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


Legal Form of a New Climate Agreement: Avenues and Options

Legal Form of a New Climate Agreement: Avenues and Options

April 2009

Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and parties to its related legal instrument, the Kyoto Protocol, are engaged in dual track negotiations aimed at reaching a new agreement or agreements to address global climate change.

This paper identifies the potential legal avenues for an outcome or outcomes under the Bali Action Plan and the Kyoto Protocol Article 3.9 process.

The Pew Center released Legal Form of a New Climate Agreement: Avenues and Options at a side event held during the April 2009 international climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany.

Paper (pdf)

Presentation (pdf)



Measurement, Reporting, and Verification in a Post-2012 Climate Agreement

New Report Released at Side Event at Bonn Climate Talks
April 2, 2009

The Pew Center released a report outlining options for measurement, reporting, and verification of countries' actions in a post-2012 global climate agreement at a side event held during the international climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany.

Download the report (pdf)


Related Materials


Clean Development Mechanism Background Note

The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) was established in Article 12 of the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It is one of the three "flexibility mechanisms" established by the Kyoto Protocol in an attempt to lower the overall cost of achieving emissions targets by allowing for access to cost-effective opportunities for reducing emissions in other countries. 

This paper provides background information on the Clean Development Mechanism including key statistics related to CDM projects.

Download the full paper (pdf)



Op-Ed: Goals Can Be Met Without Auctioning Emission Allowances

By: Eileen Claussen and Jim Rogers
March 31, 2009

This article originally appeared in the National Journal's Energy & Environment Experts Blog.

Let’s get one thing straight: Though not perfect, we like the way President Obama and his team are addressing the potential catastrophe of climate change.

The Administration unequivocally accepts the underlying science. They realize that the cost of not acting will be far greater than the cost of taking responsible action – and that the longer we wait, the greater the costs will be for American consumers. Their emissions goals are ambitious but achievable, as is the timetable to meet them. And we agree that cap and trade is the right way to go. It’s based on common sense capitalism: it puts a price on carbon and rewards facilities that can reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases at the lowest cost, even as it provides incentives for others to find more economic ways to reduce their own emissions.

Where we temporarily part ways is when it comes to the Administration’s proposal calling for a full auction of emission allowances. How these allowances are distributed doesn’t change the overall environmental goal set by the cap. We believe it is critical that a number of them be used to reduce price impacts on households and businesses – in the early years of the program.  Just this week Chairmen Waxman and Markey released a discussion draft of energy and climate legislation that leaves open how we can best address this critically important issue.

In all states, electricity is distributed by local companies regulated by public service commissions whose fundamental purpose is to protect consumers and keep electricity rates low.  We recommend protecting households and businesses that purchase electricity from utilities by providing allowances to the regulated distribution companies during a transition period.

There is little question that an auction, in which allowances to emit specified amounts of carbon are sold to the highest bidders, will result in a price spike for electricity in some regions. That price spike will hit households and businesses the hardest, and for some, it will be very tough to manage.

We believe we need a climate change plan that protects against price spikes in electricity bills. Our plan would effectively curb carbon, limit the risk of price volatility, target relief to those who need it most, and take advantage of the distribution companies’ and public service commissions’ ability to deliver energy efficiency.

During the transition period from granting allowances to a full auction, there would be no windfall for utility companies or their investors. The legislation itself and actions by public service commissions would guarantee it.  On the flipside, there would not be huge price increases for electricity in coal-fueled states and a much smoother transition to a cleaner economy. If this approach is not taken, the whole argument for climate change legislation could be moot – senators and representatives from those states might effectively kill legislation mandating cap and trade.

Overall, we think a cap-and-trade system that shifts from granting allowances to a full auction over time will provide the most reasonable transition to the low-carbon and thriving economy we all desire.  To help ensure a smooth transition, granting allowances and auction revenues should be used to help cushion workers, households, and vulnerable industries from volatile prices.  It should also support the development of critical low-carbon technologies like carbon capture and storage, and assist in efforts to better adapt to the climate change we are already beginning to experience.

With a price on carbon, energy companies will more rapidly invest in clean technologies, as long as they can be certain that future regulations neither bankrupt them nor mandate that they bet on specific untried technologies. It will also help them look deeper into renewable sources of energy, be they solar, wind, hydropower, or even agricultural waste. They will rethink nuclear power which, despite its scary image, is actually a safe, clean way to generate electricity.

