International

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

 

Targets and Actions under the Copenhagen Accord

Targets and Actions under the Copenhagen Accord

The Copenhagen Accord, a political agreement struck by world leaders at the 2009 U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, calls on participating countries to pledge specific actions they will undertake to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.  This represents the first time ever that all of the world’s major economies have offered explicit international climate pledges.

In the case of Annex I (developed) countries, the nonbinding Accord calls for quantified economy-wide emission targets for 2020.  In the case of non-Annex I (developing) countries, it calls for “nationally appropriate mitigation actions,” but does not specify what form they should take.  (Least developed and small island countries “may undertake actions voluntarily and on the basis of support.”)   

As of May 24, 2010, 99 parties (counting the 27 member states of the European Union as a single party) had filed submissions with the U.N. climate change secretariat :

  • 16 Annex I countries submitted 2020 emissions targets ;
  • 37 non-Annex I countries submitted mitigation actions; and 
  • 46 other non-Annex I countries associated with the accord.

The following is a summary of information submitted to date. Please check back regularly for updated information or visit the UN Climate Change Convention website.

Click here for a full summary of targets and actions under the Copenhagen Accord (pdf).

Click here for a side-by-side comparison of main provisions of the Copenhagen Accord, the draft core decision texts carried forward from Copenhagen in the UNFCCC Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA), and the text prepared by the AWG-LCA Chair in May 2010 to facilitate further negotiations.

 

Mitigation Pledges Under the Copenhagen Accord

In the Copenhagen Accord, countries agree that “deep cuts in global emissions are required… so as to hold the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius…”  To date, nearly 50 parties (counting the European Union as a single party) have submitted specific mitigation pledges under the Accord. Several analyses (summarized here) have assessed whether these pledges are consistent with the goal of limiting global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius.

Our review of these analyses finds that:

  • Most show the pledges are inadequate to achieve a 2-degree goal, and instead imply a global emissions pathway leading to 3 to 3.9 degrees of warming.
  • Collectively, the pledges would reduce global emissions between 4 percent and16 percent below business as usual (BAU) in 2020.  (All projections of the pledges’ impact on emissions show ranges of reductions because many of the pledges specify ranges, with the more ambitious end of the range applying if stipulated conditions are met. ) A 2-degree pathway requires reductions of 21 percent to 26 percent below BAU. 
  • Pledges by developed countries would reduce their emissions 10 percent to 13 percent below BAU in 2020, and pledges by developing countries would reduce their emissions 6 percent to 9 percent below BAU.

Click here for more analysis of how countries' pledges may affect global temperature increases.

 

Further Resources

Our Policy Viewpoints and Statements:

 More COP15 resources available here.

 

Decision-makers heed the Paris call to action

The following appeared in the September 2016 edition of Climate 2020, A UNA-UK publication providing analysis and recommendations on fulfilling the Paris Agreement on climate change

By Elliot Diringer, Executive Vice President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES)

Even before the landmark Paris Agreement has formally become international law, it’s clear that the signals sounded in Paris are reverberating with many of the real-world decision-makers who ultimately must deliver on its promise.

From investors like Warren Buffett to CEOs of top global companies to the mayors of many of the world’s largest cities, Paris is resounding as an unprecedented call to action. This ‘signalling effect’ is penetrating all levels of society, and may ultimately prove as decisive as the actions of national governments in determining the agreement’s success.

The Paris moment, and the ground-breaking agreement it forged, can accelerate the low-carbon transition in three different ways. The most direct is through the implementation of the intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) that countries pledged in Paris. These lay out the country-specific goals and policies that will define national responses to the global climate challenge in the decade after 2020.

The Paris Agreement itself will drive further action through multilateral norms and mechanisms to promote international accountability and ambition. Stronger transparency rules, and the obligation to offer a new contribution every five years, will strengthen confidence that all countries are doing their fair share. This, in turn, can open political space for each to do more.

