest energy user in the country – to adopt energy saving techniques and advanced metering technologies to better manage the energy usage of government buildings. The bill passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee in September 2011.

In the House (June 2012):

The Enabling Energy Savings Innovations Act, H.R.4850, sponsored by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL), would allow the Secretary of Energy to waive insulation standards placed on some components of walk-in coolers and freezers as set by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) of 1975. Current federal regulations on refrigeration units are believed too restrictive to be met even with components that meet or outperform the DOE energy efficiency standards. H.R. 4850 was introduced in April, 2012, passed the House of Representatives by voice vote on June 26, 2012, and was sent to the Senate.

In the Senate (September 2012):

On September 22, the Senate passed H.R.4850 with two amendments. The first, (S.Amdt.2862), a provision of S.1000, would direct the Secretary of Energy to report to Congress on the deployment of industrial energy efficiency within one year of the enactment of the Act, and to submit guidance on how to remove barriers to deployment of energy efficient technologies. The amendment would also direct the Secretary of Energy to conduct a study of the advanced energy technology capabilities of the United States while specifically enumerated government programs would be directed to develop collaborative partnerships to support research and development of technologies that reduce emissions. Additionally, the amendment would set federal energy management and data collection standards, including a web-based tracking system to certify compliance with certain energy and water measures. It would also direct the Secretary of Energy, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, and the General Services Administration to report to Congress on the best energy practices in Federal facilities. Moreover, the amendment would require a study of the perceived economic benefits of providing the industrial sector with Federal energy efficiency matching grants, and estimated energy and emission reductions. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) co-sponsored this amendment. (Sen. Pryor (D-AR) offered the amendment on behalf of Sen. Shaheen on the Senate floor.) The second amendment (S.Amdt.2861), sponsored by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) (also offered by Sen. Pryor) would set a uniform efficiency descriptor, a way to quantify and measure energy efficiency, for covered water heaters/water heating technologies.

In the House (December 2012):

On December 4, 2012, during the "lame duck" session, the House passed H.R. 6582, the ''American Energy Manufacturing Technical Corrections Act'' by a 398-2 vote. Sponsored by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL), the bill combines language that the House and Senate have approved earlier this year (see above) on various energy efficiency provisions, including some language from the Senate's Shaheen-Portman efficiency package (see above, S.1000). The House bill approved such measures as establishing best practices for "smart" electric meters in the federal government, as well as setting federal energy management and data collection standards. Section 3 of the bill, The Uniform Efficiency Descriptor for Covered Water Heaters section, would ease regulatory burdens by directing the Department of Energy (DOE) to transition from having separate definitions for two types of water heaters, to having a single definition for all covered water heaters. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) backed the bill but called for more legislation in the new Congress.

In the Senate (December 2012):

On the evening of December 6, 2012, the Senate passed H.R. 6582 unanimously, without any amendments. (See section direcly above for a description of H.R. 6582).

Presidential Signature (December 2012):

On December 18, President Obama signed H.R. 6582 into law.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) bill and amendments

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) bill and amendments

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a program which provides federally-backed flood insurance for homes along America’s rivers and coasts, was created by the enactment of the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 (P.L. 90-448).  The 44-year-old NFIP covers 5.6 million American households and more than $1 trillion in assets in flood-prone areas.  As development continues in flood-prone areas and as those zones become larger and riskier due to sea-level rise and more extreme precipitation – two projected consequences of climate change, the gap between revenue and risk is likely to grow.

Over the years, Congress has approved a series of short-term reauthorizations of NFIA without addressing this underlying problem.[1]  With the most recent reauthorization of the program, however, there appears to be some prospect of serious reform.

In July 2011, the House passed the Flood Insurance Reform Act, (H.R.1309) sponsored by Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL).  This Act would allow premiums to rise up to 20 percent a year, limit subsidized premiums to primary residences, and establish a technical advisory council to help update flood maps. The bill stops short, however, of requiring that updated maps take into account the full projected effects of climate change.

