Business

Bob Perciasepe on the Clean Power Plan repeal

Statement of Bob Perciasepe
President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions

October 10, 2017

On the repeal of the Clean Power Plan:

The Clean Power Plan provided a clear and achievable path for reducing U.S. carbon emissions, and abandoning it means huge new uncertainties for the power sector. Although market and technology forces thankfully continue to drive down emissions, power companies are telling the EPA they need a sensible replacement. The Administration’s apparent intent to develop a new plan is a welcome acknowledgement that climate change is real and that it has a legal obligation to address it. But, the EPA needs to move quickly and offer more than the bare minimum.

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To reach a C2ES expert, contact Alec Gerlach at press@c2es.org.

About C2ES: The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to forge practical solutions to climate change. Our mission is to advance strong policy and action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote clean energy, and strengthen resilience to climate impacts. Learn more at www.c2es.org.

From SunShot to a Carbon Capture Moonshot


C2ES President Bob Perciasepe speaks at a discussion higlighting the successes of carbon capture technology with Al Collins, Senior Director of Regulatory Affairs, Occidental Petroleum Corporation; David Greeson, Vice President of Development, NRG Energy; and Christopher Romans, Senior Manager for Government Relations, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America.

Last month, the Department of Energy announced the solar industry met an ambitious goal to make the solar electricity market competitive, a feat achieved three years ahead of schedule. The SunShot initiative, as it was called, is a great example of what that can be achieved with the help of federal and state policies that promote private sector investment. Now it’s time to apply that formula and commitment to other clean-energy technologies, including carbon capture, use and storage.

The Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory concluded that the country has already reached the SunShot initiative’s 2020 price goals of $1 per watt and less than six cents per kilowatt-hour for utility-scale solar energy. This is an impressive display of policy solutions in action, current International Trade Commission dispute notwithstanding.

This was achieved with the help of federal investments in research, development, demonstration and deployment (RDD&D), as well as a federal investment tax credit and a federal loan guarantee to support project financing. Meanwhile, strong state policies like the California Renewables Portfolio Standard supported deployment by enabling developers to enter into above-market power purchase agreements.

Carbon capture, like solar and other low-carbon technologies, will be essential to meeting our long-term emissions reduction goals. This versatile technology can be applied to coal and gas-fired power plants, as well as steel, cement, and fertilizer production plants and refineries.

2017 has already been a banner year for carbon capture. NRG Energy’s Petra Nova project came online as America’s first commercial-scale coal-fired power plant retrofitted with carbon capture and the largest of its kind in the world, and the ADM Illinois Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage project opened as the world’s first commercial-scale ethanol plant retrofitted with carbon capture. Even with these successes, more national investment in RDD&D and support for private sector commercialization is needed. The International Energy Agency warns that carbon capture technology is not on track to meet long-term emissions reduction goals necessary to stave off the worst effects of climate change .

To highlight current successes and the potential of next-generation technology, C2ES organized a policy briefing featuring U.S. Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). As proof that bipartisan progress on energy policy is possible, the four in July introduced the FUTURE Act, which would extend and expand the Section 45Q tax credit for carbon capture. The Senate bill has 25 sponsors. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) also introduced legislation on 45Q in the House, and it also has substantial bipartisan support from 38 sponsors.

Speakers at the C2ES event highlighted the need for federal policy leadership to expand corporate investment in carbon capture technology and bring next-generation technologies to market. Carbon capture technology also needs overlapping incentives like federal tax credits, loan guarantees, and state portfolio standards that worked to help bring down the cost of solar energy.

Two days before the C2ES event, a hearing before Sen. Barrasso’s Environment and Public Works Committee highlighted opportunities to invest in pipelines for manmade carbon dioxide, to spur regional investment in carbon capture.

Carbon capture would also benefit from the use of Private Activity Bonds, often used for infrastructure projects like airports and water sewer projects. To this end, in April 2017, Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) introduced the Carbon Capture Improvement Act, and Reps. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) and Marc Veasey (D-Texas) introduced a companion bill in the House.

