Federal

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
 

Press Release: Offset Quality Initiative Releases White Paper

 

News Release: For Immediate Release — July 28, 2008

Contacts:
Alexia Kelly, The Climate Trust, 541-514-3633
Tom Steinfeldt, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, 703-516-4146
______________________________________________________________________________

NONPROFIT COALITION ISSUES RECOMMENDATIONS FOR
DESIGN OF GHG OFFSET PROGRAMS IN CAP-AND-TRADE SYSTEMS

Group Receives Major Grant from the Energy Foundation

PORTLAND and WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Offset Quality Initiative (OQI) will release a white paper today in San Diego at a briefing to be held before the opening of the Western Climate Initiative stakeholder meeting. Titled “Ensuring Offset Quality: Integrating High Quality Greenhouse Gas Offsets Into Cap-and-Trade Policy,” the document offers policymakers practical recommendations regarding the integration of greenhouse gas offsets into emerging regulatory systems at the state, regional and federal levels. OQI, a coalition of six leading non-profit organizations—The Climate Trust, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, California Climate Action Registry, Environmental Resources Trust, Greenhouse Gas Management Institute, and The Climate Group—was founded in November 2007 to provide leadership on GHG offset policy and best practices. 

“The availability of high-quality offsets is key to containing the cost of climate policy while delivering real greenhouse gas emission reductions,” said Eileen Claussen, President of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. “A rigorous and adaptable offset program design can ensure that offsets play a valuable role in an effective cap-and-trade system. OQI’s work will assist policymakers seeking to develop core components of a credible offsets program.”

In addition to regulatory design guidelines, the white paper addresses the key criteria for offset quality and discusses offset project types most appropriate for inclusion in emerging regulatory systems. OQI member organizations will discuss their recommendations with policymakers and other stakeholders over the next several weeks, beginning with today’s briefing in San Diego.

“Establishing confidence in the environmental integrity of offsets is critical for the successful launch and acceptance of future cap and trade regulatory systems.  The goal of our paper is to provide policymakers with well-conceived and comprehensive recommendations for offset program design based on the collective knowledge and experience of the OQI members.  Each nonprofit member of the coalition is a well-respected and established organization in climate change and brings valuable experience and knowledge to the group,” said Gary Gero, President of the California Climate Action Registry.

OQI recently received a one-year grant of $235,000 from the Energy Foundation to support its work. “We were excited and honored to receive the grant,” said Mike Burnett, Executive Director of The Climate Trust, which was awarded the grant on behalf of OQI. “This generous support from the Energy Foundation highlights the need for the unique work and perspective of OQI. We will use the funds to continue to advance sound greenhouse gas offset policy.”

For a copy of the white paper or for more information on the briefing, please visit www.offsetqualityinitiative.org.

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About the Offset Quality Initiative
The Offset Quality Initiative (OQI) was founded in November 2007 to provide leadership on greenhouse gas offset policy and best practices. OQI is a collaborative, consensus-based effort that brings together the collective expertise of its six nonprofit member organizations: The Climate Trust, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, California Climate Action Registry, the Environmental Resources Trust, Greenhouse Gas Management Institute, and The Climate Group.

The four primary objectives of the Offset Quality Initiative are:

  • To provide leadership, education, and expert analysis on the issues and challenges related to the design and use of offsets in climate change policy.
  • To identify, articulate, and promote key principles that ensure the quality of greenhouse gas emission offsets.
  • To advance the integration of those principles in emerging climate change policies at the state, regional, and federal levels.
  • To serve as a source of credible information on greenhouse gas offsets, leveraging the diverse collective knowledge and experience of OQI members.

White Paper: Ensuring Offset Quality

Ensuring Offset Quality: Integrating High Quality Greenhouse Gas Offsets Into North American Cap-and-Trade Policy
An Offset Quality Initiative White Paper
July 2008

Download full paper (pdf)

Download executive summary (pdf)

Read press release


This paper aims to provide policymakers with practical recommendations regarding the integration of greenhouse gas (GHG) offsets into emerging regulatory systems. Offsets have an important role to play in controlling the costs associated with regulating and reducing GHGs, and in driving technology transformation in sectors not mandated to reduce their GHG emissions. In order for offsets to deliver on their intended purpose — the achievement of a real and verifiable reduction in global GHG emission levels beyond what would have otherwise occurred —regulatory programs must be designed to ensure the quality and effectiveness of offsets used to meet GHG reduction requirements. Policymakers must also have a clear understanding of both the opportunities and challenges presented by the integration of offsets into GHG emission-reduction systems.

