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Companies pledge climate action

Thirteen companies took a public stand for climate action at the White House today, pledging to reduce heat-trapping emissions, increase clean energy investments, improve efficiency, and support efforts to reach a global climate agreement this year in Paris.

Three companies making pledges – Alcoa, Bank of America, and General Motors – are members of the C2ES Business Environmental Leadership Council, a group of mostly Fortune 500 companies, representing a combined $2.3 trillion in revenue, that support climate policy solutions that will move us toward a low-carbon future.

These business leaders – and many more – recognize the reality of climate change and the necessity to act.

For instance, HP recently announced that it will power 100 percent of its Texas-based data centers with renewable energy, thanks to a 12-year agreement to buy power from a 112 MW wind farm in Texas, in partnership with SunEdison.

Dow has reduced 320 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from its operations compared to 1990 levels, and announced that by 2020, its trajectory for absolute emissions from operations and purchased power will meet internationally recognized targets for a 2 degree Celcius maximum global temperature rise.

A wide array of industries, including construction, finance, defense, transportation, retail, energy and technology, as well as local government and higher education, have been honored with Climate Leadership Awards. The program sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency with C2ES and The Climate Registry recognizes outstanding voluntary actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience to climate change. Among the recipients earlier this year were Bank of America, The Clorox Company, General Motors, The Hartford, SC Johnson, Tiffany & Co. and UPS.

Why are all of these businesses in action? Because they get it.

They see climate risks firsthand -- in damaged facilities, interrupted power and water supplies, disrupted supply and distribution chains, and impacts on their employees’ lives.

Last year was the warmest on Earth since we started keeping records over a century ago. During the first half of this year, it got even hotter. Climate change is posing real and rising risks to our environment, economy, security and society and the longer we wait to act, the costlier the impacts will be.

Today’s announcements represent at least $140 billion in new low-carbon investment and more than 1,600 megawatts of new renewable energy, in addition to ambitious, company-specific goals to cut emissions.

Alcoa, which already had committed to reducing its greenhouse gas intensity 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, announced a pledge to up that to 50 percent by 2025.

Bank of America pledged to increase its current environmental business initiative from $50 billion to $125 billion by 2025.

And General Motors pledged to reduce energy intensity at its facilities 20 percent and water intensity 15 percent by 2020 from a 2010 baseline, in addition to increasing its use of renewable energy and reducing the waste it sends to landfills.

Although businesses – along with many cities and states -- are working toward a more sustainable future, it will take a global effort to address a global threat. That’s why it is significant that these 13 companies today also announced their support for a strong outcome to the international climate talks in December in Paris.

Many nations, including the United States, China, and the European Union, have already announced their goals for reducing greenhouse gases as part of the Paris process. But the strength of any agreement will rest on the parties’ political will to implement it.

The strong support of business leaders for climate action, like that exhibited today, can only help to strengthen that will.

Bob Perciasepe's Statement on Business Act on Climate Pledge

Statement of Bob Perciasepe
President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions

July 27, 2015

On the White House announcement of business leaders committing to climate action and supporting efforts to reach a global climate agreement in December in Paris.

We applaud the companies that have come forward to pledge action to reduce heat-trapping emissions, increase clean energy investments, improve efficiency, and support efforts to reach a global climate agreement this year in Paris.

Climate change is posing rising environmental, social, economic, and security risks. Delayed action only means greater costs.

Business leaders get it. They see climate risks firsthand -- in damaged facilities, interrupted power and water supplies, disrupted supply and distribution chains, and impacts on their employees’ lives.

And the business community will be essential to mobilizing the technology, investment and innovation needed to transition to a low-carbon economy.      

Several of the companies making pledges today – Alcoa, Bank of America, and General Motors – are members of the C2ES Business Environmental Leadership Council that is committed to climate action.

Although businesses, cities, states and nations are working toward a more sustainable future, it will take a global effort to address a global threat. Paris is our best opportunity to get all the major economies on board a lasting agreement that strengthens the global effort and works to strengthen it over time.

Many nations, including the United States, China, and the European Union, have already announced their goals for reducing greenhouse gases. But the strength of any agreement will rest on the parties’ political will to implement it.

The strong support of business leaders for climate action, like that exhibited today, can only help to strengthen that will.

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To talk to a C2ES expert about business engagement on climate change, contact: Laura Rehrmann, rehrmannl@c2es.org or 703-516-0621

About C2ES: The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization promoting strong policy and action to address our climate and energy challenges. Learn more at www.c2es.org.

