International

Climate change is a global challenge and requires a global solution. Through analysis and dialogue, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions is working with governments and stakeholders to identify practical and effective options for the post-2012 international climate framework. Read more

 

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.

Achieving the United States' Intended Nationally Determined Contribution

Achieving the United States' Intended Nationally Determined Contribution

June 2015

Download the fact sheet (PDF)

Nations are working toward a new global climate agreement later this year in Paris. To that end, countries have begun submitting their “intended nationally determine contributions” (INDCs) to the agreement. In its INDC, the United States said it intends to achieve an economy-wide target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels in 2025. Based on available estimates, measures already adopted or proposed will reduce emissions 19.5 to 23 percent below 2005 levels, meaning additional measures will be needed to achieve the 2025 target.

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Legal Issues in the Durban Platform Negotiations

Promoted in Energy Efficiency section: 
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1:15 – 2:45 p.m.Plenary building – Rhine Level, Room Bonn 2

Legal Issues in the Durban Platform Negotiations

C2ES will present a report on legal issues in the 2015 agreement, with responses from negotiators for the European Commission, the Marshall Islands, South Africa and Switzerland. Topics include the legal form of the agreement and the “anchoring” and legal character of NDCs.

June 9, 2015
1:15-2:45 p.m.
Plenary building – Rhine Level, Room Bonn 2

Presentation:
 
Dan Bodansky
Professor
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University
 
Respondents:
 
Jake Werksman
Principal Adviser, DG Climate Action
European Commission

 

Dean Bialek
Advisor
Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Marshall Islands to the United Nations, New York
Marshall Islands

 

Sandea de Wet
Chief State Law Advisor
Department of International Relations and Cooperation, South Africa

 

Franz Perrez
Ambassador
Federal Department of the Environment Transport, Energy and Communications
Switzerland
 
Moderator:

Elliot Diringer
Executive Vice President
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions

Key Resources

The Earth is undoubtedly warming. What’s the cause, what are the impacts, and what can we do about it?

Scientists and analysts at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) review the climate science basics and answer your frequently asked questions.

Below is a list of resources to learn more about the impacts of climate change, what individuals can do to help, and which policies can make a big difference

What are the Impacts of Climate Change?

The Earth is warming and will continue to do so if we keep releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This warming brings an increased risk of more frequent and intense heat waves, higher sea levels, and more severe droughts, wildfires, and downpours. To learn more:

  • Tropical storms and hurricanes. A warmer world and higher sea levels will intensify the impacts of hurricanes. Learn more about the connection between hurricanes and climate change.
  • Drought. Global warming will increase the risk of drought in some regions. Warmer temperatures can increase water demand and evaporation, stressing water supplies. Learn about the links between climate change and drought.
  • Heat waves. As the Earth warms, more areas will be at risk for extreme heat waves. Learn more about the link between climate change and extreme heat, the other risks heat waves can spawn, and what’s being done to adapt.
  • Arctic melting. Warming has increased Arctic temperatures at about twice the global rate, and Arctic sea ice cover has been shrinking much faster than scientists anticipated. Our Arctic Security report explores how this can set the stage for international disputes.
  • Wildfires. The number of large wildfires and the length of the wildfire season have been increasing in recent decades. Find out how climate change will worsen wildfire conditions.
  • Heavy Precipitation. Heavy downpours and other extreme precipitation are becoming more common and are producing more rain or snow. Learn more about the link between heavy precipitation and climate change.

What can you do to help?

C2ES works to help individuals learn how they can save energy at work, school, and home. Learn some of the steps you can take to make an impact:

  • Learn your personal carbon footprint. Your daily energy use has an impact on the environment. Find out how big it is by answering a few questions about where you live and how you use energy at home and on the go. Calculate your carboin footprint now.
  • Save electricity at home. Whether you own your home or rent, there are many ways you can reduce your impact on the planet – and your electricity bills. Learn how you can Make an Impact at home.
  • Be a smarter commuter. Emissions from transportation sources represent more than a quarter of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Small changes can help reduce our collective impact. Learn how you can Make an Impact on the move.
  • Use less water. Sustainable gardening techniques can not only produce thriving yards, but can also reduce your water bills, maintenance time, and keep yard waste out of landfills. Learn how you can Make an Impact in the yard.
  • Be a smarter shopper. Our choices as consumers affect our environment. From buying local produce to using energy-saving light bulbs, each of us has the power to make a difference. Learn how you can Make an Impact at the store.
  • Work sustainably. For many companies, reducing emissions helps both the environment and the bottom line. Learn how you can Make an Impact at work.

What would make a huge difference?

Sensible policies can spur demand for clean energy and technologies and reduce carbon emissions cost-effectively. Learn about some of the options:

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Addressing Adaptation in a 2015 Climate Agreement

Addressing Adaptation in a 2015 Climate Agreement

June 2015

By Irene Suarez, Progresum
and
Jennifer Huang, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions

Download the brief (PDF)

With the adverse effects of climate change becoming more frequent and intense, all countries face increasing climate risks and adaptation needs. The negotiations toward a new climate agreement in 2015 present an unparalleled opportunity to elevate and advance climate adaptation both within countries and under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The 2015 agreement could establish a clearer global vision for adaptation under the Convention; provide a framework for presenting
national adaptation contributions to catalyze adaptation action; streamline and enhance UNFCCC institutions; and mobilize resources to help particularly vulnerable developing countries cope with climate impacts. This brief provides an overview of: 1) UNFCCC provisions and institutional arrangements addressing adaptation, and 2) issues and options in addressing adaptation in the new agreement due at the 21st session of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP 21) in Paris. (Issues and options related directly to the provision of finance for adaptation are beyond the scope of this brief.)