We know that some of those technologies still need the kinks worked out, and that others remain prohibitively expensive. But this is where the government could use some of the revenues that it gets from auctioning allowances to other emitters now, and to utilities and competitively challenged manufacturers down the road.

We’re not ostriches, and we’re not Pollyannas. We know there is a cost to addressing climate change, and that this cost will filter down to big business, to small business, and to households. Utilities that buy carbon allowances or shift to lower-carbon generating options will have to increase their rates, but energy efficiency can lower customer bills even in the face of rate increases. And there will be far less economic upheaval if higher prices come gradually, which our transition program would ensure.

Appeared in the National Journal Energy & Environment Expert Blog— by Eileen Claussen and Jim Rogers

Cap and Trade in Australia: Lessons on the Path to a Low-Carbon Economy

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Cap and Trade in Australia: Lessons on the Path to a Low-Carbon Economy
March 30, 2009, 2 - 3 pm

Capitol Visitors Center, SVC 208-209

Senator Penny Wong, Australia's Minister for Climate Change and Water, discussed Australia's experience in designing a cap-and-trade system and the economic opportunities in working toward a low-carbon economy.  She also gave Australia's perspective on the challenges of forging a new global climate agreement and the key role of the United States in that process.

The Australian government is in the process of establishing a cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 5-15% below 2000 levels by 2020 and 60% by 2050.  Under the system, about 25% of emission allowances will be allocated to energy-intensive trade-exposed industries as transitional assistance pending an international agreement.
Penny Wong was appointed to the Federal Cabinet in the Rudd Labor Government as the Minister for Climate Change and Water in December 2007.  Minister Wong is responsible for Australia's climate change and water policies, including the design and implementation of the Government's cap and trade scheme.

Workshop: Assessing the Benefits of Avoided Climate Change

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Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.
March 16-17, 2009

The U.S. government is considering a range of near-term actions to address the risks of climate change. The Obama administration and key members of Congress intend to make climate legislation a top priority this year. The earliest action, however, may come from federal agencies being pressured by the courts and states to consider limiting CO2 emissions under existing legislative authority. A key element of federal rulemaking is assessing the costs and benefits of proposed policies. While the costs of reducing greenhouse gas emissions have received much attention from analysts and policymakers, far less attention has been directed at quantifying the benefits of such reductions. In spite of remaining uncertainties, the analytical community should offer practical guidance for informing near-term decisions. Drawing from the environmental economics, impacts, vulnerability, and risk assessment communities, this workshop considers what useful insights can be gleaned now about quantifying the benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The workshop’s objectives are to develop a set of practical recommendations that decision makers can employ in the near-term and to outline a research path to improve decision making tools over time.

PDF version of Agenda

List of Participants 

Speaker Bios


Symposium – Assessing the benefits of avoided climate change in government decision making

Opening Remarks
Eileen Claussen, President, Pew Center on Global Climate Change
Video:  WMV     PDF

Keynote Address
Dina Kruger, Director, Climate Change Division, Office of Air and Radiation, U.S. EPA

Panel 1: Perspectives on Government Decision Making for Climate Change
Moderator: Steve Seidel, Vice President for Policy Analysis, Pew Center

  • Martha Roberts, EDF: Incorporating the benefits of climate protection into federal rulemaking
    Video:  WMV     Slides
  • Christopher Pyke, CTG Energetics: A proposal to consider global warming under NEPA
    Video:  WMV     Slides
  • James Lester/Joel Smith, Stratus Consulting: Case studies on government decisions to limit greenhouse gas emissions – California, Australia, United Kingdom
    Video:  WMV     Slides     Paper
  • Paul Watkiss, Paul Watkiss Associates: Social cost of carbon estimates and their use in UK policy
    Video:  WMV     Slides

Panel 2: Challenges to Quantifying Damages from Climate Change
Moderator: Jeremy Richardson, Senior Fellow for Science Policy, Pew Center

  • Mike MacCracken, Climate Institute: Overview of challenges to quantifying impacts
    Video:  WMV     Slides     Paper
  • Kristie Ebi, ESS, LLC: Social vulnerability and risk
    Video:  WMV     Slides     Paper
  • Tony Janetos, Joint Global Change Research Institute: Ecosystems and species
    Video:  WMV     Slides
  • Jon O’Riordan, University of British Columbia: Valuation of natural capital
    Video:  WMV     Slides

Lunch Speaker

Gary Yohe, Wesleyan University: The long view: developing a new decision making framework based on the IPCC’s ‘iterative risk management’ paradigm
Video:  WMV     Slides     Paper