Comparison of INDCs

Comparison table of INDCs to the new climate agreement to be concluded in December 2015 in Paris (as of July 21, 2015)

Country

Base Level

Reduction Target

Target Year

Sectors and Gases

Use of international markets?

Land-use inclusion/accounting method:

Switzerland

1990 emissions

35 percent

50 percent

2025

2030

CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs, SF6, NF3

Energy; industrial processes and product use; agriculture; land-use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF); waste

Yes, including CDM

Kyoto accounting methodology will be used.

EU

1990 emissions

40 percent

2030

CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs, SF6, NF3

Energy; industrial processes and product use; agriculture; LULUCF; waste

No

Policy on land-use accounting to be decided prior to 2020

Norway

1990 emissions

At least 40 percent

2030

CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs, SF6, NF3

Energy; industrial processes and product use; agriculture; LULUCF; waste

No, if collective agreement with the EU is in place.

Yes, if Norway fulfils commitment individually

Dependent on EU decision on land-use. If implemented individually, will include land-use

Mexico

Business as Usual (BAU)

25 percent

40 percent (conditional)

2030

CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs, SF6, Black Carbon.

Energy; industrial processes and product use; agriculture; LULUCF; waste

Conditional target contingent on fully functional bilateral, regional and international market mechanisms

Land-use included; accounting methodology not specified

United States

2005 emissions

26-28 percent

2025

CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs, SF6, NF3

All of the IPCC Sectors ( Energy; industrial processes and product use; agriculture; LULUCF; waste)

No

Yes, using a “net-net” approach

Gabon

BAU

50 percent

2030

CO2, CH4, N2O (HFC, PFC, SF6 and NF3 are covered later)

All sectors excluding forest biomass

No

Land sector and biomass excluded

Russia

1990 emissions

25-30 percent

2030

CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs, SF6, NF3

Energy; industrial processes and product use; agriculture; LULUCF; waste

No

Target depends on the “maximum absorption capacity of forests.” – implies it will be included.

Liechtenstein

1990 emissions

40 percent

2030

CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs, SF6, NF3

Energy, Industrial Processes, Solvent Use, Agriculture, LULUCF and Waste.

Yes

Methodological approach uses standard methods under IPCC guidelines adopted by UNFCCC.

Andorra

BAU

37 percent

2030

CO2, CH4, N2O, SF6

Energy and Waste

No

Land-sector excluded

Canada

2005 emissions

30 percent

2030

CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs, SF6, NF3

All of the IPCC Sectors ( Energy; industrial processes and product use; agriculture; LULUCF; waste)

Yes

Yes, using a net-net approach; use a “production approach” to account for harvested wood products; exclude emissions from natural disturbances

Morocco

BAU

13 percent

32 percent (Conditional)

2030

Carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O)

Energy, Industrial, Agriculture, LULUCF and Waste

Does not exclude possibility of using market mechanisms to meet its INDC

Land-use included; accounting methodology not specified

Ethiopia

BAU

64 percent

2030

Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4) and Nitrous Oxide (N2O)

Agriculture (livestock and soil), Forestry, Transport, Electric Power, Industry (including mining) and Buildings (including Waste and Green Cities)

Yes, as a seller of international credits

Land-use included; accounting methodology not specified

Serbia

1990

9.8 percent

2030

CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs, SF6

“In accordance with IPCC 2006 guidelines and 2013 KP supplement”

Not specified

Not specified

Iceland

1990

40 percent

2030

CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs, SF6, NF3

Energy; Industrial processes and product use; Agriculture; Waste; Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry

Will be included in the EU ETS, but reductions will be primarily domestic.

Not specified

China

 

 

2005

Emissions peaking

 

60-65 percent (carbon intensity)

2030 (or before)

 

2030

Not Specified

Not Specified

Target to increase forest stock volume by around 4.5 billion cubic meters on the 2005 level; accounting methodology not specified.

Korea

BAU

37 percent

2030

CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs, SF6,

Energy, industrial processes and product use, agriculture and waste

Will use market mechanisms partly, in accordance with relevant rules and standards.

A decision will be made at a later stage on whether to include greenhouse gas emissions and sinks of the land sector as well as the method for doing so.

Singapore

 

2005

 

Emissions Peaking

36 percent (emissions intensity)

 

2030

CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs, SF6,

Energy, Industrial Processes and Product Use, Agriculture, Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry, Waste

Intends to achieve INDC through domestic efforts, but will continue to study the potential of international market mechanisms.

