What We Know About Deep-sea Mining — And What We Don’t

2 días 12 horas ago
What We Know About Deep-sea Mining — And What We Don’t margaret.overh… Fri, 02/23/2024 - 07:00

In the race to cut greenhouse gas emissions and rein in climate change, demand for critical minerals is surging. Materials such as lithium, cobalt and graphite are essential components of EV batteries, wind turbines, solar panels and other low-carbon technologies increasingly powering the world’s energy systems. Mining for these materials on land is already underway, but with demand surging, some are now looking to tap the seafloor for its millions of square kilometers of metal ores.

Indeed, some nations are already applying to the UN’s International Seabed Authority (ISA) for permits to explore deep-sea mining in international waters, where the bulk of the ocean’s critical minerals are found. But despite years of research, little is still known about the deep ocean. Many fear that extracting minerals from it could pose grave consequences for both marine life and planetary health.

After failing to reach an agreement in July 2023, the ISA now has until 2025 to finalize regulations that will dictate whether and how countries could pursue deep-sea mining in international waters. Formal discussions about its potential environmental impacts will kick off in 2024 and could help inform ISA’s decision. What will happen in the meantime remains unclear.

With the future of deep-sea mining still under debate, here’s what we know so far about the proposed practice and its impacts — and what we don’t:

1) What Is Deep-sea Mining and How Would It Be Done?

Deep-sea mining aims to retrieve valuable mineral deposits found on the ocean’s floor, hundreds or even thousands of meters below its surface. Alongside a diverse array of marine life at these depths are significant reserves of copper, cobalt, nickel, zinc, silver, gold and rare earth elements — materials that are essential to building zero-carbon energy components and other technologies but can be difficult to source.

In the deep sea, these minerals are contained within slow-forming, potato-sized polymetallic nodules, as well as in polymetallic sulphides (large deposits made up of sulphur compounds and other metals that form around hydrothermal vents) and metal-rich crusts on underwater mountains (seamounts). While there has been commercial interest in these minerals for decades, recent advancements in technology have made it possible to mine these areas by sending vehicles down to harvest mineral deposits from the seafloor.

Mineral nodules on the seafloor in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, a key area of interest for deep-sea mining. Photo by ROV KIEL 6000/GEOMAR

In the case of polymetallic nodules — which are currently the primary focus for deep-sea mining — mining vehicles would collect mineral deposits from the surface of the seabed, not unlike a tractor plowing a field, along with the top layers of sediment. The materials collected would then be piped up to a surface vessel for processing, and any waste, such as sediments and other organic materials, would be pumped back into the water column.

2) What’s the Current Status of Deep-sea Mining?

While exploratory mining to test equipment has occurred at a small scale, deep-sea mining has not yet been undertaken commercially. But some national governments and mining companies plan to begin as soon as possible, which could be within the next few years. What happens next will largely hinge on the ISA and how it decides to regulate deep-sea mining.

In 2021, the Pacific Island nation of Nauru notified the ISA of its plans to begin mining in international waters, triggering a contentious provision in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) known as the “two-year rule.” The rule requires that, starting two years after the date of this notification, the ISA must "consider" and "provisionally approve" applications to mine — regardless of whether a final set of regulations has been agreed on. The two-year period elapsed in July 2023 and ISA’s ensuing meeting ended with no final rule in place. Now, its Council is working with a view to adopt regulations by 2025.

The ISA Assembly (comprised of all 168 members) will meet in 2024 and will likely discuss the potential impacts of seabed mining on the marine environment for the first time. Some hope these discussions will lead to a “precautionary pause” on mining activities while further research is conducted, although whether this will occur — and what could happen in the meantime — remains unclear.

While the ISA has two more years to establish a code for international waters, countries could still go ahead with deep-sea mining projects in their own domestically controlled waters, known as “exclusive economic zones” (EEZs).