But the most immediate – if least direct – impact of the Paris Agreement is the internalisation by influential decision-makers of the imperative of a low-carbon transition. Among global challenges, climate change is unprecedented in the way it permeates virtually every facet of the global economy. It follows that an effective response demands action not just by national governments but at every level, from the local to the global, in both the public and the private spheres.

Action by cities, provinces and companies has been strengthening for some time. But these ‘non-state actors’ have remained largely disconnected from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – the central forum established by national governments nearly a quarter of a century ago to guide the global response.

That changed in Paris. With strong encouragement from the French conference hosts, thousands of mayors, governors, corporate chiefs and other leaders came to the UNFCCC meeting carrying their own commitments. Paris became a catalytic moment yielding an unprecedented showing of action at all levels.

Even more telling are the many ways in which the signals sounded in Paris continue to resound. Among many investors, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett’s annual letter to shareholders is greeted as a near-oracular event. In his letter this year, Buffett cited Paris as a further impetus for the multibillion-dollar investments that have made his company one of the largest generators of clean power in the US.

Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest manager of assets (worth some $4.6 trillion), similarly highlighted the Paris Agreement in a letter urging the CEOs of S&P 500 companies to focus more on long-term value creation and less on short-term gains.

There have also been some other encouraging signs since Paris: A dozen companies, including Bloomberg, HP and Tata Motors joined an existing group of 58 others, including Google, Nestlé and Coca-Cola, in committing to move to 100 per cent renewable energy.

In May, declaring Paris a “watershed” moment, Total CEO Patrick Pouyanné said the French oil giant will base future investment decisions on a 2°C scenario, pulling back from investments in tar sands and the Arctic, and shifting its portfolio towards renewables.

Banks including JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs established new lending practices or new funds favouring clean energy over fossil fuels. And a consortium of financial institutions and investors are partnering under the Catalytic Finance Initiative, originally launched by Bank of America, to direct $8 billion towards sustainable investments.

In a move bound to ripple across many sectors, the Moody’s credit rating agency announced in June that it was building countries’ Paris pledges into the baseline scenario it uses to rate public and private-sector investments.

Mayors also are reading Paris as a cue for stronger climate action. In June, two groups merged to form the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, comprised of the leaders of more than 7,000 cities, large and small, in 119 countries. The mayors pledged to set goals going further than their countries’ respective national commitments.

To strengthen the rigour and credibility of their contributions, the mayors’ group and others are establishing methodologies to track actions and measure their emissions impact. A loose network of non-state constituencies have begun planning their own summit to showcase their efforts in mid-2018, as national governments prepare to take stock of global progress.

That the signals from Paris are being so widely received – and amplified – reflects a dramatic evolution in the global climate effort. The multilateral struggles of national governments may still occupy centre stage, but the annual UN climate conferences are becoming more inclusive affairs, welcoming and capitalising on the energies of other influential players.

This activation of investors and multinational companies, and of elected leaders responsible for the everyday concerns of millions around the globe, will likely be a key component of Paris’s success.

Leading up to Paris, the surge of commitments by non-state actors helped embolden governments to offer up ambitious INDCs. In the years ahead, it will in many countries fall to business and to subnational leaders, as much as to national governments, to ensure that these national contributions are fulfilled.
Indeed, over the long haul, the more deeply the Paris goals are embedded in corporate and subnational decision-making, the better they will withstand the political and economic currents that may distract national leaders from the imperative of the low-carbon transition.

At the next UNFCCC conference in Marrakech, parties may look at ways to strengthen the engagement of non-state actors going forward. They could, for instance, play a role in the ‘global stocktake’ that will take place every five years. Or governments could grant permanent status to the Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Action (NAZCA) portal, an online registry launched before Paris that now contains commitments from more than 11,000 cities, regions, companies, investors and civil-society organisations.

But more important than any formal role for mayors and CEOs in the UN process ?is the continued uptake of the signals Paris is sending.

