What Is the "Global Stocktake" and How Can It Accelerate Climate Action?

19 horas 35 minutos ago
What Is the "Global Stocktake" and How Can It Accelerate Climate Action? shannon.paton@… Thu, 06/01/2023 - 15:00

This year is a critical moment for climate action.

The mounting impacts of climate change, from floods and droughts to hurricanes and heat waves, are taking a major toll on human lives and economies globally — particularly in vulnerable developing nations with the fewest resources to protect themselves.

Current climate actions are not nearly enough to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) and avoid the worst of these climate impacts, and countries must accelerate efforts to get on track. The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report tells us that actions taken this decade will have impacts “for thousands of years.”

The Global Stocktake, happening in 2023 for the first time ever, offers a pivotal opportunity to correct course.

The Paris Agreement’s Global Stocktake process is designed to assess the global response to the climate crisis every five years. It evaluates the world's progress on slashing greenhouse gas emissions, building resilience to climate impacts, and securing finance and support to address the climate crisis.

But this cannot be just another global assessment showing how far off track we are. The Stocktake process should also serve as a global accelerator, driving nations to step up their climate action and pursue the transformational change needed to secure a zero-carbon, climate-resilient and equitable future.

The Stocktake will conclude by the end of the UN climate summit in December 2023 (COP28). Countries must then agree on how they will leverage its findings to keep the global goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C alive and address the impacts of climate change.

Here’s what to know about the Global Stocktake and how it can foster global climate action:

What Is the Purpose of the Global Stocktake?

Established under Article 14 of the Paris Agreement, the Global Stocktake is designed “to assess the collective progress towards achieving the purpose of [the Paris] Agreement and its long-term goals.”  Those goals include: cutting greenhouse gas emissions to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) and ideally 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F); building resilience to climate impacts; and aligning financial support with the scale and scope needed to tackle the climate crisis.

Extreme flooding in Sylhet, Bangladesh in 2022 led to a shortage of clean drinking water. The Global Stocktake will assess the world’s progress on addressing the climate crisis and its escalating impacts. Photo by H.M. Shahidul Islam/iStock

The Global Stocktake is intended to evaluate progress on climate action at the global level — not the national level — and identify overall gaps to achieve the Paris Agreement as well as opportunities to bridge them.

But the Global Stocktake is meant to go far beyond an assessment.

In the Paris Agreement, Parties agreed that the Stocktake should inform countries in updating and enhancing their climate actions and support, and in enhancing international cooperation for climate action. It should also inform countries’ new climate plans (known as “nationally determined contributions,” or NDCs) which will be fully updated next in 2025. Conducting the Global Stocktake every five years is meant to ensure that countries and others are increasingly ambitious with their actions to keep the Paris Agreement’s goals in reach.

If undertaken effectively, the Global Stocktake can provide the basis that guides countries’ and non-state actors’ climate policy and investment decisions. And it can help drive transformational action across systems like energy, nature, food and transport.

Which Aspects of Climate Action Does the Global Stocktake Assess?

At COP24 in Katowice, Poland in 2018, countries agreed that the Global Stocktake would address climate progress in three key areas:

  • Mitigation: Evaluating global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) and ideally 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F), and identifying opportunities for additional emissions cuts.
  • Adaptation: Measuring progress in countries’ abilities to enhance their resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate impacts.
  • Means of implementation, including finance, technology transfer and capacity building: Assessing progress on aligning financial flows with emissions-reduction goals and climate-resilient development, and providing support to developing nations to address the climate crisis.

Additionally, the Global Stocktake is meant to address loss and damage, helping assess the actions and support needed to respond to climate impacts that go beyond what communities and ecosystems can adapt to. It also considers the unintended social and economic consequences that may arise from climate action and implementation, known as response measures. In addition, the Global Stocktake is intended to emphasize the importance of promoting equity and leveraging the best available science to inform strategies for tackling the climate crisis.

What Does the Global Stocktake Process Look Like?

The Global Stocktake is meant to be a participatory process that is open, inclusive and transparent, as countries agreed at COP24. Taking place over the course of two years, the Global Stocktake begins with data collection and technical assessment phases and culminates with a high-level political phase. This cycle’s final political phase will take place at COP28 in Dubai in December 2023.

What’s happened so far in the Global Stocktake process?

In its initial data collection phase, which ended in March 2023, the Global Stocktake collected inputs from the UNFCCC Secretariat, its constituted bodies and the IPCC to ensure balanced and comprehensive information across all thematic areas. Parties to the Paris Agreement, international organizations and non-Party stakeholders (such as members of civil society) also had the opportunity to submit relevant information via a public information portal.

The second phase, technical assessment, convenes Parties, experts and non-Party stakeholders to evaluate the information gathered in Phase 1, identify important technical insights and prepare for the final political phase of the Global Stocktake. The technical assessment phase comprises three dialogues held at COP27 and at the 2022 and 2023 intersessional meetings in Bonn, Germany. The final technical dialogue will take place in Bonn in June 2023.

A summary report is developed after each dialogue. At the conclusion of the technical phase, an overarching synthesis report will summarize key technical findings and inform the final political phase of the Global Stocktake. This report will likely be released in September 2023; it is expected to reveal how far off the world is from achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement and provide concrete guidance on actions needed to close these gaps.

What will happen at COP28?

The third and final phase of the Global Stocktake, consideration of outputs, will take place at COP28 in Dubai. This stage is critical, as it will determine how countries respond politically to the gaps and opportunities identified in the technical phase.

During Phase 3, country delegates will discuss the Stocktake’s technical findings, identify opportunities and challenges, and assess measures and best practices for climate action and international cooperation. Following these discussions, countries will collectively produce a summary of key political messages, which can then be referenced in COP28’s final decision. This final decision would formalize the guidance and commitments all countries adopt in developing their future climate actions and support.

A work crew cleans up rubble after a major typhoon in the Philippines in 2022. The political phase of the Global Stocktake will inform countries’ future climate actions and support for vulnerable nations. Photo by Pascal Canning/Shutterstock

The outcome of the Global Stocktake’s final phase at COP28 has the potential to result in a decisive decision with bold political commitments that can drive breakthrough solutions across systems and sectors. However, with a lack of political will, the Stocktake risks becoming an information-sharing exercise coupled with broad, unactionable recommendations.

It is imperative for countries to fully leverage the Stocktake’s political phase to maximize its impact and avoid drawing vague conclusions. It will then be up to national policymakers to use the outcomes of the Global Stocktake to strengthen national implementation of their climate commitments and increase their ambition and action — including through greater finance and support.

How Should Countries Respond to the Global Stocktake Findings at COP28?

While the Global Stocktake synthesis report won’t be released until September 2023, we already know it will show us that the world is far off track from achieving its climate goals. But it will also provide the world with a roadmap for transformation. At COP28, it’s essential that governments respond assertively to the Stocktake’s findings and make concrete, ambitious commitments that can accelerate transformative action to cut emissions, build resilience and boost climate finance.

The success of the first Global Stocktake hinges on whether countries — along with companies, cities, and others — use it as an opportunity to turn findings into action and set us on a path to a safer world.

Some of the key actions to include could be:

1. Accelerating emissions reductions

Current national climate plans fall significantly short of the ambition required to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C, creating a clear emissions gap. Moreover, countries’ current actions are inadequate to fulfill their own commitments. In response to the Global Stocktake, countries can send a clear signal at COP28 that they will put forward more ambitious national climate plans (NDCs) by 2025.

These updated NDCs — which will set emissions reduction targets for 2035, and can strengthen them for 2030 — should align with the best available climate science, aiming for a collective emissions reduction of 43% by 2030 and 60% by 2035, relative to 2019 levels. Additionally, countries can agree to incorporate targets for sectoral action and other issues (such as methane emissions) in their NDCs, accelerating the systemwide transformations needed to limit global temperature rise and avoid the worst climate impacts.

2. Driving transformative change across systems

In addition to informing stronger national climate commitments, the Global Stocktake will reveal opportunities for targeted action across sectors and systems that contribute the most to the climate crisis. A response plan to the Global Stocktake findings can catalyze action in these key areas. For example:

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Systems Change Lab monitors, learns from and mobilizes action to achieve the far-reaching transformational shifts needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C, halt biodiversity loss and build a just and equitable economy.

  • The world needs to address the most fundamental cause of the problem: burning and financing fossil fuels. Agreeing to rapidly and equitably transition away from all fossil fuels, improve efficiency and productivity of energy use, and scale up zero-carbon energy, particularly renewables, would mark a turning point in the fight against climate change. Countries can also commit to shifting finance from dirty energy to clean energy infrastructure.
  • The Global Stocktake’s political process can also address transforming food systems, which account for roughly one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions. Actions should not only help mitigate climate change but also enhance the resilience of food systems in the face of climate-related impacts. This can include scaling up sustainable agricultural practices to boost yields on existing farmland, while lowering emissions, reducing food loss and waste, and encouraging healthier, more sustainable diets.
  • Other crucial commitments that can be driven by the Global Stocktake outcome at COP28 include: ending deforestation and the degradation of important carbon-rich ecosystems and advancing efforts to restore and sustainably manage them; reducing emissions from the transport sector, both through zero-carbon vehicles and shifting modes of transport; promoting sustainable consumption and circular economy approaches; and accelerating fundamental shifts in industry, infrastructure, cities and health.

Across these sectors and systems, many cost-effective climate solutions already exist; decision-makers must now make firm commitments and take large-scale action to implement them. If these changes are implemented with a focus on inclusivity, equity and a just transition, they can yield significant social and economic benefits, from creating job opportunities to improving health and increasing energy access.

3. Tackling the intensifying impacts of climate change

The Global Stocktake also provides an important opportunity to advance global resilience-building efforts and address climate-related losses and damages. It can uncover woefully inadequate funding for adaptation and the persistent lag in action. Furthermore, it can expose the alarming reality of intensifying climate impacts and the level of support needed to protect vulnerable communities. In response to the Stocktake’s findings, developed and wealthier nations must assure developing countries that they will follow through on doubling accessible adaptation finance by 2025 to assist those who have contributed the least to the climate crisis but bear the greatest burden.

And it’s not just the amount of money available — it’s where it ends up, how quickly it gets there and who controls it. Local actors require more accessible, high-quality funding, more quickly, as well as greater decision-making authority over expenditures. As part of the Stocktake's political response, developed nations can agree to increase technical and capacity-building assistance for developing nations — in addition to increased finance — to support their shift from adaptation planning to implementation and tracking.

With the expectation that loss and damage funding arrangements will be operationalized at COP28, countries can also use the Stocktake as an opportunity to prioritize the need for new, innovative and additional grant-based finance for the Loss and Damage Fund. And they can take other steps to address loss and damage; these include demonstrating support for early warning systems and post-disaster recovery efforts that improve infrastructure reconstruction and community resilience, and finding ways to address non-economic losses and damages such as loss of culture and heritage.

4. Realigning financial and technical resources with climate priorities

The transition to a low-carbon and resilient future will require significant investment — though not as much as the expense from the failure to take action — and shifting financial and technical resources toward climate-resilient development is critical. The Global Stocktake will likely reveal misalignment between global finance and the efforts required to combat climate change. To address this yawning gap in alignment, countries can commit at COP28 to shift finance and investment globally, as well as to provide increased support and technical resources to developing countries to address climate challenges.

For instance, countries can commit at COP28 to reallocate misaligned finance, such as funds currently directed toward subsidies and other forms of support for fossil fuels, to finance cleaner energy sources like renewables. Governments can also commit to pursue innovative financing mechanisms such as levies on sectors like aviation and shipping and fair corporate taxes to help raise budgets for investment in zero-carbon solutions. Additionally, countries can send strong signals through the Stocktake outcome to reform international financial institutions and multilateral development banks and enhance their climate funding.

To ensure that all countries are able to take the climate action needed, the political outcome of the Global Stocktake should highlight the gap in finance and investment needed by many developing countries. It should then prioritize a collective commitment by wealthy countries to increased climate support that responds to those countries’ urgent needs and strengthens their long-term institutional capacity-building.

5. Laying the groundwork for increased implementation

Finally, the Global Stocktake will address existing roadblocks to climate action and suggest improvements to help ensure these commitments are more than mere promises on paper. For instance, the Global Stocktake political outcome can include provisions to:

  • Encourage governments to arrange national and regional stocktakes in 2024 that can drive forward outcomes from the Global Stocktake and assist countries in developing their 2025 NDCs.
  • Enhance international cooperation for climate action. For example, it can call for dialogues and initiatives to strengthen intergovernmental coordination, including in key sectors, and improve cooperation between UNFCCC processes, UN entities and other international organizations.
  • Prioritize inclusive participation, just transition and equity considerations both at the global and domestic levels, and integrate them into all thematic areas. This can be guided by essential principles such as common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, right to sustainable development and human rights.
  • Encourage a comprehensive collection of reliable and actionable data to enhance transparency, including addressing gaps in the quality and quantity of data on finance, adaptation, loss and damage, and just transition. Without this reliable data, climate action risks becoming a blindfolded endeavor.
  • Strengthen processes for working with non-state actors to advance transparency and accountability of their action. Such processes are crucial for building trust among stakeholders and providing information on the progress (and gaps) in implementation.
  • Integrate with other UNFCCC dialogues and processes, such as those focused on the Global Goal for Adaptation, just transition, loss and damage, mitigation and the new finance goal. Leveraging existing processes can energize a cohesive and strengthened implementation for climate action and support in this decade.
What’s Next on the Road to COP28?

After the technical phase of the Global Stocktake concludes in June 2023 in Bonn, focus will shift to the political phase. During the Bonn meetings, countries will begin to deliberate on political outputs from the Global Stocktake at COP28, including how to focus and structure them. A key milestone will be the Climate Ambition summit, to be convened by the UN Secretary-General during the UN General Assembly in September 2023. The summit will expect countries, business, cities and regions, civil society and financial institutions to come forward with new, tangible and concrete climate actions and commitments that support the objectives of the Global Stocktake.

Ultimately, the success of the first Global Stocktake hinges on whether governments adequately respond to its findings by the conclusion of COP28 — not with vague platitudes but with commitments to real action. Success depends on countries’ commitment to significantly scaling up their climate actions and support, putting forward ambitious national climate plans in 2025, and accelerating key transformative actions over the next decade.

Following the conclusion of COP28, everyone — from countries and CEOs to cities and governors — must seize the moment to reevaluate their own targets and action, ensuring their alignment with a zero-carbon future that increases resilience and boosts support for the countries and communities that need it most. The Global Stocktake at COP28 should not just be a catalog of our failures, but a global springboard to keep 1.5 degrees C and climate-resilient development pathways within reach.

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In India, New Solar Parks Can Either Uproot or Uplift Landless Workers

1 día 20 horas ago
In India, New Solar Parks Can Either Uproot or Uplift Landless Workers margaret.overh… Wed, 05/31/2023 - 14:00

Subbarayappa (name changed to protect identity) lives with his family of five in the small village of Vollur in southern India. The nearest town, Pavagada, is 35 km away. Subbarayappa does not own any land and his only source of income is daily wage labor, including intermittent agricultural and construction work. He struggles to find work in his village and must often travel to nearby towns.

Subbarayappa’s situation is not unique: About 30% of all families surveyed by WRI India in five neighboring villages do not own any land but depend on land-based livelihoods. These “landless” communities are often agricultural laborers, who work in the fields of landowning farmers, or pastoralists, who depend on common land (or sometimes on privately owned land) to graze their livestock.

Meanwhile, the Pavagada subdistrict where Subbarayappa lives is also home to one of the largest solar parks in the world.

While the solar park produces clean energy, reduces emissions and generates economic benefits, for communities like Subbarayappa’s, there’s a downside: The arrival of the solar park in 2015 led to a major shift in land use within the community. Its installation reduced the amount of land under cultivation by around 90% and severely limited the availability of livelihoods for Subbarayappa and others dependent on land-based income.

The transition to renewables is causing similar shifts worldwide, not just in energy systems but also in the ways societies have organized around them. While the low-carbon transition is undoubtedly essential, so, too, is a just transition that protects workers and communities impacted by this shift — be it coal workers in South Africa, Indigenous communities in Mexico or landless workers in Subbarayappa's village.

As one of India’s landmark solar projects, Pavagada is set to be a template for several upcoming parks in the country. Lessons from its implementation can help ensure that India’s solar surge is just and equitable for all those involved.

A Green Energy Revolution in India

India has been rapidly increasing its renewable power capacity in the last decade, driven by ambitious commitments to meet 50% of its energy requirements with renewables by 2030. In 2021, India added the third-highest renewable capacity (15.4 GW) after China and the United States. Solar power has been a major contributor to this addition, with close to 77% of the capacity among solar installations being sourced from utility solar photovoltaic (PV) installations like the one in Pavagada. Utility-scale solar PV capacity in India is likely to scale up to 793 GW by 2050 for a long-term decarbonization scenario.

In addition to climate benefits, the immense scale of renewable energy deployment in India brings with it the potential to create employment, improve livelihoods and reduce poverty. There are, however, social impacts of the transition that could further marginalize at-risk communities unless the right protections are put in place.

Where Do the Landless Feature in India’s Clean Energy Transition?

Besides generating 2,000 MW of clean electricity, the Pavagada solar park was seen as an opportunity to usher in new jobs and economic growth in the region.

Around 2,300 farmers from five villages have leased 13,000 acres of land to the solar park. Land-leasing farmers receive an annual rent of approximately INR 24,000 ($292) per acre, with a 5% increment every two years. The 28-year lease agreement assures them a regular income and makes them less dependent on the vagaries of the weather.

However, landless workers like Subbarayappa do not benefit from this arrangement.

In 2021, WRI India surveyed five villages around the Pavagada solar park and found that the amount of land under cultivation decreased by 88% after the solar park’s installation. This has forced workers to travel to nearby villages or migrate to other towns or cities in search of labor opportunities.

“Earlier, the landowners would pay us in advance for the work and if we wanted a loan, we could borrow up to INR 10,000 [$122], but these days there is nobody to offer us work, to give us a loan or to help us,” a landless worker from Vollur said.

In addition to a decrease in crop cultivation, access to grazing lands has also been lost. Some pastoralists from Vollur and the neighboring village of Thirumani now walk their livestock to other villages — sometimes up to 40 km away — where they compete with local pastoralists for grazing land. Those unable to walk either hire people to take care of their animals or sell their herds. Still other workers migrate to cities in search of contractual labor.

When the solar project was proposed, local workers anticipated new jobs to replace or supplement these traditional livelihoods. Solar panels installed in the first phase (600 MW) of the project required manual cleaning with water, which generated jobs. However, solar panels installed in the second phase (1,400 MW) use dry cleaning robots, following guidelines from the Ministry for New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). This saves water but does not create additional jobs.

A survey by WRI India found that only 18% of the workers employed by the solar park belonged to landless households, though they form 30% of the local population. More than 80% of those employed at the solar park belong to landholding families. Landless workers claimed that villagers who had leased land to the solar park were preferred, due to an in-principle agreement recorded in a Government of Karnataka Order to approve the solar park.

How to Ensure a Just Transition to Solar Energy in India

Pavagada and other solar parks like it don’t have to come with such steep downsides. New green energy infrastructure development can lead to economic benefits for landless communities and others whose employment and way of life will be impacted.

As the low-carbon energy transition scales up in India and elsewhere, policymakers can take steps to ensure just and equitable outcomes for all. For example:

Solar companies can permit shared land use in solar parks

The co-utilization of solar park land for grazing and cultivation must be fostered by governments as well as solar park developers. “Agrivoltaics” and “solar grazing” — allowing crops to grow or livestock to graze in the space around solar panels — can provide landless communities with sustenance, diversified livelihoods, and increased resilience to the impacts of changing land use.

Raising the height of solar panel modules and installing underground cables will enable farmers to graze their herds around and under the panels, preventing damage and providing shade to the animals. Suitable panel configurations and module heights will also open the land up for cultivation. Cases of shared land use in India and other countries can be used as a reference; one solar project in Spain, for example, has been combined with agricultural use and beekeeping.  

Solar companies can enter into lease agreements with farmer cooperatives for this purpose. Proposals for such agreements must be scientifically robust, including the choice of appropriate crops and farming practices. They must also be supported by the state through enabling policy frameworks, integration in agricultural strategies and provision of financial resources. This will also help improve and secure livelihood opportunities for the local communities. 

Governments and businesses can provide training and jobs for displaced workers

The government should empower landless workers impacted by the clean energy transition through training and upskilling programs to help them access employment opportunities. Besides vocational training for employment at solar parks, such programs could also involve re-skilling workers for different local industries, such as factory jobs in neighboring towns. Upskilling and re-skilling programs should specifically target workers who are rendered unemployed due to changes in land use and should facilitate safe long-distance transportation for work.

Even though women formed 56% of the agricultural workforce in these five villages before the solar park, no women — either landholding or landless — are employed by the solar park. For the clean energy transition to be just and inclusive, private solar developers should consider gender-sensitive support, such as providing women workers with access to safe transport, accommodation and childcare assistance in employment locations. Communities can also be supported with training, tools and finance mechanisms to set up micro or small enterprises locally.

National and sub-national agencies can further encourage rooftop solar

The full potential of rooftop solar installations in cities must be harnessed to reduce pressure on agricultural land. India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and State Nodal Agencies could test out innovative business models and further incentivize rooftop solar to tap into its massive potential and reduce the dependence on ground-mounted solar.

Besides avoiding transmission and distribution losses that are common with lengthy transmission lines, rooftop solar can circumvent potential social and environmental impacts of land use change and competition. Innovative international finance models can also help make less land-intensive options, such as offshore wind, financially viable.