In January 2024, Norway initiated a process to open its own waters for exploration of deep-sea mineral resources, likely starting in the early 2030s. Other countries may follow suit, though in practice, many will be constrained by a lack of available funding and technical ability. There is also a great diversity of opinion on seabed mining among nation states. Some, such as Norway and Nauru, are leading the charge for exploration and extraction; others, such as Germany and Canada, as well as the European Parliament, have called for national and regional moratoria.

In addition, the bulk of the most attractive mineral deposits are found not in countries' EEZs but on vast seafloor abyssal plains in international waters. One area of particular interest is the Clarion-Clipperton Zone in the Pacific Ocean. This mineral-rich region already hosts exploration contracts for 17 deep-sea mining contractors, with their combined exploration areas covering approximately 1 million square kilometers (about the same area as Ethiopia).

3) What Are the Potential Benefits of Deep-sea Mining?

Proponents of deep-sea mining argue that it can help meet the world’s pressing need for critical minerals, which will likely only continue to grow as countries scale their decarbonization efforts. Estimates suggest that global demand for some such minerals could rise by as much as 400%-600% in the coming decades as the world increases its reliance on wind and solar power, electric vehicles, batteries and other zero-carbon technologies. Several studies have concluded that there is no shortage of mineral resources on land, but the world still faces significant hurdles in locating viable reserves and quickly scaling up mining and processing operations.

Some also view deep-sea mining as an alternative pathway that can circumvent certain risks associated with mining activities on land. Since extraction activities would occur exclusively at sea, deep-sea mining is unlikely to be associated with environmental hazards such as deforestation and freshwater pollution that can impact communities neighboring mines on land.

Similarly, the difficulty in accessing deep-sea mineral deposits for exploitation means that artisanal (small-scale) mining operations would be impossible and strong regulation of labor conditions may be feasible. This could potentially avoid the human rights abuses associated with some terrestrial mining operations. However, experiences of labor abuse in distant-water fishing operations show this outcome is not guaranteed.

4) What Are the Risks of Deep-sea Mining?

While the deep sea was once thought to be devoid of life — too dark, cold and starved of food for anything to survive — we now know that it is the largest habitable space on the planet and home to a dazzling array of life. To date, tens of thousands of species have been found in the deep ocean, with estimates that there could be millions more. In the Clarion-Clipperton Zone alone, a key area of interest for deep-sea mining, researchers have recently discovered over 5,000 species that were entirely new to science.

A starfish in a field of manganese nodules on the seafloor in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone. Thousands of previously unknown deep-sea species have already been discovered in this area, which some seek to mine for its mineral resources. Photo by ROV-Team/GEOMAR

With exploration and testing still in the early stages, further research is required to determine the possible ecological impacts of deep-sea mining. But the science to date paints a concerning picture.

