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

 

The Case for Action: Creating a Clean Energy Future

Download the report (pdf)

 

The Case for Action: Creating a Clean Energy Future
May 2010

The United States needs strong action now to reduce the risks of climate change, strengthen our energy independence, protect our national security, and create new jobs and economic opportunities. The Pew Center on Global Climate Change believes that the case for action has never been stronger. With a strong energy and climate policy the United States can lead the 21st century clean energy economy.

0

Designing a Deal

Click here to download the article (PDF).

May 2010

By Elliot Diringer

This article originally appeared in Carbon Finance.

 

The aftermath of December’s Copenhagen talks shows that a new approach to international climate policy is needed to reach a post-2012 climate deal, says Elliot Diringer.

The popular view around the world is that the Copenhagen climate conference last December was a failure. In truth, it was a victim of false expectations. From the very start of the negotiations in Bali in 2007, there was little reason to believe that Copenhagen could deliver a binding climate agreement. Yet that was the expectation governments set, and maintained, through round after round of fruitless negotiations. When in the end a non-binding Copenhagen Accord materialized in place of a treaty, the common perception, unsurprisingly, was one of failure.

One obvious lesson is that expectations matter. Less obvious, but far more critical, are the lessons for next steps in the international climate effort.

Copenhagen calls for a new vision of the way forward. While a binding treaty should indeed be the goal – it is essential we keep that in sight – it is time to rethink when and how we get there. More frenzied high-level summitry is not likely to be the route. Rather, an ambitious and binding framework for global climate action will have to be built over time. No treaty is likely this year, or perhaps next year, either. How much longer it will take is impossible to say.

While a binding treaty should indeed be the goal – it is essential we keep that in sight – it is time to rethink when and how we get there. Probably the most practical course for now is to put aside more intractable issues such as burden-sharing and focus instead on the nuts and bolts. The Copenhagen Accord lays out the bare essentials of a post-2012 framework. The goal for talks in Cancún later this year should be a package of decisions that begins fleshing out this architecture, particularly in the areas of transparency and support for developing countries.

Even incremental progress is by no means assured, however, owing in part to the peculiar origins and status of the Copenhagen Accord, and the political and procedural complications left in its wake.

On one hand, the accord represents the most substantial climate consensus among the largest group of world leaders since the signing of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992. This consensus includes: a goal of limiting warming to 2°C; a balanced but differentiated approach to mitigation, with economy-wide emissions targets for developed countries and nationally appropriate mitigation actions for developing countries; agreement in principle on how these efforts are to be verified; new mechanisms to support mitigation and adaptation in developing countries; and clear goals for climate finance out to 2020.

But, on the other hand, having surfaced at the eleventh hour from behind closed doors, the accord was promptly rejected by a handful of countries as a backroom deal by a powerful few. They succeeded in blocking the accord’s formal adoption, leaving it a purely political outcome with no formal standing in the UN process. The emergence of this small but vocal bloc has injected a fractious new dynamic into the negotiations.

In the first negotiating session since Copenhagen, in Bonn in April, parties managed a procedural compromise indirectly acknowledging the accord as one basis for drawing up a new negotiating text. The next session, in June, may reveal more about what that means substantively – and what could be in store for Cancún.

For concrete decisions to be feasible in Cancún, they must reflect progress across a range of issues balancing both developed and developing country needs. In Copenhagen, parties appeared closest to agreement on adaptation, technology, and forestry. The accord touches on these only lightly. But decisions in these areas will likely be possible only with further progress on the core issues of transparency and finance, two areas where the accord has more to say.

On transparency, the accord calls for developing countries to report on their mitigation actions every two years, followed by “international consultations and analysis”. In Cancún, parties must at least make a start on the guidelines needed to operationalize these, and on parallel processes to verify support from developed countries.

On finance, the $30 billion in prompt-start funding promised in the accord can and should begin flowing this year through established channels. But further decisions are required on the structure of the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund, and on the broader arrangements that will be needed to achieve the accord’s goal of $100 billion a year in public and private resources by 2020.

A central issue for Cancún is not simply whether operational progress on these fronts is possible – a challenge in itself – but whether all parties would deem it sufficient. Some will also want to address more difficult political questions, including the adequacy of the 2020 actions pledged thus far and the fate of the Kyoto Protocol. Insisting on decisions on these in Cancún, however, could mean no outcome at all.

An incremental approach may seem a paltry response to a desperate challenge growing only more urgent. What is urgent, however, is the need for action. And, for the time being, we have no binding treaty to deliver it. Too many countries – not only the US – are not ready to sign on. The immediate drivers for action – and for the carbon market – must be domestic.

