Climate 411

Pennsylvania has cost-effective opportunities to reduce carbon pollution – new report

Six states could see significant opportunity and low costs if they put in place protections against carbon pollution from the electricity sector, according to a new report.

The report, by Resources for the Future, looked at Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan.

It found that taking two steps – setting a binding, declining limit on power sector carbon pollution, and creating a flexible, market-based mechanism to achieve that limit – could reduce cumulative carbon pollution by 25 percent in the next decade at low cost. The findings also suggest that even greater ambition is feasible for the six states.

Thirteen states not covered by the report already have – or are about to have – regulations that limit carbon pollution from their electricity sector. Other states, including Pennsylvania, are actively seeking opportunities to reduce emissions and deploy clean energy.

The new report has three key takeaways for Pennsylvania:

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Also posted in Cities and states, Economics, Energy, Policy / Comments are closed

What ProPublica’s forest carbon credits story still gets wrong – and right (with update)

By Steve Schwartzman, Senior Director, Tropical Forest Policy, and Christina McCain, Director, Latin America

Amazon Canopy. Warwick Lister-Kaye / istockphoto.com.

***Please read on for our response to ProPublica’s follow-up article***

ProPublica’s recent piece An (Even More) Inconvenient Truth is a deeply reported story on very real problems – and even bigger potential problems – with offset projects in existing and emerging carbon markets. But the evidence the article lays out does not support its conclusion about forest carbon crediting. And readers might come away without understanding that protecting forests, including through forest carbon credits, is one of the most important solutions to climate change out there, and the planet can’t afford to dismiss this opportunity to solve the climate crisis.

Missing: The critical distinction between individual “projects” and large-scale, state-level programs to reduce deforestation

It’s not news that bad carbon credits won’t solve climate change. Lots of studies have shown that there are all kinds of bad offset projects, and definitely not just forest projects. But today’s jurisdictional forest credits aren’t your parents’ forest project offsets: they’re real emissions reductions. Though you wouldn’t be able to tell that from the ProPublica story.

The ProPublica piece fails to distinguish large-scale national or provincial programs to reduce emissions from deforestation – known as “jurisdictional” programs – from one-off, small “projects” to reduce deforestation. ProPublica’s implication that old projects had failings and therefore now so must contemporary jurisdictional programs, is like saying flip phones had all sorts of problems, so all cell phones must be unreliable and we should shun smartphones.  Read More »

Also posted in Brazil, California, Forest protection, Indigenous People, Paris Agreement, REDD+, United Nations / Read 5 Responses

In strong WCI auction, prices clear significantly above floor. Here’s why.

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The California coast. Shutterstock.

The strong results of today’s California-Quebec cap-and-trade auction once again illustrate the stability of the market as all current and future allowances sold. At the same time, we are seeing some interesting market trends.

May auction at-a-glance

  • All 66,321,122 current allowances sold, clearing at $17.45, $1.83 above the floor price of $15.62. This is the highest price and highest premium on the floor price seen in a linked Western Climate Initiative (WCI) auction, and $1.72 higher than the February 2019 clearing price.
  • More than 14.5 million fewer allowances were offered for sale than at the February auction because there were no previously unsold allowances from California. This is the first time an offering has not included previously unsold California allowances since August 2017.
  • All of the 9,038,000 future vintage allowances offered also sold at $17.40, $1.78 above the $15.62 floor price. These allowances are not available for use until 2022.
  • The auction raised over approximately $740 million for the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, which California uses to support climate investments in agriculture, transportation electrification, and improving local air quality.
  • Quebec raised over approximately $250 million CAD (approximately $190 million USD) to fund climate investments in the province, adding to the $3 billion CAD in revenue already generated.

So why is the price significantly above the floor price? A couple of different factors could be contributing to the clearing price in May’s auction:  Read More »

Also posted in California / Read 1 Response

There’s progress on climate standards for international aviation, but more needed

https://www.flickr.com/photos/140970794@N06/30345941512

Airplane flying above tropical sea at sunset. Adam Clark, Flickr

If you fly, aviation emissions are likely the largest part of your personal carbon footprint. Absent policy change, aviation’s emissions are slated to triple in the coming decades, making it one of the fastest-growing sources of carbon pollution worldwide.