  • Direct harm to marine life: There is a high likelihood that less mobile deep-sea organisms would be killed through direct contact with heavy mining equipment deployed on the seabed, and that organisms would be smothered and suffocated by the sediment plumes these machines are likely to create. Warm mining wastewater could also kill marine life through overheating and poisoning.
  • Long-term species and ecosystem disruption: Mining activities could impair the feeding and reproduction of deep-sea species through the creation of intense noise and light pollution in a naturally dark and silent environment. For example, the sound pollution from these activities could negatively impact large mega-fauna like whales, posing further risk to populations already strained by climate change and other human activities. Because many deep-sea species are rare, long-lived and slow to reproduce, and because polymetallic nodules (which may take millions of years to develop to a harvestable size) are an important habitat for deep-sea species, scientists are fairly certain that some species would face extinction from habitat removal due to mining, and that these ecosystems would require extremely long time periods to recover, if ever.
  • Possible impacts on fishing and food security: It’s not just the seafloor that’s at risk. Under current designs, waste discharge from mining vessels could spread over large distances, potentially kilometers away from the areas being mined. This may pose a threat to open ocean fish and invertebrates which are crucial to international fisheries — such as tuna stocks that help drive the economies of many small island developing states in the Pacific, including Kiribati, Vanuatu and the Marshall Islands. Effects of this mining waste could include suffocation, damaged respiratory and feeding structures, and disrupted visual communication within and amongst species, alongside changes in the oxygen content, pH, temperature and toxicity of seawater. However, more research is needed on the characteristics of the discharge plumes themselves and the tolerance of ocean species to fully understand these impacts.
  • Economic and social risks: While extraction would occur offshore, the deep-sea mining industry would still need shoreline facilities, whether for processing or transshipment of material. This would require land acquisition and development, which has historically driven habitat loss affecting coastal communities dependent on marine resources the most. And, though the UN has designated high-seas minerals “the common heritage of [hu]mankind” and declared that any mineral extraction should benefit all nations, the current regulatory regime of the ISA appears to promote the flow of mining profits to developed states, or to shareholders of mining companies, rather than being inclusive of developing nations.
  • Potential climate impacts: The ocean is the world’s largest carbon sink, absorbing around 25% of all carbon dioxide emissions. Microscopic organisms play a critical role in this climate-regulating system, helping to sequester carbon in the deep sea and reduce emissions of other planet-warming gases, such as methane, from seabed sediments. The loss of deep-sea biodiversity following mining activity may impact the ocean’s carbon cycle and reduce its ability to help mitigate global temperature rise.
5) Is Deep-sea Mining Necessary?

The global supply of critical minerals and rare earth elements must grow in the coming years, and quickly. But there is no easy answer to meeting this need, given the immature state and potential dangers of deep-sea mining and the well-understood harms associated with terrestrial mining. While mineral reserves on land appear sufficient to meet global needs, the world must address how to responsibly scale up mining and processing operations in a way that minimizes environmental and social risks.

Within the next 15-20 years, mineral recycling could become a viable alternative to mining for a large portion of material requirements. The World Bank estimates that if recycling rates for end-of-life batteries increase significantly by 2050, it could decrease the need for newly mined minerals by around one-quarter for copper, nickel and lithium and by about 15% for cobalt. However, in the short term (by 2030), there will not be enough of these minerals in circulation to make recycling a feasible approach.

Better recycling practices in established waste streams, such as from electronics and electrical equipment, can help alleviate some short-term supply pressure while preparing the secondary supply chain to handle a large volume of end-of-life zero-carbon energy products in the future. There is also 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.

Finally, as battery technologies continue to evolve, it is possible that deep-sea mineral deposits will lose their attraction as alternative technologies not reliant on such minerals become more common. For instance, there is a growing shift away from nickel manganese cobalt oxides (NMC) batteries towards lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries, with LFP batteries gaining significant market share from 2015 to 2022; their key materials, lithium and iron, are not targets of deep-sea mining. Emerging technologies such as sodium-ion batteries also have the potential to alter the EV battery market by replacing lithium and cobalt with cheaper and more abundant options.

With Serious Questions Still Unanswered, What Comes Next?

In developing regulations for deep-sea mining, the ISA and other stakeholders have a rare opportunity to take a breath before taking the plunge. Rather than extracting resources first and addressing the consequences later, this is a chance to step back and consider the environmental and social implications of deep-sea mining before any activity gets underway. Any decision made should be rooted in evidence robust enough to ensure that no serious harm is done to people, nature or the climate.

In order to continue with the possibility of deep-sea mining, key questions and knowledge gaps should be addressed by the ISA, the mining industry, scientists and national governments:

  • What is the potential magnitude and extent (both in space and time) of deep-sea mining impacts on marine species and environments, and what are the likely ecological consequences?
  • What are the potential social and economic impacts of deep-sea mining? Is it possible for the industry to be advanced in a way that meets the UNCLOS goal of fostering sustainable economic development, international cooperation and equitable trade growth for all countries?
  • How can a circular mineral economy be further developed to lessen the need for environmentally intrusive practices? More research must be conducted into land-based and urban mining practices to improve their efficiency, as well as into improving product design to reduce demand for and increase recycling of critical minerals.
  • What are the possible positive and negative implications of deep-sea mining in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, as well as for furthering research into deep-sea environments?
  • What regulations could be developed to ensure that the financial benefits from deep-sea mining operations, should they occur, are equitably distributed among nations?