At the international level, we must look for practical outcomes that, step by step, erect a functioning multilateral framework. As the post-2012 regime takes shape, and parties begin working within it, they will grow more comfortable and confident. As they move forward with domestic actions, their confidence will grow – confidence in their ability to confront the challenge at home, and confidence that others are acting, too. In time, this will hopefully translate into a willingness to assume more ambitious – and binding – commitments.

A new binding treaty is not, in this vision, an essential foundation for near-term action. Rather, it will be the culmination of this next critical stage in an evolving international effort. Modest successes, each contributing to the next, will likely get us there sooner than grand but false expectations. That, hopefully, is the message we take from Copenhagen.

Elliot Diringer is Vice President for International Strategies at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

by Elliot Diringer, Vice President for International Strategies-- Appeared in Carbon Finance, May 2010
Elliot Diringer
0

Targets and Actions under the Copenhagen Accord

Promoted in Energy Efficiency section: 
0

Targets and Actions under the Copenhagen Accord

The Copenhagen Accord, a political agreement struck by world leaders at the 2009 U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, calls on participating countries to pledge specific actions they will undertake to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.  This represents the first time ever that all of the world’s major economies have offered explicit international climate pledges.

In the case of Annex I (developed) countries, the nonbinding Accord calls for quantified economy-wide emission targets for 2020.  In the case of non-Annex I (developing) countries, it calls for “nationally appropriate mitigation actions,” but does not specify what form they should take.  (Least developed and small island countries “may undertake actions voluntarily and on the basis of support.”)   

As of May 24, 2010, 99 parties (counting the 27 member states of the European Union as a single party) had filed submissions with the U.N. climate change secretariat :

  • 16 Annex I countries submitted 2020 emissions targets ;
  • 37 non-Annex I countries submitted mitigation actions; and 
  • 46 other non-Annex I countries associated with the accord.

The following is a summary of information submitted to date. Please check back regularly for updated information or visit the UN Climate Change Convention website.

Click here for a full summary of targets and actions under the Copenhagen Accord (pdf).

Click here for a side-by-side comparison of main provisions of the Copenhagen Accord, the draft core decision texts carried forward from Copenhagen in the UNFCCC Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA), and the text prepared by the AWG-LCA Chair in May 2010 to facilitate further negotiations.

 

Mitigation Pledges Under the Copenhagen Accord

In the Copenhagen Accord, countries agree that “deep cuts in global emissions are required… so as to hold the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius…”  To date, nearly 50 parties (counting the European Union as a single party) have submitted specific mitigation pledges under the Accord. Several analyses (summarized here) have assessed whether these pledges are consistent with the goal of limiting global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius.

Our review of these analyses finds that:

  • Most show the pledges are inadequate to achieve a 2-degree goal, and instead imply a global emissions pathway leading to 3 to 3.9 degrees of warming.
  • Collectively, the pledges would reduce global emissions between 4 percent and16 percent below business as usual (BAU) in 2020.  (All projections of the pledges’ impact on emissions show ranges of reductions because many of the pledges specify ranges, with the more ambitious end of the range applying if stipulated conditions are met. ) A 2-degree pathway requires reductions of 21 percent to 26 percent below BAU. 
  • Pledges by developed countries would reduce their emissions 10 percent to 13 percent below BAU in 2020, and pledges by developing countries would reduce their emissions 6 percent to 9 percent below BAU.

Click here for more analysis of how countries' pledges may affect global temperature increases.

 

Further Resources

Our Policy Viewpoints and Statements:

 More COP15 resources available here.

Adding up the Numbers: Mitigation Pledges under the Copenhagen Accord

Promoted in Energy Efficiency section: 
0

March 2010

DOWNLOAD FULL ANALYSIS (pdf)

In the Copenhagen Accord, countries agree that “deep cuts in global emissions are required… so as to hold the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius…”  To date, nearly 50 parties (counting the European Union as a single party) have submitted specific mitigation pledges under the Accord. Several analyses (summarized here) have assessed whether these pledges are consistent with the goal of limiting global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius.

Our review of these analyses finds that:

  • Most show the pledges are inadequate to achieve a 2-degree goal, and instead imply a global emissions pathway leading to 3 to 3.9 degrees of warming.
  • Collectively, the pledges would reduce global emissions between 4 percent and16 percent below business as usual (BAU) in 2020.  (All projections of the pledges’ impact on emissions show ranges of reductions because many of the pledges specify ranges, with the more ambitious end of the range applying if stipulated conditions are met. ) A 2-degree pathway requires reductions of 21 percent to 26 percent below BAU. 
  • Pledges by developed countries would reduce their emissions 10 percent to 13 percent below BAU in 2020, and pledges by developing countries would reduce their emissions 6 percent to 9 percent below BAU.