Panel 3: The Role of Uncertainty in Assessing the Benefits of Climate Policy
Moderator: Jay Gulledge, Senior Scientist/Science & Impacts Program Manager, Pew Center

  • Brian O’Neill, NCAR: Uncertainty and learning – implications for climate policy
    Video:  WMV     Slides
  • Joel Smith, Stratus Consulting: Dangerous climate change: an update of the IPCC reasons for concern
    Video:  WMV     Slides
  • Michael Mastrandrea, Stanford University: Assessing damages with integrated assessment models
    Video:  WMV     Slides     Paper
  • Chris Hope, University of Cambridge: Social cost of carbon and optimal timing of emissions reductions under uncertainty
    Video:  WMV     Slides     Paper


Panel 4: Advances in the Economic Analysis of the Benefits of Climate Policy
Moderator: Liwayway Adkins, Senior Fellow, Economics, Pew Center

  • Steve Rose, EPRI: Federal decision making on the uncertain impacts of climate change: Working with What You Have
    Video:  WMV     Slides     Paper
  • Richard Howarth, E3 Network: The need for a fresh approach to climate change economics
    Video:  WMV     Slides     Paper
  • David Anthoff, ESRI: National decision making on climate change and international equity weights
    Video:  WMV     Slides
  • Steve Newbold, U.S. EPA: Climate response uncertainty and the expected benefits of GHG emissions reductions
    Video:  WMV     Slides     Paper


Click here for more information about the workshop, including expert reports and proceedings.

Ministerial Briefing on European Climate Action

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Ministerial Briefing on European Climate Action
Senate Dirksen Building, Room 562
March 17, 2009, 12 - 1:30 pm

Video Available  Watch a video of this event:  Windows Media Player

As Washington debates new efforts to address climate change, many are looking to the experiences of the European Union for lessons to inform U.S. policymaking.  In this high-level briefing, three EU Ministers outline the bloc's climate and energy policies, including recent revisions to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, and offer insights on the EU's experiences to date.

The New EU Energy and Climate Package
Martin Bursik
Minister for the Environment, Czech Republic (holds current EU Presidency)

Emissions Trading at the Heart of Effective Climate Policy
Stavros Dimas
EU Commissioner for the Environment

Climate Change as an Opportunity
Andreas Carlgren
Minister for the Environment, Sweden (to hold next EU Presidency)

Chaired by
Eileen Claussen
President, Pew Center on Global Climate Change



Read the Pew Center's summary: Emissions Trading in the European Union: A Brief History

European Union

European Union and Climate Change
The European Community and the EU member states are parties to the UN Framework Convention and the Kyoto Protocol. The 15 EU member states at the time of Kyoto’s negotiation agreed individually and collectively to reduce emissions 8 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-2012. The EU established the world’s most ambitious and far-reaching example of a GHG emissions trading system (ETS). The EU-ETS currently limits CO2 emissions from approximately 12,000 facilities in the 28 EU Member States. An initial “learning phase” (Phase I) ran from 2005 to 2007; a second phase coincided with the Kyoto Protocol compliance period (2008-2012); and the third phase entered force in 2013 to run until 2020.

In November 2014, the EU agreed to a greenhouse gas reduction commitment of 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 across its member states. In addition, there are goals on the share of renewable energy and energy efficiency savings of 27 percent. The emission reduction commitment was submitted as the EU’s nationally determined contribution to a Paris agreement to be finalized in December 2015.

C2ES Resources

Additional Resources


Forum on International Climate Action

Promoted in Energy Efficiency section: 

Forum on International Climate Action
March 16, 2009, 10 a.m.

Video AvailableWatch a video of this event:  Windows Media Player

Capitol Visitor Center
East Front of U.S. Capitol (First Street and East Capitol Street, NE)
Room SVC 201/200
Click here for map.

As Washington policymakers debate new efforts to address global climate change, this forum is an opportunity to hear from officials of Japan, China, Mexico and the European Commission on their domestic climate programs and on key issues in the international negotiations later this year in Copenhagen.

Keynote Address
Hon. Eileen Claussen 
President, Pew Center on Global Climate Change


Presentations by:
Ambassador Shinsuke Sugiyama
Director-General for Global Issues, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Download Presentation
Li Gao
Director, Department of Climate Change, National Development and Reform Commission
People's Republic of China
Download Presentation
Carlos Muñoz
Director General for International Cooperation, Semarnat

Artur Runge-Metzger
Head of Unit, Climate Change Strategy and International Negotiation
European Commission
Elliot Diringer
Vice President, International Strategies
Pew Center on Global Climate Change

Op-Ed: Roadmap for a U.S.-China Partnership on Climate Change

By Eileen Claussen
March 6, 2009

This article originally appeared in The Huffington Post.