 

Achieving the United States' Intended Nationally Determined Contribution

Achieving the United States' Intended Nationally Determined Contribution

Last updated: November 2016

Download (PDF)

More than 180 nations representing more than 95 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions offered “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDCs) to the Paris Agreement reached in December 2015. The United States’ INDC is an economy-wide target to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. Available analyses suggest that the United States could reduce emissions by more than 22 percent with policies either already in place or soon anticipated. Options for achieving further reductions to meet the 2025 target may include additional policies, technological advances, and stronger action by cities and companies. Concerted efforts across multiple fronts could reasonably produce the reductions needed to meet the goal. Specifically, this paper looks at the progress that has been achieved since 2005, the effect existing and proposed policies will have by 2025 as well plausible steps to fill the gap.

Doug Vine
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Bob Perciasepe statement on US & China joint approval of the Paris Agreement

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

September 3, 2016

On the United States and China formally adopting the Paris Agreement on climate change:

It’s remarkable that in a few short years the world’s two leading climate antagonists have become the world’s two leading climate champions. The United States can no longer claim that China’s inaction is an excuse to do nothing, and vice versa. With both again committing themselves to a low-carbon future, the two countries are setting an example the rest of the world can hardly ignore.

The Paris Agreement not only commits all countries to do their best to combat climate change, but provides us the tools to hold them accountable. Stronger transparency rules will make clear whether countries are keeping their promises and contributing their fair share to the global effort. And, by requiring countries to update their contributions every five years, the agreement will work to strengthen ambition over time.

As national governments take the steps necessary to bring the agreement into force and to implement their commitments, it’s clear that the Paris signal is also resounding with other leaders who are critical to achieving its promise. Mayors, governors, CEOs and investors are all taking steps to cut emissions and expand clean energy. The more deeply the Paris goals are embedded in real-world decision-making, the better they will withstand shifting political and economic currents, and the better our prospects for a low-carbon future.

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For more information on the Paris Agreement, see www.c2es.org/international/paris-agreement

To speak to a C2ES expert, contact Laura Rehrmann at rehrmannl@c2es.org, or 703-516-0621

About C2ES: The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization advancing strong policy and action to address climate change. Learn more at www.c2es.org.

The enduring power of US-China climate leadership

US-China FlagsIt would have been hard to imagine just a few short years ago that the United States and China would – together – be the ones driving a stronger global response to climate change.

For years, each claimed inaction by the other as an excuse for not doing more. But with their simultaneous acceptance today of the Paris Agreement, the world’s two largest economies and emitters committed themselves to a low-carbon future, and solidified a new global framework that will keep pressure on all countries to keep doing more.

The precise mix of motivations varies between the two. But fundamentally, the heads of both the United States and China have assessed the risks and opportunities presented by climate change, and they have decided it is in their nations’ interests – and is their responsibility as global leaders – to do more.

How faithfully the two countries now follow through on their commitments will depend in part on a host of shifting political and economic currents, and who assumes the reins in the years ahead.

But with their leadership up to and since last year’s Paris conference, the United States and China have helped establish new mechanisms and unleash new energies that ensure a staying power beyond the comings and goings of individual governments.

With the Paris Agreement, countries have applied the lessons of a quarter-century of fitful climate diplomacy to create a new framework that offers the best hope ever of an effective international response.

The agreement binds countries to a set of processes requiring them to: tell the world how they’re going to fight climate change; report regularly on how well they’re doing; undergo review by experts and by other countries; and, every five years, say what they’ll do next.

It is, in essence, institutionalized peer (and public) pressure. And if it works as designed, the agreement will over time strengthen confidence that countries are doing their fair share, making it easier for all to do more.

Beyond the agreement itself, and the role of national governments, Paris also will keep nurturing stronger action through its powerful “signaling” effect. For many mayors, governors, CEOs and other real-world decision makers, Paris was a catalytic moment, and its signals continue to resound.

From Warren Buffett, who cited Paris in his annual letter to shareholders as further impetus for Berkshire Hathaway’s multibillion-dollar investments in renewable power, to Moody’s, which is now taking countries’ Paris pledges into account in rating future investments, mainstream business is internalizing the Paris goals.