What the World Can Learn from Pavagada Solar Park

Pavagada solar park highlights the risk of climate action exacerbating existing socio-economic inequities — as well as the opportunity this transition presents to mitigate some of those harms.

As India aims to triple its renewable energy capacity in less than a decade, a just and equitable energy transition must not only focus on fossil fuel workers, but also on communities affected by the scale-up of clean energy. Across all projects and nations, decision-makers must thoroughly assess local implications to ensure that everyone, including workers like Subbarayappa, can reap the economic benefits of the low-carbon transition.

Learn more about WRI’s work on Just Transitions.

Photos by Vishwajeet Poojary/WRI. Final image by Umesh Negi/iStock.

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The Electric School Bus Series: How Austin's School Board Resolution Created a Path for Cleaner Rides for Kids

2 días 18 horas ago
The Electric School Bus Series: How Austin's School Board Resolution Created a Path for Cleaner Rides for Kids ciara.regan@wri.org Tue, 05/30/2023 - 16:22

In collaboration with partners and communities, WRI’s Electric School Bus Initiative aims to build unstoppable momentum toward an equitable transition of the U.S. school bus fleet to electric by 2030, bringing health, climate and economic benefits to children and families across the country and normalizing electric mobility for an entire generation. The Electric School Bus Series shows how superintendents and fleet managers have pursued school bus electrification in their own communities. This edition features Austin Independent School District (Austin ISD) in Texas, whose board of trustees passed a resolution in September 2022 committing the school district to purchasing exclusively electric school buses by 2030 on the path to full fleet electrification by 2035.

This piece is based on interviews with Kris Hafezizadeh, Executive Director of Transportation & Vehicle Services for Austin ISD, and Luke Metzger, the Executive Director of Environment Texas.

Austin ISD is leading the charge as one of a growing number of school districts in the nation with a district-level goal to transition its entire school bus fleet to electric. Austin ISD has set a target of 2035, outlined in a resolution that the Austin ISD Board of Trustees passed in September 2022.

The Board passed the resolution approximately two months prior to an election in which Austin voters would select members of the board of trustees and vote on three propositions for the Austin ISD 2022 Bond, used to finance construction projects and capital improvements. In the run-up to the election, the trustees saw an electric school bus transition target as an opportunity to highlight and act on their commitment to student health and align themselves with city climate initiatives to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.

Capitalizing on the momentum of the upcoming election, the board of trustees crafted a bold yet achievable vision for the 550 buses that transport 23,000 students daily. Then, trustees unanimously passed the resolution to transition the entire fleet to electric by 2035 (with incremental new bus purchase targets of 25% by 2023, 50% by 2027 and 100% by 2030), setting the school district on its way to full electrification over the following 12 years.

In November 2022, this resolution got a financial boost with the passage of the $2.4 billion 2022 Bond, the largest in the city’s history, $25.7 million of which will go towards school bus replacement.

Motivation & Co-benefits

In their Climate Equity Plan, the city of Austin set a target for net-zero community-wide emissions by 2040. A core strategy for decarbonizing the transport sector is to electrify public sector fleet vehicles, including the transit system, Capital Metro (CapMetro) and school buses.

As Kris Hafezizadeh, Austin ISD’s Executive Director of Transportation & Vehicle Services, saw the city and transit agency going electric, he knew the district “wanted to be part of it.” The transportation department had a long history of exploring alternative fuels, beginning in 2007 with a plug-in hybrid bus, followed by seven propane buses. The district began exploring electrification around seven years ago and started conversations with Austin Energy early on to identify what that process would entail. In September 2022, Austin ISD ordered three electric school buses to pilot (see Implementation Status).

Kris Hafezizadeh, Executive Director of Transportation & Vehicle Services for Austin ISD. Photo by Kris Hafezizadeh

Like the transportation department, the trustees wanted to demonstrate that the district supports the Climate Equity Plan and respond to community concerns about harmful diesel pollution by prioritizing clean rides for students. After observing the experiences of school districts across the country and working locally with stakeholder groups, the trustees unanimously passed the resolution to transition the district’s fleet to all electric by 2035. The resolution cites improving student health by eliminating nitrous oxide (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) emissions, fuel and operating and maintenance cost savings, and the potential for vehicle-to-grid (V2G) as benefits of fleet electrification.

Partners, Advocates & Tactics

Throughout the process, myriad stakeholders contributed knowledge and expertise. The trustees worked closely with the district’s Transportation department to understand operational considerations, while groups like Environment Texas and their partners coordinated community support and public education opportunities on the benefits of electric school buses.

To build interest and a case for electric school buses, local advocates relied on several strategies to support the board of trustees. Two key strategies included:

  • Educating Stakeholders and Providing Information, via Webinar: In October 2020, the Texas Electric Transportation Resources Alliance and Environment Texas co-hosted a webinar on the benefits of electric school buses. Panelists included Hafezizadeh, the Texas Public Interest Research Group (TexPIRG), the Environmental Defense Fund, the Electrification Coalition, and a mother and future pediatrician. Half a dozen school board trustees and candidates for trustees attended the webinar.
  • Garnering Support, via Sign-on Letter: In August 2022, TexPIRG and Environment Texas organized a letter calling for Austin ISD to go beyond a pilot and commit to transition the full school bus fleet. Signatories included more than two dozen local, state and federal elected officials (including Mayor Steve Adler and U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett); Parent Teacher Association (PTA) members; community members; and several environmental, health and community groups.

Through these efforts, advocates were able to shed light on the importance of embracing efforts to achieve cleaner air from a community perspective. Local call-to-action and desire to align with the city’s climate efforts impacted the Austin ISD trustees, who then assessed the feasibility by:   

  • Involving the Transportation Department: Throughout the process, Hafezizadeh’s team provided important information to trustees on the district's fleet operations. Reflecting on the meetings, Hafezizadeh said “involving transportation departments not only for this project but for anything that might impact student transportation,” is essential. He added, “It’s easy to say, ‘let’s do something,’ but there are tons of other logistics that transportation brings to the table to make a project successful.”

To better understand electric operations, Hafezizadeh forged partnerships with his counterpart at Everman ISD, the first district in the state to operate electric school buses, as well as the CapMetro team to learn from their experiences with electric transit operations.

  • Embracing and Championing at the Leadership Level: In partnership with local advocates, the board president at the time, Geronimo Rodriguez, brought the initial idea to the full Board. As interest among trustees grew, Rodriguez partnered with local groups like Environment Texas and TexPIRG to craft bold yet achievable language that built gradually towards a 2035 goal by integrating purchase targets as steppingstones towards full electrification. By this time, the language for the bond bill that would determine funding for Austin ISD’s infrastructure projects was set, so the trustees decided to put the language into a supplementary resolution. In this manner, President Rodriguez and the trustees were able to create a policy that addressed public concerns about diesel bus emissions.

Upon passage of the resolution, advocates and political figures gathered at a press event. Prominent voices such as Texas Congressman Lloyd Doggett applauded the achievement while union leaders reiterated a commitment to building out the local workforce. Additionally, the CEO of CapMetro spoke to the agency’s experience with electrification and brought one of their own electric transit buses to the event.

Members of Environment Texas and TexPIRG with Congressman Lloyd Doggett, Austin Mayor Pro Tem Paige Ellis, and then-President of the AISD board Geronimo Rodriguez at press event. Photo by Luke MetzgerImplementation Status

Austin ISD has ordered three IC electric buses from Longhorn Bus Sales, two 71 passenger Type C buses ($376,507) and one 47 passenger Type C with wheelchair track seating and a lift ($376,229). They opted to start with a smaller number of buses as a pilot to give drivers and mechanics a chance to learn about the buses before large scale deployment. They also kept equity at the forefront of their efforts by including a bus with a wheelchair lift so that all students could experience cleaner, quieter rides. When the buses arrive in fall 2023, Hafezizadeh says that he plans to run the buses on a variety of routes, including long, short, hilly and stop-and-go routes to understand performance across all aspects of their operations.

The district is working closely with their electric utility, Austin Energy, who has been a very supportive partner, on their charging infrastructure. Currently, the site can accommodate two DC fast chargers and two Level 2 chargers without any site upgrades. In the near future, they hope to hire a project manager who can look into large-scale infrastructure build out, the feasibility of vehicle-to-everything (V2X) and on-site solar/microgrid/resiliency efforts.

Greatest Challenges

To achieve the targets laid out in the resolution, the greatest challenge will be funding the initial transition. Every bond cycle, the transportation department submits its estimated cost for fleet replacement. However, due to a misalignment in the timing of the finalization of the 2022 bond request and the electric school bus resolution, Hafezizadeh based his estimate for bus replacement for the 2022 Bond on the price of a diesel model rather than electric, which is three to four times as expensive as diesel. The transportation department plans to fund the next round of buses through a mix of grants and the 2022 Bond and it will base the next bond estimate solely off the price of electric buses.

Advice for Other School Districts

As an advocate, Luke Metzger, the Executive Director of Environment Texas, suggests layering an electrification resolution with a key opportunity like a bond bill or election can help capitalize on a moment of change and political will. For groups looking to support their school board members or trustees, Metzger believes working with leadership like the board president early on helps build the necessary traction. He advises advocates to “build a strong case for the district making the switch, build a coalition of community supporters, make the pitch during public comment opportunities at board meetings and meet one-on-one with board members until you find someone who's ready to help and lead the charge.” Additionally, by asking champions how to best support them, advocates can further ensure they are well-equipped to lead on electrification. For example, after asking President Rodriguez and the Chief Operations Officer (now serving as interim Superintendent), Matias Segura, what questions they had about the technology and the experience of other school districts, Environment Texas connected them to the right groups to answer their questions. These approaches may also help identify other key partners like additional board members, PTA representatives or the local media.

Luke Metzger, Executive Director of Environment Texas, at press event. Photo by Luke Metzger.

When looking to board resolutions as a tool to catalyze a transition to electric, Hafezizadeh urges involved parties to prioritize transparency and collaboration and to always bring in the transportation department, stating that “open communication between superintendents, trustees and transportation will play key role in making a project successful.”

Additional Resources

Want to learn more from the Electric School Bus Series? Explore more stories here.

school-bus-tx.jpg Equity United States Equity electric school bus series Type Project Update Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Authors Alissa Huntington W. Briana Fowler-Puja

Landscape Restoration Is Complex, But Multi-Stakeholder Platforms Can Help

2 días 23 horas ago
Landscape Restoration Is Complex, But Multi-Stakeholder Platforms Can Help alicia.cypress… Tue, 05/30/2023 - 11:30

There’s little debate that healthy land is valuable land, but restoring degraded land is complicated and requires a well-orchestrated approach. The first step is to recognize that land restoration isn’t a goal in and of itself, but a means to multiple ends. Multiple stakeholders at national and local levels — including women, smallholder farmers, Indigenous peoples and others — have a hand in improving soil quality, protecting forests, natural resources and local livelihoods, and sustaining national and local economies. Therefore, these actors should come together to create or pursue shared strategies that meet desired benefits.

This collaborative approach can take the form of a multi-stakeholder platform. This isn’t a new concept in integrated landscape initiatives, but it’s gaining traction across the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100). AFR100 is a partnership of 34 member countries in Africa, all of which work together to restore 100 million hectares of land around Africa by 2030. AFR100 contributes to the Bonn Challenge, a global restoration movement.

So far, multi-stakeholder platforms on landscape restoration exist in 12 of the 34 AFR100 member countries, including Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger, Senegal, Nigeria, Sudan, Malawi, Togo, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Rwanda. These platforms comprise multiple sectors and stakeholders. Yet each country tailors its model. Some countries have multiple thematic platforms that are nested or operating in parallel and vary in terms of legitimacy. In Togo and Niger, for example, multi-stakeholder platforms were approved through administrative orders or decrees while in other countries multi-stakeholder platforms are operated as informal entities.  

In early 2023, WRI, in collaboration with the AFR100 Secretariat separately convened members of multi-stakeholder platforms in Rwanda and Malawi to take stock of the platforms. Overall, platforms members in both countries see concrete benefits and want to find ways to make the platforms even more impactful.

Read highlights of the multi-stakeholder platforms below:

Rwanda: Creating an Umbrella Platform

A cross-sectoral task force was created in 2015 to spearhead Rwanda’s response to the Bonn Challenge. This task force coordinates knowledge exchange and provides technical inputs to inform relevant policies and strategies, including Rwanda’s Vision 2050 and the National Strategy for Transformation, as well as for Sustainable Development Goals. The platform also coordinates the monitoring for cross-sectoral projects and reviews expansion potential.

In addition, an Agroforestry Task Force was formed in 2021 to coordinate and harmonize agroforestry initiatives, monitor and evaluate the impacts of agroforestry implementation, develop technical guidelines and advocate for resources and partnerships. Also, the Erosion Control Task Force was created in 2022 by a ministerial order to implement the National Programme for Soil Erosion Control. It coordinates all erosion control interventions in Rwanda, from the national, province, district, sector and cell levels.

The three multi-stakeholder platforms have been successful on some fronts, but participants at its first meeting noted that donor-funded restoration projects are often time-bound and restricted in scope, and maintenance of projects is often constrained by budgets. Other challenges include lack of formal mandate and inadequate representation of groups including youth and women, and limited opportunities to interact with platforms in other AFR100 partner countries.

To solve these challenges, the cross-sectoral task force was voted to serve as an umbrella platform for the other two groups. Leveraging expertise and guidance from all platforms during planning, mobilizing resources, implementing and assessing progress of restoration projects proved to be an important strategy to ensure the operationalization and sustainability of multi-stakeholder platform in Rwanda.

Malawi: Maximizing Efficiency

In Malawi, the National Restoration Platform was formed in 2021 to mobilize resources, plan and implement actions and monitor progress. Its membership includes government departments, civil society organizations, private sector and community-based organizations, with its secretariat housed in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Climate Change.

The platform members recently reviewed the terms of reference to maximize efficiency and increase membership. During the multi-stakeholder platform workshop for Malawi, members identified inconsistent policy guidelines, inadequate resources and lack of effective coordination as the main challenges to landscape restoration. They recommended resource mobilization and regular stakeholder meetings to review the terms of reference as immediate tasks. Going forward, the platform is also developing medium- and long-term plans of action to guide its operations as well as resourcing interventions in Malawi.

The Future of Multi-stakeholder Platforms

Restoration interventions across AFR100 countries will differ depending on landscape contexts. Multi-stakeholder platforms can play a key role in countries’ processes to translate national restoration pledges and associated goals into local contexts, and therefore accelerate restoration actions on the ground. An inclusive, well-coordinated and resourced multi-stakeholder platform could create a conducive space for effective dialogues around conflicting goals and support collaboration on key priorities.

To ensure that platforms are fit for purpose, countries should do the following:

  • Conduct a robust assessment of the role of multi-stakeholder platforms and avoid redundancy where multiple platforms exist in one country. The Mapping Social Networks tool can be used to understand stakeholders in existing platforms, information flow, identify networks that could be strengthened or leveraged or any need for alignment between stakeholders and restoration priorities. The How are We Doing  tool can also support processes, progress and priorities.
  • Promote landscape-level interactions to identify and address drivers of land degradation. Landscape-level discussions through multi-stakeholder platforms focusing on ground implementation will enable direct stewardship and ownership among stakeholders to identify issues and solutions. These discussions will also identify power differentials among actors and foster efforts to bring inclusive representation and voices of marginalized actors to the platforms. For example, create a series of discussions on a thematic topic with targeted actors at multiple levels across the landscape instead of using a singular process of knowledge sharing at one level with everyone.
  •   Allocate adequate long-term technical and financial resources to maintain restoration multi-stakeholder platforms beyond single projects. This could be achieved through raising awareness of multi-stakeholder platforms and their competencies, so that there's more involvement in restoration activities. Multi-stakeholder platforms should also explore ways to revamp their technical and legal status to competitively mobilize resources.
  • Produce and disseminate clear guidance on multi-stakeholder platforms in AFR100 countries to set up sustainable platforms. Where multi-stakeholder platforms are established through project funding, the leading institution should support processes to create an exit strategy and sustainability roadmaps to ensure platform longevity.

The objectives of restoration multi-stakeholder platforms will change over time as they identify new priorities and tackle new challenges. Self-assessment, realignment and resource mobilization are essential to their success. As more AFR100 countries create these platforms, they can build a community of practice to share lessons learned and support new platforms.

restoration-multistakeholder-platform.jpg Forest and Landscape Restoration Africa restoration landscapes Type Technical Perspective Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Authors Krista Karch Bernadette Arakwiye Meseret Shiferaw Ousseynou Ndoye Assumpta Uzamukunda Gilbert Muvunankiko Kalpana Giri Spencer Ng’oma

4 Shifts Needed to Create a Carbon-free Power System

1 semana ago
4 Shifts Needed to Create a Carbon-free Power System alicia.cypress… Thu, 05/25/2023 - 14:25

Avoiding the worst impacts of climate change will require a drastic shift in the global power system as the world moves from fossil fuels to carbon-free electricity. While the technologies and investments that can get us there are now available, it will be necessary to dramatically speed up efforts and do so more equitably to create a decarbonized energy system.

Fossil fuels still dominate electricity production: 76% of electricity is from polluting fossil gas, coal, and other fossil fuels. These sources generate 23% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and in 2022, the power sector’s emissions continued to grow by 1.8%


Our current global power system accounts for 23% of global greenhouse gas emissions per year

Together, coal and gas made up more than 90% of emissions from electricity in 2019

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Not only will it be necessary to change the existing system, but we also must bring modern, clean electricity to the 733 million people who lack access. Demand for carbon-free electricity is already growing — 1 in 7 new cars are now electric — and it will only increase as transportation systems are electrified to reduce gasoline and diesel fuel pollution. But these positive developments aren’t happening fast enough. 

Explore System Spotlights

This article is a part of a series profiling the major systems tracked by Systems Change Lab, a collaborative initiative — which includes an open-sourced data platform — that is designed to spur action at the pace and scale needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, halt biodiversity loss and build a just and equitable economy.

Also in this series:

5 Shifts to Transform Transportation Systems and Meet Climate Goals

Convened by WRI and the Bezos Earth Fund, Systems Change Lab supports the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions and works with key partners and funders including Climate Action Tracker (a project of NewClimate Institute and Climate Analytics), ClimateWorks Foundation, Global Environment Facility, Just Climate, Mission Possible Partnership, Systemiq, University of Exeter and the University of Tokyo’s Center for Global Commons, among others. Systems Change Lab is a component of the Global Commons Alliance.

Transforming the world’s power system won’t be easy, but it’s essential. Replacing fossil fuels with renewables like wind and solar, providing energy access worldwidemodernizing grid systems and improving energy efficiency, among other actions, are critical for creating an equitable and sustainable global power system — one where people, nature and the climate can thrive.

Systems Change Lab analyzes the latest science and data to determine the current state of progress in global energy system decarbonization. We track four major transformations that are essential for creating a carbon-free, equitable power system:

1) Phase Out Unabated Coal and Fossil Gas Electricity Generation

Coal is the most carbon intensive way of producing electricity: it is responsible for almost 70% of all power sector emissions. It spews pollutants like mercury (a toxic heavy metal), nitrogen oxides (key contributors to smog) and soot. That’s why retiring coal power plants, halting construction of new plants and a global phase out of unabated coal power is essential.

Coal’s share in electricity generation reached about 37% in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic and has continued to grow globally, largely due to rising energy demand, especially in coal-reliant countries such as China and India.

In order to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) and prevent some of the worst impacts of climate change, our data analysis shows no more than 2.5% of global electricity can come from unabated coal (burned without the use of carbon capture equipment) by 2030. All unabated coal power should be halted by 2040.

That means the share of coal in electricity generation must fall 6 times faster than in recent years. Recent data do not indicate we are close to this pace globally, although some countries such as the United Kingdom have seen rapid declines.

Absolute coal consumption and the share of coal on the grid appear to be diverging, but not quickly enough: After the share of coal-fired electricity generation plateaued during the pandemic, generation increased  by 8% in 2021 and grew another 2% in 2022 — though this may be a temporary response to the energy crisis in 2022-23 after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Phasing out unabated fossil gas-fired electricity production is also important, as it contributes a quarter of power system emissions. Our analysis shows that power generation from unabated gas should be phased out by 2045 and earlier (by 2035) in wealthy nations. The share of fossil gas in electricity generation rose continuously until 2019 — reaching 24% before the COVID-19 pandemic — and has since slowly declined to 22% in 2022. In terms of absolute generation, it more or less plateaued, showing that it’s still not headed in the right direction.

2) Rapidly Scale Up Zero-carbon Electricity Generation

The transition to renewable energy is fundamental, especially given that decarbonizing other systems such as industry, transport and buildings will rely on the availability of zero-carbon energy. Fortunately, renewable power costs have dropped by 75% over the past decade, making it possible to scale renewable technologies. Worldwide, renewable energy capacity tripled between 2000 and 2020, and almost two-thirds of the power generated from wind and solar is now more cost-effective than the cheapest fossil fuel.

Wind and solar still provide a relatively small proportion of electricity generation overall, at 10% in 2021, but the growth is at a near-exponential rate. Solar photovoltaic generation grew almost 25% per year over the last five years and wind generation grew 14% per year. To keep the world on track to limit warming to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F), the limit scientists say is necessary for averting some of the most disastrous climate impacts, zero-carbon sources should supply virtually all electricity by 2050. At high concentrations, wind and solar require a power system transformation that includes the ability to manage variable production by creating grids, storage and firm power that can support the wind and solar.

One challenge to achieving a zero-carbon power system is the significant growth of total power generation, which almost doubled from 2000 to 2022. Electrification of other systems like industry or transport are likely to continue to drive growth, as well. Fortunately, 83% of all new generation capacity added in 2022 was renewable, and the share of zero-carbon power seems unlikely to stop growing anytime soon.

