Climate 411

The EU has the power to bring transformational change to global shipping

Container cargo freight ship with working crane loading bridge in shipyard at dusk.

This post was written by Panos Spiliotis, Global Climate Shipping Manager for EDF, and also appears on EDF Europe.

The European Commission’s “Fit for 55” policy package opens a powerful new opportunity to decarbonise shipping—a sector with a growing share of global emissions (roughly 3%) that is not covered by any EU climate target.

Released last week, the ‘Fit for 55’ package is the most robust policy proposal package set out by any of the world’s economies to date and signals to the international community that the EU is focused on its new target to reduce emissions by 55% by 2030. The Commission’s proposal to include international maritime transport in the EU Emissions Trading System can carry shipping a long way to a zero-carbon future; however, the policy suite fails in other ways to steer shipping entirely away from fossil fuels. Instead of kicking the can down the road, Brussels should chart a course that steers the sector away from liquefied natural gas (LNG) and toward cleaner options.

EU must stop favouring LNG
One key feature of the package, “Refuel EU,” mandates a progressive decrease in the carbon content of marine fuels. Unfortunately, the European Commission has put forward targets that will boost the use of LNG and biofuels in shipping—a pointless half-measure that will not lead to real transformative action. It is a sorely missed opportunity. If appropriately designed, the Refuel EU fuel standard could incentivize zero-carbon fuels.

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Also posted in Carbon Markets, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, International, Shipping / Read 2 Responses

UN aviation agency has an opportunity to bolster sustainable flight by adopting critical fuels criteria

This blog post was authored by Pedro Piris-Cabezas, Director of Sustainable International Transport & Lead Senior Economist at Environmental Defense Fund, and Anna Stratton, Consultant

ICAO building, Montreal

This month, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the United Nation’s aviation agency, is holding its 222nd Council meeting. On the agenda: an opportunity for ICAO Council to signal its commitment to a sustainable future for aviation by adopting an expanded set of sustainability criteria for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

SAF provides a distinct opportunity to put aviation on a pathway to net-zero climate impact by 2050, provided the SAF deployed actually reduces emissions, meets a high standard of environmental integrity, and is accurately accounted for. In 2017, ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) recommended a set of sustainability criteria to the Council, which adopted a portion of the criteria for its emission reduction program and delayed a decision on the rest. Environmental NGOs have called on members of the Council, who are 36 elected members from ICAO’s 193 Member States, to adopt CAEP’s full set of recommendations ever since.

ICAO’s emissions reduction program, the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, or CORSIA, includes a comprehensive SAF framework. CORSIA’s design incentivizes the deployment of SAF that supports decarbonization. If ICAO Council adopts the full set of sustainability criteria recommended by CAEP, it will further strengthen the CORSIA SAF framework and help ensure that CORSIA SAF (1) promotes rather than undermines the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and (2) mitigates the emissions, ecosystem and community risks otherwise present in alternative fuel production and use.

EDF is a member of the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA), the group of environmental NGOs with observer status at ICAO. ICSA sent a letter to all Council Members calling for the adoption of the sustainability criteria as originally recommended by CAEP. In ICSA’s view, not only does the full set of criteria provide clear environmental benefits, adopting the criteria now will provide much needed certainty to SAF producers, as they make investments in the sustainability of their supply chains. Postponing the adoption of the sustainability criteria poses the risk of delaying investments in SAF production capacity, the scale-up of which is critical to the decarbonization of civil aviation.

What’s in the sustainability criteria?

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Also posted in Aviation / Comments are closed

A bold new commitment to the Paris Agreement is achievable – and essential for U.S. leadership

This blog post was co-authored with Nat Keohane, Senior Vice President for Climate at EDF.
The White House

Now that the United States is officially back in the Paris Agreement, after four years of climate inaction and denial, all eyes are on the Biden administration to see whether it will meet the moment by putting forward a new emissions reduction commitment that is both ambitious and credible. In order to hit both marks, the administration should commit to cut total net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030 – a target that is consistent with the science and President Biden’s goal of a net-zero economy by 2050, commensurate with commitments of other advanced economies, and one that many state leaders, businesses, advocates and others are already calling for.

This year’s UN climate talks, known as COP26 and set to take place in November, will be a proving ground for the Paris Agreement framework. Countries must come to the table with more ambitious climate targets known as Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs. Collectively, these NDCs must put the world on a path consistent with the Paris Agreement’s objective of limiting global temperature rise to well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C.

The United States has the chance to regain a position as a global leader on climate – and to galvanize climate action around the world – by setting an ambitious target that meets the scale of the climate crisis. The new U.S. NDC must also be credible – meaning that one or more technically and economically viable policy pathways can be identified to achieve it. Using a range of analyses, a new EDF report demonstrates how a bold new commitment of reducing total net GHG emissions at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030 is achievable through multiple policy pathways – and that charting an ambitious path on climate is essential for growing a stronger and more equitable, clean U.S. economy.

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Also posted in Climate Change Legislation, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, International, Jobs, Paris Agreement, Policy / Comments are closed

Saving and restoring tropical forests has enormous value for the planet and the economy

Aerial view of the Amazon Rainforest, near Manaus, the capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas. Neil Palmer (CIAT). Source: Wikimedia Commons.

