greenhouse gas emissions
February 25, 2014
Climate Leadership Award Winners Announced
SAN DIEGO – Fifteen organizations and two individuals are being honored today with Climate Leadership Awards for their accomplishments in driving climate action and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The awards are given by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Center for Corporate Climate Leadership, in collaboration with the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), the Association of Climate Change Officers and The Climate Registry. Awardees will be honored this evening at the Climate Leadership Conference in San Diego.
Awardees came from a wide array of sectors, including finance, manufacturing, retail, technology, higher education and local government. Recipients have demonstrated leadership in managing and reducing emissions in internal operations and the supply chain, as well as integrating climate resilience into their operating strategies.
Information highlighting the award winners is here:
Following is EPA's press release:
EPA Honors Corporate Leadership in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Release Date: 02/25/2014
Contact Information: Carissa Cyran, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-564-4363, 202-564-4355
WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Center for Corporate Climate Leadership announced the third annual Climate Leadership Award winners in partnership with the Association of Climate Change Officers (ACCO), the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) and The Climate Registry (TCR). Nineteen awards were given to 15 organizations and two individuals in the public and private sectors for their leadership in addressing climate change by reducing carbon pollution.
The 2014 Climate Leadership Award recipients are:
Organizational Leadership Award: City of Chula Vista, Sprint, and University of California, Irvine
Individual Leadership Award: Sam Brooks, Associate Director, D.C. Department of General Services, and Robert Taylor, Energy Manager, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission
Supply Chain Leadership Award: Sprint
Excellence in Greenhouse Gas Management (Goal Achievement Award): The Boeing Company; Caesars Entertainment; Cisco Systems, Inc.; Ecolab; The Hartford; IBM; Johnson Controls; Kohl's Department Stores; Mack Trucks; and Novelis
Excellence in Greenhouse Gas Management (Goal Setting Certificate): Fruit of the Loom, Inc.; Hasbro, Inc.; and Kohl's Department Stores
“Our Climate Leadership Award winners have made great strides in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and are providing leadership nationwide in many sectors of our economy,” said Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. "Their innovative approaches and commitment to reducing carbon pollution demonstrate that efforts to address climate change are repaid by saving money and energy, while supporting more livable and resilient communities, and a healthier, better protected environment now and for future generations."
The national awards program recognizes and incentivizes exemplary corporate, organizational, and individual leadership in response to climate change. Award recipients represent a wide array of industries, including finance, manufacturing, retail, technology, higher education and local government.
“The Association of Climate Change Officers is pleased to recognize another exceptional class of organizations and individuals who are demonstrating leadership in driving climate action into their organizational cultures,” said Daniel Kreeger, ACCO’s co-founder and executive director. “These award recipients are demonstrating critical devotion and leadership to managing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the risks and challenges posed by climate change. These recipients are role models for corporate, organizational, and individual leaders who can and should be responding proactively to climate change risks and opportunities.”
“Communities and businesses are already experiencing the impacts of climate change, and we need to act now to protect both our environment and our economy,” said C2ES President Eileen Claussen. “We join EPA in applauding the winners of the Climate Leadership Awards. These companies, organizations, and individuals demonstrate that we can save energy, reduce emissions, and take decisive steps toward a low-carbon future. We hope their accomplishments will serve as an example for others to follow.”
“The Climate Registry applauds this year’s Climate Leadership Award winners for demonstrating a meaningful, results-oriented response to climate change,” said David Rosenheim, executive director of TCR. “Exhibiting transparency, consistent metrics, and innovative mitigation measures, our deserving award recipients are building a stronger platform for policy, innovation, and business solutions to reducing carbon pollution.”
The President’s Climate Action Plan calls on the federal government to work with all stakeholders to take action to cut the harmful carbon pollution that fuels climate change. These organizations and individuals are working to do just that.
The awards are held in conjunction with the 2014 Climate Leadership Conference at the Hyatt Mission Bay Hotel in San Diego, Calif.
More information about the 2014 Climate Leadership Award winners is available at www.epa.gov/climateleadership/awards/2014winners.html
The EPA's Center for Corporate Climate Leadership was launched in 2012 to establish norms of climate leadership by encouraging organizations with emerging climate objectives to identify and achieve cost-effective GHG emission reductions, while helping more advanced organizations drive innovations in reducing their greenhouse gas impacts in their supply chains and beyond. The Center serves as a comprehensive resource to help organizations of all sizes measure and manage GHG emissions, providing technical tools, ground-tested guidance, educational resources, and opportunities for information sharing and peer exchange among organizations interested in reducing the environmental impacts associated with climate change.
More information about EPA’s Center for Corporate Climate Leadership: www.epa.gov/climateleadership
In his June 25, 2013, climate policy speech, President Obama announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would begin developing regulations to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases from existing power plants. These regulations, known as New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), are required by Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act (CAA). (Somewhat confusingly, EPA is required to develop New Source Performance Standards for both new (under Section 111(b)) and existing (under Section 111(d)) power plants. EPA has proposed, but not finalized, regulations for new power plants).
Why is regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants important?
Electric power generation is responsible for about forty percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.
