Climate Compass Blog

A crucial meeting for the Green Climate Fund

Finance for developing countries is a perennial issue in international climate negotiations. Progress on that front will be critical to a successful outcome in Paris next year, when countries hope to conclude a new global climate agreement.

Many are hoping developed countries will come forward with new financial pledges at a leaders summit being convened this fall by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, providing momentum heading into Paris. Their willingness to do so depends heavily on the outcome of a meeting next week in Songdo, South Korea.

The board of the new Green Climate Fund, which will channel finance from developed to developing nations for mitigation and adaptation, is meeting May 18-21 in hopes of breaking earlier impasses on the fund’s basic operating rules.

What to watch in EPA’s power plant carbon emissions proposal

On June 2, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to release its proposal to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing power plants. This proposal is a key element of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, and will be critical to reducing U.S emissions of CO2, the most common greenhouse gas contributing to climate change.

The proposed rule, being developed under EPA’s authority under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, could be groundbreaking for at least two reasons. First, it has the potential to drive major reductions in the highest emitting sector in the United States – the power sector – which is responsible for nearly 40 percent of U.S. carbon emissions.  Second, EPA has indicated that the proposal will include a number of novel policy provisions to advance low-emitting generation and energy efficiency.

At C2ES, we’ll be looking for answers to four key questions as we read through EPA’s proposal. These questions are expanded upon in our new brief, Carbon Pollution Standards for Existing Power Plants: Key Challenges.

Commuting by bike offers environmental and health benefits

These C2ES staff members often ride bikes to work. Left to Right: Solutions Fellow Patrick Falwell, Senior Fellow Kyle Aarons, Administrative/Accounts Payable Assistant John Marzabadi, VP for Policy and Analysis Jeff Hopkins,  Science and Impacts Program Director Joe Casola. Inset: Solutions Intern Lucas Bifera.

This Friday, the Washington, D.C. area celebrates Bike to Work Day, an annual event that is part of Bike Month.

Most Americans may think of bicycling as a recreational activity best done on the weekends, but many people incorporate cycling into their daily commutes. Statistics from the League of American Bicyclists show that the total number of bicycle trips exploded in recent years, from 1.7 billion in 2001 to more than 4 billion in 2009.

Cycling can play a part in reducing carbon-dioxide emissions. While the average U.S. car emits about a pound of CO2 per mile from burning fuel, bicycling is carbon free. More bicycle commuters also take cars off the road, relieving congestion in traffic-clogged cities.

Support for a spectrum of contributions to the 2015 agreement

A team of international legal scholars recently presented their analysis of the core principles guiding international climate change law. Their findings, particularly on the sensitive issue of equity, should be helpful to negotiators working toward a new global climate agreement next year in Paris.

The analysis by the Committee on the Legal Principles Relating to Climate Change comes as countries gear up for the final 18 months of a four-year round of climate negotiations under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Durban Platform decision that launched the talks in 2011 calls for an agreement that will apply post-2020, have “legal force,” and “be applicable to all Parties.”

That final phrase is an oblique nod to an issue at the core of the climate negotiations from the start – the appropriate distribution of effort among developed and developing countries. While not speaking directly to the Paris talks, the Committee makes a clear case for a more nuanced, evolutionary approach to this thorny issue of “differentiation.”

The UNFCCC speaks to the broad issue of equity primarily through the core principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.”  While the principle has universal support, how it’s applied is a frequent dividing point.

Incentive to capture carbon emissions would spur needed technology

If carbon dioxide were a valuable commodity instead of a waste product, there would be a lot more incentive to capture it.

It turns out some oil producers already find carbon dioxide so useful, they’re willing to pay for it. In fact, they pay upwards of $30 per ton of CO2, which they then inject underground to coax oil from declining wells.

U.S. oil producers have been practicing carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR) for four decades. Historically, they’ve relied mostly on CO2 from naturally occurring underground reservoirs. A better idea is to use man-made carbon emissions that would otherwise go into the atmosphere and contribute to climate change.