Congress can also support carbon capture through the appropriations process, particularly through continued support for carbon capture RDD&D. For FY 2018, the House of Representatives appropriated $668 million for the Office of Fossil Energy, and it would be beneficial for the final appropriation to be close to this level. Support for large-scale transformational pilot projects (such as in the House’s FY 2017 Omnibus Appropriations bill) and using the loan guarantee program for carbon capture projects would also be helpful.

Looking ahead, DOE should develop a strategy and long-term roadmap—a “Carbon Capture Moonshot.” Building on the success of the SunShot initiative and the Petra Nova and ADM project milestones of 2017, it is the right time to invest in carbon capture to increase lower carbon energy production, reduce emissions, and grow our economy, while keeping and creating jobs in the process.

 

Corporate Climate Risk Reporting Likely to Improve Under Business-Led Task Force Recommendations

Press Release
September 28, 2017
Contact: Alec Gerlach, gerlacha@c2es.org, 703-516-0621

 

Corporate Climate Risk Reporting Likely to Improve Under Business-Led Task Force Recommendations

WASHINGTON – A brief released today by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) concluded that recommendations offered by a task force of industry peers constitute an important first step to improve consistency and depth in corporate reporting on climate change. The new brief examines the opportunities and challenges related to corporate reporting on climate change and reviews recommendations from the Financial Stability Board Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.

“In the absence of climate action at the federal level, business-led efforts to promote transparency on climate change are an encouraging example of leadership,” said C2ES President Bob Perciasepe. “Companies are responding to demands from shareholders, employees, and customers to manage climate risks and take advantage of opportunities that develop as our economy adapts to the changing climate. This will be a process – a case of ‘learning by doing’ – which improves in transparency and consistency over time.”

Among the brief’s key findings:

  • The task force’s recommendations strike a balance between the need for greater transparency for stakeholders and investors and the need for companies to have flexibility in how they report on these issues. The final recommendations provide an initial template for aligning climate reporting that will inform existing reporting frameworks.
  • Even in the absence of action by U.S. regulators, companies are likely to expand and enhance their climate-related disclosures. There are many reasons for this including investor interest, action by state regulators, and European policy.
  • Greater transparency will have several benefits. These include the development of better corporate governance practices and improved internal communication, proactively addressing investors’ concerns which may reduce company costs related to information requests and shareholder proposals, and a smoother transition to a lower-carbon economy.
  • More work will be needed to help companies implement the recommendations. This is particularly true regarding tools like scenario analysis. There is an important opportunity for companies, investors, and other stakeholders to work together to identify a consistent framework for scenario analysis and to highlight best practices.

The brief finds that companies often already carry out such analysis or reporting. For example, Dow Chemical Company shared in their 2016 sustainability report a detailed matrix outlining climate risks and opportunities, including potential financial impacts on revenues, expenditures, assets and liabilities, and access to capital. And, BHP conducted a detailed scenario analysis that reviews potential impacts from various levels of global response to climate change. More in-depth and consistent reporting like these examples would provide valuable context for investors and other stakeholders.

While many companies across a variety of sectors recognize and disclose their climate risks and opportunities, improvements can be made to make reporting more consistent in financial disclosures and other platforms. Some investors and stakeholders have called for increased disclosure of material information in financial filings and others are focused on the opportunity to improve the quality and consistency of voluntary reporting. The key will be to improve consistency and expand the number of companies reporting.

Read the brief, Beyond the Horizon: Corporate Reporting on Climate Change, at: LINK

The brief’s author Fatima Maria Ahmad will lead an online discussion at on October 2, 2017 with top officials from JPMorgan Chase & Co., Dow Chemical Company, and others about the challenges and opportunities related to corporate reporting on climate change. Media wishing to join the webinar can register here.

Event: Beyond the Horizon: Corporate Reporting on Climate Change
Date: Monday, October 2, 2017, 12 noon - 1:30 p.m. ET
Location: Free online webinar. More info at here.
Speakers:

  • Matt Arnold, JPMorgan Chase & Co. Managing Director and Global Head of Sustainable Finance
  • Dr. Neil Hawkins, The Dow Chemical Company Chief Sustainability Officer and Corporate Vice President for Environment, Health & Safety
  • Fatima Maria Ahmad, Solutions Fellow, C2ES

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About C2ES: The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to forge practical solutions to climate change. Our mission is to advance strong policy and action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote clean energy, and strengthen resilience to climate impacts. Learn more at www.c2es.org

Climate Leadership Conference and Awards

The Climate Leadership Conference and Awards are an annual celebration of corporate, organizational, and individual leadership in response to climate change.