This document represents the consensus of the member organizations of the Offset Quality Initiative: The Climate Trust, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, California Climate Action Registry, Environmental Resources Trust, Greenhouse Gas Management Institute and The Climate Group. The GHG mitigation field is evolving at a rapid pace and will continue to do so over the next several years; this document will be updated over time to reflect any changes in the Offset Quality Initiative’s consensus positions.

The work of the Offset Quality Initiative is generously supported by the Energy Foundation.

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Press Release: New Paper Examines Key Federal and State Roles in U.S. Climate Policy

Press Release
June 27, 2008

Contact: Tom Steinfeldt, (703) 516-4146 

NEW PAPER EXAMINES KEY FEDERAL AND STATE ROLES IN U.S. CLIMATE POLICY
Shared Responsibilities Can Help Meet Climate Challenge

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Of the myriad challenges facing policymakers as they seek to take action on climate change, determining the appropriate respective roles of federal and state governments within comprehensive national legislation is one of the most difficult. In the absence of federal leadership, states are fulfilling their key functions as policy innovators and drivers of new ideas. From their participation in regional greenhouse gas reduction efforts to the implementation of low-carbon energy standards, states are taking action to curb emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

While state action is an important component of climate policy, achieving the significant emissions reductions needed to tackle climate change requires comprehensive national action. A new paper released by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change explores this challenge by examining how to best delineate federal and state government roles in crafting a new national climate change policy.

“Toward a Constructive Dialogue on Federal and State Roles in U.S. Climate Change Policy” delivers critical insights into national climate policy approaches that seek to balance federal and state responsibilities. The paper, authored by Franz T. Litz of the World Resources Institute, explores a range of policy options from heavy reliance on federal action to state-dominated policy prescriptions. While political decisions will greatly influence any eventual national climate plan, this paper explains that a well-designed policy will leverage the strengths of each level of government.   

“In order to reduce emissions cost-effectively and to the levels scientists say are necessary, we need the federal government to step up to the plate at the same time the states are doing their part,” said Eileen Claussen, President of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. “As this paper makes clear, a strong U.S. climate policy will take advantage of the things states do well – such as building efficiency codes and smart growth – and let Washington do things that only Washington can do, such as developing a national cap-and-trade system and negotiating with other countries. There are many ways for states to play a role in the cap-and-trade program, and the national legislation should explicitly address this. I think there is more than enough responsibility and hard work to go around.”

The paper examines shared authority between federal and state governments while providing relevant context for determining appropriate roles. Key sections of the paper include:

  • An historical overview of state and federal actions and shared authority on environmental issues;
  • A summary of federal preemption in the United States;
  • The federal-state partnership under the Clean Air Act; and
  • The benefits and challenges in possible policy approaches.

This paper was first presented in draft form at the Pew Center’s workshop on Innovative Approaches to Climate Change, held in February 2008. The event brought together legislative staff and officials from state and federal governments to share their experience developing climate policies, and to discuss the appropriate roles of each level of government in implementing future national policy. Participants explored how federal policy might be informed by, and interact with, existing state efforts.

For more information about global climate change and the activities of the Pew Center, visit www.c2es.org.

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The Pew Center was established in May 1998 as a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization dedicated to providing credible information, straight answers, and innovative solutions in the effort to address global climate change. The Pew Center is led by Eileen Claussen, the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

Adaptation

The Earth’s climate is rapidly changing. In the United States and other nations, people are seeing how the impacts of rising global temperatures affect their communities, their livelihoods, and the natural environment. Substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions is essential to avoiding the worst impacts of climate change. But mitigation alone is not enough. Even with emission reductions, some warming will still occur. Adaptation planning at the local, state, and national levels can limit the damage caused by climate change, as well as the long-term costs of responding to climate-related impacts that are expected to grow in number and intensity in the decades to come.