The Senate took up its own version (S.1940) in December 2011, sponsored by Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD). While the bill would limit premium increases to 15 percent a year, it also would require that NFIP flood maps reflect the “the potential for future inundation from sea level rise, increased precipitation, and increased intensity of hurricanes due to global warming.”

The final action occurred in May 2012, when Congress passed the National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act (H.R.5740), and it was signed into law (Public Law 112-123).  The legislation reauthorizes the NFIP for five years, ending a series of short-term extensions that had kept the program on life support for the past several years. The bill represents a major step towards actuarial pricing and full accounting of climate risk, ensuring that climate impact projections are factored into future calculations of flood risk.  The bill authorizes a new effort to bring the maps up to date. And although the word “climate” does not appear in the text, the bill directs FEMA to use “the best available science regarding future changes in sea levels, precipitation, and intensity of hurricanes” – likely projected impacts of climate change – as it updates the maps and sets its insurance premiums.  


[1] The National Flood Insurance Act was amended in 1969 to provide coverage for mudslides.  It was again amended in 1973 by the Flood Disaster Protection Act.  This Act made the purchase of flood insurance mandatory for the protection of property within special flood hazard areas.  In 1982, the Act was further amended by the Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA). The CBRA enacted a set of maps depicting the John H. Chafee Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS) in which federal flood insurance is unavailable for new or significantly improved structures.  Then in 1994, the National Flood Insurance Reform Act codified the Community Rating System (an incentive program that encourages communities to exceed the minimal federal requirements for development within floodplains) within the NFIP.   The Act was further amended in 2004 by the Flood Insurance reform Act, with the goal of reducing losses to properties whose owners had suffered from repetitive losses.



Increasing extreme weather is costly in many ways

A report released this week by two senior members of Congress notes that the unusual number of extreme weather events in 2012 has cost the country billions of dollars and that the unusual frequency of these events is consistent with what scientists have predicted from climate change.

The staff report, “Going to Extremes: Climate Change and the Increasing Risk of Weather Disasters” is from the offices of Reps. Edward Markey (D-MA) and Henry Waxman (D-CA), the prime movers behind the last attempt at significant climate legislation. It cites information from a variety of sources, including NOAA, the news media and the private sector to show how rising weather risk costs real money.  

Their report comes a week after Congress headed home for the elections having accomplished very little to address climate change. Nearly half the bills introduced by the current Congress would block or hinder climate action, though none of these have been enacted into law.

Hear from Experts on the Latest Actions in Carbon Markets and Climate Policy

Media Advisory
Sept. 25, 2012
Contact: Laura Rehrmann, rehrmannl@c2es.org, 703-516-0621

Hear from Experts on the Latest Actions in Carbon Markets and Climate Policy

WASHINGTON – Join the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions and international, national and state experts Oct. 1-2 at Carbon Forum North America, organized by the International Emissions Trading Association. C2ES is the program sponsor for Carbon Forum North America, which has established itself as the go-to event to learn the latest thinking and developments in climate policy and carbon markets.

C2ES President Eileen Claussen provides insights on the prospects for low-carbon climate and energy policies in the opening plenary, and other C2ES experts will discuss state climate action, carbon pricing, and international climate policy.

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, will be the opening keynote speaker.

WHAT: Carbon Forum North America

WHEN: Oct. 1-2, 2012

WHERE: Marriott Metro Center, 775 12th St. NW, Washington, D.C.

MEDIA: Press should pre-register by sending name, organization and telephone number to Ben McCarthy at mccarthy@ieta.org. Press passes will also be available at the door. Reporters who are not pre-registered should arrive early to secure passes.