Singapore has begun monitor and report carbon storage and carbon fluxes related to land use change and forestry.

New Zealand

2005

30 percent

2030

CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs, SF6, NF3

Energy, Industrial processes and product use, Agriculture, Forestry and other land use, Waste

Unrestricted access to global carbon markets that enable trading and use of a wide variety of units that meet reasonable standards and guidelines

Land-use included, Accounting will be land or activity-based.

Japan

2005

2013

25.4 percent

26 percent

2030

CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs, SF6, NF3

Energy, Industrial Processes and Product Use, Agriculture, Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry, Waste

The amount of emission reductions and removals acquired by Japan under the Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM) will be appropriately counted as Japan’s reduction.

Removals by LULUCF sector are accounted in line with approaches equivalent to those under the Kyoto Protocol.

Marshall Islands

2010

32 percent

45 percent (indicative)

2025

2030

CO2, CH4, N2O

Energy, Waste

No

Land-sector excluded (emissions negligible)

Kenya

2010

BAU

2030

CO2, CH4, N2O

Energy, Transportation, Industrial Processes, Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU), Waste

Kenya does not rule out the use of international market-based mechanisms in line with agreed accounting rules.

A global land-use data approach was used, as described in the 2003 IPCC Good Practice Guidance for LULUCF.

 

Elements emerging for an effective Paris climate agreement

Press release
July 15, 2015
Contact: Laura Rehrmann, rehrmannl@c2es.org, 703-516-0621
 

Report outlines emerging elements of climate agreement
Year-long dialogue of senior negotiators produces 'Vision for Paris'

 

The emerging elements of a Paris agreement are outlined in a new report based on in-depth discussions among senior climate negotiators from leading countries. The report foresees a durable legal agreement that sets binding commitments for all parties, holds countries accountable, and works to progressively strengthen global ambition.

Vision for Paris: Building an Effective Climate Agreement was prepared by Valli Moosa of South Africa and Harald Dovland of Norway, co-chairs of a year-long dialogue among negotiators from China, the United States and 20 other European, Asian, Latin American and African countries. The Toward 2015 dialogue was organized by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES).

Drawing on nearly 100 hours of discussions among the negotiators, who participated in the dialogue in their personal capacities, the report outlines the co-chairs’ vision of the new agreement under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be reached this December in Paris.

“Our discussions were frank, substantive, and productive. We saw strong convergence on many of the key issues for Paris,” said Mr. Moosa, former environment minister of South Africa. “This was a rare opportunity for genuine dialogue and the spirit throughout was very constructive.”

“Certainly there are tough negotiations ahead, but the broad outlines of a deal are becoming clear,” said Mr. Dovland, former lead climate negotiator for Norway and co-chair of several UNFCCC negotiating bodies. “We’re encouraged because behind the scenes we see a real desire to find common ground.”

The co-chairs’ report foresees a “hybrid” agreement in Paris that combines top-down and bottom-up elements to achieve both broad participation and strong ambition. It says the Paris outcome should:

  • Reaffirm the goal of limiting global average temperature increase to below 2 °C, and acknowledge that this requires the progressive decarbonization of the global economy. 
  • Include a core legal agreement with binding commitments by all parties to submit and maintain nationally determined contributions (NDCs), report on implementation of their NDCs, and be held accountable. 
  • Reflect differentiation not on the basis of explicit categories of countries, but by respecting parties’ varied starting points, and committing all parties to put forward their best efforts, and strengthen them over time.
  • Require periodic updating of NDCs (e.g., every 5 years), with parties expected to progress in the type, scope and/or scale of their efforts, in line with their circumstances.
  • Establish a common transparency and accountability framework, with flexibility for varying national capacities.
  • Establish a stronger vision for adaptation under the UNFCCC; commit all parties to implement and report on national adaptation efforts; and establish a process to periodically assess adaptation progress and priorities.
  • Set a collective aim of mobilizing finance and investment; commit all parties to invest their own resources domestically and provide enabling environments for investment; enable enlargement of the circle of contributors; and establish a process to regularly track flows and assess needs. 
  • Recognize commitments and actions by non-state actors – including subnational governments, businesses, international institutions and civil society organizations – in support of countries’ nationally determined contributions.

The Toward 2015 dialogue included participants from Australia, Brazil, China, the European Commission, France, Gambia, Germany, Grenada, Japan, Mali, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, Venezuela, and the Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean (AILAC).  The list of participants is available at http://www.c2es.org/international/toward-2015.