This post was authored by Sabine Fuss, Group Leader for Sustainable Resource Management and Global Change at the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC), Ruben Lubowski, Chief Natural Resource Economist at EDF, and Alexander Golub, Adjunct Professor of Environmental Science at American University

The protection of tropical forests globally is indispensable for significantly increasing climate ambition in line with Paris Agreement goals as illustrated by a tremendous return on climate investment, according to our new article in the journal Global Sustainability.

Without dedicated efforts to protect tropical forests, tropical deforestation will contribute to the atmosphere on the order of 200 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions through the end of the century. Allowing this deforestation to occur would make the transition extremely difficult, requiring drastic immediate cuts in difficult-to-decarbonize sectors at high costs with no flexibility to allow benefitting from ongoing innovation and cost reductions. Unmitigated tropical deforestation would also put net zero emissions out of reach without large-scale deployment of Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) technologies, which would require an unanticipated ramp-up of new infrastructure pervaded by a diverse array of uncertainties.

Protecting and restoring tropical forests as envisioned under the international finance framework REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) thus provides the world with greater flexibility to implement deeper cuts in emissions. Other studies have also recognized the importance of REDD+ for climate stabilization, but ours goes a step further by determining the economic value that REDD+ can provide by enhancing global flexibility for reducing emissions.

For our study, we applied the widely used climate economics model DICE developed by US Nobel Prize winner William Nordhaus. DICE shows the cost of achieving climate targets by using the most favourable mix of mitigation measures, but has so far not explicitly reflected the mitigation potential of tropical forest conservation. Our analysis incorporates more recent estimates from Jonah Busch and colleagues of the CO2 impacts of protecting and restoring tropical forests and of the direct opportunity costs of such activities, i.e. how much it would cost to forego the economic benefits of clearing or of allowing forests to regenerate – a key concern in many developing countries and often a strategic decision because of the large role that agricultural exports play in the economy.

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Also posted in Carbon Markets, Forest protection, REDD+ / Comments are closed

Pueblos Indígenas enfrentan desafíos para una participación efectiva en foros internacionales de política climática

Esta publicación fue corredactada por Bärbel Henneberger. 

Read in English

Apertura de la reunión del LCIPP en el marco de la COP25 en Madrid, España, diciembre de 2019. UNclimatechange/Flickr

Los impactos negativos de COVID-19 van más allá de los efectos directos en la salud, particularmente entre los Pueblos Indígenas, que han estado entre los más afectados por la pandemia. Las violaciones de derechos humanos junto con los conflictos ambientales se han intensificado, lo que ha obligado a las comunidades indígenas a lidiar con estas circunstancias y lo que significan para su capacidad para continuar participando en procesos políticos que son parte integral de la defensa de sus derechos e igualdad.

COVID-19 ha impedido que los Pueblos Indígenas participen en persona en las negociaciones internacionales sobre cambio climático convocadas por la Convención Marco de las Naciones Unidas sobre el Cambio Climático (CMNUCC), ya que estas se han pospuesto o se están realizando de manera virtual. La presencia de los Pueblos Indígenas en estas negociaciones asegura que los derechos humanos sean centrales en todas las discusiones y también ayuda a reducir los posibles impactos ambientales y sociales negativos de las nuevas políticas internacionales. Sus perspectivas son clave para pintar una imagen precisa de lo que está sucediendo en sus territorios y cómo el cambio climático ya está teniendo un impacto significativo en su forma de vida.

La Plataforma de las Comunidades Locales y los Pueblos Indígenas (Plataforma CLPI)

Asegurar la participación efectiva y activa de los Pueblos Indígenas, tanto de manera presencial como virtualmente, para que puedan plantear sus inquietudes y contribuir a este proceso, es una de las principales prioridades del movimiento indígena. Una vía primordial a través de la cual los Pueblos Indígenas pueden participar en el proceso de la CMNUCC es la Plataforma de las Comunidades Locales y los Pueblos Indígenas (Plataforma CLPI).

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Also posted in Indigenous People, News / Comments are closed

Indigenous Peoples face challenges to effective participation in international climate policy forums

This post was coauthored by Bärbel Henneberger.

Versión en español.

Opening of LCIPP meeting at COP25 in Madrid, Spain, December 2019.

Opening of LCIPP meeting at COP25 in Madrid, Spain, December 2019. UNclimatechange/Flickr

The negative impacts of COVID-19 span beyond direct health effects, particularly among Indigenous Peoples—who have been among the most drastically impacted by the pandemic. Human rights violations have skyrocketed and environmental conflicts have intensified, forcing Indigenous communities to grapple with these circumstances and what they mean for their ability to continue participating in political processes integral to advocacy for their rights and equality.

COVID-19 has prevented Indigenous Peoples from participating in person at the international climate change negotiations convened by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), as these have been postponed or moved online. The presence of Indigenous Peoples at these negotiations ensure that human rights are central to all discussions, and also help reduce the possible negative environmental and social impacts of new international policies. Their perspectives are key to painting an accurate picture of what is happening on the ground in their territories, and how climate change is already having a significant impact on their way of life.

The Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform

Ensuring the effective and active participation of Indigenous Peoples, both physically and virtually, so that they may raise their concerns and contribute to this process is one of the main priorities of the Indigenous movement. A key avenue through which Indigenous Peoples can participate in the UNFCCC process is the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (LCIPP).

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