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Key Legal Issues in a 2015 Climate Agreement

Key Legal Issues in a 2015 Climate Agreement

June 2015

By Daniel Bodansky, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University
and
Lavanya Rajamani, Centre for Policy Research

Download the brief (PDF)

In fashioning the new international climate change agreement to be adopted later this year in Paris, parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)1 must address a range of legal issues. This brief outlines some of the key issues and concludes that: The Paris outcome arguably must include a core legal agreement constituting a treaty under international law; the exact title of the core agreement is legally irrelevant; the agreement can contain both binding and non-binding elements;
the legal nature of parties’ nationally determined contributions (NDCs) is independent of where they are housed; and consistency with the UNFCCC does not require that the agreement adopt the same structure.

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Addressing Finance in a 2015 Climate Agreement

Addressing Finance in a 2015 Climate Agreement

June 2015

By Anthony Mansell, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions

Download the brief (PDF)

A central issue in the Paris climate negotiations is how the new global climate agreement to be reached this year can help strengthen climate finance for developing countries. Developed countries have committed under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to help developing countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. The new agreement will build on steps already taken and define an approach to climate finance for the post-2020 period.
This brief provides an overview of: existing finance commitments, institutions and mechanisms under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol; current climate finance flows; potential finance-related objectives in a 2015 climate agreement; and options for addressing finance in the 2015 agreement.

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Differentiation in a 2015 Climate Agreement

Differentiation in a 2015 Climate Agreement

June 2015

By Lavanya Rajamani, Centre for Policy Research

Download the brief (PDF)

A central issue in the ongoing negotiations towards a new international climate change agreement this year in Paris is how the agreement will differentiate obligations among developed and developing countries. Differentiation among parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, based on their “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities,” is a defining feature of the international climate change regime. This policy brief outlines the basis for and forms of differentiation in
the climate regime, and the key areas where differentiation has arisen in the negotiations for a 2015 agreement. The brief then presents a range of design options, drawn from the climate regime as well as other multilateral environmental agreements, for differentiation in the 2015 agreement. It concludes that the most feasible approach is likely to be a hybrid one that tailors the manner of differentiation to the specific elements of the agreement.

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In Brief: Legal Options for U.S. Acceptance of a New Climate Change Agreement

In Brief: Legal Options for U.S. Acceptance of a New Climate Change Agreement

May 2015

By Daniel Bodansky, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University

Download the full report (PDF)

U.S. acceptance of the new climate agreement being negotiated under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) may or may not require legislative approval, depending on its contents. U.S. law recognizes several routes for entering into international legal agreements. The president would be on relatively firm legal ground accepting a new climate agreement with legal force, without submitting it to the Senate or Congress for approval, to the extent it is procedurally oriented, could be implemented on the basis of existing law, and is aimed at implementing or elaborating the UNFCCC. On the other hand, if the new agreement establishes legally binding emissions limits or new legally binding financial commitments, this would weigh in favor of seeking Senate or congressional approval. However, the exact scope of the president’s legal authority to conclude international agreements is uncertain, and the president’s decision will likely rest also on political and prudential considerations.

The brief is based on the report, Legal Options for U.S. Acceptance of a New Climate Change Agreement, which provides a fuller legal analysis.

Daniel Bodansky
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Legal Options for U.S. Acceptance of a New Climate Change Agreement

Legal Options for U.S. Acceptance of a New Climate Change Agreement

May 2015

By Daniel Bodansky, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University

Download the full report (PDF)

The success of ongoing negotiations to establish a new global climate change agreement depends heavily on the agreement’s acceptance by the world’s major economies, including the United States. The new agreement is being negotiated under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a treaty with 195 parties that was ratified by the United States in 1992 with the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate. U.S. acceptance of the new agreement may or may not require legislative approval, depending on its specific contents.

U.S. law recognizes several routes for entering into international agreements. The most commonly known, under Article II of the Constitution, requires advice and consent by two-thirds of the Senate. In practice, however, the United States has accepted the vast majority of the international agreements to which it is a party through other procedures. These include congressional-executive agreements, which are approved by both houses of Congress, and presidential-executive agreements, which are approved solely by the president.

The President would be on relatively firm legal ground accepting a new climate agreement with legal force, without submitting it to the Senate or Congress for approval, to the extent it is procedurally oriented, could be implemented on the basis of existing law, and is aimed at implementing or elaborating the UNFCCC. On the other hand, if the new agreement establishes legally binding emissions limits or new legally binding financial commitments, this would weigh in favor of seeking Senate or congressional approval. However, the exact scope of the President’s legal authority to conclude international agreements is uncertain, and the President’s decision will likely rest also on political and prudential considerations.

Daniel Bodansky
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