Climate Leadership Conference

The Climate Leadership Conference (CLC) brings together influential climate, energy, and sustainability professionals to exchange new ideas and best practices for addressing climate change through policy, innovation, and business solutions.

The seventh annual conference will be in Denver, February 28-March 2.

The conference convenes around the prestigious Climate Leadership Awards, and is presented by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) and The Climate Registry.

Climate Leadership Awards

The Climate Leadership Awards are the culmination of a national awards program that recognizes and incentivizes exemplary corporate, organizational, and individual leadership in response to climate change.

By showcasing and recognizing voluntary action on climate and energy, co-sponsors C2ES and TCR are sending a strong signal that innovative and sustainable leadership in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing resilience are critical to addressing climate change.

Since 2012, more than 115 recipients have been recognized for leadership in addressing climate change by reducing carbon emissions in their internal operations and throughout the supply chain, and implementing adaptation planning initiatives.

The Climate Leadership Awards Dinner takes place during the annual Climate Leadership Conference.

Other Resources

Climate Leadership Awards

Climate Leadership Conference

Follow @TheCLC2018 for conference updates on Twitte

Beyond the Horizon: Corporate Reporting on Climate Change

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Free Webinar:

Beyond the Horizon:
Corporate Reporting on Climate Change

Monday, Oct. 2, 2017

Noon - 1:30 pm

 

 

Increasingly, companies are taking a closer look at how they describe climate risks and opportunities to their investors and other stakeholders. This summer, the Financial Stability Board Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures provided recommendations to improve the quality and consistency of this reporting. C2ES invites you to a public webinar to discuss corporate climate reporting. The webinar will discuss opportunities and challenges drawn from a new C2ES report "Beyond the Horizon: Corporate Reporting on Climate Change."

Speakers

Dr. Neil Hawkins
Chief Sustainability Officer and Corporate Vice President for Environment, Health & Safety
The Dow Chemical Company  

Dr. Neil C. Hawkins serves as the Chief Sustainability Officer and Corporate Vice President for Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S) for The Dow Chemical Company, where he is in his 29th year of service. Hawkins is a global leader in sustainable business practices, EH&S management, and public policy platforms for global sustainable development. Dr. Hawkins led Dow’s 2025 Sustainability Goals development, which aim to help chart a new course for business in global sustainable development. He holds doctoral and master’s degrees from the Harvard University School of Public Health, as well as an undergraduate degree from Georgia Tech.

Matt Arnold
Managing Director and Global
 Head of Sustainable Finance
JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Matt Arnold is Managing Director and Global Head of Sustainable Finance at JPMorgan Chase. He leads the firm’s client engagement on sustainability across all sectors globally. JPMorgan Chase helps clients navigate environmental and social risks, engages stakeholders and partners in advancing environmental and social progress, and structures targeted impact investment funds. Mr. Arnold was a Principal and leader of Sustainable Business Solutions at PwC and a founder of Sustainable Finance Ltd, acquired by PwC in December 2008. He holds an AB degree in Psychobiology from Harvard College, an MA in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins University.

Fatima Maria Ahmad
Solutions Fellow

C2ES

Fatima Maria Ahmad is a Solutions Fellow at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) where she focuses on financing opportunities and policy development for energy technologies, including carbon capture, use, and storage (CCUS). In a volunteer capacity, Ms. Ahmad is the Co-Chair of the American Bar Association Section of International Law International Environmental Law Committee and is the Women’s Council on Energy & the Environment Vice-Chair for Membership.

