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
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.
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.
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.
Contact: Laura Rehrmann, email@example.com, 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.
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.
Contact: Laura Rehrmann, firstname.lastname@example.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.
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.
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
Plenary building – Rhine Level, Room Bonn 2
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University
Principal Adviser, DG Climate Action
Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Marshall Islands to the United Nations, New York
Sandea de Wet
Chief State Law Advisor
Department of International Relations and Cooperation, South Africa
Federal Department of the Environment Transport, Energy and Communications
Executive Vice President
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
The Earth is undoubtedly warming. What’s the cause, what are the impacts, and what can we do about it?
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:
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:
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
By Irene Suarez, Progresum
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.)
Key Legal Issues in a 2015 Climate Agreement
By Daniel Bodansky, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University
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.
Addressing Finance in a 2015 Climate Agreement
By Anthony Mansell, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
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.
Differentiation in a 2015 Climate Agreement
By Lavanya Rajamani, Centre for Policy Research
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.