Strong policy support is central to the growth of renewables, and this support is increasing across the globe. In 2022, the United States passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which creates new tax credits for zero-carbon power technologies and provides over $30 billion in new funding sources for zero-carbon power and associated technologies like transmission and energy storage. In early 2023, the European Union responded with its Green Deal Industrial Plan, which similarly aims to boost zero-carbon electricity with regulatory changes and new funding for projects. China, however, continues to lead the world in spending on zero-carbon energy subsidies, totaling $546 billion in 2022 (although unlike the U.S. and EU legislations this also includes spending on electric vehicles).

3) Modernize Electric Grids, Scale Storage and Manage Demand

Today’s electricity grids are mostly designed around relatively few large power plants. However, future grids dominated by wind and solar will have smaller, distributed power sources, in addition to large utility-scale projects. This diverse portfolio of resources requires a new approach to power management, grid infrastructure and storage capabilities.

While modernizing these systems will also have to account for increased demand from electrifying sectors such as transport, industry and home heating, there are opportunities for more efficiencies, too. Interconnections between separate grids will provide balance and access to locations with the best renewable energy potential.

Energy storage is one solution to variable supply and demand. Electricity produced by variable renewables can be reinforced by the deployment of large utility-scale batteries and investment in vehicle-to-grid and building-to-grid power.

Utility-scale batteries typically do not provide the same long-term storage potential as pumped storage hydropower — currently the largest storage technology at scale — but battery storage requires less space and is becoming much cheaper. As a result, from 2016 to 2021, utility-scale battery storage capacity grew at an average rate of 50% per year. And while there were supply chain challenges (in particular, a lithium shortage) in 2022, there are significant efforts around the world to scale mining and diversify supply chains to prevent disruptions and price volatility.

Increasing lithium mining does have significant risk of environmental impacts, with the potential to contaminate groundwater and worsen local air pollution without improved mine management and governance. In addition to improving mining, other energy storage solutions are also available and vying for market share, like thermal energy storage, hydrogen fuel cells and other types of battery chemistries that do not rely on lithium.

Investment in transmission lines, which bring power across long distances from the plants where it is generated to where it is needed, will be key to ensuring wind and solar farms are located where they can collect the best resources. In 2016, $104 billion of capital was allocated to transmission grids across the world. That investment declined to $88 billion by 2019. Yet, data from 2020 show a 3.3% rise with investments reaching $91 billion, indicating that investment in this piece of the puzzle could be starting to head in the right direction. Indeed, this data does not account for new investments such as those pledged in the Inflation Reduction Act in 2022.

Distribution lines, which bring power to people’s homes and businesses, are also important to ensure everyone has reliable access to electricity. Worryingly, investment in distribution grids is decreasing. In 2016, $203 billion was invested into distribution systems across the world, and this has decreased by an average of 5% per year, reaching $168 billion in 2020.

On the demand side, targeted pricing changes that increase or decrease with power demand could encourage customers to shift their consumption to off-peak hours to help smooth out demand and require less drastic ramping up and down of power plants throughout the day.

Increasing energy efficiency in everything from home heating and cooling to electric cars will also reduce peak demand on the electricity grid. Saving megawatts through energy efficiency measures means fewer megawatts of power generation are needed.

4) Ensure Energy Access and an Equitable Transition for All

Access to affordable, reliable and clean energy is a fundamental right that enables people to access critical services, enhance opportunities and develop economies. Although an additional 1.14 billion people have gained access to electricity over the past decade, there is still a long way to go:  Electricity access remains below 25% in some countries such as South Sudan, Malawi and Niger, and many more people have unreliable service. In 2020, some 733 million people were still living without electricity.

A lack of reliable electricity can be debilitating: Households cannot consistently meet their daily needs and industries and businesses cannot function efficiently. Additionally, the worsening effects of climate change, such as extreme heat, necessitates more mechanical fans conditioning that requires reliable electricity. There is an economic impact, too.  For example, frequent power failures cost Pakistan around $18 billion each year, equivalent to 6.5% of their GDP.

Under the UN Sustainable Development Goals, world leaders are committed to achieving universal electricity access by 2030. Today’s projections indicate that without further action, they will fall short of this goal: 672 million people would still be without access in 2030. As of 2019, 103 countries submitted strong electrification plans that contain targets, implementation plans and identify institutions to set the strategy. Reaching the goal will require more coordinated action and more financing: According to the International Energy Agency, it requires about $35 billion between now and 2030.

Electrification will likely play out differently depending on country and regional context. Access to larger power grids will make sense in some places, such as in parts of West Africa due to its high population density and existing power system configuration. Elsewhere, mini-grid and off-grid sources, supported by strong regulatory frameworks, will be the best option. Encouragingly, the adoption of mini-grids is growing rapidly, with the number of users more than doubling between 2010 and 2019.

Combining Shifts for a Sustainable Future

Transforming the power system from coal and gas to zero-carbon sources requires careful, rapid action and investment that can deliver change at scale, and which all must happen together.

Time is of the essence and global coordination cannot be delayed to phase out unabated coal and fossil gas electricity generation; rapidly scale up zero-carbon electricity generation; modernize electric grids, scale storage and manage demand; and ensure energy access and an equitable transition for all.

Together, these shifts can create a world powered by energy without emissions, where all people have access to safe, affordable electricity.

power-system-wind-solar.jpg Climate emissions Climate Equity climate change power plants renewable energy Type Explainer Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Authors Stephen Naimoli Brynne Wilcox Claire Fyson Jason Collis

ADVISORY: WRI and E3G Press Call Ahead of Bonn Climate Negotiations

1 semana 2 días ago
ADVISORY: WRI and E3G Press Call Ahead of Bonn Climate Negotiations casey.skeens@wri.org Tue, 05/23/2023 - 15:43

WASHINGTON (May 23, 2023) — On Tuesday, May 30 at 9:30 am ET / 3:30 pm CET, World Resources Institute and E3G will host a press call to preview the UN climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany, held June 5 to 15.

Speakers will share how negotiators in Bonn have an opportunity to align around ambitious outcomes from the COP28 summit at the end of the year. This includes leveraging the first-ever Global Stocktake to accelerate action across all systems and adopt a rapid response plan; fully operationalizing the Loss and Damage Fund this year; addressing financing gaps for adaptation and making progress on the Global Goal on Adaptation; and zeroing in on a clear set of options for the “new collective quantified [finance] goal” which is slated to be adopted at COP29.

Our experts will also reflect on hot topics inside and outside of the negotiations leading up to the COP28 summit, including geopolitical signals from the latest G7 summit, accelerating the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, considerations around the role of carbon capture and storage, and expectations for the COP28 Presidency.

Speakers include:

  • Tom Evans, Policy Advisor, Climate Diplomacy and Geopolitics, E3G
  • David Waskow, International Climate Director, World Resources Institute
  • Preety Bhandari, Senior Advisor, Climate Program and Finance Center, World Resources Institute
  • Alex Scott, Climate Diplomacy and Geopolitics Programme Lead, E3G
  • Rhys Gerholdt, Communications Director, Climate Program, World Resources Institute (moderator)

Following short opening remarks, we will provide ample time for questions from the media.

International Climate Action Type Advisory Exclude From Blog Feed? 0

4 Actions Vulnerable Countries Need from COP28

1 semana 2 días ago
4 Actions Vulnerable Countries Need from COP28 shannon.paton@… Tue, 05/23/2023 - 14:28

The conclusion of the Global Stocktake at COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates this December will evaluate how much progress the international Paris Agreement on climate change has made in the fight against the climate crisis and what more is needed to accelerate climate action forward. But its findings will be no mystery: the world is way off track, and the most vulnerable countries are already disproportionately feeling the consequences.

In late 2022 in South Sudan, four years of extreme flooding left two-thirds of the country underwater, leading to more than 1 million people now facing severe food insecurity. In March 2023, Cyclone Freddy brought massive rains to Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar, devastating crop lands, overburdening health centers and affecting the lives of more than 2 million people. Around the same time in the South Pacific, Vanuatu was hit by two cyclones within three days, affecting 80% of the nation’s population. Most recently, Cyclone Mocha battered coastal communities in Myanmar and Bangladesh, marking one of the worst storms in 15 years, killing hundreds.

There will be no true progress on climate action until climate justice and equity become central to international climate negotiations. The good news is we already know what countries need to do to limit the most dangerous climate impacts on communities everywhere. Negotiators meeting in Bonn in early June for the intersessional negotiations have a crucial opportunity to set the stage for COP28.

The Allied for Climate Transformation by 2025 (ACT2025) consortium, a group of think tanks from vulnerable developing countries working to drive greater climate ambition that will lead to fair and just outcomes for communities on the front lines of climate impacts, has a new Call to Action outlining four ways the world needs to deliver greater climate action by COP28. Here are ACT2025’s demands:

1) Advance Ambition to Limit Warming to 1.5 Degrees C.

Since pre-industrial times, global average temperatures have already risen 1.1 degrees C (2 degrees F), and current national commitments for cutting emissions have the world on track for an average warming of 2.8 degrees C (5 degrees F), far beyond the Paris Agreement’s threshold of 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F). As the escalating extreme weather and volatile temperatures we’re already experiencing at 1.1 degrees C of warming demonstrate, even limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C, or any other fraction of a degree, will not protect many vulnerable countries from devastating impacts.

Yet for too long, major economies and industries have ignored the scientific warnings, neglected their climate promises, and avoided answering calls for more ambitious action and support. The G-7 recently said that Russia’s war on Ukraine justified more overseas fossil fuel financing on a temporary basis, despite previously pledging to end all new financing. In 2022, the fossil fuel industry raked in record-breaking profits in the middle of a global energy crisis, and global subsidies rose to over $1 trillion for the first time — more than double the previous year. 

To shift course, COP28 must do several things to make a 1.5-degree future possible. It must spur specific actions that respond to the Global Stocktake findings and springboard greater ambition across all elements of climate action — mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage, and means of implementation — while centering equity and fairness considerations in all these efforts. For example, the global community could set renewable energy targets and encourage ambitious and detailed climate commitments, known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs), consistent with limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C.

This is particularly critical for G-7 and G-20 economies, which represent the world’s highest greenhouse gas emitters. G-20 nations — industrial and emerging-market nations which only represent approximately 10% of all countries — are responsible for approximately 75% of global emissions. Meanwhile, the most vulnerable nations often contribute the least amount of emissions yet feel the harshest impacts of climate change. Globally, the revised nationally determined contributions should collectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43% by 2030 and 60% by 2035 relative to 2019 emissions levels.

In addition, at COP28, countries must commit to equitably phasing out all fossil fuels, including oil, gas and coal. This entails setting a global target for equitably scaling up renewable power capacity to at least triple 2022 levels by 2030, representing an average of 90% of new generation capacity each year. Countries must also ensure adequate financing to support a just transition that will minimize harm to communities dependent on the fossil fuel industry. Through the Just Transitions Work Programme established at COP27, nations can inform NDCs and help advance equitable, people-centered solutions. This includes careful consideration of the social, economic and environmental consequences of shifting to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy, as well as the barriers, such as the cost of capital, energy poverty, energy access, mineral extraction and the need for economic diversification to ensure that the most vulnerable communities are not left behind.

2) Drive Climate Adaptation that Puts People First.

Nearly half of the global population lives in climate-vulnerable hotspots around the world, and this number is expected to grow as Earth continues to warm. Research shows that adaptation measures such as early-warning systems, climate risk management and agroforestry can significantly reduce climate risks, yet largely due to a huge shortfall in finance for adaptation, these global efforts remain incremental, reactive and piecemeal.

In addition to boosting mitigation efforts, all countries need to speed up and scale up their adaptation investments. For example, adaptation measures must urgently address the droughts, famines and hunger that currently affect more than 800 million people globally. However, such efforts must also minimize unintended impacts (maladaptation), which can inadvertently increase vulnerability, particularly of those already on the frontlines.

In Bangladesh, some coastal communities are trying to adapt to saltwater intrusion by converting rice fields into shrimp aquaculture ponds. Unfortunately, this has favored large landowners and resulted in the displacement of many workers who lost their jobs, since shrimp aquaculture is not as labor intensive as rice farms.

Ahead of COP28, more political commitment is needed on the Global Goal of Adaptation (GGA), which was established under the Paris Agreement but so far has seen limited progress. The framework on the GGA must enable action, be holistic and ambitious, prioritize transformative adaptation to address the root causes of climate vulnerability, and emphasize climate justice and locally led adaption.

The outcomes from the Global Stocktake must also strive to achieve robust and equitable outcomes on adaptation — including technical support and technology transfer — that improve global resilience, build adaptive capacity, reduce the vulnerability of people and nature to climate change, address adaptation financing and implementation gaps, and support the most vulnerable countries and communities.

3) Build New Institutions to Address Loss and Damage.

We are in the era of loss and damage, a term used in UN climate negotiations that refers to the consequences of climate change beyond what countries can adapt to. Developing countries, who contribute and have contributed the least amount to carbon emissions, often are impacted the most, without proper resources to protect themselves or recover from these severe events.  

Following the establishment at COP25 of the Santiago Network for loss and damage  — which aims to provide developing countries with technical assistance — and the establishment  at COP27 of a dedicated fund and broader funding arrangements to address loss and damage, the road to COP28 will be critical to advancing financial support for developing countries impacted by severe damage from climate change. Such signals show solidarity and rebuild trust, both between developed and developing countries as well as in the negotiation process itself. Failure to agree on the elements for operationalization of the fund at COP28 is unacceptable and would be a disservice to all the countries and communities on the frontline.

The resulting agreement at COP28 must ensure new, additional, predictable, accessible, adequate and rapid finance to respond to loss and damage, fully operationalize the Santiago Network through the selection of its host and Advisory Board members, and clearly indicate how the Santiago Network fits in with a dedicated fund and broader funding arrangements (This could include establishing the Santiago Network as the technical arm of the fund to support needs assessments.)

New financial commitments that build on existing climate and development finance and do not take away from adaptation funding are also necessary.

Lastly, in recognition of the need for additional data on loss and damage, COP28 must urge the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to produce a special report on losses and damages under various warming scenarios, including economic and social costs, to provide a synthesized evidence base that can inform future decisions on loss and damage. This report should be due no later than COP30.

4) Deliver Adequate Finance to Respond to the Needs of the Climate Crisis.

Achieving the social and economic transition to a 1.5-degree-C world requires the urgent mobilization of trillions of dollars. Studies estimate the cost  to be between $1.5 trillion and $5.9 trillion annually through 2030.

Despite this seemingly intimidating estimate, the IPCC also states that there is already sufficient global capital and liquidity to cover these costs, but that these finances are currently misallocated and misdirected. For instance, the Standing Committee on Finance estimated that from 2019 to 2020, $892 billion was spent globally on fossil fuel investments and $450 billion on fossil fuel subsidies. In comparison, in 2020, a total of $83.3 billion in climate finance was mobilized from developed to developing countries, with only about one-third of that going toward adaptation actions.

Vulnerable countries are facing immense financial burdens, particularly to adapt to a changing world. Adaptation needs alone are estimated to reach up to $300 billion annually by 2030 and $565 billion annually by 2050 — and will grow with every additional degree of warming. Similarly, loss and damage needs are estimated to be up to $580 billion annually by 2030, and $1.7 trillion annually by 2050. These additional financial burdens add to vulnerable countries’ already high debt levels and make it harder for them to secure other funding for development and otherwise improve the lives of their citizens.

Developed countries have already failed to meet the $100 billion annual collective commitment, that was set to start in 2020, to support developing countries. Developed countries must address this deficit and agree at COP28 to a minimum commitment of $120 billion per year now through 2025, with more ambitious climate finance goals after. Ultimately, in recognition of the fact that developing nations need $1.5 trillion-$5.9 trillion to fight the climate crisis, countries must agree to achieve the mobilization of trillions — rather than billions — in climate finance.

Such a recognition must also inform the new climate finance goal to be agreed in 2024. This goal must target finance for adaptation, mitigation and loss and damage; include a timeframe of 10 years (i.e. 2025 to 2035); and reaffirm the central role of public and grant-based finance, in particular for adaption and loss and damage.

Lastly, thanks to the leadership of advocates like Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, the conversation for reforms of the international financial system has become a mainstream topic. COP28 must call for ambitious reforms by international financial institutions (World Bank, International Monetary Fund, etc.). Special attention should be given to scaling up public finance, in particular concessional finance, addressing the inequities in access to finance and reducing barriers to access.

Immediate Action Will Save Lives

There is clearly a lot to do in a short time if countries are to finally get the world on track to prevent the most dangerous impacts of climate change and protect the most vulnerable communities and populations. But while it may seem daunting, the cost of inaction will be much greater than the cost of action: The Global Commission on Adaptation estimates that investing $1.8 trillion between 2020 and 2030 could generate $7.1 trillion in total net benefits

The path to COP28 is paved with critical moments that will set the conference up for success. Starting in May 2023, the G-7 will meet in Hiroshima, Japan to prepare a communique that will be a crucial signal on the ambition of these wealthy and high-emitting nations. Similar signals must come out of the G-20 Leaders’ Summit in September of this year. Other critical summits include the Summit for a New Global Financial Pact in June, which will be essential for reforms of the international financial system, and the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Ambition Summit in September, which should include commitments to unprecedented levels of climate action and a pledging session for loss and damage funding to maintain the momentum coming out of COP27 on finance for addressing loss and damage.

The sooner countries step up their climate commitments (and follow through with action), the easier those commitments will be to achieve and the more lives they will save. A safer, more equitable future is possible — but we have to start now.

act2025-call-to-action-cop28-small-image.jpeg Climate COP28 Type Technical Perspective Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Authors Nate Warszawski Maria Lemos González Chikondi Thangata Preety Bhandari Molly Bergen

Ethiopia and Tanzania Share Experiences and Lessons on Water Allocation Planning

1 semana 3 días ago
Ethiopia and Tanzania Share Experiences and Lessons on Water Allocation Planning ciara.regan@wri.org Mon, 05/22/2023 - 16:52

The WRI Water team for Ethiopia organized an exchange visit to Tanzania for officials from Ethiopia’s Abbay Basin Administration Office (ABAO) and Ministry of Water and Energy (MOWE) to learn about water allocation planning. The visit’s goal was to share experience and lessons on the development and implementation process of a water allocation plan (WAP) for the Lower Mara River Basin, recently launched with the support of USAID’s Sustainable Water Partnership and led by Winrock International.[1] The study tour took place from 20–24 February 2023.

Water is a vital but increasingly finite resource. Ethiopia is naturally exposed to high variability in rainfall and water distribution. In parallel, climate change is affecting the timing, intensity and distribution of rain, causing recurring drought and widespread water scarcity. In the Abbay Basin, one of Ethiopia’s twelve major river basins, high seasonal variability and lack of adequate water infrastructure and management practices are aggravating challenges around access to reliable and clean sources of water.

Group photo in front of the Lake Victoria Basin Water Board offices in Mwanza. Water allocation planning can play an important role in addressing competing water demands and water management challenges. Photo by Gordon Mumbo.

These dynamics are increasingly acute in the Tana Subbasin, one of the 16 subbasins in the Abbay, a highly populous area at the center of which lies Lake Tana, Ethiopia’s largest freshwater lake. The Government of Ethiopia has identified the subbasin as an economic growth corridor and priority region for irrigation and hydropower development. However, growing water demands, agro-industrial pollution and environmental degradation are impacting water availability and threatening economic activities and local livelihoods.

Confronting these challenges requires informed water resources planning and coordination across water-using administrative and sectoral spheres to advance sustainable water resources management. To this end, water allocation planning can play an important role in addressing competing water demands and water management challenges.

What is Water Allocation Planning?

Water allocation planning is a tool that facilitates better management of water use and distribution of available supplies, particularly in a context of growing water scarcity and uncertainty. This is made necessary when the natural distribution and availability of water fail to meet the needs of all water users in terms of quantity, quality, timing or reliability.

In Ethiopia, WRI has found that many basins, including the Abbay, are already highly water stressed for parts of the year. This stress reflects a risky imbalance between the demand for water vis-à-vis existing supplies: water stress, scarcity and insecurity result when demand exceeds supply. Insufficient water storage and distribution infrastructure exacerbate these effects.

Water allocation planning comprises a process for determining how much water is available in a given river basin, how that water should be shared among competing uses, and how much water needs to be left in the hydrological system to ensure long-term resource sustainability. It begins with extensive analyses, including an assessment of the local water balance, current use and expected future demand, and water requirements for environmental flow purposes. The complexity involves assessing water that is allocatable with consideration for livelihoods, equitable access, ecological protection, and various scenarios of socio-economic change and climatic variability. Water allocation plans then become legal documents that are updated every few years. While spurring efficient use, WAPs help prioritize domestic water supply in times of crisis.

Developing a Water Allocation Plan for Ethiopia’s Tana Subbasin

In the Tana Subbasin, WRI’s Water team is implementing a project that aims to improve governance processes, institutional capacities and frameworks to better manage water resources under the overarching agenda of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM). The project, made possible through a grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, provides technical assistance to ABAO on basin planning processes with an activity that supports the development of a water allocation plan for the Tana Subbasin.

As a basin-level government organization, ABAO’s mission is to manage the Abbay Basin’s water resources for socio-economic welfare without compromising the sustainability of local ecosystems. ABAO has been tasked by MOWE with developing WAPs for its 16 subbasins, choosing the Tana catchment as its initial pilot with the aim of scaling thereafter.

With little to no prior experience on water allocation planning in Ethiopia, WRI suggested an international experience sharing visit to learn the steps taken to develop a WAP in another country and river basin in Africa. An initiative in Tanzania was identified because of its relevance to the Ethiopian context.