Finally, for the exploration of deep-sea mineral resources to continue, regulations should be drafted in full and in transparent collaboration with interested parties and key stakeholders, including ISA members, mining corporations and scientists. These regulations should be backed by science and other forms of knowledge, be enforceable, and offer effective protection for delicate marine environments from the impacts of mining.

 

This article was originally published in July 2023. It was last updated in February 2024 to reflect developments in national deep-sea mining policy.

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African Energy Dialogues Brings Together Voices on Africa's Energy Transitions

5 días 5 horas ago
African Energy Dialogues Brings Together Voices on Africa's Energy Transitions shannon.paton@… Tue, 02/20/2024 - 13:20

In Sub-Saharan Africa, 567 million people lack access to electricity — that makes up 80% of the global population facing this issue. On top of these struggles, Africa is also experiencing some of the worst impacts of climate change, with rising temperatures and extreme weather threatening human health, food and water security.

At the same time, Africa has an abundance of resources, and with the right policies, financing and planning, it has the potential to provide clean energy and economic development. But very few African countries currently have plans in place to use these resources to transition to a reliable, clean energy system. And in many cases, there is little country-specific research to inform development.

New research from WRI established that gaps in research and in coordination are stifling energy transitions in African countries, sparking WRI’s partnership with other major institutions — the African Energy Commission (AFREC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and Sustainable Energy for All (SEforAll) — to create a platform for developing, sharing and implementing country-level energy transition plans in Africa. Launched at the 2023 UN climate summit (COP28) in Dubai, African Energy Dialogues (AED) is raising the visibility and increasing the influence of African perspectives in the global discourse about African energy transitions. Its purpose is to create actionable recommendations on broadening clean energy use across the continent.

The launch event opened with a keynote address from respected author and economist Dr. Carlos Lopes, who shared his views on the important role AED can play. According to Dr. Lopes, the AED has a unique opportunity to address the diverse challenges of African energy transitions: Tackling energy access as a priority, the role of renewable and non-renewable energy, the role of Africa in the new global economy, and strategies to ensure a just transition.

Lopes said, “The most important message is to be clear that we can no longer discuss development without climate, and we can no longer discuss climate without development. We have to stop seeing these competing with one another."

Dr. Lopes noted that Africa’s economies have developed largely based on Official Development Assistance (ODA) — but that ODA funding has been reducing with time. There is a need to reduce reliance on ODA and retain economic benefit of domestic investments within African countries. Through its Investment and Finance Working Group, AED will develop and share a roadmap of how African countries can move beyond ODA and increase domestic investments in the energy sector, based on real return on investment and a strong economic case.

The African Energy Commission (AFREC)’s Head of Policy and Strategy, Yagouba Traore, called on AED to provide a space for African countries to share information and experience, as well as a platform to amplify African narratives, positions and agendas on the energy transition and importantly, energy access.

Traore said, “We need to work together to mobilize the necessary resources to develop the energy sector. We believe a platform like this can really provide a way to fast track all the elements.” He added, “We support it and invite all stakeholders to join us so we can provide energy and clean cooking fuels and technology to those who don't have them.”

Linus Mofor, Senior Environmental Affairs Officer at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), also urged those involved in Africa’s energy transition to be part of the AED. He emphasized the importance of platforms like AED to take ownership of Africa’s transition.

“There has always been a very patronizing approach to Africa. When it comes to the energy transition, Africa will decide, it will do it in its own way and consider all options,” Mofor said.

Mofor also noted that the work of AED can provide evidence to support African countries in charting a path that draws on the African Common Position on Energy Access and Transition and also takes into account African countries’ individual circumstances.