The U.S. and Chinese governments must start right now to build a stronger partnership on energy and climate change. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to China in February provided a welcome opportunity for the two nations to engage on a range of issues that are of strategic importance.  Climate change and energy security were top agenda items for the Secretary’s discussions, and here’s a vote for keeping them there.

Both issues are of deep concern to the United States and China – climate change because of the grave economic and environmental risks it poses to the two nations and the world; and energy because of the consequences of our nations’ soaring use of fossil fuels both for the climate and for national and global security. As countries prepare for major climate talks in Copenhagen in December, it’s critical that the United States and China send clear signals of each country’s willingness to take significant climate actions suitable to their respective responsibilities.

A recently released report from the Pew Center on Global Climate Change and the Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations recommends immediate action to create a new, groundbreaking collaboration with China to address the urgent issue of climate change.  While some might argue that a decisive response to climate change is impossible in the midst of the current global economic crisis, our report counters that economics favor action, not delay. 

Smart investments in alternative energy and other technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can provide immediate economic stimulus in both the United States and China, while also laying the foundation for a new low-carbon economy that will pay dividends for decades to come.  Delaying these investments, on the other hand, will drive up the costs of getting emissions under control and will expose the world’s two largest economies to ever-greater risks from the impacts of climate change.

Of course, any partnership between the United States and China on these issues must be built on a shared understanding of the two nations’ respective responsibilities and capacities.  As the world’s largest economy and its largest historic greenhouse gas emitter, the United States must move quickly to reduce its emissions through mandatory national legislation.  China’s cumulative and per capita emissions are much lower than the United States’, and development remains an overriding national priority.  But China, too, must deliver an ambitious and effective national effort.

The Pew Center-Asia Society report includes recommendations developed from input from 50 of the world’s leading scientists, China experts, and political and business leaders.  The report recommends that the leaders of the United States and China convene a summit as soon as possible to launch a new U.S.-China Partnership on Energy and Climate Change.  The partnership should focus on five priorities. 

First, the United States and China need to work together to develop and deploy new technologies to reduce emissions from the combustion of coal.  Continuing to rely heavily on coal for electricity, as both countries are likely to do, is going to require large-scale investment in the demonstration and deployment of new technologies to capture and sequester the resulting carbon emissions.  The United States and China must coordinate efforts on a series of commercial-scale demonstration projects for these technologies, while also working with the private sector to increase the efficiency of existing coal-burning power plants.

A second priority for collaboration between the two nations is improving energy efficiency and conservation.  Both the United States and China have significant potential to pursue low-cost – and in some cases, no-cost – actions to conserve energy and improve efficiency.  Key recommendations here are to share best practices and policy experience at the national and state levels; to work with the private sector to encourage efficiency improvements throughout the supply chain; and to lead an effort to forge an agreement among major auto-producing countries promoting a new generation of high-efficiency vehicles.

Third, China and the United States need to work together to bring our electricity systems into the 21st century through smart-grid technologies.  Both countries have huge untapped potential for wind and solar power.  An advanced, efficient electric power grid is crucial to ensuring that these renewable energy sources are brought on line.

As a fourth priority, the two countries need to take other steps to promote renewable energy.  Wind, solar and other renewables are the key to a clean, domestic, diversified energy supply for both the United States and China.  Key recommendations here are joint research and development initiatives focused on solar, storage and biofuels technologies.

And fifth, the Pew Center-Asia Society report identifies two cross-cutting issues as especially ripe for U.S.-China collaboration.  One is improving our ability to measure, monitor and verify emissions and emission reductions.  The other is overcoming barriers to the freer flow of technology, including finance, tariffs, and intellectual property concerns.

Fear of competitive harm has for too long stood as an obstacle to strong climate action by the United States and China.  If fashioned carefully, however, closer collaboration can enhance the economic prospects of both nations while giving neither an unfair competitive advantage. 

A new partnership between the United States and China also can lay the groundwork for a strong multilateral climate agreement that engages all nations in the work of protecting the global climate. There is no good reason to delay, and every good reason to get started. 

- Eileen Claussen is President of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

Appeared in The Huffington Post— by Eileen Claussen
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