Learning from Tanzania's Lower Mara River Basin WAP

The development of a WAP for the lower catchment of the Mara River Basin in Tanzania was completed in April 2021 following a three-year undertaking. The Lake Victoria Basin Water Board (LVBWB) drove a strong locally led process which culminated in the launching of the Lower Mara River Basin WAP, proceeding thereafter to its operationalization. Kenya and Tanzania share the Mara River Basin, with the Mara River flowing into Lake Victoria on the Tanzania side.

The Mara Basin is experiencing challenges due to increasing demand for water; deforestation; climate change; and economic activities such as mining, agriculture and animal husbandry, thus sharing many similarities with the Tana Subbasin.

As one of the nine Water Boards in Tanzania, the LVBWB is the body responsible for water resources management in the Mara on the Tanzanian side. The WAP development process was closely coordinated with the Ministry of Water of Tanzania and facilitated by the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC). With assistance provided by Winrock International and partners, including WWF Tanzania and GIZ, under USAID’s Sustainable Water Partnership Program, technical staff from the LVBWB and Ministry of Water took a central role. The decisions agreed on in the WAP came after extensive studies and consultations with water users, which found that the growing demand for water, if not properly managed, does not bode well for water security in the basin. The WAP formalized a water permitting system which now provides a strategy for managing and monitoring water consumption and supplies. The plan will be reviewed every five years to ensure adaptability.

The experience of the Lower Mara WAP was determined relevant for a learning visit. The WAP agenda is actively being promoted in the catchment and there was motivation among Tanzanian agencies to showcase this experience to their Ethiopian counterparts.

A person fishes on Lake Victoria on the Tanzania side from Musoma. Kenya and Tanzania share the Mara River Basin, which flows into Lake Victoria on the Tanzania side. Photo by Francesca Battistelli/WRIThe Exchange Program and Its Objectives

The primary objective of the study tour was to understand the development, operation and management of the Lower Mara WAP through consultations and field visits. It offered an opportunity to discuss, exchange and identify good practices and approaches and to facilitate learning and experience sharing between the two basin authorities and water ministries, offering opportunity for dialogue in river basin management.

The week-long study visit began on February 20th 2023, with a workshop with the Ministry of Water in Dodoma and continued with consultations with the LVBWB in Mwanza and site visits to the Mara Basin from Musoma.

In Dodoma, the Ethiopia team—headed by the Director of ABAO—received a briefing from Tanzania’s water ministry about the country’s water governance and enabling context and the WAP process from the federal perspective, highlighting the opportunity it presented to assess and track available water resources. The group then travelled to Mwanza for a more detailed discussion with the LVBWB on WAP development and ongoing implementation modalities, led by the head of the LVBWB, its staff and a representative of the LVBC. Finally, the group proceeded to Musoma to visit the catchment-level LVBWB office, its technical laboratory, and to see first-hand ongoing conservation activities and nurseries that provide seedlings for watershed restoration efforts.

The visitors were taken through the process of WAP development from research to getting political buy-in nationally and locally, the development of WAP guidelines to formalize and steer the process, applied models and monitoring systems, stakeholder engagement for sharing WAP implications and procedures, and the final approval process.

Visiting a nursery growing seedlings for catchment conservation efforts. This knowledge exchange allowed members to see first-hand ongoing conservation  and restoration efforts. Photo by Francesca Battistelli/WRILearning

The exchange visit enabled the Ethiopia team to learn about technical aspects such as necessary datasets and modelling to the different scales of engagement and decision-making. The WAP enabling factors identified during the study visit are multifaceted and related to governance, data and participatory processes.

The following important learnings were deduced:

  • Successful WAPs are dependent on supportive national legislation, strategies and institutions.
  • Good data is the foundation of water allocation planning and a lack of reliable and up-to-date water demand and supply data can challenge WAPs. WAPs should be based on best available, locally collected data with capacity support to agency staff on modelling and scenario analysis.
  • WAPs are multi-sectoral and data-intensive, requiring an interdisciplinary team. Multiple skillsets and multi-sectoral planning are essential for inclusive WAP development that looks across water users and water-using sectors, including agriculture, fisheries, forestry, industry, ecological conservation, household needs and more.
  • WAPs comprise a complex, costly and inherently political process, requiring extensive networking and collaboration across agencies and stakeholders, including government, private sector actors and water users themselves. Adequate human and financial resources are needed.
  • Local ownership is vital. WAP development and implementation should be led by an existing institution with responsibility for catchment management and engage all relevant agencies and actors in validating steps along the way.
  • Engagement and open communication during initial WAP development is critical for successful WAP implementation. Without agreement and buy-in from those that would be impacted by WAP operations, WAPs will face challenges during implementation. Proper stakeholder engagement reduces reluctance of users to be included in the plan and ensures specific needs are accounted for when allocating water. Time is also needed for outreach to ensure political goodwill and buy-in, including from administrators and law enforcement.
  • An effective monitoring system is essential to continuously provide inputs to water management decisions, assess river basin health and maintain a timely WAP.

Water allocation planning is a complex yet important tool for the sustainable and inclusive management of basin water resources.

The case of the Lower Mara in Tanzania is a well-rounded example of WAP development. The success of the Lower Mara WAP was determined by its multi-agency and multi-stakeholder approach, active and strong support by the National Ministry of Water, and the clear mandate, leadership and enforcement authority of the LVBWB. In Ethiopia, water allocation planning is not yet exercised, primarily due to inadequate organizational structures and lacking legal frameworks which do not devolve water resources management to the basin. Overlapping mandates among the basin authorities and the regional water bureaus also challenge an already limited permitting system, which is not properly coordinated and is thus not currently conducive to allocation planning. Lastly, WAPs would face a long approval process with final endorsement by Ethiopia’s Basin High Council, which would hinder the timeliness of a WAP altogether.

The exchange visit underscored the importance of water allocation planning to improve basin management and address water scarcity. Overall, the Ethiopia participants rated the experience very positively, overwhelmingly meeting expectations and improving knowledge and skills. The hope is that the lessons and good practices will provide a good foundation and understanding as the team embarks on developing the water allocation plan for the Tana Subbasin.

[1] The exchange visit took place under the framework of a Water project in Ethiopia funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

fishing-lake.jpg Water Water Water Quality Water Security Type Project Update Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Authors Francesca Battistelli Zablon Adane Gordon Mumbo

How Companies Can Use Voluntary Carbon Markets to Help Protect Tropical Forests

1 semana 3 días ago
How Companies Can Use Voluntary Carbon Markets to Help Protect Tropical Forests alicia.cypress… Mon, 05/22/2023 - 16:25

In 2021, 145 country leaders committed to halt and reverse forest loss by 2030. At the time, soaring demand for forest carbon credits from companies seeking to demonstrate climate action promised a new source of finance for tropical forest protection. However, in 2022, the demand for credits leveled off, reflecting uncertainty on the rules regarding the claims companies could make based on their purchases and concerns about the quality of carbon credits, especially those originating from forests.

There are two general types of carbon markets that companies may participate in, voluntary and compliance markets. The voluntary carbon market consists of companies or other entities purchasing credits to fulfill voluntary mitigation commitments whereas in compliance carbon markets, companies purchase carbon credits to meet obligations under a domestic law or an international agreement. The requirements vary among countries and agreements, including the types of credits eligible to meet obligations and limits on the share of total emissions reductions that a company can fulfill with credit purchases.

However, no such regulations exist for the voluntary carbon market, as there is no independent framework that dictates rules to govern the quality of credits or the claims companies can make based on their purchase.

There are numerous global initiatives and processes underway that are seeking to help participants navigate the voluntary carbon market, including a new guide produced by WRI and seven other leading environmental and Indigenous Peoples organizations. The Tropical Forest Credit Integrity Guide can help companies develop and populate a tropical forest carbon credit portfolio that contributes to global climate, biodiversity and development goals.

Actions to protect tropical forests cannot wait. Companies can play an important role in signaling demand for tropical forest carbon credits in ways that will accelerate the needed transitions toward climate-friendly forest management, complementing decarbonization efforts within their own operations and value chains.

Why is Forest Finance Urgent and Important?

The science is clear that halting the loss of tropical forests is critical to achieving global climate goals. Tropical forests also contribute additional benefits for the climate, nature and people. In addition to sequestering and storing carbon, tropical forests provide additional global cooling services, maintain rainfall patterns and shield crops and people from heat stress through non-carbon biophysical processes.  

Tropical forests contain over 60% of mammal species and more than 70% of bird species, even though they only cover about 18% of Earth’s total land area, making them a crucial habitat for the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. Tropical forests are also home to Indigenous communities who both rely on these forests for their livelihood and serve as their most effective as stewards.

An Indigenous family’s floating home on the Amazon River in Brazil. Corporate emissions reductions credits are a useful tool that can be deployed in areas with low rates of deforestation, like those managed by Indigenous communities, to protect remaining forest cover. Photo by CYSUN/Shutterstock

Despite the many benefits of tropical forests, the high rate of forest loss has continued to climb upwards over the last two decades. In 2021, 3.5 million of the 11.1 million hectares cleared or burned were tropical primary rainforests. Those forests store massive amounts of carbon that cannot be recovered in the relevant timeframe to achieve global climate goals.

The challenge is finance. Recent analysis estimates domestic and international public finance for agriculture and forestry production, outweighs climate public finance for forest restoration and conservation by a ratio of 10 to one. Even more worrying is that current public domestic and international mitigation finance for forests is less than 1% of the total needed to achieve international forest goals. Public sector money will not be sufficient to close this gap, but the private sector can play a critical role with companies providing finance to incentivize tropical forest protection as part of their climate mitigation strategies.

What’s Constraining Carbon Markets as a Source of Forest Finance?

The voluntary carbon market provides an opportunity to increase finance for tropical forests and the people who protect them. In 2022, the voluntary carbon market channeled more than $1.3 billion globally (about $4 per person in the U.S.) for all types of credits, helping mitigate about 173 megatons of carbon emissions, which is greater than the 2021 emissions from the Philippines, the world’s 33rd largest emitter. While many analysts have projected that the voluntary carbon market could reach at least 10 times that amount in the coming decade, increased uncertainty on both the demand and supply side has constrained financial flows leading to an inflection point.

On the demand side, companies that would otherwise be in the market have grown wary that credit purchases and associated claims could lead to greenwashing allegations. Various initiatives are underway to define what appropriate corporate claims and investments should look like, but in the meantime the uncertainty about “what counts” as legitimate climate action and which purchases will be rewarded with reputational benefits may be keeping hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars on the sidelines.

On the supply side, recent media attention to the risks associated with forest carbon credits generated by small projects, as well as debates over how conservation of large areas of still-intact forests should be credited, have renewed concerns about the quality of forest carbon credits. There is emerging consensus that forest carbon credits generated at the scale of entire countries or large subnational jurisdictions are superior to project-scale crediting. Such programs operate at the scale needed to create incentives for improved governance, needed policy reforms and broad implementation. However, recent offers by some countries to sell “sovereign credits,” which are issued based on self-reported emission reductions and not certified to comply with a rigorous standard, has caused further confusion.

Continued growth of the voluntary carbon market will depend on the ability of key stakeholders to agree on rules that will ensure integrity on both the demand side and supply side and enable finance to flow. There is a narrow path for success: Setting the bar too high would stifle the supply of and the demand for credits, while setting the bar too low would lead to low-quality climate outcomes and undermine the legitimacy of the market overall.

A patch of the Amazon Rainforest where illegal gold mining has caused river contamination and deforestation. Crediting results at the jurisdictional scale incentivizes governments to take action on illegal deforestation. Photo by Paralaxis/iStock How Can Companies Purchase High-Quality Tropical Forest Carbon Credits?

Even with the voluntary carbon market at an inflection point, there are four steps that companies can take now to be part of the solution to end tropical deforestation through the purchase of carbon credits: aligning portfolios with global needs, driving demand for jurisdictional-scale crediting, conducting due diligence and keeping up with the latest developments. These steps are detailed in the new Tropical Forest Credit Integrity Guide, which was produced by Conservation International, Coordinator of Indigenous Organization of the Amazon Basin, Environmental Defense Fund, Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental Amazonia, The Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society, World Resources Institute and the World Wildlife Fund.

 Here's more information on each of the four steps:

Step 1: Plan a Tropical Forest Credit Portfolio to Align with Global Needs

Corporate credit portfolios should align with the latest science by prioritizing emissions reduction credits (resulting from slowing deforestation) and only increasing the share of removals credits (resulting from forest restoration) with the global achievement of halting deforestation and ecosystem loss. In their portfolios, companies should also include credits from areas that have high forest cover but low rates of deforestation, known as HFLD areas, as these credits provide near-term incentives to maintain remaining intact forests and can reward Indigenous peoples and local communities for their success in forest conservation.

Step 2: Build a Portfolio that Drives Demand for High-Quality Jurisdictional-Scale Crediting

Corporate buyers should give preference to — and make advance purchase commitments for — credits that are issued by programs that operate at the scale of national or large subnational government jurisdictions. To date, nearly all tropical forest carbon credits have been issued at the project scale (i.e., site-specific activities that generate carbon credits based on an independently established baseline) and have often proven vulnerable to critiques from academic researchers and environmental groups about their environmental and social integrity.

Jurisdictional-scale programs are better positioned than individual projects to meet key environmental criteria for all types of credits, such as mitigating risks of leakage (when an activity that causes emissions — such as deforestation — is displaced to another location outside of the accounting boundary, thereby causing new emissions elsewhere), non-additionality (when the emission reduction or removal would have occurred in the absence of the intervention), and non-permanence (when a previously credited emission reduction or removal is re-emitted).

Additionally, crediting results at the jurisdictional scale incentivizes governments to undertake actions that only they can perform, including increased law enforcement where deforestation is illegal, recognition of resources rights where land tenure is unclear or providing needed incentives for private landowners.

Step 3: Conduct Due Diligence to Ensure High-Quality Credits

To ensure high-quality credits, companies must go beyond exclusive reliance on standards as well as be able to differentiate among different standards and between credits independently verified to comply with standards and other types of products offered for sale. For example, companies should pay attention to how the design and implementation of activities that produce carbon credits impact and engage with Indigenous peoples, local communities, women and other marginalized communities. To date, many principles surrounding equity and transparency have been poorly represented in practice and companies can incentivize improved performance through their purchasing decisions.

Further, project-scale forest carbon credits should be “nested” within larger, jurisdictional-scale programs where they are in place or under development. A project is nested if its crediting baseline and interventions are aligned with accounting and strategy at the larger scale. Such alignment reduces the risk of over-crediting at the project scale while exploiting synergies between government policies and local activities.

It is also important that all credits purchased by companies as part of their climate mitigation strategies, not just tropical forest carbon credits, undergo independent, third-party validation and verification. Without independent validation and verification by credible auditors with relevant expertise, it cannot be determined whether or not credits meet the requirements associated with high integrity.

Step 4: Follow up with Complementary Actions and Stay Attuned to New Developments

The purchase of forest carbon credits is only one of several types of action that companies can take to conserve and restore the world’s tropical forests. For example, companies should also consider investing in the development of sustainable supply chains located within jurisdictional programs and increased support for the full and effective participation of local communities in all aspects of program development and implementation. Further, as the “rules” governing the voluntary carbon market are still evolving, companies should stay updated on how demand-side and supply-side integrity can best be achieved.

Despite Uncertainty, Companies Can Support Tropical Forests Now

Reducing deforestation and forest degradation is not only critical to limiting global warming to less than 1.5 degrees C but is consistently listed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as a high-priority, low-cost mitigation option. Renewed political commitments to halt and reverse forest loss by 2030 are encouraging but must be complemented by collective action and a significant increase in private sector finance.

The voluntary carbon market is now at an inflection point with the opportunity to channel billions of dollars to tropical forest protection and can contribute to achieving global climate goals as well as provide many other development and biodiversity co-benefits. Uncertainty is holding back urgently needed forest finance, but the world’s forests and forest peoples can’t wait.

tropical-forest.jpg Forests deforestation Forest and Landscape Restoration Finance Type Explainer Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Authors Paige Langer Frances Seymour

STATEMENT: Landmark European Union Deforestation Regulation is Formally Adopted, Will Enter into Force 

2 semanas 3 días ago
STATEMENT: Landmark European Union Deforestation Regulation is Formally Adopted, Will Enter into Force  alison.cinnamo… Tue, 05/16/2023 - 08:38

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (May 16, 2023) – The EU deforestation regulation (EUDR) has been formally adopted by the Council of the European Union representing the bloc’s 27 member states. The new law aims to prevent products and commodities linked to deforestation and forest degradation from being placed onto the EU market, marking a significant milestone in global efforts to protect forests. 

Once the law enters into force, large and medium-sized companies will have 18 months to implement the new rules. It will be mandatory for companies to conduct due diligence on commodities covered by the legislation: cattle, cocoa, coffee, palm oil, soya, timber and rubber as well as derived products such as beef, furniture or chocolate. 

Following is a statement from Stientje van Veldhoven, Vice President and Regional Director for Europe, World Resources Institute:  

“The EU regulation could be a major boon to global efforts to stop deforestation and fight climate change — yet its success will hinge on whether the EU can meaningfully partner with the countries, companies and smallholder farmers who are producing the goods. 

“Effectively implemented, the law could significantly reduce greenhouse emissions that result from the clearing tropical forests for food and other commodities. And it could help protect critical biodiversity and water resources in tropical rainforests. The law also sends an important signal to markets around the world: getting the food and commodities we need does not require destroying the world’s forests — and continuing to do so will hurt people and the climate. 

“Yet for the regulation to truly stop deforestation, the EU and its Member States must partner with commodity-producing countries to ensure they are able to comply, without harming their economies or people’s livelihoods. This will require incentives for vulnerable groups like smallholder farmers to shift toward deforestation-free practices, ensuring they do not get left behind in this transition.  

“More sustainable consumption is possible — but only if countries consuming the sustainable goods support the countries, companies, and especially people on the ground who are producing them. And while the EU regulation is a critical step, we also need other major economies to follow with similar measures, while ensuring that equity is front and center.”  

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World Resources Institute and St. Peter’s Basilica Announce New Phase in Partnership to Lower the Basilica’s Carbon Emissions

2 semanas 3 días ago
World Resources Institute and St. Peter’s Basilica Announce New Phase in Partnership to Lower the Basilica’s Carbon Emissions alison.cinnamo… Mon, 05/15/2023 - 20:33

ROME, ITALY (May 15, 2023) — At the Vatican City, a World Resources Institute (WRI) delegation and His Eminence Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, Vicar General for the Vatican City State and President of the Fabric of Saint Peter, announced a new phase in their partnership to work jointly toward net-zero emissions goals for the Saint Peter’s Basilica, one of the most iconic Catholic cathedrals in the world, attracting over 10 million visitors a year.

The two organizations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in September 2022 to work together to develop and implement actions aimed at making the Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome more environmentally sustainable and reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. 

The program completed an inventory of carbon emissions of the Basilica and the annexed complex of buildings, following a methodology for climate mitigation that was created by WRI’s Faith and Sustainability Initiative and Georgetown University, in partnership with Porticus. This research will inform the projects about sustainability currently in progress at The Fabric of Saint Peter.

 “We are thrilled to put the Memorandum of Understanding between Vatican City and WRI into practice,” said Stientje van Veldhoven, Vice President and Regional Director for WRI Europe, at today’s meeting in Rome where the next phase of the ‘Science-based Targets for Faith’ project was discussed. “This has great symbolic value as one of the most important places of worship in Catholicism makes the fight against climate change central to its daily operations. When all faith-based organizations make this carbon reduction commitment, we could potentially reach 83% of the world population affiliated with a world religion. There could also be a real emissions impact as many faith-based organizations own or are associated with complexes of buildings, such as hospitals, schools, restaurants, and canteens.”

“Our planet is going through an environmental crisis that has no comparison to the past. Climate change, pollution, loss of biodiversity and deforestation are just examples of the challenges that we have to address," said Cardinal Gambetti. "It is urgent to switch to new models of sustainability, as underlined by Pope Francis in his magisterium, starting with the encyclical Laudato Si’. What is happening to the planet, our common home, it is not just a concern in terms of environmental awareness but is also about our responsibility towards other people and future generations. Here at the Basilica, we have established a Scientific Committee to study, develop and implement concrete actions to improve the Basilica’s environmental sustainability ahead of the Jubilee of 2025. The partnership with WRI enriches this urgent commitment." 

As a prominent religious institution, the Vatican is committed to reducing its carbon footprint and promoting sustainability, with Pope Francis pledging carbon neutrality by 2050 and emphasizing collective action in a video sent to the 2021 Climate Ambition Summit. The collaboration between WRI and St Peter’s Basilica is a significant step towards achieving these larger goals and demonstrates the potential to promote sustainability across all sectors of society.

About World Resources Institute

World Resources Institute (WRI) is a global research organization with offices in Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States, and regional offices for Africa and Europe. Our 1,700 staff work with partners to develop practical solutions that improve people’s lives and ensure nature can thrive. Learn more: WRI.org and on Twitter @WorldResources.

About WRI Faith and Sustainability

WRI established the Faith and Sustainability initiative in 2021, to harness the potential of partnerships with faith-based organizations (FBOs) and enable faith communities to build capacity for community-level solutions to sustainability challenges. 

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EPA’s Proposed Rules for Power Plant Emissions: 6 Key Questions, Answered

2 semanas 6 días ago
EPA’s Proposed Rules for Power Plant Emissions: 6 Key Questions, Answered alicia.cypress… Fri, 05/12/2023 - 14:25

On May 11, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced proposed rules to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal and gas-fired power plants. If they go into effect these rules would establish the first legal limits on heat-trapping pollution from power plants and would accelerate — and make more certain — the ongoing emissions reductions from this sector. EPA’s proposal is an important step forward and can be strengthened when the final rule is issued sometime next year.