Mayors, too, are reading Paris as a cue for stronger action. In a new Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, more than 7,000 mayors in 119 countries pledged to set climate goals beyond those of their national governments. C2ES recently joined with The U.S. Conference of Mayors to form the Alliance for a Sustainable Future, bringing mayors and business leaders together to forge collaborative approaches to cutting emissions.

In the long run, this activation of mayors, CEOs and other “non-state actors” could prove as decisive as the actions of national governments in determining the success of Paris.

No one moment and no one agreement can ensure the long-term transformation needed to keep climate change in check. But today’s U.S.-China announcement is the latest in a series of breakthrough moments that could mean the difference between a successful low-carbon transition and a future of climate calamity.

 

 

 

Post-Paris transparency under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

The following article appeared in the July 2016 issue of the American Bar Association International Environmental and Resources Law Committee Newsletter.

By Jennifer Huang, International Fellow, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES)

Introduction

Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, or Convention) reached a landmark agreement on December 12, 2015 in Paris, charting a fundamentally new course in the global climate effort.  A central issue in the negotiations was strengthening transparency requirements to better hold countries accountable for their commitments.  Moving beyond the strict differentiation between developed and developing countries that characterized earlier efforts under the Convention, the Paris Agreement establishes an enhanced transparency framework with “built-in flexibility” to accommodate varying national capacities.  For the first time, all parties must report regularly on their emissions and implementation efforts, and undergo international review.  These transparency mechanisms will provide information necessary to track parties’ progress in implementing their nationally determined contributions to the new treaty, and will help strengthen parties’ capacities to measure and understand their own efforts.  By building mutual trust, they also can help strengthen the overall climate effort.

The Paris Agreement promises support to help developing countries meet the new requirements and allows them flexibility in the scope, frequency, and detail of their reporting, and in the extent of review of their communications.  Deciding the nature of that flexibility will be a primary focus of continuing negotiations on the detailed rules for implementing the agreement.

Existing UNFCCC transparency framework

Existing transparency requirements under the UNFCCC differ for developed and developing countries.  Parties to the Convention must submit national communications (NCs) on their mitigation and adaptation actions every four years, though the required content differs for developed and developing countries. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change [hereinafter UNFCCC] art. 12, May 9, 1992, S. Treaty Doc No. 102-38, 1771 U.N.T.S. 107 (entered into force Mar. 21, 1994).  To enhance reporting on national greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories and efforts to implement the requirements of the Convention, agreements reached in 2010 at Cancun established two parallel processes: one for developed countries, and a less stringent one for developing countries. UNFCCC, Conference of the Parties, Seventeenth Session, Durban, S. Afr., Nov. 28 – Dec. 11, 2011, Decision 2/CP.17: Outcome of the Work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention, U.N. Doc. FCCC/CP/2011/9/Add.1 (Mar. 15, 2012). 

Under International Assessment and Review (IAR), developed country parties enhance the reporting in their NCs through the submission of biennial reports (BRs), which outline their progress in achieving emission reductions and the provision of financial, technological, and capacity-building support to developing country parties. Developed countries undergo a technical review of their national reports, in which technical experts review the annual GHG inventories, examine the technical information on emissions and removals, and verify the methodologies used to provide those measurements.  The technical review is followed by a “multilateral assessment,” which is essentially a Q&A between the party being assessed and other parties on the basis of all submitted national reports.  To date, all developed countries have gone through one full round of IAR.

Under International Consultation and Analysis (ICA), developing country parties enhance the information in their NCs through the submission of biennial update reports (BURs), which include a national inventory report and information on their mitigation actions, needs, and support received.  Unlike developed countries, developing countries are not required to report the progress made in implementing and achieving emission reductions.  The BUR then undergoes a technical analysis by a team of technical experts under a less rigorous standard of review than for IAR, resulting in a summary report that includes the capacity-building needs to facilitate reporting in subsequent BURs.  The technical analysis is followed by a “facilitative sharing of views,” which is another peer review forum where parties are free to ask questions of a party on its BUR.