 

Key findings of the individual analyses can be found here.

Click here for more information about the Copenhagen Accord.

 

Coal Initiative Series: Coal in China: Resources, Uses, and Advanced Coal Technologies

 

Coal Initiative Series White Paper:

Coal in China: Resources, Uses, and Advanced Coal Technologies

Download the full white paper (pdf).

Prepared for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change
March 2010

By:
Guodong Sun, Energy Technology Innovation Policy Group, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

 

China’s energy-development pathway has increasingly become a topic of international attention, particularly as China has become the largest national source of annual greenhouse gas emissions. At the forefront of this pathway is a reliance on coal that has spanned many decades. In a world faced with increasing environmental pressures, China must develop ways to utilize coal more efficiently and more cleanly. Its ability to do so will be crucial for its domestic energy security, for its local environment and the well-being of its population, and for the future of the global climate.

Guodong Sun
0

Yvo de Boer Announces Resignation

If there was going to be a fall guy for the chaos that was Copenhagen, Yvo de Boer was the natural choice.

As the executive secretary of the U.N. climate secretariat – one whose own profile has risen along with that of the climate issue – Yvo is closely associated in many minds with the perceived failure of Copenhagen. With parties’ confidence in him at an all-time low, it was no surprise that he announced today he would be departing July 1.

Copenhagen Accord: Act II

The fuller significance of the Copenhagen Accord became a little clearer this week – and a little murkier too.

The nonbinding deal struck six weeks ago by a couple dozen world leaders left open two immediate questions: exactly which countries would be signing on to it, and just what targets or actions they would be promising.  The parties gave themselves until January 31 to fill in those blanks.

Our Year in Review

Domestically and internationally, climate action in 2009 laid critical groundwork for potential breakthroughs in Congress and global negotiations in 2010. Yet with an issue as complex and political as climate change, turning groundwork into policy is a challenge.  2010 will undoubtedly be a pivotal year for climate change – but first it is instructive to take a look back at what happened in 2009 and how that shaped where we are today.

We captured these highlights in our annual Year-in-Review Newsletter – a useful compilation of 2009’s big climate change stories and related insights. The year’s major domestic action included passage of the landmark House climate and clean energy bill along with numerous Obama administration efforts to improve our climate and economy. These accomplishments included the stimulus bill’s $80 billion in clean energy-related funding and EPA actions, including the endangerment finding, the greenhouse gas reporting rule, and stricter auto-efficiency standards.

Copenhagen consumed international climate attention in 2009, culminating in the pre-dawn hours of December 19 when final touches were put on an accord directly brokered by President Obama and a handful of key developing country leaders. While many questions remain after Copenhagen, our summary of the conference provides a sound starting point for grasping what transpired at the year’s largest climate event.

The lead-up to 2009’s main events required a great deal of work, and some of the year’s highlights include the detailed Blueprint for Climate Action released one year ago this month by the influential business-NGO coalition U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP). More industry leaders also showed support for mandatory climate action by joining our Business Environmental Leadership Council (BELC). And efforts to reach business communities, employees, and families expanded through the Make An Impact program. In partnerships with aluminum manufacturer Alcoa and utility Entergy, we continue to provide individuals with strategies to save energy and money while protecting the environment. 

We continued to educate policy makers and opinion leaders, producing reports, analyses, and fact sheets on topics ranging from clean-energy technologies, climate science, competitiveness, and adaptation. Featuring expert insights and thoughtful opinions, we informed broad audiences about the immediate need for climate action. And our timely, relevant work moves forward in 2010 as we seek progress in addressing the most important global issue of our time.

Tom Steinfeldt is Communications Manager

Comparison of Actual and Projected Fuel Economy for New Passenger Vehicles

Source: An, F., and A. Sauer. 2004. Comparison of Passenger Vehicle Fuel Economy and GHG Emission Standards Around the World. Pew Center on Global Climate Change, Washington, DC; Updated data obtained from “Global passenger vehicle standards,” The International Council for Clean Transportation, Retrieved from here, June 2014.

In the United States and worldwide, vehicle standards have been the main mechanism for improving vehicle efficiency and reducing emissions of conventional air pollution and greenhouse gases from the transportation sector. Increasing vehicle fuel-economy standards have had the effect of lowering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from what they otherwise would have been, because GHG emissions are closely related to fuel use.