Figure 1: 2012 U.S. CO2 Emissions
Source: Energy Information Administration
Since the federal government adopted new vehicle efficiency standards last summer to address transportation emissions, the power sector represents the greatest opportunity for greenhouse gas reductions.
Figure 2: Electric Power Sector Carbon Dioxide Emissions
Source: Energy Information Administration
Power sector emissions have declined over the past five years in part due to the economic downturn, increased energy efficiency, greater use of renewable energy and a switch from coal, the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel, to natural gas, the least carbon-intensive. In the absence of any policy changes, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that as natural gas prices rise slowly over the next five years, coal use will again begin to increase, leading to higher emissions.
Figure 3: Distribution of Power Plants Across the Contiguous United States
How would this regulation work?
Typically, EPA regulations are set at the federal level and then administered by states. For example, EPA sets a limit on the level of smog in the atmosphere, and states then submit plans for how they will meet that standard. Once approved by EPA, states then administer these plans, known as State Implementation Plans.
As EPA has only adopted regulations using Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act a handful of times, there are not many examples to help predict how EPA is likely to apply it to existing power plants. One thing we do know is that states will play a major role. EPA will set guidelines for states to follow, likely including a "performance standard" in the form of an emissions rate: pounds of greenhouse gas emitted per unit of electricity produced. From here, states will develop the specific regulations that power plants must follow, and will have some degree of flexibility in crafting these regulations based on EPA's guidelines. States may even be able to translate EPA's performance standard into an absolute amount of emissions, and would then be able to meet the required absolute level of emissions as the state sees fit. That is, by multiplying the emissions rate by the amount of electricity produced by power plants in a state, the state will calculate an absolute emissions target in the form of tons of greenhouse gas emitted per year. The state would then have flexibility as to how to achieve this target, without necessarily requiring reductions at every power plant.
How much flexibility will states have to minimize costs?
EPA will likely adopt a "model rule"' that states may choose to follow. But states will likely have considerable flexibility to adopt alternative approaches, if they can demonstrate that they will produce equivalent results.
Among the possibilities:
- States could allow emission credit trading among power plants owned by the same operator. This means that if one power plant reduced its emission rate below the state target, it could trade credits to a power plant that could not meet the target so that the company overall would be in compliance.
- States might also be authorized to allow emissions trading between power companies and even across state lines (such a program would be similar to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative). Averaging or trading across power plants, companies, and states cuts overall compliance costs by taking advantage of the lowest-cost opportunity for emission reductions.
- States might also be able to use energy efficiency or renewable energy for compliance, provided that the total emissions met an EPA-approved target.
- States might be authorized to allow power companies to use alternative compliance payments (ACP) to comply. This would mean that a power company could pay the state a fee, which would then be directed to projects that cut greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere in the power sector, or in another sector entirely, rather than reduce its own emissions to meet the target.
- States could also set a standard that is more stringent than what would be required by EPA's guidelines.
More information on state flexibility can be found in the C2ES brief GHG New Source Performance Standards for the Power Sector: Options for EPA and the States.
What can power plants do to reduce emissions?
An individual power plant can reduce its greenhouse gas emission rate by using fuel more efficiently or by switching to a lower carbon fuel, such as natural gas or biomass instead of coal. However, depending on how the rule is designed, power companies may be able to comply on a company-wide level and/or states may be able to comply on a statewide level. In that case, as long as power companies, or entire states, meet greenhouse gas emission targets broadly, action will not necessarily be required at particular power plants. States could potentially meet their emission targets by increasing their consumption of renewable electricity relative to fossil-generated electricity or improving energy efficiency.
How would existing state policies, such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, be affected?
States will likely have significant flexibility in setting regulations for existing power plants within their borders, provided they follow guidelines set by EPA. If states are given the authority to use market-based mechanisms, the nine Northeastern states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)may be able to demonstrate that their cap-and-trade program for power plants satisfies the required emission reductions, and that further regulation is therefore unnecessary. The situation would be more complicated in the case of California's cap-and-trade program, which regulates emissions from many sources, not just power plants.
How long will it take for EPA to develop the new rules?
EPA has very little experience using this particular subsection of the Clean Air Act, and therefore does not have much in the way of its own precedent to follow. Additionally, EPA has been directed by President Obama to work closely with states, power plant operators, and other stakeholders as it develops its guidelines due to their novelty and far-reaching implications. Administration officials have said they aim to issue a proposed rule by June 2014 and a final rule by June 2015. Based on past practice, states will then have nine months to develop their own plans, and another year to begin enforcing them.
It is important to note that this action is not voluntary on the part of EPA. According to the Supreme Court in Massachusetts v. EPA (a decision that was recently reaffirmed), EPA is legally required to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act just as it has addressed more traditional pollutants for the past 43 years. In 2010, EPA settled a suit with several states and environmental groups by agreeing to finalize greenhouse gas standards for existing power plants by May 26, 2012. The plaintiffs in this case had signaled that they would seek to enforce this court order, but have backed off due to the president's announcement.
Additional C2ES Resources:
With the latest round of international climate change talks underway in Doha this week, it’s a good time to check in on the United States’ pledge, made three years in Copenhagen, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. Are we on track to meet that?
The short answer: Not yet. But projections depend on assumptions, so let’s look at a few recent projections.