Here are the answers to six key questions about EPA’s proposal.

1. Does EPA Have Legal Authority to Set Carbon Pollution Standards? 

In short, yes. The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set emissions performance standards for sources of pollution that endanger public health or welfare; the agency determined in 2009 that this applies to greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2).

For stationary sources, including power plants, EPA is required to set standards for both new sources and for existing sources based on the “best system of emission reductions,” or BSER.

The BSER is determined by evaluating technologies and approaches that have been adequately demonstrated, taking cost and other factors into account. In 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court constrained EPA’s authority to regulate CO2 emissions from power plants by prohibiting the agency from considering the ability of power companies to shift generation to cleaner sources of electricity as part of the BSER.

The proposed rule would set emissions standards based on what is feasible on a plant-by-plant basis rather than the broader system-wide approach taken by the Clean Power Plan proposed under the Obama administration.

2. What Would EPA's Proposal Require? 

The standards would set pollution limits that power plants must comply with, based on three possible emissions-control strategies: carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), “co-firing” a coal plant with natural gas and co-firing a natural gas plant with clean hydrogen.

The most stringent pollution limits apply to coal plants that continue to operate over the long term. The most significant element of the proposal is a requirement for coal-fired power plants to reduce their emissions rate by almost 90% by 2030 unless they voluntarily commit to a legally binding retirement date no later than 2040. EPA based this performance standard on the ability of these plants to install CCS technology.

Plants that operate beyond 2031 but commit to retire by 2040 would have to reduce their emissions by an amount based on co-firing 40% natural gas with coal (as a proportion of their energy input), resulting in a 16% reduction in their emissions rate.

New natural gas power plants that operate with more than a 50% capacity factor (which measures a plant's electricity output over a year compared to how much it would produce if it operated at its maximum output level for the entire year), which EPA refers to as “baseload” plants, would be required to achieve an emissions rate based on using CCS for 90% of its emissions starting in 2035, or alternatively co-firing 30% of its gas by volume with clean hydrogen by 2032 and 96% of it with clean hydrogen by 2038. Large (>300 megawatts) existing baseload gas plants would have to meet the same standards as new baseload gas plants.

New gas plants that operate between a 20% and 50% capacity factor would be required to meet an emissions rate based on co-firing with 30% clean hydrogen by 2032 but would not have to meet the more stringent standards that apply to baseload plants in 2035 (for CCS) or 2038 (for hydrogen co-firing).

3. How Would EPA's Proposal Affect Power Plant Emissions? 

While power plants are still responsible for one-quarter of total U.S. emissions, U.S. power plant emissions fell 36% between 2005 and 2022. This downward trend is expected to continue because nearly every coal plant in the U.S. is no longer economical to operate given the dramatic reductions in the cost of solar, wind and batteries over the last decade and the incentives in the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to deploy these and other zero-emitting generation options as well as CCS technologies. As a result, EPA projects that even without its proposed rule, power plant emissions will fall to 60% below 2005 levels by 2030 and 80% below 2005 levels by 2040. The rule would accelerate these reductions and make them more certain.

EPA’s preliminary modeling of the proposal (which doesn’t fully integrate the proposed requirements for existing gas plants) estimates that power plant emissions will drop by 63% in 2030 and as much as 83% in 2040. Cumulatively, the proposal is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by a total of roughly 800 million to 1 billion metric tons of CO2 from 2028 through 2042 over and above the reductions expected without the rule. While significant, this is less than U.S. power plants currently emit in just one year.

Along with these CO2 emissions reductions, the rule would cut emissions of particulate matter and other pollutants, resulting in direct health benefits, including preventing 1,300 premature deaths and 300,000 cases of asthma symptoms in 2030 alone, according to EPA.

4. Would EPA's Proposal Result in Massive Deployment of Carbon Capture and Sequestration and Hydrogen?

CCS involves three steps: capturing CO2 at a source before it enters the atmosphere, compressing and transporting it and injecting it in a deep geologic formation for permanent storage. EPA based its proposed emissions performance standards for some subcategories on the emissions reductions that can be achieved by employing CCS, but it will be up to each power plant operator to decide whether to implement CCS or achieve the required emissions reductions in other ways, including replacing obsolete power plants with new cleaner technology.

Also, the 45Q tax credits for CCS included in IRA already provide a strong incentive to install the technology where it makes sense. As a result, EPA does not expect the proposed rule to result in greater deployment of CCS than would otherwise occur. Under the rule, EPA projects that 16 gigawatts (GW) of fossil fuel generating capacity with CCS will be online by 2030, the same amount it projects in its baseline scenario (which includes the IRA). By 2035 this is expected to increase to 20 GW. For comparison, there was nearly 200 GW of unabated coal online in 2022, which EPA expects to drop to 60 GW by 2030 without the proposed rule and to 46 GW with it.

The IRA and the proposed rule also have the potential to spur further innovative CCS designs such as the Allam Cycle, which can deliver close to 100% capture rates, near zero conventional air pollutants and significant water savings compared to conventional designs. The IRA also includes strong incentives for scaling up clean hydrogen production and several power companies already have plans to deploy combustion turbines that can accommodate hydrogen co-firing. EPA projects that the proposed rule would result in 11 GW of capacity employing hydrogen co-firing by 2035.

5. How Can EPA's Proposal Be Improved?

The power plant emissions standards proposed by EPA will move the U.S. closer to its climate goals, but they still leave a significant gap. President Joe Biden has called for a 100% clean electricity system by 2035. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has analyzed multiple pathways to achieve that target, and all of them involve building more than twice as much zero-emissions generating capacity than projected in EPA’s scenarios. In NREL’s least-cost scenario, unabated fossil fuel use only provides 4% of total electricity generation in 2035, compared to 30% in EPA’s scenarios. (The NREL scenario achieves net-zero emissions through 193 million metric tons of carbon removal to compensate for the remaining emissions from fossil fuel generators.)

It’s essential that EPA strengthen its standards before issuing its final rule, and the NREL study points to an important way it can do so: Require much lower capacity factors for gas plants to be exempt from emissions controls. The proposal would only apply strong emissions standards to baseload plants that operate with a capacity factor over 50%. The concept of baseload power, however, is rapidly becoming outmoded as more and more variable renewables are added to the system.

Fossil fuel generating capacity can play a valuable role by ensuring reliability in a clean electricity system that relies primarily on solar and wind, but it need not run more than a few hundred hours per year to serve that function, as the NREL study demonstrates. Allowing unabated gas plants to run at maximum capacity for as much as half the year provides far more leeway than necessary, resulting in excessive emissions inconsistent with achieving U.S. climate goals.

It will also be important for the final rule to include performance standards for a much larger share of existing natural gas plants (provided that they operate more than a few hundred hours per year). The proposal only covers existing gas plants larger than 300 megawatts (MW), which constitute less than a quarter of existing capacity; plants between 25 MW and 250 MW make up 70%. Although the requirements could vary with size, EPA should include over 95% of the existing gas capacity in the final rule by covering all plants larger than 25 MW. Doing so will help ensure that pollution isn’t shifted to smaller plants that are often located in communities of color that have been overburdened by pollution for far too long.

Finally, EPA should look for every opportunity to set tighter deadlines given the urgency of the climate crisis. For example, coal plants could be required to retire by 2035 rather than 2040 if they want to be exempt from emissions limits in the interim.

6. What Else Is Needed to Close the Emissions Gap? 

Achieving faster and deeper reductions from coal- and gas-fired power plants is the most important thing the United States can do to build on IRA and achieve its target of reducing emissions 50% to 52% below 2005 levels by 2030. That means building zero-emissions generation, energy storage, and transmission capacity far faster than current rates. The Biden administration recently released an action plan for quicker, smarter permitting of this essential infrastructure. Congress and state and local governments must also step up to promote more effective community engagement while eliminating duplicative processes that add time without improving decision-making. (For further recommendations on how to build on IRA, see America Is All In’s Beyond 50 report.)

EPA's proposed rule sends an unequivocal signal to American power plant operators: The era of unlimited carbon pollution is over. As the agency considers public comments and finalizes the rule, it should take the opportunity to strengthen its proposal, in recognition of the urgency of the climate crisis before us.

eastern-wyoming-coal-plant.jpg U.S. Climate United States climate policy Climate emissions U.S. policy Clean Energy National Climate Action Type Explainer Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Authors Dan Lashof

China’s Diet Is Changing: Behavioral Science Can Make it Healthier and More Sustainable

2 semanas 6 días ago
China’s Diet Is Changing: Behavioral Science Can Make it Healthier and More Sustainable alicia.cypress… Fri, 05/12/2023 - 11:05

Over the past several decades, China’s economic development has driven significant changes to dietary trends in the country. As incomes rise, many traditional ways of eating are being replaced with diets that are higher in salt, fat, sugar and animal products. And while undernutrition is now rare, obesity, high cholesterol and Type 2 Diabetes are on the rise.

In 2022, President Xi Jinping’s government responded to these changes with two major aims to improve China’s food security which also helps China’s population eat more sustainable and healthy diets. This included a “Big Food” concept, which calls for an effective supply of major food groups and protein diversification, improving the efficiency of domestic agricultural production, and reducing food waste; and an update to China’s Dietary Guidelines to transition more people to healthier eating habits.

Following China’s latest dietary guidelines will help to accelerate low-carbon development. By one conservative estimate, 146 to 202 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture could have been avoided annually if the Chinese population followed the dietary guidelines released in 2016.

In new research on China’s sustainable food choices, WRI finds the recommendations in the 2022 dietary guidelines are optimized for planetary and human health. The challenge, though, is how the government and other important actors can encourage widespread adoption of the guidelines among China’s 1.4 billion people. Here, we outline a behavioral science framework to do just that.

A farmer carries a basket through rice terraces in China. If the Chinese population followed China’s Dietary Guidelines since its last release in 2016, 146 to 202 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture could be avoided annually. Photo by kongjongphotostock/iStockFood Trends in China Today

Geography, socioeconomics, history, culture and gender all contribute to different eating habits across China. As in many parts of the world, a single common diet in the country does not exist. However, some noticeable patterns have emerged over the past 30 years.

As incomes and urbanization have increased and the market opened to more global trade, so have the quantity and types of food many people in China consume. Overall, the proportion of cereals eaten at home declined from 1992 to 2017, with intake dropping from 38% to 32% of the total urban major food group intake, and from 48% to 42% of the total rural major food group intake. In general, cereal crops have tended to be replaced by other types of food as the Chinese diet has diversified and the population consumes more protein from animal-based sources.

Many of the recommendations in China’s Dietary Guidelines strongly align with those of the Eat-Lancet planetary health diet. Were the Chinese population to adopt the 2022 dietary guidelines, environmental gains would be possible in addition to the health benefits.

Currently, though, the Chinese population’s intake of livestock and poultry meat and cereals exceed the maximum recommendations in the dietary guidelines and the planetary health diet. The remaining major food groups — including aquatic products, legumes and nuts, dairy, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and tubers — are all consumed at lower amounts than is recommended. 

A Framework for Shifting China’s Dietary Habits

Worldwide, many national governments struggle to convince their populations to adopt their national dietary guidelines. Behavioral science can help. WRI previously identified 57 behavior change interventions to promote plant-rich diets that are good for both people’s health and the planet’s health. Because this research was drawn from the experience of primarily Western food service, we’ve adjusted the framework to be relevant in a Chinese context.  Below are the six prongs to that framework, and examples that are especially relevant for China.

People interventions include behavior change strategies that promote healthy, sustainable options by engaging food salespeople, servers, experts, and influencers. Among some of the biggest opportunities are enlisting medical professionals to amplify messages about the importance of eating in line with China’s Dietary Guidelines, as well as targeting efforts at family members who are primarily responsible for cooking in their households. Because communal cooking is prevalent in China, influencing the so-called “home chef” can ensure the rest of the family eat differently too.

Product interventions promote healthy sustainable options by modifying the type and range of food offered. Expanding the use of tofu is a good example, as it’s already a widely consumed protein source in China. Given its existing popularity and familiarity to Chinese diners, there’s potential to replace the meat in many dishes with tofu all together, or to swap a portion of the meat for tofu in dishes such as dumplings.

Mapo Tofu, a traditional Sichuan dish prepared with fried tofu. Eating more tofu is one way to lessen the amount of meat people are eating. Photo by Catherine Scarlett/Shutterstock

Policy interventions promote healthy, sustainable options through government policy and actions. To affect food choices, China will need to integrate climate, health and nutrition into a range of policymaking, as called for in a 2023 Academy of Global Food Economics and Policy report. Some concrete actions might include developing nutrition campaigns that promote eating in line with China’s Dietary Guidelines and giving families information about the climate impact of their food choices or providing financial support to poorer communities to boost purchasing of healthier, more sustainable foods.

Presentation interventions promote healthy, sustainable options by redesigning food menus, labels and messaging. Examples of messaging for use in China include focusing on the local benefits of healthy, sustainable foods – such as better air quality – as well as messaging that tells consumers that choosing foods in line with China’s Dietary Guidelines will allow them to feel good about themselves.

Promotion interventions involve promoting healthy, sustainable options using marketing, communications and pricing strategies. Social media holds a lot of potential to help China’s government disseminate messaging such as eating advice for health and sustainable lifestyles. Social media and online platforms can also be used to share reviews and product ratings that can boost consumer choices for healthy and sustainable food products.

Placement interventions promote healthy, sustainable options by changing how food is displayed and accessed. Some examples include increasing the amount of a display or online screen that is dedicated to healthy and sustainable menu items or adding fresh fruits and vegetables to food displays that encourage consumers to choose these.

Bananas hang for sale at a street vendor in Shanghai, China. Fruit and vegetables, among other food groups are currently under consumed among the Chinese people. Photo by MPMPStudio/iStock

The six categories for behavioral interventions we’ve outlined can go a long way to driving adoption of healthier and more sustainable eating habits. We believe that ultimately scaling China’s Dietary Guidelines will require tailoring the recommendations for different regions and demographic groups, conducting more research in dietary trends and strategies to address these trends, conducting more behavioral science trials to see what works, maximizing the potential of online platforms to scale behavior change efforts and evaluating alternative proteins as a potential technology.

china-healthy-diet.jpg Climate-Friendly Diets China Food creating a sustainable food future Type Finding Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Authors Sophie Attwood

STATEMENT: U.S. EPA Proposes Rules to Cut Emissions from New and Existing Power Plants

3 semanas 1 día ago
STATEMENT: U.S. EPA Proposes Rules to Cut Emissions from New and Existing Power Plants alison.cinnamo… Thu, 05/11/2023 - 08:59

Washington DC (May 11, 2023) – Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced proposed rules to reduce emissions from coal and gas-fired power plants. The new rules would require new and existing coal-fired power plants to capture nearly all carbon dioxide emissions by 2040. The power sector accounts for a quarter of the greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and is responsible for toxic air pollution that disproportionately affects disadvantaged communities. 

The proposed regulation comes nearly a year after the U.S. Supreme Court constrained the EPA’s authority to regulate power plant emissions by prohibiting the agency from considering the ability of power companies to shift generation to cleaner sources of electricity. The rule would set emissions standards based on what is feasible on a plant-by-plant basis rather than the broader system-wide approach taken by the Clean Power Plan proposed under the Obama administration.  

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) includes tax credits to encourage companies to capture and sequester carbon pollution from the smokestacks of fossil fuel power plants.  

Following is a statement by Dan Lashof, U.S. Director, World Resources Institute: 

“The EPA's proposed rule sends an unequivocal signal to American power plant operators: the era of unlimited carbon pollution is over. 

“The proposal would result in more than an 80% reduction in carbon pollution from power plants by 2040 compared to 2005 levels, accelerating the country's shift to a clean energy economy. The Inflation Reduction Act's generous tax incentives for carbon capture technology and carbon-free electricity generation sources offers a pathway for electricity producers to keep consumer costs low as they cut emissions from the dirtiest power plants in America. 

“By only regulating based on what is feasible within power plants' fence line, the EPA avoids some of the legal obstacles erected by the Supreme Court when it rejected the Clean Power Plan introduced by the Obama administration. This approach makes it more likely that the rule will survive judicial review. 

"This is a day for the history books, as the United States locks into the path toward a prosperous, clean and equitable future." 

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What It Takes to Attract Private Investment to Climate Adaptation

3 semanas 2 días ago
What It Takes to Attract Private Investment to Climate Adaptation margaret.overh… Wed, 05/10/2023 - 09:00

Investment in renewable energy reached parity with investment in fossil fuels for the first time in 2022, marking a long-awaited shift toward climate-friendly financial flows. But while reducing emissions is crucial, it is only one aspect of comprehensive climate action.

As the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes clear, the world is rapidly approaching a level of warming that will make it significantly harder to manage drought, heat waves, rising sea levels and other climate-related disasters. Along with scaling efforts to curb emissions, therefore, we must invest substantial resources in building climate resilience and adapting to the changes already underway.

But increasing private sector finance for climate adaptation presents unique challenges. While renewable energy is a promising sector with revenue models well understood by investors, the same cannot easily be said of adaptation measures. Few investors are experienced with adaptation finance, and even fewer are experts at it. This has led to uncertainty about whether the private sector can — or should — fund adaptation on a larger scale.

Still, under specific circumstances, private sector involvement in climate adaptation is possible. Indeed, a compelling case is emerging that the private sector can play an important role in helping fill the adaptation finance gap and making vulnerable communities more resilient to the worst impacts of climate change. Here’s what to know.

Current Adaptation Finance Falls Short of the World’s Needs

Adaptation finance refers to financial resources aimed at helping communities, companies, countries, and regions adapt to the impacts of climate change. Examples include financing the relocation of an infrastructure project away from areas with rising sea levels, supplying drought-resistant seeds for farming, or building a dam with a larger retention basin to account for increasingly variable rainfall.

Recent climate-driven disasters such as catastrophic floods in Pakistan, Nigeria and Chad, and the prolonged drought and famine in the Horn of Africa, highlight the urgent need for investment in adaptation. Developing countries require an estimated $160-$340 billion per year by 2030 to adapt to increasing climate impacts; this amount is projected to increase to $315-$565 billion by 2050. Right now, however, less than $50 billion — or just 10% of all climate finance — is allocated to adaptation. As emphasized at COP27, the amount of adaptation finance to developing countries needs to increase by 5 to 10 times.

While adaptation finance can come from both public and private capital, the vast majority so far has been public. Corporations and institutional investors provided just $1 billion, or 2%, of tracked adaptation finance in 2019 and 2020, compared to 98% from public sources. (This number accounts only for investment in adaptation projects with public benefits; spending by companies to make their own business models more resilient is not included.)

Measuring Private Sector Climate Finance

Tracking climate finance, especially private investment in adaptation, presents significant challenges. Due to the lack of common definitions and tracking mechanisms to capture private expenditures on reducing climate risks, there is limited or incomplete information available regarding the funders, administrators and recipients of adaptation financing. Limited data and knowledge gaps also make it difficult to identify factors that impact private sector investment in adaptation.

Why Is Private Investment in Climate Adaptation So Low?

Some adaptation projects may naturally attract private capital if they operate on a shorter time scale and offer proven cash-flow potential — for example, retrofits to water and sanitation infrastructure. However, many adaptation measures do not fall within this box and will have a more difficult time bringing in private investment.

Private investors may hesitate to invest in adaptation due to several significant barriers, including some that apply to climate projects in general, such as mispricing of natural resources and distortionary subsidies. The three challenges below are especially relevant to adaptation projects.

  • Perception that there is no money to be made: Private investors expect to earn competitive risk-adjusted returns from investments. Adaptation projects may be perceived as riskier due to the uncertainty and complexity of climate impacts, and often result in public benefits rather than direct financial returns.
  • Information asymmetries and knowledge gaps: Investors may contend with limited access to information on climate impacts, future risks and likely adaptation outcomes. The impact of key approaches such as ecosystem-based adaptation has not been systematically measured; nor have the full range of potential environmental and social benefits been monetized and calculated. This makes it difficult to reliably calculate returns on investment and make informed investing decisions.
  • Investment horizon and size of adaptation projects: Most adaptation projects are inherently long-term, taking 10-20 years to implement. It is hard to make the business case for potentially large upfront costs today set against relatively long payback times. In addition, adaptation projects often have relatively small ticket sizes (around $30-$50 million) which may not appeal to traditional investors.
Can the Private Sector Scale Up Its Investment in Climate Adaptation?

There are very good reasons for businesses and the financial sector to be concerned about climate impacts and adaptation. Private investors face transition risks stemming from shifts in innovation, technology and regulation as well as physical risks from more severe wildfires, water stress, heatwaves and hurricanes. These climate impacts put up to $1 trillion at risk over the next five years for the world’s 215 biggest firms. Businesses are also increasingly under pressure to deliver on ESG expectations.

Given these growing environmental, social and economic risks, private actors may view investment in adaptation not only as a sound financial opportunity, but also an investment in their own long-term stability.

Of course, private capital is not the solution in all situations. Adaptation — particularly in the most vulnerable, low-income regions — often brings public benefits rather than opportunities for private financial return. Likewise, over-emphasizing the potential role of private investment could result in funds being directed to countries with stronger private capital markets, such as emerging and developed economies, rather than to the most vulnerable countries and communities with the greatest need for support. While most people recognize the need for increased adaptation finance, including from the private sector, these constraints mean that many adaptation investments will have to be covered by public funds.

At the same time, there are not enough public resources available to meet the full extent of adaptation needs — whereas private finance, barely tapped so far, may be able to play a much more significant role.