To learn more about adaptation, read Climate Change 101: Adaptation and check out the additional resources below. 


U.S. Federal Adaptation Resources:


U.S. States & Regions Adaptation Resources:


Markets & Business Adaptation Resources:


International Adaptation Resources:

Statement: Senate Vote Supporting Mandatory Climate Action

Statement of Eileen Claussen, President
Pew Center on Global Climate Change


June 6, 2008

The vote, while only procedural, shows growing support in the Senate for mandatory climate action and, in particular, GHG cap and trade. Forty-eight Senators voted in favor, including several who had not previously supported climate action. Six more who were absent said they would have voted yes if present ­- including the presumptive Democratic and Republican presidential nominees.

This week's debate showed that the terms of debate have shifted. Apart from a couple of remaining skeptics, there was no challenge to the broad scientific consensus on climate change. The Senate is now debating the best means ­- and the cost ­­- of reducing emissions. These are extraordinarily complex issues and it will take many more hours of debate before Congress works through them. But this is the right debate and it's now well under way.

 

Click here to read our June 6 summary putting the Senate vote in context.

Distribution of Allowances in S. 3036 Boxer-Lieberman-Warner Substitute Amendment

Graphical Illustrations Depicting the Distribution of Allowances in the Bill
June 3, 2008

Click here to view the figures. (pdf)

Daily Updates: Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act

Daily Updates:

June 6, 2008:

This morning, June 6, 2008, for the first time, a majority of the United States Senate signalled its support for mandatory climate action and, in particular, greenhouse gas (GHG) cap-and-trade.

Specifically, the Senate voted on whether to end debate (i.e., to "invoke cloture") on the Boxer substitute to S.3036, the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, a bill that would establish a GHG cap-and-trade program and other measures to reduce U.S. GHG emissions.  Had the motion passed, the Senate would have moved to a post-cloture debate on the bill, followed by a vote on the substitute itself.  The motion received only 48 votes, with 36 voting against, falling short of the 60 votes required to invoke cloture.  In addition to the 48 yes votes, six Senators who were absent – including presumptive presidential nominees McCain (R-AZ) and Obama (D-IL) – entered statements into the record saying they would have voted for cloture had they been present. 

Not every vote for this procedural question can be read as support for the bill itself.  In particular, 10 of the Democrats who voted for cloture shortly afterwards sent a letter to Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) and Sen. Boxer (D-CA) stating their opposition to the bill in its current form and listing the issues that would need to be resolved to win their support.  Nevertheless, it is generally understood that the 54 Senators put themselves on record in support of greenhouse gas cap-and-trade.  Moreover, seven of the Senators who either voted against cloture or remained silent on the vote have either cosponsored or voted for previous GHG cap-and-trade bills. 

Today's vote shows that the next President will come to office with a majority of support in the Senate for GHG cap-and-trade, and very possibly with the 60 votes needed for passage for the right bill.

June 4, 2008:

The Senate debate on the Lieberman-Warner cap-and-trade bill (S.3036) began in earnest yesterday, June 3, 2008. While the process forward is not yet clear, and there were no votes held, Senators rehearsed arguments for and against the bill, and announced their intention to offer several amendments.

The following Senators spoke in favor of the bill: Senators Boxer (D-CA), Lieberman (ID-CT), Warner (R-VA), Casey (D-PA), Dole (R-NC), Feinstein (D-CA), Kerry (D-MA), Sanders (I-VT), Snowe (R-ME). It is worth noting that Sens. Dole and Warner did not vote for the Lieberman-McCain cap-and-trade bill in 2003 and 2005.

The following Senators spoke strongly against the bill: Senators Inhofe (R-OK), Barrasso (R-WY), Corker (R-TN), Craig (R-ID), Domenici (R-NM), Enzi (R-WY), Grassley (R-IA).

Other Senators—Alexander (R-TN), Gregg (R-NH), and Specter (R-PA)—acknowledged the need to take climate action but spoke against the bill in its current form. These senators described changes they would like make to the bill and indicated forthcoming amendments to do so. However, it is not clear whether these Senators would vote for the bill if amended as they desire. It is worth noting that Sen. Gregg voted for the Lieberman-McCain bill in 2003 and 2005.