C2ES at Carbon Forum North America

Monday, Oct. 1
9:15 AM: Plenary I – Strategizing Climate and Energy: How Are We Doing
C2ES Speaker: Eileen Claussen, President

Tuesday, Oct. 2
9:00 AM: North America 2050 (NA2050)—A New Partnership for Progress
C2ES Moderator: Judi Greenwald, Vice President of Technology & Innovation

2:00 PM: Beyond Cap & Trade: Alternative Carbon Pricing Mechanisms
C2ES Moderator: Janet Peace, Vice President of Markets & Business Strategy

3:45 PM: Plenary IV: International Climate Strategy
C2ES Speaker: Elliot Diringer – Executive Vice President

About C2ES

The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent nonprofit, nonpartisan 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.

C2ES Releases Case Studies of Federal Agencies Using Information and Communications Technologies to Meet Sustainability Goals

Press Release
Sept. 24, 2012
Contact: Laura Rehrmann, 703-516-0621, rehrmannl@c2es.org

C2ES Releases Case Studies of Federal Agencies Using Information and Communications Technologies to Meet Sustainability Goals

The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions issued a new report today presenting eight case studies of federal agencies using information and communication technologies to meet the twin challenges of cutting costs and advancing sustainability goals.

The report, Leading by Example: Using Information and Communication Technologies to Achieve Federal Sustainability Goals, was funded by the Digital Energy and Sustainability Solutions Campaign (DESSC). Its findings will be discussed by C2ES Senior Adviser Stephen Seidel at two sessions at the 2012 GreenGov Symposium on Tuesday at 3 p.m. and Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.

The case studies document how the use of smarter technologies enable agencies to use less energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions while at the same time cutting costs and enhancing productivity.

“As the nation’s largest landlord, fleet operator, and purchaser of goods and services, the federal government has both the opportunity and responsibility to lead by example in moving our nation in a more sustainable direction,” said C2ES President Eileen Claussen.

Among the examples in the report:

  • In a pilot project, the General Services Administration redesigned office space at its headquarters in a flexible way that embraced the latest mobility and collaboration tools, reduced the amount of space it needed and cut energy use by 45 percent.
  • To better manage its vehicle fleet, the Smithsonian Institution implemented a state-of-the-art information management system and uses GPS tracking (telematics) to improve the utilization of its fleet, resulting in an 18 percent reduction in the number of its light-duty vehicles.
  • NASA brought space-age technology down to earth in its Sustainability Base office building, which is capable of producing more electricity than it consumes.
  • GSA shifted its email operations from energy-intensive local servers to the cloud, cutting energy costs by 85 percent.

Among the lessons that can be drawn from the case studies is the importance of setting clear, measurable goals and tracking progress toward success.

The eight case studies in the report are:

  • GSA's Prototype Alternative Workspace: Redesigning the Federal Workplace for the 21st Century
  • Sustainability Base: Channeling NASA's Expertise to Create a High-Performance Building Here on Earth
  • Defense Connect Online: Advancing Sustainability through Enhanced Collaboration and Communication Tools
  • Shift to the Cloud: Achieving Efficiency through Cloud Computing and Data Center Consolidation
  • Fleet Management at the Smithsonian: Using New Tools to Advance Sustainability and Efficiency
  • Testing New Building Technologies at DoD and GSA: Advancing Energy-Saving Innovations
  • Energy Savings at Sector San Juan: The Coast Guard's Innovative Shift to Clean Energy in Puerto Rico
  • GSA's Print Management Initiatives: Cutting Costs and Saving Energy Through Smarter Printing

About C2ES

The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent nonprofit, nonpartisan 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.

The 112th Congress on climate change: Deadlocked

As Congress heads home this week to campaign for re-election, we thought we’d round up a list of all the bills, resolutions, and amendments so far this Congress that focus on climate change.  (For brevity, all legislative proposals are referred to here as “bills.”)  This is not a comprehensive list of the more than 1,000 bills touching on energy, environment, transportation, agriculture and other areas that would have an impact on climate change.  Rather it’s a list of the bills whose authors thought it was important to explicitly reference climate change or related terms such as greenhouse gases or carbon dioxide – terms that themselves have become political flash points.

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