Mr. Moosa, South Africa’s environment minister from 1999 to 2004, was a leader of the African National Congress and supported President Mandela in negotiating the transition from apartheid to democracy. He serves as chairman of WWF (South Africa), chairman of Anglo American Platinum, and a director of Lereko Investments, Sun International, Sanlam and Imperial Holdings.

Mr. Dovland previously served as co-chair of the UNFCCC Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform, and chair of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Kyoto Protocol. He retired from the Norwegian Ministry for the Environment in 2011 and is currently Climate Policy Director for the consulting firm Carbon Limits.

The dialogue was directed by C2ES Executive Vice President Elliot Diringer and received financial support from the governments of Australia, Germany, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland.

Read the report

More about the Toward 2015 Dialogue and its participants.

About C2ES
The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization promoting strong policy and action to address our climate and energy challenges. Learn more at www.c2es.org.

Countries should assess climate risk the way they assess other security risks

National security leaders deal with deep uncertainty on a daily basis about everything from North Korea’s ability to produce a nuclear weapon to the location and timing of the next terrorist attack by non-state actors such as ISIS and al-Qaida. Security decision-makers don’t use uncertainty as an excuse to ignore security threats.

Borrowing a page from security analysts, a new report out today by renowned climate experts and high-level government advisors from China, India, the United Kingdom and the United States assesses the risks of climate change in the context of national and international security.

China’s provinces learn how to reduce emissions with trading

As many U.S. states start to think about ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the proposed Clean Power Plan, it’s eye-opening to see how Chinese provinces are taking many of the same first steps.

I recently joined state officials from Arizona and Michigan and a Georgetown University professor on a study tour of China’s climate policy and low-carbon technology use at the provincial level. In each city we visited -- Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu in Sichuan province, and Changsha in Hunan province -- our meetings with government officials, academics, and nongovernmental organizations had a common theme: Environmental issues are a serious challenge for China and greenhouse gases should be addressed along with other types of pollution.

It was very encouraging to hear national, provincial, and municipal leaders all agree that something has to be done to reduce China’s emissions. But they also agreed the country faces significant challenges in reaching its goal of peaking emissions no later than 2030.

How Canada and the U.S. can lead together on climate change

June 27, 2015
The (Toronto) Globe and Mail
Op-Ed by Janet Peace

With fossil fuel production going strong on both sides of the border, Canada and the United States face similar challenges in balancing energy and economic priorities with the urgent need to reduce climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions.

By sharing solutions, many of which are rising up from the state and provincial level, both countries have the opportunity to not only craft a national approach, but also show real leadership as we work toward a new global climate agreement later this year in Paris.

At one time, governments in both countries sought to contain greenhouse gas emissions by enacting economy-wide cap-and-trade programs. But neither materialized, and the national targets the two have announced ahead of Paris rely heavily on subnational policies.

While U.S. emissions generally have been trending downward, as lower-priced natural gas has displaced coal in power production, steeper reductions require mandatory limits on power plant emissions, as President Barack Obama’s administration has proposed. But implementation of the administration’s Clean Power Plan will fall largely to the states.

In Canada, meanwhile, emissions are rising and oil sands-related emissions could double over the next decade if development continues at projected rates. Similarly, getting a handle on Canadian emissions will be largely a provincial matter – resting heavily, in this case, with the new Alberta government.

One of the great virtues of promoting climate action at the subnational level is that it allows for policy experimentation and innovation. Both countries should draw on these lessons as they move toward economy-wide approaches that can achieve greater emission reductions at lower cost. And they should work to better align their respective efforts.

Here are some specific ideas:

First, as more states and provinces turn to carbon pricing to curb emissions, we should forge stronger links among those systems. Ten U.S. states have carbon trading programs. Others may soon follow suit as they look for promising paths to meet their Clean Power Plan emissions reduction targets.

Quebec’s cap-and-trade program is already linked with California’s, and Ontario will soon join them. British Columbia has a carbon tax and Alberta just announced it is extending its carbon-intensity-based pricing system. By setting a clear timeline for a gradual price rice, Alberta is signalling that the value of taking action will increase over time.

Second, the two countries should co-operate on reducing emissions from growing oil and natural gas production. Mr. Obama’s administration is expected to propose a mix of regulatory and voluntary strategies to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. It’s essential that the United States and Canada set the right example for other major energy producers around the world.