Lanre Shasore, Senior Adviser, Energy Transition Planning, Africa at SEforAll echoed the call for African voices to lead the discussion about their own energy transitions. She described Africa’s journey not as a transition story, but as a growth story and raised a key question for AED: What does a net zero world mean for economies like those in Africa? Shasore also urged AED to provide a platform for nuanced conversation on energy transitions, led by African voices.

Rebekah Shirley, WRI Africa’s Deputy Director agreed that through initiatives like AED, “We’re not only singing from the same hymn book, we’re writing our own hymn.”

Looking ahead, AED will form working groups and task forces on energy transition topics (including investment and finance, enabling policies and regulation, and technologies and infrastructure), support individual countries to develop energy transition pathways, share knowledge and best practice to improve understanding of African countries’ energy systems, and elevate African perspectives in the global debates on energy transitions. AED is actively seeking participation from individuals and organizations based in all African countries and all areas of expertise, including research, policy energy planning, infrastructure, finance and investment.

To find out how to get involved, visit www.africanenergydialogues.org.

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What Is the Paris Agreement’s Article 2.1(c) on Climate Finance, and Why Does it Matter? Key Questions, Answered

1 semana 3 días ago
What Is the Paris Agreement’s Article 2.1(c) on Climate Finance, and Why Does it Matter? Key Questions, Answered christian.made… Thu, 02/15/2024 - 15:38

Recent studies indicate that the world will need $10 trillion annually between 2030 and 2050 to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. That’s a lot — but the world has the money.

As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) explains, ”there is sufficient global capital to close the global investment gaps … but there are barriers to redirecting capital to climate action.” The challenge, then, is not necessarily raising additional finance for climate change mitigation and adaptation, but how to align all the world’s capital towards climate action.

Article 2.1(c) of the international Paris Agreement on climate change aims to do just that by “making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate-resilient development.” However, the language of Article 2.1(c) is vague on what exactly it entails. Eight years after virtually all countries signed the Paris Agreement, they’re still at odds over the scope of Article 2.1(c) and how it should be implemented.

Here, we explain what Article 2.1(c) is, how it interacts with other finance mandates, and what’s needed to put it into action.

What Does Article 2.1(c) Do? 

The heart of the Paris Agreement on climate change is Article 2, which sets the objectives of the agreement. Article 2.1(a) urges a global response to hold the increase in global average temperature to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) to reduce the risks and impacts of climate change. Article 2.1(b) outlines the need to adapt to adverse impacts of climate change, build resilience and pursue low-greenhouse gas development. Article 2.1(c) points out that we need to make finance flows consistent with these objectives if we’re ever going to attain them. Finally, Article 2.2 outlines the context these articles should be pursued under, including the principles of equity, common-but-differentiated responsibility, and respective capabilities and national circumstances.

2.1(c) is a holistic goal. That means it covers both mitigation and adaptation, potentially encompassing domestic and international finance flows. It requires not just scaling up the good finance — for example, climate resilience bonds and financing for new renewable energy projects — but also scaling down funding to carbon-intensive activities, like new coal plants or diesel truck fleets. And it doesn’t stop with government spending. Depending on how it’s interpreted, it could also encompass the private sector, including financial institutions, businesses, corporations and investors.

In short, financial systems broadly must align with the pursuit of sustainable development and international climate goals. This means that all types of investments and financing activities — all investors and actors in the real economy, stock as well as flows — should be “consistent” with achieving the world’s climate goals.

2.1(c) will require economic and financial reform. The tools (e.g., policies and economic and financial instruments) for getting there will be many and varied. Innovative policies and financial instruments will surely play a role, such as green procurement (where companies and governments would be required to decarbonize supply chains) and climate-related bonds to integrate climate priorities into economic development plans.

And in order to ensure equity, alignment of financial flows will have to be customized to each country’s economic, financial and social contexts. This especially includes developing countries’ pursuit of sustainable development, poverty eradication and a just transition.