Ways to Involve Private Capital in Adaptation Finance

Private investors may finance adaptation-related projects on fully commercial terms if they are confident about risk-adjusted returns, such as a venture capital firm investing in start-ups that provide climate risk assessments. However, the uncertain financial value of many adaptation measures — such as protecting coral reefs to support coastal communities whose livelihoods depend on them — means private actors may need additional encouragement to finance these kinds of initiatives.

One way to address this challenge is through the use of public financial resources to de-risk investment opportunities for private investors. One such technique involves “blended finance,” which improves the risk-return characteristics of an investment by pooling capital with different financial and non-financial return expectations within an investment structure. Such an approach can help alleviate concerns about financial uncertainty and knowledge gaps, thereby mobilizing private capital which would not otherwise be available.

Here are a few examples that demonstrate how blended finance can support adaptation initiatives in practice:

Guarantees and co-financing

Public institutions typically finance public infrastructure critical for building resilience to climate impacts, such as water treatment facilities or seawalls. State-owned infrastructure banks, multilateral development banks and export credit agencies play vital roles in financing such projects. However, guarantees, co-financing or other methods of risk reduction can help attract private capital to adaptation solutions.

The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), for example, provides guarantees covering country and contract risks to encourage investment in developing countries. In Jordan, MIGA’s guarantee of $13.1 million protected equity investments by private investors, covering them for a period of up to 20 years against the risk of breach of contract. This allowed private investors to finance the expansion of an existing water treatment plant to account for more frequent and intense storms and drought, sea-level rise, saltwater intrusion and the needs of a growing population.

Risk-tolerant capital structures

Risk-tolerant capital is another tool for mobilizing private investment in adaptation. One example is the Global Fund for Coral Reefs, which provides growth equity to the “blue economy,” protecting coral reefs and investing in the activities and economies that depend on them. In this structure, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) agreed to assume the initial losses in an investment to encourage the participation of others who may not have otherwise joined. GCF’s first-loss equity of $125 million is expected to mobilize three times this amount from private and institutional investors, for a total investment of $500 million.

Another example comes from Lightsmith Climate Resilience, a private equity fund that focuses on climate adaptation and resilience and invests in growth-stage technology companies seeking to address the impacts of climate change. The fund uses donor capital to create a risk-absorbing junior layer, which carries a higher potential for loss and helps reduce the level of risk for subsequent investors. Through this approach, Lightsmith aims to attract an estimated $3.30 of direct commercial investment for every dollar contributed by public financial institutions. In 2022, the final closing of the fund reached $186 million in total contributions from both the public and private sectors. The fund has already invested in three growth-stage firms: a U.S.-based water tech company that provides renewable drinking water systems; an Indian food company that uses tech-based supply chain approaches to reduce food waste and improve farm output; and a Brazilian company that provides AI-based solutions for climate-resilient agriculture.

Strategic Partnerships Can Spark a Virtuous Cycle for Adaptation Finance

Beyond raising additional capital for climate adaptation, partnerships between the public and private sectors can offer significant non-financial benefits as well.

First, such arrangements can help ensure that private-sector adaptation investments generate the intended climate impact. Funding from public financial institutions means the investment must meet their criteria — such as governance and sustainability standards — along with climate risk screening, environmental and social safeguards, and monitoring and evaluation requirements. Second, these partnerships can help narrow the knowledge and unfamiliarity gap for private investors, since development finance institutions and donor countries have decades of experience and expertise working directly with developing country governments and understand their markets.

On the other side, private investment brings not only additional capital, but also entrepreneurship, efficiency and innovation. This can spark a virtuous cycle by building investor confidence in new opportunities and approaches. These collected benefits help lower the existing barriers to further private investment in adaptation.

With supportive financial structures in place, the private sector can scale up investment in climate change adaptation — and in fact could play an essential role in closing the substantial adaptation finance gap. This will require a carefully designed and balanced approach that leverages both public and private financing and resources. Over time, such partnerships can help facilitate a broad-based scale-up of adaptation investments to the benefit of communities and investors alike.

This article was produced in collaboration with the Republic of Korea's National Institute of Green Technology.

flooding-in-lagos-nigeria.jpg Finance adaptation finance climate finance adaptation Type Commentary Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Related Resources and Data Adaptation Finance: 11 Key Questions, Answered How to De-risk Low-carbon Investments What the World Really Needs to Adapt to Climate Change How Countries Can Pay for Climate Action Projects Authors Esther Choi Eunkyung Jang Valerie Laxton

New Analysis Confirms that Farmland Restoration in Malawi Improves Food Security

3 semanas 2 días ago
New Analysis Confirms that Farmland Restoration in Malawi Improves Food Security ciara.regan@wri.org Tue, 05/09/2023 - 13:58

When degraded and unproductive farmland is restored, food security improves. This seems logical, but the reality of proving it isn’t as straightforward. Teasing out the reasons why a restoration activity led to better productivity, as opposed to other factors, can be complicated. For example, what if it was just because farmers enjoyed a more favorable pattern of rainfall or temperatures than in the past?

New research focused on science-based evidence and robust data analysis shows that food security can be directly linked to farmland restoration. A recent studyTackling the challenges of assessing socioeconomic impacts of farmland restoration: The case of Malawi, examines the socioeconomic impacts that are attributable to farmland restoration in Malawi. It answers this question: How do we know that farmland restoration is what led to a specific socioeconomic outcome? 

One critical result of this finding is that development agencies and institutional investors can be better informed about whether farmland restoration can really improve food security and alleviate poverty in Malawi. The potential result? Better financing and accelerated investment in restoration.

Landscape Restoration in Malawi

In 2017, Malawi became the first member country of the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100) to develop and endorse a national strategy for forest landscape restoration. The strategy focused on implementing five priority restoration activities to support sustainable development goals like improved food security, poverty alleviation and increased climate resilience (Figure 1), and is consistent with the Malawi 2063 agenda.

Decades of scattered adoption of restoration activities throughout the country, like farmer-managed natural regeneration and other agroforestry technologies, had provided enough anecdotal evidence of the benefits of restoration to influence Malawi’s government to adopt a nationwide strategy. However, anecdotal evidence, while important, does not make for a solid, scientific case for Malawi to attract the $272 million (278 billion MWK) of needed public and private investments to scale up its restoration efforts and create a long-term restoration-based revenue stream for the country.

Household Food Security Linked to Increased Restoration

Our analysis identified two tiers of causal links between farmland restoration and improved food security at household level. Food security refers to a situation where “all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” Food security is a first-tier impact of restoration when it is achieved directly through increased agricultural output (i.e., yield gains) or forest foods on restored agricultural land or forests. It can be treated as a second-tier impact when it is not a direct result of farmland restoration activities, but rather when food security, including quantity and variety of food, is achieved through income improvement that are attributed to restoration activities.

Using World Bank’s Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) household survey data, we developed an econometric model to analyze whether, and to what extent, household-level food security in Malawi has improved since the implementation of Malawi’s National Forest Landscape Restoration Strategy in 2017.

Figure 2 shows that household-level restoration efforts, which are represented by the Household Restoration Intensity Score (HRIS), have significantly intensified across the country between 2016 (before endorsement of the national strategy) and 2019 (after endorsement of the national strategy). Restoration intensification (as indicated by a higher HRIS) has also led to an increased Food Consumption Score (FCS) for the same household in the same period, indicating that food security at the household level has significantly improved over time. FCS is a proxy for food security, reflecting both the quantity and quality of food consumed by households.

The Findings are Encouraging, But More Data is Needed…

While the modeled results are promising, their interpretation needs to be treated with care due to several major caveats. A key limiting factor in this study was the use of household survey data. Although robust nationwide household survey data broadly exists, most surveys are not specifically designed to measure and track socioeconomic impacts associated with restoration interventions. For instance, in Malawi, household surveys only ask about aggregated household income, but not the portion of income that is attributable to restoration activities.

The lack of data for establishing a baseline before the restoration activity took place and monitoring the quality and effectiveness of restoration over time is another limiting factor. Without a clear baseline, the direct attribution of restoration to socioeconomic improvements of the local rural communities may be obscured by other factors, such as macro-level policy interventions or microcredits that allow rural households to generate greater level of income, consumption and wealth through investment.

In addition to the data limitations, we must also acknowledge that monitoring and tracking restoration impacts are challenging due to the complexity of restoration practices and their associated suite of benefits. In fact, multiple land restoration interventions may overlap across space and time, with varying levels of intensity. This makes attribution between a specific intervention and outcome complicated. However, linking a set of restoration interventions to observed environmental and socioeconomic outcomes at landscape level is possible, if more fit-for-purpose data can be collected to support such analyses. To do this properly, the restoration sector could benefit from collaborations between multidisciplinary teams (e.ge.g., local communities, economists, restoration specialists, data scientists, anthropologists) to develop standardized guidelines for collecting data, selecting key indicators and operationalizing monitoring frameworks. Together, they can help systemize restoration impact assessments. Furthermore, these efforts will also benefit from innovative data collection approaches that are tailored to landscape restoration for evaluating such complex relationships.  

…Especially Data Linked to Restoration Goals

Monitoring restoration activities and analyzing the resultant data is critically important for understanding the cause-effect relationship of an activity on the outcome. Restoration itself is never the goal being sought, but rather it is the means to achieving a goal that benefits people and the environment. Like with Malawi’s National Forest Landscape Restoration Strategy, it is important to first identify what those goals are, and then identify or produce relevant indicators and datasets to track progress. The Framework for Monitoring Progress on Malawi’s National Forest Landscape Restoration Strategy proposes such a structure for monitoring their goals, and our study represents a first attempt at harnessing available survey data to show progress toward achieving the strategy’s goals on food security and poverty alleviation via agricultural restoration interventions. As learned through our study, however, survey questions that are tailored to the cause-effect relationship between restoration interventions and outcomes would help to streamline attribution. For example, including questions about the extent and quality of the restoration activity on a particular plot, the date of implementation and the portion of crop yield associated with the restored plot would support a more detailed assessment of the relationship.

Restoration Commitments Require Investment in Monitoring

In March 2023, WRI and partners, including the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD), the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) and the  Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry Centre (CIFOR-ICRAF) convened the first-ever Landscape Monitoring Accelerator workshop in Africa to support development of robust monitoring frameworks and data collection for landscape restoration activities. Held in Nairobi, Kenya, participants from five countries — Malawi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Cameroon — assembled at a week-long workshop to review their progress on developing restoration monitoring systems and identify a way forward to address challenges that have hindered robust monitoring to date. A key component of the workshop was for countries to revisit their priority goals for restoration, associated indicators and datasets to support tracking progress toward those goals, and tools that can be used to measure those indicators.

While restoration implementation is gaining momentum across African countries, robust and consistent restoration monitoring systems at the national level — ones that connect restoration goals with indicators of progress and reporting mechanisms — are still in their infancy. We call for restoration stakeholders to invest in restoration monitoring by allocating adequate technical and financial resources for the development of well-defined and coherent monitoring systems that allow better tracking of restoration progress and linking specific restoration activities to outcomes. The need is high for establishing a feedback loop that assesses those relationships. Only better data and robust causal relationships between restoration activities and suite of outcomes can guide more cost-effective investment in restoration and maximize the benefits to communities at scale.

malawi-agriculture.jpg Forest and Landscape Restoration East Africa restoration Forest and Landscape Restoration Type Technical Perspective Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Authors Helen Ding Katie Reytar Bernadette Arakwiye Spencer Ng’oma James Warburton Darby Levin

9 Charts Explain Per Capita Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Country

3 semanas 3 días ago
9 Charts Explain Per Capita Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Country alicia.cypress… Mon, 05/08/2023 - 12:18 */ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

When India surpassed the European Union in total annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2019 becoming the third largest emitting country after China and the United States, that statistic only told part of the story. India’s population is nearly three times larger than that of the EU, so based on emissions per person, India ranks much lower among the world’s national emitters.

This is just one of many ways to compare country responsibilities for climate change; there are many other dimensions to climate equity, such as a country’s vulnerability or capacity to act. When focusing on emissions, it’s important to consider population differences and historical contributions, alongside total emissions. That’s why examining a country’s GHG emissions relative to its population — or per capita emissions — provides a helpful perspective.

Using data from Climate Watch — an online platform managed by WRI with open data, visualizations and analysis that provide insights on countries’ climate progress — we analyzed how countries’ per capita emissions compare historically and in the present day.

Among the 10 Highest Emitters, India has the Lowest Per Capita Emissions

China, the United States, India and the EU have the highest total emissions in the world.

But among the top 10 highest emitters, the U.S. and Russia have the highest per capita emissions, at 17.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tC02e) per person and 13.3 tC02e per person respectively, while India’s per capita emissions are the lowest at just 2.5 tCO2e per person.

Of the Top 10 Emitters, the US, Russia, Japan and the EU Have Reduced Per Capita Emissions

When looking at the top 10 total GHG emitters, the EU has reduced its per capita GHG emissions by 29% since 1990 and is now ranked at number 8 (7.04 tCO2e per person), below China (8.6 tCO2e per person) and Indonesia (7.2 tCO2e per person). The U.S. (17.6 tCO2e per person) has reduced its per capita GHG emissions by 19% since 1990. However, this trend in reducing total and per capita GHG emissions for the EU and U.S. is a recent phenomenon.

Russia and Brazil have also reduced their per capita GHG emissions, while Japan’s per capita GHG emissions have barely changed — though they all remain higher than the world average.

Per capita emissions are a function of economic and technological factors, and typically decline as a result of deploying lower-carbon technologies or an economic decline that decreases fossil fuel consumption.

For the U.S., EU, Japan and other advanced economies, reduction of per capita emissions were made possible by deploying low-carbon technologies such as solar and wind power and transitioning from high-emitting fossil fuels like coal to less carbon-intensive sources such as natural gas.

Russia’s reduction of its per capita emissions however was driven by the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the decrease of fossil fuel demand as part of a declining economy. Brazil’s reduction, in contrast, was driven by an increased share of renewables in their energy mix (mostly from hydropower and wind) and a significant reduction in their deforestation rates, implementing policies to protect the Amazon rainforest, a significant carbon sink.

Per Capita Emissions are Rising in Emerging Regions but Have Stabilized Globally

On a regional scale, there is a declining trend in per capita emissions from most industrialized economies, such as those in North America and Europe. This reduction in per capita emissions can be attributed to an uptake in renewables, the use of less carbon intensive fuels, improvements in energy efficiency, among others.

While emerging economies have much lower per capita emissions, they have continuously increased their emissions — except for Sub-Saharan Africa, which declined from 2.63 tCO2e per person to 2.17 tCO2e per person between 1960 and 2019. The main driver behind the increase in most emerging economies comes from their economic growth and reliance on carbon intensive fuels.

The good news is that globally, per capita emissions have not increased since 2010, indicating that the world is slowly diverging from its previous path of carbon intense development.

Larger view

Top Per Capita Emitters are Countries with Emissions-Intensive Energy Sectors or High Land-Use Emissions

Between 1990 and 2019, most countries with the highest per capita emissions were countries with small populations but large emission-intense sectors, except for the U.S., Canada and Australia.

When looking beyond their total per capita emissions and exploring where those emissions are coming from, we can see significant differences between the countries leading the chart. Taking the latest available year as a reference (2019), we have broken down the top per capita emitters by their respective sectoral emissions to identify what sector or activity is driving the bulk of their emissions.

In 2019, the top per capita emitters were mostly countries with a combination of relatively smaller populations and emissions-intense industries or GHG emissions from land-use changes, such as converting land for agriculture.

For example, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Turkmenistan and the UAE have populations below 10 million people and emissions-intense industries, such as oil and gas production, refined petroleum products, petrochemicals and fertilizers. The Solomon Islands, Guyana, Suriname and Botswana, on the other hand, also have populations below 10 million but have large emissions from the land-use change and forestry sectors, which include activities such as deforestation and forest fires.

Australia is the eighth highest per capita emitter in 2019 and stands out as a large country that has high per capita emissions. This is primarily driven by a heavy dependence on coal and fossil fuels (which represented a 90% share of total energy consumption in 2020), in addition to high transport emissions and energy consumption (powering the country’s large homes incurs higher demands for cooling, heating and lighting).

The Lowest Per Capita Emissions are in Developing Countries

Countries with the lowest per capita emissions are developing nations with smaller economies and less consumption.

Forty-five out of the 50 lowest per capita emitters are lower-income countries with an average per capita emissions value of a fourth of the world average. To put this into perspective, if the 10 top and 10 bottom per capita emitters were two different countries, the per capita emissions from the top 10 would be 39 times higher than those of the bottom 10. Notably, Fiji’s per capita emissions are negative because their land use change and forestry sector absorbs more emissions than all the other sectors combined.

Historically, the EU and US Have the Highest Cumulative Emissions

Historically, the U.S. and EU have caused the most GHG emissions, with a combined total of 37% cumulative emissions globally. If you consider historical emissions per capita, the responsibility from the U.S. and EU would be even greater: The U.S. and EU would have 20 and 11 times the historical emissions per capita compared to India, respectively. 

Emissions Trends and the Path Forward

Historically, there was a strong relationship between emissions and income. In general, as wealth and industrialization grow, so do consumption and energy-intensive lifestyles, and thus, the higher the emissions per person. This pattern is however changing with many countries growing their economy while not increasing their emissions and we see paradigm shifts like 90% of new electricity generation deployed in 2022 being renewable.

It is fundamental to accelerate this decoupling of emissions from economic development. Developed countries should accelerate the pace at which they are reducing their emissions and assist developing countries in leapfrogging an emissions-intensive trajectory, providing the financial and technological support they need to transition towards a low-emissions economy.

main-bazar-paharganj-population-emissions.jpg Climate climate change climate impacts climatewatch-pinned greenhouse gases GHG emissions data emissions International Climate Action Type Explainer Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Authors Leandro Vigna Johannes Friedrich

The State of 24/7 Carbon-free Energy: Recent Progress and What to Watch

4 semanas ago
The State of 24/7 Carbon-free Energy: Recent Progress and What to Watch alicia.cypress… Fri, 05/05/2023 - 09:00

Large energy buyers such as corporations and governments are embracing innovative strategies for decarbonization, including a new way of purchasing electricity so that every kilowatt-hour consumed is matched with zero emissions generation. This concept, known as 24/7 carbon-free energy or hourly matching, is gaining popularity as a way to advance the grid to 24/7 emissions-free electricity sources, avoid reliance on fossil fuels and reduce energy grid challenges that arise from too much demand, or too little clean energy supply at certain hours of the day. More energy buyers are committing to 24/7 carbon-free energy, driving new supply offerings, and accelerating the transition toward fully decarbonized grids. 

Researchers at Princeton UniversityMcKinsey and Company, and the Technical University of Berlin have determined that hourly matching can drive the deployment of advanced, clean, firm energy resources and can lead to lower carbon emissions for both the buyer and the system. To date, more than 100 signatories have joined the 24/7 Carbon-Free Energy Compact. Signatories include energy buyers such as Johnson Controls and Rivian, energy suppliers such as AES and Constellation, governments such as the Icelandic and Scottish governments, as well as consultancies, investors, solutions providers and system operators.

While the practice has been called energy’s “hottest new trend,” 24/7 carbon-free energy can add complexity to the energy purchasing process. It is not the only way for corporations, cities or other energy users to decarbonize their electricity supply. For example, large energy buyers often purchase clean electricity on an annual volumetric basis or make purchasing decisions to maximize carbon emissions reductions.  

The momentum that 24/7 carbon-free energy has amassed across different sectors is offering both challenges and opportunities. New buyer commitments, electricity supply offerings, tools and data sources have emerged to support this new approach as it continues to take hold.

Aerial photo of several warehouses with solar panel installations against the backdrop of New York City. Companies across the U.S. have committed to purchasing clean energy on a 24/7 basis in the next few years. Photo by Falcon video/Shutterstock.Why and How Buyers Are Embracing 24/7 Carbon-free Energy

Fully decarbonizing electricity grids requires generating carbon-free energy when it is needed, not just during periods of abundant sunshine or wind. Large energy buyers can play a key role by investing in carbon-free energy technologies to fill gaps left by wind and solar generation and by managing their electricity demand to better align with when carbon-free energy is generated. Under 24/7 carbon-free energy purchasing approaches, buyers match their electricity usage with carbon-free supply around-the-clock typically using resources located on the same grid where the electricity is consumed. Some buyers have turned to this approach as the next step to drive decarbonization after having achieved 100% renewable energy purchasing goals on an annual basis.

This approach represents an end-state goal for electricity buyers, but it also offers a framework for assessing how and when to procure energy and shift demand​. It’s unlikely that buyers will be able to shift to perfect hourly matching of carbon-free energy overnight, but they can take incremental steps. They can begin by understanding the hourly electricity load profiles for their facilities and by exploring when and where their hourly clean energy purchases match — and don’t match — their facilities’ demand. Even without accessing actual hourly electricity load data from each of their facilities, buyers may be able to estimate their facility loads by extrapolating individual building load data or by using average hourly load profile data as a proxy.

Depending on which electricity market the buyer is in, the buyer may be able to contract directly with electricity suppliers to increase hourly carbon-free energy match. This could be achieved by diversifying their clean energy resource mix or by adding dispatchable assets like energy storage to their resource portfolios. Buyers can also explore measures for reducing or shifting their facility electricity loads to better align with their carbon-free energy generation profiles. Moving toward 24/7 carbon-free energy requires resources — data, tools, methodologies, and financial investment — but by identifying and implementing strategies for increasing hourly match over time, there may be budget-friendly ways to make progress.

Below we explore recent progress, market developments, and remaining challenges.

Corporations Taking the Lead

Recently, several corporations have entered into contracts to purchase clean energy on a 24/7 basis. Iron Mountain, a global storage and information management services company, recently declared a goal to achieve 100% renewable energy use around-the-clock. It partnered with the renewable energy provider RPD Energy on a series of deals to obtain 24/7 carbon-free energy for data centers and other facilities across nine U.S. states.