Third, both should strengthen and more closely co-ordinate efforts to develop and deploy carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies. Even with dramatic increases in renewable power, the world will continue to rely on coal and natural gas to generate electricity, making CCS key to any plausible strategy to reduce global emissions.

Canada has established itself as a leader with the world’s first commercial-scale, coal-fired power plant with CCS – Boundary Dam in Saskatchewan. The United States is working on its first CCS power plant in Kemper County, Miss. But the first two examples of any new technology are going to be expensive, and we’ll need greater support for CCS to build more commercial scale projects and drive costs down. Alberta has been a strong supporter of CCS. Now is the time to continue and even step up that investment.

Fourth, Canada’s abundant hydro resources can be a boon for both countries. The U.S. and Canadian electricity grids are linked through dozens of connections and more than a dozen states already import a significant amount of Canadian hydro. A recent C2ES study found that importing hydro from even a modestly sized new Canadian project (250 megawatts) could help states reduce power sector emissions. For example, California, Massachusetts and Washington state could each get about a third of the way toward their proposed Clean Power Plan targets.

Canada and the United States are blessed with abundant resources and vibrant economies. Both have the opportunity to show global leadership in dramatically reducing the emissions that are warming our planet and risking our environment and our economies. With the right mix of national and subnational policies, and by working together, the two countries can enjoy strong, sustainable growth while fulfilling the commitments they make in Paris.

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Janet Peace is senior vice-president of policy and business strategy at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES). She is also a member of the Council of Canadian Academies on oil sands environmental technologies.

Read the original article on the Globe and Mail website.

Bob Perciasepe's statement on China's Intended Nationally Determined Contribution

Statement of Bob Perciasepe
President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions


June 30, 2015

On China’s announcement of its goals to limit greenhouse gas emissions as part of an international climate agreement:


China now joins the United States, Europe and others with a credible, ambitious commitment to tackle climate change. This is a clear sign that we’re moving past the old developed-developing country divide to a new understanding that all major economies have to contribute their fair share to the global effort.

China understands both the risks and the opportunities posed by climate change and is placing its bets on a low-carbon future. Its intended contribution represents a significant undertaking beyond business-as-usual and will help slow the rise in global greenhouse gas emissions.

It’s encouraging to see so many of the major players coming forward already with their contributions to the Paris agreement. The announced targets are important indicators of countries’ intentions. But the numbers will be much more meaningful attached to an agreement that holds countries accountable for their promises. That’s what Paris must deliver.

The United States and China can no longer use inaction by the other as an excuse for ignoring the risks we all face from climate change. Both countries are acting. Working together they can help lead countries to common ground in Paris.

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Contact: Laura Rehrmann, rehrmannl@c2es.org, or 703-516-0621

About C2ES: The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization promoting strong policy and action to address the challenges of energy and climate change. Learn more at www.c2es.org.
 

Bob Perciasepe's statement on Pope Francis' encyclical on climate change

Statement of Bob Perciasepe
President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions

June 18, 2015

On Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change:

Pope Francis brings a clear and powerful moral voice to a debate too often clouded by competing ideologies.

Speaking not only to 1 billion Catholic faithful but to our collective conscience, he helps us understand our responsibility to the planet and to one another.

The pope makes an impassioned case for urgent climate action based on both fact and moral imperative. There is no denying that market forces have contributed to climate change. At the same time, thoughtfully designed carbon pricing policies can drive down emissions while also tending to our other social responsibilities.

Lending his voice at a critical moment, as countries come forward with their contributions to a new global climate agreement, Pope Francis makes plain the stakes and the urgency. His voice will hopefully stir our conscience and strengthen common ground for climate action.

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Contact: Laura Rehrmann, rehrmannl@c2es.org or 703-516-0621

About C2ES: The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in Arlington, Va., promoting strong policy and action to address the challenges of energy and climate change. Learn more at www.c2es.org.

Pope Francis highlights the moral imperative of climate action

Photo Courtesy  Xiquinho Silva, via Flkickr

St. Peter's Square

Pope Francis brings a clear and powerful moral voice to a climate change debate too often clouded by competing ideologies. He reminds us of our responsibilities to the planet and to one another, and makes plain the stakes and the urgency of stronger action.

Pope Francis’ encyclical, a top-level teaching document to more than 1 billion Roman Catholics worldwide, builds on a foundation of accepted science that tells us the Earth is warming and that human activity is the primary cause.

But he is speaking to all of us, not only the Catholic faithful, about our core values – especially our duty to care for the Earth and all those who live on it.

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