Although the current ICA process for developing countries is only halfway through its first round, both the UNFCCC secretariat and parties have learned some important lessons.  There has been significant improvement of the technical basis for reporting, such as greater consistency in the use of reporting methodologies and an increase in the requests for technical review of NCs.  There is more coherency and coordination at the institutional level, domestically and internationally, although room for improvement remains.  Finally, for developed and developing countries alike, simply going through the process and engaging with the secretariat improved the quality of reporting and increased familiarity with the process.

Negotiating the Paris Agreement – moving beyond bifurcation

The Paris Agreement, adopted at the Conference of the Parties (COP) 21, calls for an enhanced transparency framework requiring all countries to work toward the same standards of transparency and accountability. UNFCCC, Conference of the Parties, Twenty-first Session, Paris, France, Nov. 30-Dec. 13, 2015, Decision 1/CP.21: Adoption of the Paris Agreement, U.N. Doc. FCCC/ CP/2015/10/Add.1 (Jan. 29, 2016).  The new framework will build on parties’ experiences with the existing system but without its strict bifurcation between developed and developing countries. All countries will be required to report on their GHG emissions and implementation efforts at least every two years and undergo both expert review, or technical analysis of the information in their reports, and peer review, in which parties can engage reviewed parties on their reports.  Id. at ¶¶ 90-91; Annex, art. 13(3, 4, 11).

To achieve this outcome, negotiators had to overcome a number of concerns by developing countries.  Some were worried that the in-country expert reviews currently required of developed countries would impinge on their sovereignty if imposed.  Many already lack the funding, expertise, and data to comply with existing requirements; fulfilling enhanced requirements would require further capacity building.  Finally, most voiced some fear of the unknown.  With only 16 developing countries having submitted biennial reports by December 2015, few even had experience with ICA.

The agreement assuages some of these worries by increasing the flexibility and capacity building measures under the Convention.  To enable developing countries to comply with the new requirements, the transparency framework “shall provide flexibility in the implementation of the provisions of this Article to those developing country Parties that need it in the light of their capacities.” Id. at Annex, art. 13(2).  Moreover, it establishes an enhanced framework for capacity building to support developing countries.  The Paris outcome launched the Capacity Building Initiative for Transparency, to be funded through contributions by developed countries, to help developing countries create or enhance the domestic tools and institutions they need to meet these obligations. Id. at ¶¶ 84-86.  The Paris Committee on Capacity Building was also set up to oversee a four-year work program to boost the capacity building activities needed to implement the Paris Agreement. Id. at ¶¶ 71-73.  The work program will, for instance, identify and provide recommendations on addressing capacity gaps and needs, promote the dissemination of tools and methodologies for capacity building, and explore how developing countries can take ownership of building and maintaining capacity over time.  Id. at ¶74(b),(c),(f).

The transparency processes will feed into a global stocktake, which will assess collective progress towards meeting the Paris Agreement’s long-term goals. Id. at art. 14.  They will also link to a new committee of experts to “facilitate implementation” and “promote compliance.” Id. at art. 15(1).  In contrast to the Kyoto Protocol, which included an enforcement-based compliance system, this committee will be facilitative in nature and operate in a “non-adversarial and non-punitive” manner.    Id. at art. 15(2).

Post-Paris Implementation

Further work is needed over the next few years to establish the nuts and bolts of the new transparency regime.  Parties must overcome some key challenges.  The agreement promises to accord flexibility to developing countries, but the exact nature of that flexibility and how it will be operationalized is an important consideration as parties begin to negotiate the implementing rules.  Parties will need to determine how flexibility can be built into the modalities, procedures and guidelines for transparency of action and whether existing communication channels can be streamlined to avoid overburdening developing countries.