To achieve the Paris Agreement goals of holding warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and pursuing efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, we need to address emissions from all sectors. This includes international aviation and international shipping, which most countries do not include in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. Back in 1997 when the Parties to the Climate Treaty couldn’t agree on how to allocate these international emissions, they asked the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the UN body that sets standards for international flights, and the International Maritime Organization, for ships, to address these emissions. How are their strategies stacking up?

In a forthcoming post, we’ll look at what’s happened lately in IMO. Here’s an update on ICAO. In 2018, ICAO adopted a set of Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) to implement the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, or CORSIA. As an annex to the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation, the SARPs bring into effect an agreement reached in ICAO in 2016 to cap the net carbon dioxide emissions from international flights at 2020 levels through 2035. If implemented with integrity, CORSIA could prevent up to 2.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions. That’s 10 times what U.S. households emit each year. It could do even more if CORSIA’s targets are extended and tightened.

To comply with CORSIA, all international airlines must monitor, report and verify their CO2 emissions. Effective January 1, 2021, airlines flying between participating countries will need to limit the emissions of those flights to the average of their 2019-2020 levels. To meet these emissions limits, airlines can reduce their direct emissions, or purchase and cancel carbon offset credits. Airlines can reduce the amount of offset credits they need by using sustainable, CORSIA-eligible alternative fuels that emit significantly less CO2 than conventional fuels when evaluated on a lifecycle basis.

In March 2019, ICAO took another step forward, agreeing on broad criteria that carbon offset programs will have to meet in order to be eligible to sell emissions units for use in CORSIA. The adoption of these criteria has sparked a sharp uptick in interest in carbon markets.  Read More »

Also posted in Aviation, Paris Agreement, United Nations / Comments are closed

Oregon’s cap-and-invest program clears first legislative hurdle

By Pam Kiely, Sr. Director of Regulatory Strategy for U.S. Climate, and Katelyn Roedner Sutter, Manager for U.S. Climate

Mount Hood, Oregon. Image by David Mark from Pixabay.com

Oregon today advanced nationally-leading policy that would catapult Oregon into the top-tier of U.S. states taking ambitious climate action.

The cap-and-invest bill (HB 2020), which passed 8-5 out of its first committee late Friday afternoon, places a firm limit on the state’s climate pollution while ensuring continued investments in resilient communities, green jobs and clean energy.

Oregon’s cap-and-invest program sets the bar for what true climate leadership demands: putting in place policies that actually will achieve pollution reductions consistent with what scientists say is necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change. Read More »

Also posted in Cities and states, News, Policy / Read 1 Response

Defending the Amazon, and our planet, from “Trump of the tropics”

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Cattle grazing at a ranch where burned trees and the edge of the rainforest are still visible in Brazil. Shutterstock.

Presidents Trump and Bolsonaro had a lot of common ground to share when they met in Washington last week – racism, misogyny, conspiracy theories, and contempt for science and journalism (the high quality type). They also converge on an early 1900’s view of development and environment as a zero-sum game. The more you have of one, the less there is of the other.

The economics don’t add up for either of them. Trump crows about “beautiful” coal, but the market says coal is a loser compared to renewables and cleaner fuels. Bolsonaro wants to get out of the Paris climate accord and roll back indigenous land rights in favor of agribusiness and mining. Meanwhile, the executive director of the powerful Brazilian Agribusiness Association says “Whoever wants to leave the Paris Agreement has never exported anything.”

Climate denial is central to Trump’s and Bolsonaro’s mindsets, and here the conspiracy theories really go to town. Trump thinks climate change is a Chinese conspiracy to strangle the US economy. Bolsonaro’s Foreign Minister thinks climate change is part of a “cultural Marxist” plot to keep down western democracies and build up Marxist China (he also thinks the “cultural Marxists” want to criminalize red meat and heterosexual sex). Interestingly, former President Dilma Rousseff’s first Minister of Science and Technology, former Communist Party of Brazil Congressman Aldo Rebelo, thought climate change was a capitalist conspiracy to crush Brazilian development. Why let political differences spoil a good conspiracy theory?

You can really only hold on to that early 20th century dichotomy if you ignore the costs of climate change – and the economic opportunities that arise from fixing the problem.

Read More »

Also posted in Brazil, California, Forest protection, Indigenous People / Comments are closed