Statement of Eileen Claussen
President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
December 21, 2011
Today’s announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency of final standards for reducing mercury and other toxic air pollutants from power plants is an important step in protecting public health. A very long time in coming, these regulations trace back to the 1990 Clean Air Act and were first proposed by the George W. Bush Administration. Like most measures to protect the environment, this rule has costs – estimated at nearly $10 billion a year. But these investments will pay important dividends by reducing health costs by $37-90 billion in 2016 alone. EPA has taken steps to allow time to install new controls and to ensure energy reliability, but implementation will have to be carefully monitored to ensure that any bottlenecks are addressed in a timely manner.
In addition to the health benefits, the new standards may yield significant climate benefits if power companies meet them by replacing old, inefficient plants with cleaner technologies. This is more likely if EPA moves forward with carbon dioxide emission standards for power plants, and if Congress continues to fund R&D and deployment for renewable energy, nuclear power, and technologies that capture and store carbon dioxide from fossil fuel-fired power plants.
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Contact: Tom Steinfeldt, 703-516-4146
C2ES's December 2011 features updates from the 17th annual Conference of the Parties (COP17) in Durban, South Africa, policy options for a clean energy standard, a blog post on the landmark new fuel economy standards, and more.
Australia's Carbon Pricing Mechanism
Australia’s Clean Energy Future plan is a comprehensive set of national policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and driving investments in clean energy. At its core is a carbon pricing mechanism starting in July 2012 and covering approximately 60 percent of Australia’s emissions. The pricing mechanism begins with a fixed carbon price for the first three years, then transitions to a cap-and-trade program. Revenue generated by the carbon price will be used to ease costs for households and industry and for investment in renewable power, energy efficiency, and other low-carbon alternatives. This brief summarizes the carbon price mechanism and other key features of the Clean Energy Future plan.
On November 8, 2011, the Australian Senate gave final approval to the government’s Clean Energy Future climate change plan outlining a series of measures to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and drive investment in clean energy. A central element of the plan is a carbon pricing mechanism directly covering 50 percent of Australia’s emissions and providing direct financial support for renewable energy, energy efficiency, reducing emissions from land-use and forestry, and other elements. The mechanism starts with a fixed price for the first three years from 2012 to 2015 (AUD 23, rising with inflation to about AUD 25 at the end of the fixed-price period). It then transitions from 2015 to 2018 to a cap-and-trade program, with a price cap and price floor. Regulations to implement the plan are being developed. Other principal elements of the plan include:
- A long-term target of reducing GHG emissions 80 percent below 2000 levels by 2050;
- Over 50 percent of revenue generated from the carbon price is returned to households, particularly low-income ones, through tax relief and greater family benefit payments;
- Revenue generated by the program, along with additional government resources, will be used to ease the impact on trade-exposed industries and workers, and boost investments in renewable power, energy efficiency and other low-carbon alternatives;
- Implementation of the plan is expected to cost the government AUD 4.3 billion over the first four years, over and above revenue generated;
- Emissions from sectors not directly covered by the carbon price, such as certain fuels and synthetic gases, are indirectly addressed through changes to existing levies and taxes;
- Politically sensitive sectors are carved out of the mechanism: agriculture is addressed separately through an incentive-based scheme, and road transport fuels are largely exempt from the carbon price;
- Three new governance institutions are established to administer, oversee, and advise on all areas of the plan.
As discussed in the first part of this blog series A Strong Defense for Low-Carbon Innovation, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has both the demand for and procurement capabilities to advance the development and deployment of innovative low-carbon technologies. This post highlights a variety of leading businesses innovating and creating new opportunities in response to the U.S. Department of Defense efforts, and some of the challenges businesses encounter along the way.
Strategic public-private partnerships are key to helping the DOD meet its energy goals and present significant low-carbon business opportunities. Employing the expertise of companies, such as those specializing in electricity generation or computer technology, gives the DOD access to specialty skills and knowledge needed to advance innovative low-carbon technologies. Businesses, in turn, have the potential to enhance their competencies through government-funded research and development, or provide new technologies for commercial markets after large-scale demonstration through the DOD.