Flexibility can be embedded in the transparency process in many ways.  For instance, some countries might initially submit their reports less frequently.  Parties currently report on their GHG inventories via guidelines that offer several approaches, or “tiers.” Each tier represents a level of methodological complexity in categorizing emissions and activity data.  Tier 1 is the most basic method while Tiers 2 and 3 are each more demanding in terms of complexity, certainty, and data requirements.   Thus, another option would be for some developing countries to start at the lowest, least stringent, reporting tier, and comply with higher tiers as they build institutional capacity over time.

Because the transparency process links to the global stocktake and will be buttressed by an implementation and compliance mechanism, parties will need to clearly outline their relationship to one another and coordinate the complementary work on these elements.  The Global Environment Facility, which serves as a financial mechanism for the UNFCCC, will also need to make the financial arrangements necessary for the operationalization of the Capacity Building Initiative for Transparency.  Id. at ¶ 86.  This is a crucial step for developing countries to make the switch to the new transparency framework, and continue to do so over time.

The new working group for the Paris Agreement will begin to develop the modalities, procedures, and guidelines for transparency of action and support as well as for the implementation and compliance mechanism.  Id. at ¶¶ 91, 103.  It will report each year to the COP before concluding its work in 2018, at which time there will also be a facilitative dialogue to assess collective efforts.  Id. at ¶¶ 20, 96.  The recommendations on transparency of action and support will be forwarded to the first Conference of the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1), which will take place after the Paris Agreement has entered into force.  Id. at ¶¶ 91, 99.

Conclusion

The Paris Agreement rests heavily on transparency as a means of holding countries accountable.  Over the next few years, parties will undertake the technical work necessary to build on lessons learned and transition to a new transparency system.  Creating a flexible system that increases parties’ capacities over time is paramount in this endeavor and will send a positive political signal to developing countries.  Because countries will work towards the same standards over time, learning by doing ought to be a guiding principle, enabling countries to build on existing experience, develop trust, and identify gaps and incentivizing them to see the value of actively participating and learning from the transparency process.  The establishment of a transparency framework that applies to all while providing flexibility for developing countries with less capacity is one of the greatest achievements of the Paris outcome.

Advancing toward an HFC phasedown

The latest round of negotiations under the Montreal Protocol concluded late Saturday night in Vienna with key elements of an amendment to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) beginning to take shape. The progress in Vienna sets the stage for a final agreement at the Meeting of the Parties scheduled for October in Kigali, Rwanda.

Countries are now closer than ever to a historic breakthrough that can dramatically reduce the risks of global climate change.

Because they are potent greenhouse gases rapidly expanding in their use in refrigeration and air conditioning, HFCs are a critical target in international efforts to achieve the goal established under the landmark Paris Agreement of keeping temperature increases well below 2 degrees Celsius. An ambitious HFC amendment could reduce global temperatures by an estimated 0.5 degrees by 2100 compared to business as usual growth. 

The highlight of the meeting was a call to action delivered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. His appearance, along with several days of morning to late-night engagement by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, underscored the critical importance the United States places on using the HFC amendment to build on the momentum achieved in Paris. 

Two key issues were the focus of the negotiations in Vienna: the baseline (the level of HFCs from which controls are based) and timetable for limiting HFC emissions, and the guidelines for providing financial support for developing countries in meeting these obligations. While more work remains to be done before the October meeting, real progress was made on both fronts.  

The proposal for developed countries centered around setting a baseline of 2011-2013 with a 10 percent reduction from there by 2019. Most of these countries have already begun limiting HFCs though domestic regulations.

For developing countries, where HFC use is only now ramping up, a wide range of proposals was put forward. A large number of countries (African Group, Pacific Island countries, a number of Latin America countries, the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the European Union) supported a baseline of 2017-2019 with a freeze at 2021. India, China and Gulf Cooperation Countries offered less ambitious proposals. India’s proposal would allow the longest unrestricted use with a baseline of 2028-2030 and a freeze at 2031.