What Progress Has Been Made Toward Achieving Article 2.1(c)? 

Though a common understanding of 2.1(c) has yet to be agreed upon by Paris Agreement signatories, efforts inside and outside the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are providing glimpses of what alignment could look like.

Efforts Within UNFCCC

The UN’s Global Stocktake, which concluded at the recent UN Climate summit (COP28), assessed progress towards the goals of the Paris Agreement for the first time, including Article 2.1(c). In its key findings released in a Synthesis Report in September 2023, it recognized that financial flows include “international and domestic, public and private.”

Negotiators established the Sharm el-Sheikh dialogue on Article 2.1(c) at COP27 in 2022, where countries, organizations and other stakeholders can exchange views and enhance understanding of the scope of 2.1(c) and its complementarity with Article 9 of the Paris Agreement, which focuses on developed countries’ financial responsibilities). As a result of the dialogue, the secretariat prepared a report about their deliberations. At COP28, negotiators decided to extend the dialogue with at least two sessions, one in 2024 and one in 2025, followed by a report by the co-chairs about the deliberations.

The Standing Committee on Finance (SCF), established during COP16, has two tasks related to Article 2.1(c): mapping information that contributes to the implementation of Article 2.1(c) and preparing a synthesis report (published in November 2023) analyzing how to operationalize it. The SCF provided a first report at COP27 and an updated report at COP28 for countries’ consideration.

Efforts Outside UNFCCC

Stakeholders like investors and corporations have developed frameworks to identify progress in aligning financing per Article 2.1(c). For example, WRI developed a framework and identified tools governments already have at their disposal to shift and mobilize finance. Tools are available in four categories: financial policies and regulations, fiscal policy levers, public finance and information instruments.

Investors, corporations and financial institutions have also shown some progress on Article 2.1(c) alignment.

Paying for the Paris Agreement Resource Hub

WRI recently launched a resource hub highlighting different tools to make progress towards 2.1(c). This platform includes multimedia modules on 16 tools for aligning and increasing public and private finance for climate goals, including public-private partnerships, green procurement standards, mandatory climate risk disclosure and more.

Some are mainstreaming climate risk in their operations by applying risk management approaches, including disclosure frameworks to assess physical (e.g., fires and floods) and transitional (e.g., regulatory and technologies) risks. The theory of change is that disclosing information on climate-related risks may lead to investors deciding to shift their investments, contributing to alignment. To this end, corporations are applying the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) frameworks to their own risk disclosures. Some central banks have incorporated climate-related risks into their operations.

Additionally, investors with the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) have developed guidelines for financial institutions to align their business and operations with the goal of achieving net-zero emissions. Financial institutions including asset owners and managers, commercial banks and insurers have made commitments to back sustainable finance and phase out coal. Multilateral development banks have rolled out principles and a joint methodology to align their operations — including both direct investment and policy-based lending — to the goals of the Paris Agreement.

What Challenges Remain to Operationalize Article 2.1(c)?

Despite incremental progress, understanding the place of 2.1(c) in the overall climate negotiations, defining key terms like “financial flows” and “consistent,” and addressing concerns about countries’ sovereignty all pose challenges for the international finance community to move forward.

Defining ‘Consistency of Financial Flows’

One of the key challenges to operationalizing Article 2.1(c) is that countries are using different terms and concepts to interpret the word “consistency.” These include directing, orienting, aligning, shifting, steering, scaling up, scaling down and more. Some countries argue that “consistency of financial flows” is about directing finance to green, sustainable and/or climate-related activities, regardless of the financial instruments through which such flows are channeled. The IPCC has defined it more broadly as looking at all investments, whether or not they contribute to climate objectives, including those investments that play a transition role.

However, “consistency” will require some conversation about what not to do, as well. At the very least, countries need to come to a common understanding on how to scale down misaligned investments (like financing fossil fuels) and the impact this may have on countries’ domestic policies and national development.