 

Watch video of the webinar

Survey finds cities are pushing ahead with climate change efforts

For Immediate Release
Monday, September 18, 2017

Contacts:
Alec Gerlach, 703-516-0621, press@c2es.org
Sara Durr, 202-215-1811, sara@durrcommunications.com    

Cities Push Ahead with Climate Change Efforts

Nationwide Survey Finds Many U.S. Cities Leveraging Purchasing Power, Business Relationships to Drive Climate and Energy Solutions

NEW YORK, NY – As weather patterns continue to grow more erratic and powerful, as seen with Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and the recent wildfires in Los Angeles, mayors across the country are taking action to address these real climate change threats by committing to reduce carbon emissions. A nationwide survey released today by the U.S. Conference of Mayors(USCM) and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) as part of their partnership—the Alliance for a Sustainable Future—found that nearly two-thirds of the responding cities are procuring green vehicles, purchasing renewable electricity and requiring efficient government buildings. The Alliance also released today a case study of six cities, which provides a more detailed description that illustrates the breadth of carbon reduction programs.

The survey demonstrates that cities are pushing ahead with their efforts to implement climate programs to expedite carbon reduction initiatives to meet aggressive goals, and that they are eager to partner with business and other communities to do it. Eighty-five percent of cities are interested in or already partnering with the business community to advance climate solutions in the areas of electricity, buildings, and transportation.

But the survey also shows that there is much work to be done and the potential for growth in these programs is significant.

The survey included the responses of 102 cities from 35 states.  They represent a broad geography and range in size from 21,000 (Pleasantville, NJ) to 8.5 million (New York City).  Together, the cities surveyed represent nearly 42 million Americans.

Key findings include:

  • 64 percent of cities responding reported that they were generating or purchasing renewable electricity to power city buildings or other city operations. Additionally, 16 percent of cities source more than 40 percent of their electricity from renewables.
  • Of 99 cities responding, 63 indicated they already purchase green vehicles for their fleet and an additional 23 cities are actively exploring the possibility. And, 63 percent of cities offer public charging for electric vehicles.
  • 69 percent of responding cities purchase hybrid passenger vehicles; 51 percent purchase electric passenger cars; and another 51 percent purchase natural gas heavy duty vehicles.
  • Cities are taking action to promote energy efficient municipal buildings. 67 percent of cities responding have efficiency policies in place for new buildings, while 64 percent have policies in place for existing buildings. And, more than two-thirds of cities are employing energy audits to track consumption.
  • The purchasing power of responding cities alone is significant as they spend more than $1.4 billion on total electricity and procure more than 11,500 total vehicles every year—showing that they have the potential to leverage changes in the marketplace.  

The survey provides a baseline for understanding city efforts to develop climate solutions and create sustainable communities, and helps identify innovative practices, emerging trends and areas for assistance.  Today’s final survey release follows the prior release of preliminary results in June.

See here for the full survey.

“With the severe hurricanes and wildfires on the rise, we are in a race against time to address climate change,” said Chair of the Alliance Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales.  “Without the federal government’s partnership, cities and the business community will now have to bear the responsibility to reduce carbon and the effects of climate change.  It is critical that we expedite renewable technology deployment and adopt policies to meet aggressive carbon reduction goals.”

“These results show a growing momentum in cities to develop emission reducing programs and to strike new partnerships with other governments and the private sector,” said Vice-Chair of the Alliance Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski. “Now is the time to work together at the state and local level to buy green vehicles, retrofit our buildings, purchase renewable electricity and develop more renewable energy projects.” 

“The nation’s mayors are assuming a national and global leadership role to respond to climate change. We have no choice but to act now,” said CEO and Executive Director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Tom Cochran. “The time for talking is over. Through our ongoing work, we will continue to track the progress cities make in implementing carbon reduction programs and meeting aggressive renewable energy goals.”

“This confirms that incredible strides are made when mayors and business leaders collaborate. But, we’ve learned too that cities want to do more, and we will be working to encourage city-business partnerships for the great number of cities interested in working with the business community,” said C2ES President Bob Perciasepe.

EVENT INFORMATION

The Alliance for a Sustainable Future will discuss the survey results and how cities are partnering with the business community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions Tuesday, September 19, in New York at Climate Week NYC. Case studies will also highlight partnerships between cities and the business that are already accelerating momentum toward sustainable, low-carbon communities. Details are below.

Date: Tuesday, September 19, 9:30- 11:15 a.m.

Place: NYU Wagner, 295 Lafayette Street, Second Floor, New York, NY

Speakers will include: Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, AECOM Global Director of Resilience Josh Sawislak, NYU Wagner Dean Sherry Glied, U.S. Conference of Mayors CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran, and Center for Climate and Energy Solutions President Bob Perciasepe.