On funding issues, there was broad agreement on using the Protocol’s Multilateral Fund as the institution for administering financial support to developing countries. Secretary Kerry emphasized that over 75 percent of the fund’s donor base of developed countries has already publicly stated their intention to provide additional funding to implement an HFC amendment. The key points of contention relate to important details concerning what aspects of costs will be paid and over what period of years.

Despite the progress made last week, closing the deal on an HFC amendment in October will not be easy and is by no means assured. With continued U.S. leadership and a willingness among all nations to cooperate in confronting the clear and present danger of climate change, an HFC amendment in 2016 should be achievable.

A bright future for the International Solar Alliance

Rooftop solar panels in central India.

Photo courtesy Coshipi via Flickr

A bold initiative to vastly expand solar energy in developing countries recently reached two major milestones toward its ultimate goal of mobilizing $1 trillion in solar investments by 2030.

In late June, the World Bank Group signed an agreement establishing it as a financial partner of the International Solar Alliance, providing more than $1 billion in support. The Bank Group will develop a roadmap and work with other multilateral development banks and financial institutions to mobilize financing for development and deployment of affordable solar energy.

The news follows the June 7 joint announcement between India and the United States to launch an initiative through the Alliance focusing on off-grid solar energy.

The International Solar Alliance was announced at the Paris climate conference in December by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President François Hollande. It was one of many new initiatives involving business, civil society, and public-private partnerships launched in Paris.

The alliance will comprise 121 countries located between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer that typically have 300 or more days of sunshine a year. Companies involved in the project include Areva, HSBC France and Tata Steel. 

According to the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), global solar capacity experienced record growth in 2015, with the annual market for new capacity up 25 percent over 2014. More than 50 gigawatts were added, bringing the total global capacity to about 227 gigawatts. That’s about 10 percent of the total amount of electricity the U.S. produced in 2015.

In developing and emerging economies, affordable financing is a challenge. The alliance will work to expand solar power primarily in countries that are resource-rich but energy-poor by mobilizing public finance from richer states to deliver universal energy access. Strategies include lowering financing costs, developing common standards, encouraging knowledge sharing and facilitating R&D collaborations.

President Hollande laid the foundation stone of the International Solar Alliance at the National Institute of Solar Energy in Gurgaon, Haryana in January, marking the first time India has hosted the headquarters of an international agency. The Indian government is investing an initial $30 million to set up the headquarters. The French Development Agency has earmarked over 300 million euros for the next five years to finance the alliance’s first batch of projects.

The solar alliance complements India’s own ambitious solar energy goals, which include a 2030 target of 40 percent of electric power capacity from non-fossil fuel energy sources as part of its intended nationally determined contribution to the Paris Agreement. India also plans to develop 100GW of solar power by 2022, a 30-fold increase in installed capacity. 

The growing support for the solar alliance is evidence of rising political momentum around the world to act on climate change and transition to a low-carbon economy. Look for a third major milestone in September, when the Alliance meets for its inaugural Founding Conference in Delhi.

The Montreal Protocol

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Over nearly three decades, the Montreal Protocol has virtually eliminated the substances that were damaging the Earth’s protective ozone layer. With strong support from the private sector, nations are now taking the next step by enlisting the Protocol to dramatically reduce the impact of HFCs on our climate.
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Bob Perciasepe statement on North American Climate Partnership

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

June 29, 2016

On the North American Climate, Clean Energy, and Environment Partnership Action Plan:

By pledging to power their economies with more clean energy, the leaders of Canada, Mexico and the United States are showing the way toward a more sustainable future. 

Generating half of North American electricity from non-emitting sources by 2025 is ambitious but it’s achievable.

By developing goals and strategies for 2050 and beyond, the three countries also will be charting a clearer course toward achieving the aims of the Paris Agreement, and setting a strong example for other countries.

Canada, Mexico and the United States have connected economies. Working together can make all three economies stronger and more sustainable, and reduce the costly risks of climate change.

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To speak to a C2ES expert, contact Laura Rehrmann at rehmannl@c2es.org

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.

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