This post is the first of a two-part series on low-carbon innovation in the defense industry. It looks at how the DOD is uniquely positioned to drive low-carbon innovation. The second part in the blog series looks at how businesses are working with the DOD to bring low-carbon solutions to market.
From GPS to the Internet, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has a history of driving the creation of innovative technologies now used every day by Americans. With low-carbon policies a major challenge in Washington today, many clean energy advocates are seeking leadership from the DOD, which is the single largest consumer of energy in the country, to help drive clean energy solutions. Motivated by the need to better protect troops and support its operations, the DOD is becoming more involved in low-carbon technology research, development, and deployment. As stated in the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), this work will shape the future commercial potential of energy technologies, as “military installations [serve] as a test bed to demonstrate and create a market for innovative energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.”
Business leaders from across the country convened in Atlanta last month to share critical lessons from developing and deploying low-carbon solutions. At our Business of Innovating conference, dozens of company leaders—from Coca-Cola and Mars to Dow and Bayer—discussed new products and solutions that are beginning to drive business growth in clean energy while limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Their efforts reflect a deepening understanding of changes in market preferences and demand for low-carbon solutions.
A recent story on NPR’s Morning Edition about plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) misses the mark. At C2ES, we don’t believe PEVs are the single answer to our transportation energy security and environmental problems, but we think they could make a contribution if they’re given a fair shot. That’s why we started an initiative on PEVs almost a year ago to take a practical look at the challenges and opportunities of PEV technology.
First, the story mentions plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) like the Chevrolet Volt at the outset, but then ignores how that vehicle type overcomes the problem at the heart of the story – range anxiety. The fear of being stranded due to inadequate driving range and deficient charging infrastructure is a legitimate critique of battery electric vehicles (BEVs). BEvs are battery-only vehicles, i.e. they cannot run on gasoline. But, the Volt and soon-to-be-released Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid can run on gasoline or electricity and have the same range as a conventional car. You can travel 25 to 50 miles in a Volt or up to 15 miles in a plug-in Prius without using gasoline and then rely on gasoline to fuel the rest of your trip. It’s difficult to estimate how many trips these electric-only ranges will accommodate, but a plug-in hybrid overcomes the need for a consumer to make that determination. In case you’re wondering, the average car trip length is 9.34 miles according to the National Household Transportation Survey.
In partnership with EDF’s Innovation Exchange, DIG IN, and the Green Innovators in Business Network (GIBN), C2ES co-hosted a “Business of Innovating” Solutions Lab on December 8, 2011, exploring how we conceive of innovation and its role in addressing key environmental and sustainability challenges, including climate change. This event drew on insights from this project’s research of corporate strategies for bringing low-carbon solutions to market. Designed to engage interested business professionals in an ongoing learning community, the Solutions Lab brought together hundreds of professionals engaged in making their organizations more efficient, sustainable, and leading-edge.
Confirmed catalyst presenters include:
- Andy Hargadon, Professor, UC Davis Center for Entrepreneurship (Download PDF presentation)
- Bob Hilton, VP, Power Technologies for Government Affairs, Alstom Power (Download PDF presentation)
- Stephen Todd, Distinguished Engineer & Director, Global Innovation Network, EMC
- Kathrin Winkler, VP & Chief Sustainability Officer, EMC
Interactive Innovation Breakout Sessions with:
November 16, 2011
On E&E TV's OnPoint, Eileen Claussen discusses goals of the newly-launched Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) and assesses the current state of energy policy talks in Washington. Claussen also gives her views on the Obama administration's handling of energy policy. Click here to watch the interview.
Click here for additional details on C2ES.
For those of you who came to our website today expecting to find information and resources from the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, please don’t click away. Today we announced an exciting transition. We are now C2ES — the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. In addition to changing our name, we’ve refreshed our mission and strategic approach, updated our website, and made other changes to ensure that we can continue to craft real solutions to the energy and climate challenges we face today.
Yes, a great deal has changed in the last 24 hours. But what hasn’t changed is the need for straight talk, common sense and common ground. Today’s climate and energy issues present us with real challenges — and real opportunities as well. This is about protecting the environment, our communities and our economy. And it is about building the foundation for a prosperous and sustainable future.