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About the Alliance for a Sustainable Future: The Alliance for a Sustainable Future was formed by USCM and C2ES in 2016 with the shared goals of keeping city officials and business leaders informed and empowered to design and implement local plans for low-carbon, sustainable communities.

About The U.S. Conference of Mayors: The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are nearly 1,400 such cities in the country today, and each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor. Learn more at www.usmayors.org.

About C2ES: The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to forge practical solutions to climate change. Our mission is to advance strong policy and action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote clean energy, and strengthen resilience to climate impacts. Learn more at www.c2es.org.

Companies set their own carbon price to guide decisions

Business leaders know that climate change impacts are here and on the rise. They also know there are significant economic opportunities in the transition to a low-carbon economy. But factoring these risks – and opportunities – into corporate decision-making isn’t always easy.

An internal carbon price is increasingly being used by companies across sectors and geographies to translate the risks and opportunities of a low-carbon economy into business decisions.

Some companies set a theoretical price on carbon, or a “shadow price,” to evaluate investments, test assumptions, and guide business strategy. Some use a “carbon fee” to assign an explicit monetary value to emissions from business units to change behaviors and raise funds for clean energy and energy efficiency projects. Still others use a combination of these or other approaches.

A new C2ES brief, The Business of Pricing Carbon, examines how companies are using internal carbon pricing and why: to prepare for future regulation, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, respond to shareholder concerns, build more resilient supply chains, gain a competitive edge, and showcase corporate responsibility.

According to 2016 disclosures to the CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), more than 1,200 companies worldwide are either pursuing internal carbon pricing or preparing to do so soon—up 23 percent from 2015. While most of these companies are based in North America and Europe, more companies in emerging economies, including Brazil, China, India, and Mexico, are exploring carbon pricing.

Among the leaders:

  • Since 2012, Microsoft business groups have paid a fee, from $5 to $10 per metric ton, on the carbon emissions associated with their electricity consumption and employee air travel. The revenue is used to buy renewable energy, increase energy efficiency and e-waste recycling, and buy carbon offsets. Microsoft has been carbon neutral in its global operations since July 2012.
  • Shell has used an internal carbon price of $40 to $80 per metric ton since 2000 to evaluate investment decisions. Its greenhouse gas Project Screening Value has influenced decisions to invest in carbon capture technology, natural gas, and biofuels. Shell reduced its direct greenhouse gas emissions from facilities by 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent from 2015 to 2016.
  • Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), the world’s largest manufacturer of tractors, became the first Indian company to launch an internal carbon fee of $10 per metric ton in 2016. The funds help reduce waste, water usage, and carbon emissions through projects such as LED lighting, energy-efficient motors, and waste-to-energy projects. M&M’s goal is to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions intensity 25 percent by 2019 from 2016 levels.
  • Mining company BHP has had a shadow price of $24-$80 per metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent since 2004 to inform decisions to improve energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its existing operations, and diversify its portfolio for a carbon-constrained future. The company reduced emissions 13 percent from 2015 to 2016.

Companies are using an internal carbon price to help advance their greenhouse gas reduction targets. For example, C2ES found that almost half of the companies committed to the RE100 (100 percent renewable energy) and Science-Based GHG Targets have adopted an internal carbon price or plan to do so in the next couple of years.

Most companies that have adopted a shadow price use a level higher than current government carbon pricing levels (which according to experts is $10 per metric ton) to prepare for a transition to a low-carbon world. This is particularly true for companies in the oil and gas and metals and mining sectors, which use shadow price ranges that are compatible with the levels recommended for governments by the High-Level Commission on Carbon Pricing ($40-$80 per metric ton by 2020 and $50-$100 per metric ton by 2030).

Setting an internal carbon price is just one tool in the toolbox for companies seeking to reduce their exposure to climate risks, increase their business opportunities in a low-carbon future, and show sustainability leadership to their shareholders, employees, and customers. We encourage more companies to explore the options.

Read the brief:.

Watch the webinar.