This follows earlier purchases by Google and Microsoft, who have both announced plans to match their entire electricity demand on an hourly basis with carbon-free energy by 2030. The companies have signed agreements with the independent power producer AES to supply their Virginia data centers with at least 90% 24/7 carbon-free energy. Google indicated it paid a modest premium for 90% carbon-free energy compared with undifferentiated retail power.

The company has also contracted with the energy solutions company ENGIE to supply 24/7 carbon-free energy for its European data centers and with the community choice aggregation agency Silicon Valley Clean Energy in California with carbon-free energy for its data centers there. It also forged an innovative agreement with Nevada Power Company, a subsidiary of the utility NV Energy, to provide Google with 350 megawatts of solar capacity and up to 280 megawatts of battery storage.

Data centers, like this one in Ashburn, Va., demand large amounts of electricity. So, technology companies are entering into deals to switch to 24/7 carbon-free energy. Photo by Gerville/iStock.

Microsoft has entered a deal with the Swedish utility Vattenfall to match demand at three of its European data centers with 24/7 renewable energy. Microsoft has also partnered with the energy supply company Constellation on a 24/7 carbon-free energy software product, which includes an agreement for Microsoft to procure a portion of its renewable electricity supply from Constellation. In addition to helping decarbonize the grid, actions such as these taken by corporations can help illuminate a path forward for other energy buyers.

Commitments at the Federal Level Enable Further Progress

Federal agencies are making progress toward their goal of achieving 24/7 carbon-free energy. President Joe Biden signed Executive Order 14057 in 2021, requiring all federal agencies in the U.S. to purchase 50% carbon pollution-free electricity on an hourly basis by 2030. To help meet the goal, this year, the U.S. General Services Administration issued its second RFI to solicit additional information from industry about procurement options and strategies for reaching the federal government’s carbon pollution-free electricity goals.

This follows a November 2022 Biden administration announcement of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the U.S. General Services Administration and the electric utility Entergy Arkansas to advance the U.S. Government’s carbon-pollution free goals for federal agencies in Arkansas. Under the MOU, Entergy Arkansas plans to develop a cost-competitive 24/7 carbon-free energy tariff, which will be available to public and private Entergy Arkansas customers alike. If the tariff is approved, it will pair existing nuclear power generation with new carbon-free energy resources. 

Recently, the U.S. Department of Energy announced an MOU with Xcel Energy to provide federal facilities in Colorado with carbon-free energy by 2030. Under the MOU, the U.S. Department of Energy and Xcel Energy will develop a roadmap, which will result in federal facilities in Colorado being supplied with at least 50% carbon-free energy on a daily basis.

Momentum at the Local Level Windmills against the backdrop of a farm in Iowa. Three cities in Iowa are committing to 24/7 carbon-free energy by 2035. Photo by Jan-Ake/iStock.

Cities across the globe have also begun exploring 24/7 carbon-free energy. In the U.S., three cities in Iowa – Des Moines, Waterloo and Windsor Heights – as well as South Lake Tahoe, Calif., and Ithaca, N.Y., have all passed resolutions committing to 24/7 carbon-free energy by 2035 or earlier. WRI has supported a number of cities with implementation and has developed resources for those pursuing hourly matching.

Peninsula Clean Energy, a community choice aggregation agency that provides electricity to about 765,000 people in California, has set a goal to deliver 100% 24/7 renewable energy by 2025. Recently, the community choice aggregation conducted modeling that demonstrated cost-competitive pathways to achieve its goal. Notably, the analysis found that achieving 99% time-coincident renewable energy would result in a 2% cost increase relative to its baseline scenario, and that 90% annual matching would be cost-effective. These findings could have promising implications for cities and other community choice aggregations in the U.S. looking to pursue 24/7 carbon-free energy.

Utilities Have Begun Developing 24/7 Carbon-free Energy Supply Products

In addition to Entergy Arkansas and Nevada Power, other regulated electric utilities have begun advancing 24/7 carbon-free energy products. The investor-owned utility Georgia Power Company was granted regulatory approval to pursue a 24/7 carbon-free energy subscription service for corporate power customers in its service territory. Georgia Power Company plans to procure 650 megawatts of new renewable resources along with battery storage resources for its 24/7 carbon-free energy subscription service, which will be made available to large commercial and industrial customers in 2028. Eligible customers will be able to subscribe in 100-megawatt blocks or less on a set daily schedule or on a timetable where the battery resource is dispatched to serve both customer and grid needs.

Additionally, Duke Energy proposed new 24/7 carbon-free energy offerings for its North Carolina and South Carolina commercial and industrial customers. The utility’s proposals would also allow corporate customers to contract for up to 100% of their energy demand from third-party renewable energy providers connected to Duke Energy’s grid. Duke Energy’s proposal is awaiting approval from regulatory commissions in both North Carolina and South Carolina.

New Energy Data Sources and Tracking Tools

The push toward 24/7 carbon-free energy has introduced a host of new energy platforms and data and tracking services. Accurate data underpins the baselining, goal setting, measurement and tracking needed to make progress. Large energy buyers moving toward this approach must understand their electricity load and the carbon intensity of their grid’s electricity mix on an hourly basis, as well as that of their electricity purchases.

A number of companies offering data solutions have also emerged. Some, such as Electricity Maps, provide free real-time data on electricity sources and carbon intensity for various grid regions across the globe. FlexiDAO, another data solutions provider, offers a free carbon-free energy scoring tool to calculate the percentage of an energy buyer’s electricity consumption that matches carbon-free energy generation on an hourly basis. Others, such as Cleartrace and Powerledger, leverage blockchain technology to track and manage their clients’ clean energy transactions.

Verifying and tracking hourly clean energy transactions is also important. The Midwest Renewable Energy Tracking System, a nonprofit organization that issues and tracks renewable energy certificates (RECs), was the first to provide verification for hourly REC transactions in the U.S. PJM Environmental Information Services, a subsidiary of PJM Interconnection, recently followed suit, announcing that its Generation Attribute Tracking System REC trading platform will soon launch hourly, time-stamped certificates. Other tracking systems in the west and New England are also reportedly working to enable hourly REC trading.

These hourly REC trading platforms build on and conform to the standards set forth by EnergyTag, a nonprofit with a mission to define and build a market for hourly energy certificates. These efforts to develop and operationalize standards for tracking and trading time-based clean energy attributes can help make 24/7 carbon-free energy more actionable for energy buyers.

What's Next for 24/7 Carbon-free Energy?

Twenty-four seven carbon-free energy is gaining steam, but there is still much work to be done to make the approach accessible to more purchasers. Expanding its reach will require a concerted effort, including:

  • Buy-in and understanding from a large array of actors. 24/7 carbon-free energy has momentum, but it is still niche. Achieving 24/7 carbon-free energy requires a level of market knowledge and sophistication that may be unattainable for many smaller buyers. More readily available product offerings from electricity suppliers and utilities are needed to enable a broader range of customers to participate. 
  • Accessible and standardized hourly customer data. Customers need easier access to their hourly energy consumption data to understand how their energy use aligns with clean energy and how they can better transition to 100% carbon-free energy for the entire grid.
  • Easier ability to verify and track hourly transactions. Most industry players still track renewable generation annually. Moving to hourly tracking injects new complexity and traceability challenges, which can be addressed through more granular data in energy attribute tracking systems.
  • New technology. Aspirations of 24/7 carbon-free energy hold promise to help drive new technologies that can help enable grids to shift to 100% clean energy. While many of these technologies are still at a premium, product offerings could increasingly incorporate new clean, dispatchable technologies.

Considering the time element of when we generate and use clean energy becomes more important as we transition to a 100% carbon-free energy grid. The hour for addressing hourly use of clean energy is now.  

Note: Google, Microsoft and Constellation, which are referenced in this article, are members of WRI's Corporate Consultative Group (CCG) and support WRI work. WRI's 24/7 carbon-free energy work is funded by Google. All article content reflects the independent views of the authors.

wind-solar-renewable-energy.jpg Clean Energy United States 24/7 Carbon-Free Energy energy efficiency renewable energy Type Explainer Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Authors Nate Hausman Lori Bird

EVs Could Create Thousands of Jobs in Michigan and Revitalize Its Auto Industry

4 semanas 1 día ago
EVs Could Create Thousands of Jobs in Michigan and Revitalize Its Auto Industry margaret.overh… Wed, 05/03/2023 - 16:54

The shift to electric vehicles (EVs) is the biggest revolution in the auto industry in a century. Michigan, as the United States' leading auto manufacturer and one of the biggest auto producers globally, has the opportunity to be at the vanguard.

While some are concerned that a shift to EV manufacturing could threaten jobs in Michigan and other auto-producing hubs, WRI research shows that the opposite could be true: With an effective transition plan in place, the shift from gas-powered to electric vehicles can grow and revitalize the auto industry.

If Michigan fully embraces EVs, it could create 56,000 additional auto manufacturing jobs by 2030 (compared to what it would have if no transition took place) and boost whole new industries like EV charging infrastructure.

In addition, Michigan EV owners could save $40 billion cumulatively by 2040 from lower vehicle purchasing, fuel and maintenance costs. The state could also see significant health benefits from reduced air pollution and could slash its greenhouse gas emissions.

These gains are not a foregone conclusion: Michigan must make the right investments in manufacturing and infrastructure, and properly prepare autoworkers and communities so that everyone benefits. But done right, Michigan can set an example for other auto-producing states and regions as they begin to shift gears.

EV Rollout Is Accelerating in the United States and in Michigan

U.S. electric vehicles sales are poised to grow rapidly thanks to falling prices and incentives which lower the cost to purchase and produce EVs. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed new tailpipe pollution regulations which, if adopted, could help EVs reach two-thirds of passenger vehicle sales by 2032. And momentum is increasing in the private sector; for example, Walmart recently announced that it will roll out thousands of EV chargers at its stores nationwide.

These advances suggest that a rapid transition isn’t so far out of reach. The U.S. was at 6% passenger EV sales in 2022; Norway, for comparison, went from 6% EV sales to 86% in just 9 years after implementing a suite of policies to lower consumer EV costs and build out public charging infrastructure.

In line with the times, Michigan’s “Big Three” automakers — Ford, GM and Stellantis (Chrysler’s parent company) — have all announced ambitious EV rollout plans in recent years. They are offering an ever-increasing number of EV models to appeal to a wider range of drivers, from the Chevy Equinox ($22,500-$41,500 after federal tax credits) to the Ford F-150 Lightning ($32,500-$83,500 after tax incentives).

Michigan has also begun positioning itself as a hub for EV assembly, battery manufacturing and semiconductor production. Manufacturers have made more than $16 billion in electric vehicle and battery investments in Michigan to date, which is tied with Tennessee as the most of any state.

Transitioning to EVs Can Boost Employment in Michigan’s Auto Manufacturing Sector

One of the most pressing questions regarding the United States’ EV transition — and Michigan’s auto industry in particular — is how it will affect manufacturing employment.

On one hand, electric vehicles have fewer moving parts than gas-powered vehicles, which could potentially mean fewer jobs in parts manufacturing and assembly. On the other hand, new jobs will be needed to manufacture EV batteries in addition to assembling vehicles. What’s more, the Inflation Reduction Act’s EV tax credits support job creation by incentivizing automakers to locate vehicle assembly and battery production in the United States. This has already led to announcements of plants and jobs moving onshore, including in Michigan.

Whether or not these effects lead to net employment growth in Michigan’s auto manufacturing sector depends on what actions the state takes in the near term.

About the Research 

WRI's report, A Roadmap for Michigan’s Electric Vehicle Future, analyzes the potential employment gains and losses in Michigan if EVs were to reach 62% of U.S. passenger vehicle sales by 2030 and 100% by 2033. This would be aligned with global net-zero emissions goals and somewhat more ambitious than the Biden administration and EPA’s goals.

A new WRI report finds that if Michigan enacts supportive policies and increases its market share of EV assembly and battery production, the state could add 56,000 jobs in auto manufacturing by 2030 compared to what it would have if the EV transition didn’t take place. This includes 17,000 direct jobs in auto manufacturing, 12,000 indirect jobs in the supply chain, and 27,000 induced jobs that could be created when direct and indirect autoworkers spend their earnings in the wider economy. The majority of these new jobs would stem from increased battery manufacturing.

However, this level of job creation is not guaranteed. If Michigan fails to seize the opportunities presented by the EV transition, it could lose market share of vehicle assembly and battery production as the industry moves to other places more supportive of electric vehicles. In this scenario, Michigan could see 47,000 fewer jobs from auto manufacturing in 2030 compared to what it would have if the EV transition didn’t take place. This includes 4,000 fewer direct jobs in auto manufacturing, 15,000 fewer indirect jobs in the supply chain, and 28,000 fewer induced jobs in the wider economy.

Achieving the best-case scenario will require both the public and private sectors to implement supportive policies and take advantage of incentives and opportunities in the emerging EV industry.

How EV Adoption Could Impact Michigan’s Economy

In addition to auto manufacturing, the way electric vehicles are charged, operated and maintained will have important impacts on Michigan’s economy. These effects will be more pronounced in the longer term as the passenger vehicle fleet turns over from gas-powered to electric vehicles.

With 100% electric vehicle sales, the installation and maintenance of EV chargers could contribute 7,500 new jobs in Michigan by 2040, including opportunities for electricians, construction workers and engineers. Increased electricity use to power EVs could support an additional 12,000 jobs in electric utilities over the same time frame. Expanded renewable energy deployment, which will be needed to power electric transportation with a cleaner grid, could also be an important job creator for Michigan.

Financial savings from EVs can lead to further economic benefits. Electric vehicles are already cheaper to operate and maintain than gas-powered vehicles; as costs fall, they are expected to be cheaper to purchase within a few years. Based on our analysis, Michigan EV owners could save $40 billion cumulatively by 2040 on vehicle purchases, maintenance and gasoline. When these savings are spent on other, more labor-intensive purchases like retail, hospitality or entertainment, it could lead to more than 25,000 additional jobs in Michigan’s economy. If the state’s EV owners take full advantage of federal EV and battery tax credits, they could save an additional $9 billion or more cumulatively by 2032.

However, there will be job losses in some parts of the economy related to car ownership, requiring careful transition planning from Michigan’s government to lessen the economic and social impacts.

A decline in gasoline use would lead to 46,000 fewer direct, indirect and induced jobs in 2040 if gas stations are not repurposed as EV charging stations. These are mostly convenience store jobs with below-average wages that are likely to become automated regardless of vehicle electrification. In addition, auto mechanics will require re-training to build the electrical and digital skills needed to maintain and repair electric vehicles. Even then, because EVs break down less often and need less upkeep than gas-powered vehicles, there could be 26,000 fewer direct, indirect and induced jobs related to maintenance and repair by 2040.

The transition can offer a chance for these workers to re-skill, upskill or shift to jobs of equal or greater quality — whether in EVs, clean energy or any other sector of the economy — if Michigan implements appropriate workforce transition policies.

An electric vehicle is plugged in at an EV charging station in downtown Detroit. Expanding EV charging infrastructure can help bring new jobs to Michigan. Photo by RiverNorthPhotography/iStockClimate, Health and Equity Benefits of the EV Transition

Transportation is responsible for roughly one-third of Michigan’s greenhouse gas emissions, which means shifting to electric vehicles is essential to reducing the state’s climate impacts. Electrification of transport is one of the primary strategies in Michigan’s Healthy Climate Plan which, if fully implemented, could reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50% by 2030.

Michigan’s Healthy Climate Plan also commits to ensuring that 40% of climate-related infrastructure investments (such as EV chargers) benefit disadvantaged communities. This policy is in line with the federal Justice40 initiative, which aim to direct 40% of the benefits from green investments to disadvantaged communities which are marginalized, underserved and overburdened by pollution.

Shifting to EVs will also reduce dangerous air pollutants from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and volatile organic compounds. These pollutants can cause life-threatening breathing problems and lung diseases and are often particularly prevalent in low-income communities. Through a shift to zero-emission transportation, Michigan could avoid approximately 4,700 pollution-related deaths, 97,400 asthma attacks and 466,000 lost workdays by 2050.

How to Ensure the EV Industry Delivers for People, Climate and the Economy

Successfully navigating the transition to electric vehicles will require careful planning. To maximize the economic opportunities and avoid the risks to workers and communities, Michigan should focus on the following four priorities. While these suggestions are tailored for Michigan, the same principles will apply to other auto-producing states undergoing similar transitions.

1. Strengthen the innovation, workforce and infrastructure ecosystems

Leading in the EV industry means contending for more than just manufacturing jobs. Michigan must also attract corporate headquarters, research and development (R&D) facilities, and talented workers to support the digital and knowledge-based jobs of the EV industry. One way to do this is by offering tax credits that incentivize cutting-edge research within the state. Business R&D tax credits are offered by several other states and can be an effective strategy to increase entrepreneurial activity and new business formation.

In addition, Michigan should increase public investments in higher education and other programs to attract and retain students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Michigan is home to multiple highly ranked colleges, but it lags behind other states in producing graduates with STEM degrees. To help align education and training with new workforce needs — and to boost the number of EV-related educational offerings — the state has established an Electric Vehicle Jobs Academy and a Mobility Talent Action Team, and has provided support to build an Electric Vehicle Center at the University of Michigan. These platforms can lay a foundation to develop the workforce pipeline for high-skilled jobs in R&D as well as blue-collar and technical positions related to EVs.

State government, businesses and educational institutions should also support and expand apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeship programs. These have proven highly effective at placing workers in new, well-paid careers and can help prepare the EV workforce. Apprenticeships can also provide better career opportunities for underrepresented populations with limited financial means, as workers are able to earn and learn at the same time.

Finally, bringing in new businesses and workers will require infrastructure upgrades such as grid modernization, renewable energy deployment and public transit improvements. Companies want to site their factories and headquarters in places with reliable power and are increasingly prioritizing access to clean energy. To this end, Michigan’s state government should pass the 100% clean energy bill proposed by lawmakers in April. Investments in public transit and other public infrastructure, such as the ongoing work to revitalize Detroit’s riverfront, can improve access to jobs and attract workers who want to live in vibrant cities and towns.

2. Improve job quality in the growing EV industry

Working in the auto industry was once a ticket into the middle class, and the sector has a particularly high representation of Black workers and workers without four-year college degrees. However, in recent decades U.S. autoworkers have seen an erosion in wages and working conditions as more jobs have become temporary and non-unionized. If nothing is done, the EV transition could continue this downward trend in job quality. Most EV battery plants so far have been non-unionized, though the recent unionization vote at a GM battery plant in Ohio by the United Autoworkers signals a potential shift.

Michigan’s government and automakers must ensure that EV jobs provide a sustainable livelihood. The legislature recently repealed a union-restricting law, which is a good start in promoting collective bargaining and unionization. It could also strengthen prevailing wages, which require government-supported employers to pay the basic hourly rate of wages and benefits earned by similarly employed workers in a given region. Michigan recently re-instated prevailing wages for state-supported construction jobs, which would apply to electricians and construction workers installing EV chargers; it should also consider extending them to manufacturing jobs.

In addition, Michigan can create clear, time-bound pathways for temporary workers to transition to comparable permanent roles and disincentivize the use of temporary worker contracts. Temporary workers make up an estimated 20% of employees in the auto industry; they often do the same job as salaried, permanent workers but earn less and lack protection, workplace safety and training. This could be addressed through new legislation (similar to the state’s prevailing wage requirements) or though manufacturing incentive packages created by the state. Such measures would uphold high job standards in the auto industry as it electrifies.

3. Make sure no longtime autoworkers or auto manufacturing communities are left behind

While the EV transition can create new jobs and economic opportunities, these effects will not be evenly spread. There will be employment shifts from one part of the industry to another — for example, from ICE vehicle parts manufacturing to battery manufacturing — as well as from one location to another. The state’s government and employers must proactively recognize and respond to the needs of workers and communities impacted by these shifts.

Michigan should create a transition support fund and rapid response team to help longtime autoworkers experiencing layoffs at a particular location. The state should also support retraining efforts to help workers build the skills needed for EV-related roles and for opportunities outside the auto industry. For guidance, Michigan can look to other states which have passed large-scale just transition initiatives. One example is Colorado’s new legislation which allocates funds to community economic development and worker assistance programs throughout coal communities in the state.

Aerial view of an auto plant in Dearborn, Michigan. The transition to electric vehicles offers an opportunity for autoworkers to re-skill or upskill into EV-related jobs such as battery manufacturing and vehicle assembly. Photo by Matthew G Eddy/Shutterstock

Companies, for their part, should provide early warning of any potential plant closures, giving the state, workers and communities adequate time to prepare. Given that one-quarter of Michigan’s auto parts manufacturing workers are over 55 years of age, it may make sense for the state to work with employers to provide fair early retirement packages for older ICE workers in situations where retraining or relocation is not feasible.

When an auto production plant is shut down and production moves elsewhere, an entire community can lose its economic foundation and valuable tax revenue. Michigan should provide transition support to any impacted communities. This can include funding for local capacity building, establishing alternative economic development strategies to attract new employers, or providing temporary revenue replacement for the lost tax base. In addition, siting new facilities strategically so they don’t add to cumulative pollution burden, and implementing well-designed, enforceable community benefits agreements to ensure benefits are equitably shared, are key to protecting local communities and minimizing negative impacts.

4. Encourage widespread, equitable EV uptake

Michigan currently ranks 33rd of 50 states in electric vehicle purchases per capita. Its network of charging stations has also been growing slowly: As of January 2023, only 16% of Michigan residents lived within a 10-minute round-trip drive of a fast EV charging station, while more than 87% lived within 10 minutes of a gas station. The shortage of charging infrastructure can be a serious roadblock to widespread electric vehicle adoption.