Vehicle fuel economy standards can be expressed in miles per gallon (mpg) or kilometers per liter (km/l). Vehicle fuel economy can be improved by increasing energy efficiency of the drivetrain (engine and transmission) and by decreasing the amount of energy needed to move the vehicle (through reducing weight, aerodynamic drag, and rolling resistance). Countries with fuel economy standards include Australia, Canada, China, Japan, South Korea, and the United States.

Some vehicle GHG emission standards limit the tailpipe emissions from a vehicle, as well as from air conditioning, and are typically expressed as grams of CO2-equivalent per kilometer (gCO2e/km) while other standards only include CO2 in the measurement. The European Union uses a standard in gCO2/km while the United States uses a gCO2e/mi standard alongside the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program.

This graph is an update of our 2004  report that takes into account the new U.S. vehicle fuel economy standards (see here for more information). For this graph, the CO2 per kilometer standard in the EU and the other standards that are not measured in fleet average miles per gallon are converted to CAFE-equivalent miles per gallon values in order to establish an equivalent comparison.  This conversion and adjustments are not straightforward since the form of the standards varies from country to country.  For example, different countries cover different segments of the vehicle fleets, and use different procedures for determining compliance.  For a description of the methodology for comparing the standards on a common basis, see here.

 

 

0

Sum and Substance of Copenhagen

By Namrata Patodia
December 24, 2009

This article first appeared in Nature India.

 

As the Copenhagen Climate Conference drew to a close this past weekend, many debate the success of the talks. It is important at this juncture to step back and take stock of the expectations leading up to Copenhagen and what the conference delivered.

Copenhagen Accord
After a week and a half of bickering over negotiating texts and repeating hard-line positions, parties finally agreed to a deal in the late hours of the conference’s last day. The main deliverable of the conference was the “Copenhagen Accord,” a deal directly brokered by U.S. President Barack Obama with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Premier Wen Jiabao of China, President Luiz Inacio Lula of Brazil and President Jacob Zuma of South Africa. While initially the deal was struck among these countries, it garnered the support of another 28 countries including the African Union and Alliance of Small Island developing States (the number of countries supporting the accord is not confirmed since countries can sign up on an ongoing basis). The official U.N. Conference Of Parties (COP) only “took note of” the accord by consensus, a fairly luke-warm response, which took an entire additional day to achieve.

The Copenhagen Accord, while a step forward, falls short in some fundamental ways. It remains a non-binding deal with no clear goal towards achieving a legally binding outcome in the near future. It was also unable to deliver on a long-term global goal of a 50 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

As a starting point the accord lays the foundation for all the key elements of the Bali Action Plan – shared vision, mitigation, adaptation, finance, and technology.

Most importantly, it calls for mitigation actions from all major economies, and for the first time, major developing economies including India. Developed countries (or Annex I parties) must commit to absolute emission reduction targets while major developing countries (or Non Annex I parties) must take mitigation actions. To ensure transparency of actions, the accord calls for measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) of actions by both developed and developing countries. In the case of the former, MRV will be conducted based on existing guidelines and those that are adopted by the COP. For developing countries, actions that receive international support will be MRV’d according to international guidelines. Unilateral domestic actions undertaken by developing countries will be domestically MRV’d with provisions for “international consultation and analysis under clearly defined guidelines.”

Financing for developing countries, which many called the key to breaking the deadlock in these negotiations, is also addressed in the accord. It calls for both near-term and long-term finance for developing countries. It establishes a prompt-start fund of 30 billion USD from 2010-2012 to assist developing countries for mitigation and adaptation actions. On long-term finance, developed countries are to help mobilize 100 billion USD by 2020 for developing countries.

Parties have also agreed to a long-term temperature goal -- “the increase in global temperature should be below 2 degrees Celsius” taking into account equity and sustainable development. Finally, the accord establishes a technology mechanism and a mechanism for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation and conservation of forest sinks (REDD plus) and calls for an assessment by 2015 including consideration of the strengthening of a long-term goal in relation to a temperature rise of 1.5 degree Celsius.

To ensure that we have a truly global response to climate change and one that prevents catastrophic climate change, it is critical that parties build on the foundation of the accord and lay the groundwork for a legally binding treaty.

Namrata Patodia is an International Fellow at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

By Namrata Patodia— Appeared in Nature India, December 24, 2009.
Namrata Patodia
0
Syndicate content