 

C2ES outlines how and why companies use carbon pricing to prepare for climate change

Press Release
Sept. 12, 2017
Contact: Laura Rehrmann, rehrmannl@c2es.org, 703-774-5480

C2ES outlines how and why companies use carbon pricing to prepare for climate change

WASHINGTON – Companies across sectors and geographies are turning increasingly to an internal carbon price to prepare for climate-related business risks, and guide and fund investments in low-carbon solutions.

A new C2ES brief, The Business of Pricing Carbon, examines how companies are using internal carbon pricing – either through an explicit fee on business-related carbon emissions that can fund carbon-reducing projects, a theoretical “shadow” price to guide investment decisions, or a hybrid of these approaches.

For example, Microsoft business groups pay a fee, from $5 to $10 per metric ton, on the carbon emissions associated with their electricity consumption and employee air travel. The revenue is used to buy renewable energy, increase energy efficiency and e-waste recycling, and buy carbon offsets. Shell's internal carbon price of $40 to $80 per metric ton has influenced decisions to invest in carbon capture technology, natural gas, and biofuels.

C2ES author Manjyot Bhan Ahluwalia will lead an online discussion at 10 a.m. today with top officials from Microsoft, BP America, and The Mahindra Group, who are among the companies examined in the brief, about how and why they are setting their own price on carbon. Media wishing to join today’s webinar can register here.

Among the brief’s key findings:

  • Companies are using internal carbon pricing to achieve multiple goals. Among the reasons for an internal carbon price are: to reduce emissions, respond to shareholder concerns about climate-related business risks, build resilient supply chains and portfolios, increase competitiveness, prepare for future regulations, and demonstrate corporate social responsibility.
  • Just having an internal carbon price sends an important signal. Prices range broadly, from $2 to $893 per metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent. For a carbon fee, the price itself may be less important than the business-relevant signal it sends to employees and business units that carbon emissions have costs and need to be managed. For a shadow price, the price may need to be higher than current government levels and increase over time to affect long-term decisions. (The High-Level Commission on Carbon Prices recommends that governments use $40-$80 per metric ton by 2020 and $50-$100 per metric ton by 2030.) 
  • Companies have choices in how to price carbon. There is no one best way to internally price carbon; each has its benefits and challenges. Companies are using approaches such as a carbon fee, shadow pricing, implicit carbon pricing, and/or combining these strategies. A company should adopt the approach that aligns with its objectives. For example, a carbon fee can engage employees and help meet emissions reduction targets while a shadow price can inform long-term investment decisions.
  • Corporate carbon pricing is only one tool to address climate-related risks. Corporate carbon pricing alone will not be sufficient to ensure a transition to a global low-carbon economy. These approaches must be complemented with other corporate greenhouse has reduction strategies.

“Many companies are leading the way toward a low-carbon future. They see the risks of climate impacts to their businesses and the opportunities to create jobs and increase their competitiveness through clean and efficient energy,” said C2ES President Bob Perciasepe. “Internal carbon pricing is one innovative tool more companies can explore to show sustainability leadership to their shareholders, employees, and customers.”

Read the brief at: http://bit.ly/c2esCarPr

Event: The Business of Pricing Carbon: How Companies are Preparing for Risks and Opportunities
Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2017, 10-11 a.m. ET
Location: Free online webinar. More info at: http://bit.ly/c2esICP
Speakers:

  • Anirban Ghosh, Chief Sustainability Officer, The Mahindra Group
  • Bob Stout, Vice President & Head of Regulatory Affairs, BP America
  • Liz Willmott, Environmental Sustainability Program Manager, Microsoft Corporation
  • Manjyot Bhan Ahluwalia, Policy and Business Fellow, C2ES

About C2ES: The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to forge practical solutions to climate change. Our mission is to advance strong policy and action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote clean energy, and strengthen resilience to climate impacts. Learn more at www.c2es.org

What Hurricane Harvey tells us about climate change

The heartbreaking consequences of Hurricane Harvey’s landfall in Texas and Louisiana over the past week have led many public figures to comment regarding the potential connection between hurricanes and global climate change. With Hurricane Irma bearing down on the Caribbean and Florida, this question will likely get another bump in the news cycle.