These Senators discussed the following amendments:


Alexander:

  • Would establish a cap-and-trade system for fossil-fuel-fired power plants only, and a separate low-carbon fuel standard for transportation fuels to take effect in 2023.


Gregg: ­­

  • Would use revenue from allowance auctions to offset taxes, dollar-for-dollar for "working Americans."


Specter:

  • Would replace the GHG reduction targets in S.3036 with the more conservative ranges in his bill (S.1766), which aims for 1990 emission levels in 2030, with further reductions dependent on international action.
  • Would replace S.3036's cost-containment provisions with the safety valve in S.1766, which would effectively establish a ceiling price on emissions allowances.
  • Would replace S.3036's international trade provisions with those from his own bill, which give less discretion over how imports of certain energy-intensive commodities from countries that do not have cap-and-trade systems are treated.

June 3, 2008:

Last night, the Senate began debate on the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2008 (S.3036). This is the first time that greenhouse gas (GHG) cap-and-trade legislation has proceeded through regular order—that is, through the committee process, and potentially to votes on the Senate floor. A previous version of this bill, then designated as S.2191, was passed 11-8 by the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee in December 2007. The legislation currently under debate has been extensively revised from the version of the Act passed by the EPW Committee.

If enacted into law, the bill would establish a market-based GHG cap-and-trade program in the United States, and establish other measures to reduce GHG emissions. Most observers consider it unlikely that the Senate will pass the bill this year. To win final passage, it would not only have to garner a simple majority of 51 votes, but also attract the 60 votes needed to break the threat of a filibuster which would likely follow any motion to report it out of the Senate. Moreover, President Bush has promised to veto S.3036 should it ever reach his desk. Nevertheless, the bill's proponents —led by Senators Boxer (D-CA), Lieberman (ID-CT), Warner (R-VA), and Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV)—are seeking a result that shows the Senate is ready to pass legislation to reduce GHG emissions, even if S.3036 falls short this year. Proponents of the bill will be speaking to two audiences in the coming debate—the public and other Senators—with the goal of convincing them that the costs of the bill will be minimal compared to the benefits of changing the way the United States uses energy, and avoiding the worst consequences of climate change.

Opponents of cap-and-trade, and of GHG emissions mandates—led by Sen. Inhofe (R-OK)—are hoping for an opposite result. They joined proponents in voting Monday night (June 2, 2008) to allow the bill to inch through the Senate process, and then insisted on the 30 hours of debate due to them under Senate rules before amendments to the bill can even be considered. They will use this time to cast climate change legislation in the most unfavorable light possible. Today (Tuesday) will see opponents decrying the bill for its supposed disastrous effects on the economy, and as a measure which is ill-considered in a time of rising gasoline prices and possible recession.

Where the process goes from here is yet unclear. The current version of Lieberman-Warner has been in circulation for just over a week. A number of Senators who support action on climate change are still familiarizing themselves with its provisions and not guaranteed to vote for it. Only after gauging their support will Reid and the other leaders decide their strategy. This will probably be developed sometime today, though may not be made clear to the public before Wednesday or Thursday.

Analysis of the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2008

The Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2008 was debated in the Senate in early June 2008. This page pulls together various resources on the bill, including insights from economic modeling analyses, a bill summary and quick reference guide to the bill, as well a daily update on debate proceedings. Bookmark this page to easily access key material about the Lieberman-Warner bill.

Eileen Claussen shares her thoughts on last week's Senate activity on the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (June 12, 2008)

Quick Reference Guide:

On June 6, 2008, for the first time, a majority of the United States Senate signaled its support for mandatory climate action and, in particular, greenhouse gas (GHG) cap-and-trade.

Specifically, the Senate voted on whether to end debate (i.e., to “invoke cloture”) on the Boxer substitute to S.3036, the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, a bill that would establish a GHG cap-and-trade program and other measures to reduce U.S. GHG emissions. Had the motion passed, the Senate would have moved to a post-cloture debate on the bill, followed by a vote on the substitute itself. The motion received only 48 votes, with 36 voting against, falling short of the 60 votes required to invoke cloture. In addition to the 48 yes votes, six Senators who were absent – including presumptive presidential nominees McCain (R-AZ) and Obama (D-IL) – entered statements into the record saying they would have voted for cloture had they been present.