To increase EV uptake, the Michigan government has established an Office of Future Mobility and Electrification and an ambitious goal to support two million EVs on the state’s roads by 2030. There have been some exciting developments in this direction, such as the Charge Up Michigan Program to build direct-current fast-charging stations, and the Lake Michigan EV Circuit Tour, which aims to build a network of charging stations around Lake Michigan. Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s proposed budget for next year also includes significant investments in the EV ecosystem, including expanding the state’s charging infrastructure, supporting local governments in transitioning their vehicle fleets to EVs, and providing grants to school districts to switch to electric buses. With this support, Michigan has an opportunity to adopt more ambitious and equitable EV policies, leading as both a producer and a consumer.

Michigan should provide financial incentives such as tax credits and point-of-sale rebates for EVs and set stringent clean fuel and vehicle emissions standards, building on federal policies. While tax incentives play an important role in helping spur EV adoption, direct rebates have been found to be more effective in getting drivers to switch to EVs. Governor Whitmer has proposed removing the sales tax for electric vehicles, which would be a promising step.

In addition, Michigan should consider how to support electric vehicle uptake in historically disadvantaged communities with lower rates of EV ownership. To date, high-income and white households are the most likely to purchase electric vehicles — meaning they are also more likely to experience the associated health and financial benefits. Barriers to EV adoption may include high upfront costs, lack of knowledge about the benefits and availability of EVs, and lack of access to charging infrastructure in apartment buildings or rural areas.

Targeting educational outreach and financial incentives to low- and middle-income consumers is essential to more equitable EV adoption. Similarly, deploying charging infrastructure to rural and disadvantaged communities, standardizing permitting of charging stations and adopting EV-ready building codes can improve access to charging infrastructure and pave the way for EV uptake across the state. The government should make equitable transportation electrification part of the core mission of Michigan's utilities along with affordable and reliable service.

Michigan can leverage federal funding opportunities from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act to further these initiatives and enhance its EV leadership and competitiveness.

Creating a Roadmap for Nationwide Vehicle Electrification

The shift to electric vehicles is not a zero-sum game in which Michigan’s gain is another state’s loss. Reaching 100% of car sales being EVs within a decade will require not just Michigan but many other states to step up manufacturing of vehicles, batteries and chargers. And it will require everyone to lean in on EV adoption.

While WRI’s analysis focused on passenger EVs, there will also be an expansion in electric school buses, electric transit buses and electric freight trucks, which will depend on additional manufacturing and supportive infrastructure. The pie will only grow in the coming years.

Michigan should take a leading role and show how the electric vehicle transition can be done in an equitable, forward-looking way. With the right planning, the EV transition stands to benefit America’s economy as well as the environment — supporting jobs and economic development, helping car owners save money, and mitigating the risks of air pollution and climate change.

For more information, read WRI’s report: A Roadmap for Michigan’s Electric Vehicle Future: An Assessment of the Employment Effects and Just Transition Needs

electric-vehicle-worker.jpg Climate United States U.S. Climate transportation electric mobility Clean Energy Type Finding Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Related Resources and Data A Roadmap for Michigan’s EV Future: An Assessment of the Employment Effects and Just Transition Needs 8 Ways US States and Cities Can Create an EV Charging Network How a Clean Energy Economy Can Create Millions of Jobs in the US Beyond Highways: Funding Clean Transportation through the US Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Projects Authors Joel Jaeger Devashree Saha Sujata Rajpurohit Evana Said John A. "Skip" Laitner

Overcoming Critical Minerals Shortages Is Key to Achieving US Climate Goals

4 semanas 2 días ago
Overcoming Critical Minerals Shortages Is Key to Achieving US Climate Goals margaret.overh… Wed, 05/03/2023 - 09:00

The past few years have seen ambitious, game-changing climate action from the United States. The Biden administration set a goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050, and recent legislation — including the Inflation Reduction Act, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and a newly proposed EPA regulation to supercharge EV adoption — puts the U.S. within striking distance of its target.

But securing enough critical minerals to support a nationwide low-carbon transition poses a serious challenge.

Critical minerals such as lithium, graphite, rare earth elements and cobalt are essential building blocks for a clean economy; they are used in wind turbines and solar panels, EV batteries and motors, renewable energy transmission and more. At present, the United States is reliant on imports for virtually all of these minerals. China controls the processing of key minerals and rare earth elements, which many see as a significant threat to the security of U.S. supply chains. And increased mining poses environmental and health risks both abroad and in the U.S., where many known critical mineral reserves are located in close proximity to Indigenous lands.

These issues have some stakeholders wondering if the supply of critical minerals could become a major bottleneck for the United States to achieve its climate goals. The U.S. must take action now to minimize these risks, secure its supply chains and drive responsible sourcing of critical minerals. Here’s what to know.

What Are Critical Minerals?

In the United States, critical minerals are those that are essential for U.S. national or economic security. These can be used in military equipment or in technology that will drive the economy, including clean energy components such as wind turbines, solar panels and EV batteries. To be considered “critical,” there must also be a risk that the country will not be able to obtain a mineral in the necessary quantities.

Of the 50 minerals included in the U.S. critical minerals list in 2022, at least 10 are essential to the clean technology transition:

  • Lithium 
  • Cobalt 
  • Nickel 
  • Zinc 
  • Aluminum 
  • Neodymium 
  • Praseodymium 
  • Dysprosium 
  • Terbium 
  • Graphite 

While copper is notably missing from the USGS list, in part due to significant U.S. copper reserves, other countries such as Canada do list copper as a critical mineral.

About Rare Earth Elements

Rare earth elements, or simply “rare earths,” are a family of 17 elements which, while relatively common, are found in very low concentrations and are difficult to extract. Four rare earth elements are particularly important to the clean energy sector: neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium and terbium. These are used in permanent magnets for motors in wind turbines and electric vehicles.

How Much of These Critical Minerals Will the U.S. Need to Meet Climate Goals?

A report by the International Energy Agency found that the availability of critical minerals will need to ramp up substantially to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and avert some of the worst impacts of climate change. In order to build out enough clean technology to keep global temperature rise to 1.5-2 degrees C (2.7-3.6 degrees F), demand for nickel, cobalt and graphite is expected to grow by about 20 times while lithium demand is expected to grow to 40 times its current level. Demand for rare earth elements is expected to quadruple.

The scale of this global challenge will be felt in the United States as it uses the Inflation Reduction Act to increase clean technology development and uptake. The act includes numerous incentives to drive expansion of zero-carbon energy sources like wind and solar; production tax credits to support domestic manufacturing of these technologies; investment tax credits for zero-emission energy generation and storage facilities; incentives for Americans to decarbonize their homes through upgrades like heat pumps; tax credits for qualifying electric vehicles, and more.

Expanding renewable energy infrastructure in the U.S. and coupling it with stationary storage batteries will require significant quantities of critical minerals such as lithium, nickel and cobalt. Likewise, the rapid shift to electric vehicles will depend on new EV batteries that require these same minerals. As the country increases its overall reliance on electricity, moreover, it will require increased transmission which calls for large amounts of copper and aluminum.

Where Does the U.S. Currently Source Critical Minerals?

At present, the U.S. does not mine significant quantities of any of the relevant critical minerals needed for decarbonization. The country is 100% reliant on foreign imports for 12 critical minerals, including graphite, and greater than 50% reliant on imports for another 31 critical minerals, including rare earths (95%), cobalt (77%) and nickel (56%).

In the future (likely within 15-20 years), the U.S. will be able to rely on recycling as an alternative to mining for a significant portion of critical minerals. But in the short term (by 2030), there will not be sufficient quantities of these minerals in circulation to make recycling a feasible approach. Additionally, there are a range of research efforts underway to obtain the necessary minerals without mining virgin land, including recovery from coal waste or hard rock mine tailings. But, at present, the stage is set for a significant increase in the amount of mining and processing of these minerals globally.

Does the Inflation Reduction Act Require Critical Minerals to Be Sourced Domestically?

Yes, to some extent. The Inflation Reduction Act explicitly requires domestic sourcing of critical minerals only for its electric vehicle tax credits. Other clean energy technologies (such as wind and solar) do not need to use domestically sourced minerals to qualify for the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) or Production Tax Credit (PTC). However, the act offers an additional 10% bonus credit to incentivize companies to incorporate U.S.-sourced critical minerals in all types of clean energy components.

Critical minerals sourcing requirements for EV tax credits

To receive the full value of the Inflation Reduction Act’s Clean Vehicle Tax Credit (up to $7,500 for qualified purchases), a portion of the vehicle’s critical minerals must have been extracted or processed in the United States or in a country with which the U.S. has a free trade agreement. Critical minerals recycled in North America can also fulfill this requirement. Vehicles placed in service before January 1, 2024 must contain at least 40% domestically sourced critical minerals to qualify; this ratchets up yearly through 2027, after which the percentage required is 80%.

Meeting critical minerals requirements accounts for half the value of the Clean Vehicle Tax Credit. The other half requires that a certain percentage of the vehicle’s battery components were manufactured or assembled in North America. At present, batteries must contain at least 50% domestically manufactured or assembled components; after 2027, this increases to 90%.

In addition, starting in 2025 for critical minerals and 2024 for battery components, no vehicle will qualify for the EV tax credit if any of these materials were sourced from a “foreign entity of concern,” such as China.

There is one exception, which provides a path for commercial vehicles to receive the full amount of the EV credit without requiring any domestic content.

Critical minerals sourcing for other clean energy technologies

The Inflation Reduction Act also offers an Advanced Manufacturing Production Tax Credit (AMPTC) for companies which domestically manufacture and sell clean energy technology. The AMPTC is a per-unit tax credit equal to 10% of the cost of production for each clean energy component domestically produced and sold by a manufacturer.

Fifty different critical minerals are listed in the Inflation Reduction Act as eligible “clean energy components,” meaning companies can claim the AMPTC when producing these minerals in the United States. There is no phaseout for the tax credit’s application to the production of critical minerals.

What Challenges Will the U.S. Face in Obtaining Critical Minerals?

As the U.S. evaluates how it can ensure a stable supply of critical minerals, it must grapple with a range of challenges. Two of the most difficult are that China controls the lion’s share of mineral processing capacity and that critical minerals mines have not, and cannot, live up to the desired zero-harm standard.

Supply chain vulnerability

The dominance of China in the critical minerals market is seen by some U.S. stakeholders as a significant threat to supply chains. While China corners the market in production of only two of these minerals, the processing situation is very different. China processes over 80% of all rare earth elements, over 60% of all cobalt, over 50% of all lithium and over 30% of all nickel.

Fear of supply chain risks is well-founded, as China has proved itself willing to wield this dominance as a political tool. For instance, in 2019, with the U.S.-China trade war intensifying, China threatened to cut off exports of rare earths to the United States. And in 2010, in retaliation for Japan’s holding of a Chinese fishing boat captain who was fishing in disputed waters, China did block exports of rare earths to Japan. These politically driven sales restrictions resulted in dramatic price spikes.

In considering how to address China’s dominance as well as the strictures of the Inflation Reduction Act, the U.S. should look for opportunities to support increased mining and processing facilities both domestically and in free trade agreement partner countries. The U.S. has free trade agreements with a few high-producing nations — including Australia, Chile and Peru — but oftentimes these nations still export to China for processing. Compared to mining, mineral processing has a smaller footprint with more manageable environmental risks, and processing facilities can be permitted and built more quickly.

Mining impacts

Mining, by its nature, is not a zero-harm activity. It poses significant risks to the environment and local communities, including air pollution, water depletion and pollution, and biodiversity loss.

Mining waste can also create significant risks; for example, improperly managed waste rock (overburden) can release acid mine drainage into the surrounding environment, and tailings impoundments (process waste) can sometimes leak and cause groundwater contamination. On occasion, catastrophic tailings dam failures occur, resulting in significant environmental harm and even loss of human life. Finally, there are social risks associated with mining, such as increased crime and gender-based violence.

In some cases, neighboring communities have been historically disenfranchised and not given the opportunity to participate in the licensing process. This can mean their objections and/or insights on how to best build projects or mitigate impacts may not have been sufficiently considered. Indigenous communities may be particularly vulnerable to the impacts of expanded critical minerals mining, as a significant portion of the mineral reserves needed for the U.S. energy transition are located within 35 miles of Native American reservations.

If everything goes right and if a mine is located in the ideal environment (for example, one with ample water and at low risk of flooding), impacts can in theory be localized to the mine site and avoid affecting nearby communities. In addition, mining companies may bring essential services to local communities in the form of health care, access to fresh water and well-paying jobs.

The challenge is that given the footprint of a mining operation, the time period over which mines operate (on the order of decades), and the fact that mines must often be managed in perpetuity, it is difficult to have everything go right. Laws and permitting must be sufficiently protective and enforced; environmental impact studies must be carried out and address all relevant risks; changes in the ore body composition must be noted and addressed quickly in case it shifts toward a significantly higher percentage of a dangerous element; effective management systems must be in place; and there must be no accidents, such as liner failures, air pollution control device breakdowns or wildlife incursions.

As global demand for critical minerals grows, effective regulation and responsible corporate practices must minimize environmental degradation, avoid environmental injustice and address the social risks associated with mining — including providing local communities with a forum to have voice in the process.

How Can the U.S. Responsibly Source Enough Critical Minerals to Meet Climate Goals?

There is widespread agreement that additional mining of critical minerals is necessary in the short- to medium-term to support a clean energy economy. Estimates suggest that more than 300 new mines will be needed globally to meet demand for EV batteries alone.

Responsibly increasing mining in the U.S. to the extent possible, and fostering responsible practices abroad, will help ensure that this additional mining is done under the most rigorous standards available. The Inflation Reduction Act’s critical minerals sourcing requirements directly support both goals by incentivizing domestic production and helping shore up trading relationships with like-minded allies.

Encourage domestic production and address U.S. mining challenges

Producing critical minerals domestically allows the U.S. to ensure high standards are in place governing mining operations and helps meet the administration’s dual goals of creating good-paying American jobs and addressing the climate crisis. In addition, electric vehicles with critical minerals mined in the U.S. can qualify for the Inflation Reduction Act’s Clean Vehicle tax credits; in this way, domestic mining will help encourage uptake of electric vehicles within the U.S.

Aerial view of the Silver Peak lithium mine in Nevada. Lithium, used in rechargeable batteries for EVs and renewable energy storage, is a key critical mineral for the United States' clean energy transition. Photo by simonkr/iStock

Almost every new mine in the United States will be required to go through review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), including developing Environmental Impact Statements which consider the cumulative impacts on everything from biodiversity to climate change. The U.S. also has a network of strong environmental laws — including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act — which govern every aspect of a mine’s operation, require permits to be granted and provide for state regulator oversight of operations. Finally, domestic mines are subject to financial assurance requirements to provide a clean-up fund if the operation does cause environmental harm.

It is important to note that these regulatory and statutory safeguards cannot always address all potential issues. There may be unintended consequences of mining, such as groundwater contamination from tailings dam liner leakage or pit lakes formed after closure. This is why the U.S. and the industry must focus on continuous improvement and consider new and novel mining opportunities which could minimize risks as they work to increase critical minerals mining capacity.

Expanding domestic mining will also require overcoming the permitting and litigation hurdles associated with developing new mines. This is no small feat, as new mines in the United States take, on average, a decade to go through the NEPA process and can be embroiled in litigation under NEPA for upwards of 20 additional years. Efforts are underway to pass permitting reform legislation; in the meantime, increasing funding to the agencies that oversee NEPA compliance and encouraging concurrent reviews among all agencies involved — which may include multiple federal agencies along with state, tribal and local agencies — could help speed this process.

Finally, the Biden administration’s support for mining is seen as mixed; on the one hand, it issued a 20-year moratorium on mining in northern Minnesota and designated the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument in Nevada, which may disallow mining where rare earth projects have been proposed. On the other hand, it is supporting direct lithium mining in California’s Imperial Valley and has distributed millions of dollars in support of rare earth and lithium projects over the last two years.

Support U.S. and major mining companies operating abroad to improve performance

Because the U.S. does not have sufficient critical minerals reserves to meet its own needs — and because it can take over a decade to bring new domestic mines into production — the country must continue to rely at least partially on imports. To help ensure these imports are responsibly sourced, companies from the U.S. and other developed nations should be encouraged to operate mines abroad. Companies that are publicly traded on major exchanges are subject to higher levels of oversight and are more likely to perform responsibly than smaller companies.

The Minerals Security Partnership (MSP) aims to bolster global critical minerals supply, in part by supporting partner countries’ companies in developing mining, processing and recycling in compliance with the highest environmental, social and governance standards. The partnership comprises 13 members including the U.S., Canada, Australia, several European countries, the European Commission, Korea and Japan. The countries are looking at projects that can be delivered by their companies around the world; they hope to settle on approximately 12-15 investments globally that will address all aspects of the industry, from mining to midstream processing to battery manufacturing. The MSP includes guiding ESG principles to ensure higher standards, greater transparency and local benefits.

While the MSP provides a means of government financing and therefore some protection for companies investing abroad, this will only address a small share of needed supply chains. It is still necessary to mitigate the political challenge of operating in unstable developing countries, where nationalization of assets is a serious risk

Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions were designed to provide a neutral and impartial process to resolve conflicts between countries and foreign investors. However, over 200 U.S. lawyers and economists have expressed concern that ISDSs erode national sovereignty and give corporations “alarming power” to override domestic legislation. European opponents have also argued that ISDSs may deter national authorities from passing laws to protect the environment, health and safety. The Office of the United States Trade Representative should consider offering scaled-back ISDS provisions to address situations where assets have been or are threatened to be expropriated outright and requiring investors to exhaust local courts first — similar to how the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement adjusted its ISDS provisions in 2020.

Help develop responsible international mining standards

The U.S can also champion responsible mining abroad by helping develop a unified approach to determining the environmental and social performance of critical minerals mines.

A wide range of assurance protocols currently exists to regulate the ESG performance of the mining industry. Some standards were created through multi-stakeholder processes, some were developed by the mining industry to self-regulate, some were developed at the behest of the purchasers of mineral products, and others were developed through multilateral government engagement. These cover a range of different subject areas and may or may not require outside assurance. This proliferation of international initiatives increases the risk of duplication and inconsistency.


Industry Standards Make an Impact

A 2020 UN Environment Programme report identified environmental challenges posed by mining operations in Key Biodiversity Areas and protected areas, including 33 World Heritage sites, and called for new governance guidelines in line with 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. In response, the 26 member companies of the International Council on Mining and Metals have committed to neither explore nor mine in World Heritage Sites and to respect all legally protected areas.

There has been ongoing work to harmonize these standards and simplify comparison. The United States and the MSP should consider supporting these efforts by building a more comprehensive understanding of the value of different assurance protocols and offering a transparent analysis of them. They must also recognize that there will not be a one-size-fits-all solution, given the wide variety of national and local circumstances governing mining operations. For example, the Fair Cobalt Alliance, which supports responsible mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, advocates for progressive standards based on continuous improvement. Such standards could consider the proliferation of artisanal and small-scale mining in the country and the poverty cycle which drives this activity.

Vehicles like the MSP Principles for Responsible Critical Mineral Supply Chains and the U.S. Memorandum of Understanding with Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo should offer a range of options that such local circumstances into consideration. Appropriately, the MSP's Guiding Principles did not endorse a single ESG accreditation framework, recognizing that there are many standards which are continuing to develop.

Another challenge to evaluating responsible sourcing is the traceability of minerals. It may prove impossible to show that an end product uses critical minerals sourced from a particular mine — however, efforts are underway within the battery sector to do just that.

As Demand for Critical Minerals Grows, the U.S. Must Drive Continuous Improvement and Responsible Mining

As the United States’ need for critical minerals escalates, it is important to remember that this is not a zero-sum game. The country must not only pursue a rapid switch to greener energy, but do so responsibly to ensure the transition is just and equitable.

The U.S. can increase mining for critical minerals while establishing guard rails to mitigate social and environmental impacts wherever possible. As the nation and manufacturers decide where to import minerals from, they should consider the following factors to help determine what constitutes a responsibly sourced supply of critical minerals:

  • The regulatory framework under which mining is taking place. Purchasers should be confident that compliance with and enforcement of strong environmental laws and regulations are part and parcel of operating mining, smelting and refining operations.
  • The existence of forums for neighboring communities to express their concerns and have a voice in the process.
  • The environmental and social track record of companies seeking to operate mines and from which U.S. companies are purchasing materials.
  • The transparency of mining companies in terms of performance reporting; for example, whether they report against an external assurance protocol and whether that reporting is third-party assured.
  • The process that critical minerals must take to come to market. Even if materials are mined in a country that does not create supply chain risks, purchasers must evaluate where the refining and processing of those minerals takes place and the environmental performance of the processing facility.
  • Whether the mining of minerals maximizes benefits to local communities. Purchasers must consider whether mining is an extraction-only relationship or if there is an opportunity to increase wealth and knowledge on a longer-term basis.

This is an extraordinarily complex and challenging set of issues to address, but the potential upside is enormous.

Critical minerals mining presents an opportunity to halt the unsustainable culture of fossil fuels. Whereas fossil extraction and burning will result in continuously rising greenhouse gas emissions, increased mining of critical minerals will ultimately set the stage for a clean circular economy wherein recycling and reuse of these materials becomes the norm.

By supporting new mining operations domestically and encouraging sustainable practices abroad, the United States can help mitigate the negative environmental and social costs while maximizing the economic and climate benefits of these critical minerals.

salinas-grandes-lithium-mine-argentina Climate United States U.S. Climate Clean Energy National Climate Action Type Explainer Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Authors Melissa Barbanell