What does the science tell us about this connection? In 2014, the White House released the latest update of the congressionally mandated National Climate Assessment (NCA), a report produced by the relevant scientific agencies every few years. The NCA made the following statement:

The intensity, frequency, and duration of North Atlantic hurricanes, as well as the frequency of the strongest (Category 4 and 5) hurricanes, have all increased since the early 1980s. The relative contributions of human and natural causes to these increases are still uncertain. Hurricane-associated storm intensity and rainfall rates are projected to increase as the climate continues to warm.

That remains a good summary as far as hurricanes go, but there is a more fundamental point that I think decision-makers should be focused on as they consider how to direct investments to enhance our resilience to climate change: Precipitation extremes are intensifying and will continue to do so as the climate warms.

Consider the following:

  • In April 2014, southern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle experienced a historic rainstorm that set local records for daily and hourly rainfall totals. In Pensacola, nearly 6 inches of rain fell in an hour and more than two feet of rain fell over two days, causing catastrophic flash flooding.
  • In October 2015, many areas of Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas experienced extreme rainfall and flash flooding. The greatest totals were south of Dallas, where more than 20 inches of rain flooded highways and derailed a freight train. Houston received around 10 inches and experienced flash flooding.
  • In March 2016, Louisiana experienced historic flooding and areas of Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas experienced extreme rainfall and flash flooding. More than 20 inches of rain fell in Monroe, Louisiana, with one reporting station recording nearly 27 inches over three days.

Now we have Hurricane Harvey.

These events are a small selection of a large number of major flood events to strike Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas recently. Gulf states have seen historic flooding disasters from extreme precipitation every year for at least four years running. Many of these events were associated with hurricanes (or tropical storms in general). All of them required an enormous source of atmospheric moisture to generate such extreme rainfall totals in a matter of hours to days. 

That moisture source is no mystery: It is the warm tropical waters of the North Atlantic (principally the Gulf of Mexico) and eastern Pacific oceans. These bodies of water have been warming over recent decades and are evaporating more and more moisture into the atmosphere along the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts. The atmosphere is also warming, and warmer air holds more water vapor. As the climate warms, therefore, more moisture becomes available to supply rainfall.

This fact is basic physics and there isn’t any real uncertainty about it. Moreover, it is well understood that the oceans and atmosphere are warming as a direct result of manmade greenhouse gas emissions. (Without those emissions, the climate system would actually be cooling slightly).

The consequences are not limited to the Gulf Coast. The National Climate Asessment chart below shows the percent increase in the amount of rainfall associated with the heaviest 1 percent of downpours in regions of the United States from 1958 to 2012.

So what does Hurricane Harvey tell us about climate change? It confirms that our risk is rising as the climate warms. Harvey also teaches us about our vulnerabilities and adaptation needs.

As Dan Huber and I have explained, individual weather events are unpredictable, but our overall risk from changing weather patterns is predictable. Reducing our climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions will limit how much we ultimately ratchet up that risk. However, since the climate is already changing and the risk of damages is rising, we also need to adapt to the changes that are in the pipeline. Both reducing emissions and adapting to unavoidable change are essential to managing the risk

Jay Gulledge, Ph.D., is a Senior Adviser to C2ES

Webinar -- The Business of Pricing Carbon

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Free webinar

The Business of Pricing Carbon:
How Companies are Preparing for Risks and Opportunities

September 12, 2017, 10 - 11 a.m. ET

 

Increasingly, companies across sectors and geographies are turning to an internal carbon price as one tool to help them reduce carbon emissions, mitigate climate-related business risks, and identify opportunities in the transition to a low-carbon economy. This C2ES public webinar discusses different internal carbon pricing approaches and reviews key opportunities, benefits, experiences, and challenges drawn from the C2ES brief, The Business of Pricing Carbon: How Companies are Pricing Carbon to Mitigate Risks and Prepare for a Low-Carbon Future.
 
Speakers
 
Anirban Ghosh
Chief Sustainability Officer, The Mahindra Group
 
Bob Stout
Vice President & Head of Regulatory Affairs, BP America
 
Liz Willmott
Environmental Sustainability Program Manager, Microsoft Corporation
 
Manjyot Bhan Ahluwalia
Policy and Business Fellow, C2ES

 

Webinar: TheBusiness of Pricing Carbon, Sept. 12, 2017

 

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