Not every vote for this procedural question can be read as support for the bill itself. In particular, 9 of the Democrats who voted for cloture shortly afterwards sent a letter to Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) and Sen. Boxer (D-CA) stating their opposition to the bill in its current form and listing the issues that would need to be resolved to win their support. Nevertheless, it is generally understood that the 54 Senators put themselves on record in support of greenhouse gas cap-and-trade. Moreover, seven of the Senators who either voted against cloture or remained silent on the vote have either cosponsored or voted for previous GHG cap-and-trade bills.

Today’s vote shows that the next President will come to office with a majority of support in the Senate for GHG cap-and-trade, and very possibly with the 60 votes needed for passage for the right bill.

Related Resources:

Insights from Modeling Analyses of the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act

May 2008

Models only provide a simplified view of our economy. In the case of the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (S.2191), models can capture many of the key policy elements (e.g., the impacts of targets, timing, and offsets) but cannot incorporate all of them.

This In-Brief examines some of the models that have been used to assess the economic impacts of the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (as reported out of Committee in December 2007) and puts them in context for consumers of this modeling information.

Download the In-Brief (PDF)

Powerpoint Presentations:

In this paper:

 

 

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Press Release: Economic Insights of Lieberman-Warner Bill

Press Release
May 21, 2008
Contact: Tom Steinfeldt, (703) 516-4146
Click here to access the study.       

ECONOMIC INSIGHTS OF THE LIEBERMAN-WARNER CLIMATE SECURITY ACT
Review of Six Economic Modeling Analyses Reveals Important Policy Insights

WASHINGTON, DC -- The Pew Center on Global Climate Change today releases a new study that provides critical insights regarding economic analyses of the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (S. 2191). The study analyzes six major economic modeling exercises conducted to assess costs of this legislation. The Pew Center’s analysis puts the modeling results in context to provide a clear understanding of what models can - and cannot - reveal about the costs of climate policy.
 
The Pew Center examines the following economic modeling analyses of the Lieberman-Warner bill to derive insights about the drivers of key results and to inform effective policies.

  • Energy Information Administration
  • Clean Air Task Force
  • American Council for Capital Formation/National Association of Manufacturers
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • CRA International

Key insights drawn from these modeling analyses and outlined in the Pew Center brief include the following:

  • Availability of advanced, low-carbon technology is crucial to minimizing the costs of achieving greenhouse gas reductions;
  • Flexibility in the timing of greenhouse gas reductions and allowing banking and borrowing of emission allowances lowers costs;
  • The more offsets available, the lower the costs;
  • Energy efficiency provisions reduce costs; and
  • Robust economic growth is still achieved with climate policies in place.

“Stepping back from the details, all of these modeling efforts show the importance of policies that provide flexibility - like banking and offsets - and promote advanced low-carbon technologies and efficiency,” said Pew Center President Eileen Claussen. “This study delivers critical insights and demonstrates that cost-effective approaches to address climate change can be achieved with sensible policies.”

While the models offer valuable insights, they do not tell the complete story. They reveal long-term assumptions are at best only approximations. For example, accurately predicting the availability and cost of technologies 50 years in the future is nearly impossible. The models do not fully represent the Lieberman-Warner bill, often omitting potential cost-savings provisions including certain energy efficiency inducements and the Carbon Market Efficiency Board’s role in regulating allowances. The models also fail to consider the costs of inaction, and any credible analysis finds that unabated climate change will cost far more than reasonable climate policy. 

As a companion to this study, a recent Pew Center paper describes the advantages and limitations of economic models for evaluating policy options. Insights Not Numbers: The Appropriate Use of Economic Models explains that economic modeling cannot predict future events or produce precise projections of the consequences of specific policies. Instead, model results are more appropriately used to provide insights into key economic relationships, to explore the impact of alternative policy designs, and to produce ranges of results based on plausible assumptions and reliable data.

For more information about global climate change and the activities of the Pew Center, visit www.c2es.org.

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The Pew Center was established in May 1998 as a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization dedicated to providing credible information, straight answers, and innovative solutions in the effort to address global climate change. The Pew Center is led by Eileen Claussen, the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

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