Concerns About Unintended Consequences

Countries have different development pathways, needs and priorities. Policies and instruments to align their financial flows will need to account for this diversity. However, because 2.1(c) is a global effort, questions will arise about standards for action and whether similar policies and regulations need to be applied in all countries. For example, if one developing country does not reform a specific set of policies, will it no longer be eligible to access climate finance? Will there be trade restrictions imposed on specific products?

The Relationship of Article 2.1(c) to Other Global Finance Goals

Article 2.1(c) is just one goal within the Paris Agreement for addressing climate change. To effectively operationalize it, it must be considered within the context of the whole agreement — especially its other finance goals.

For example, negotiators and other stakeholders like research organizations and academia are examining the complementarity of Article 2.1(c) and the new collective quantified goal (NCQG) that must be established by COP29 in 2024. NCQG will set a new finance objective that goes beyond developed nations’ current goal of providing a collective $100 billion in climate finance annually. However, while Article 2.1(c) refers to allfinancial flows for countries that signed the Paris Agreement, the NCQG is specific to finance support to developing countries

Importantly, the mandate to adopt NCQG states that the new goal must take into account developing countries’ needs and priorities. Developing countries have reiterated their concern that Article 2.1(c) discussions could draw the NCQG conversations away from this focus and instead towards domestic policy and finance flow shifts, or include conditionalities or barriers to access financial support.

It's important that negotiators take these concerns seriously as they consider how to move forward, particularly in the context of who contributes to the NCQG and efforts to maintain access to climate finance.

What to Watch at Future COPs

Article 2.1(c) was addressed on several fronts at COP28 in Dubai, including as part of the Global Stocktake, in reports prepared by the SCF, and in outcomes of the Sharm el-Sheikh dialogue.

ACT2025, a consortium formed to ensure that voices from climate-vulnerable countries are heard and mobilized in climate negotiations, is working to drive greater climate ambition that meet the needs of developing countries, including on climate finance.

Learn more about ACT2025 here.

In addition, developed countries have suggested an agenda item focused on Article 2.1 (c), as well as a dedicated work program within the UNFCCC. Developing countries, however, expressed skepticism about this approach, on the basis that a focus on 2.1(c) could “lead to developed countries shying away from their commitments and obligations” to provide financial support to vulnerable nations. This concern was also expressed at COP27.

There will be no way to meet global climate goals if countries can’t agree on how to steer finance toward a low-carbon, climate-resilient world. Investment is both the fuel and the steering wheel for arriving where we need to go. Article 2.1(c) will be complicated to operationalize, but in its very ambition, it provides a vision for the road forward. By COP30 in 2025, it will be crucial to have both a framework and a roadmap for operationalization.

This article was originally published on Nov. 22, 2023. It was updated on Feb. 15, 2024 to reflect the progress made at COP28.

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How Cacao Can Do So Much More Than Make Chocolate

1 semana 5 días ago
How Cacao Can Do So Much More Than Make Chocolate ciara.regan@wri.org Tue, 02/13/2024 - 13:57

Creating chocolate has the potential to do so much more than be a Valentine’s treat or an end-of-meal indulgence.

Approximately 75% of the cacao pod is discarded during the cultivation, harvesting and consumption of cocoa beans. However, if parts like the husk, pulp and bean shell were collected and managed properly, these byproducts could help raise farmers’ incomes, revitalize degraded landscapes, provide food and even produce clean energy.

What’s the difference between cocoa and cacao?

The two terms can often be confused, but there's a distinction:

Cocoa refers to the value chain, farmers and beans.

Cacao refers to the fruit (pod), trees and byproducts.

Rethinking the Cocoa Process

Cocoa production is big business for many: In 2021, its global trade value was $9.59 billion. It’s a high-value cash crop and an important export throughout the “Cacao Belt” (tropical production regions near the equator, such as countries Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Ecuador.)  

Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana in West Africa are the world’s largest cocoa producers, together contributing over 60% of global cocoa production volume. Cocoa farming employs nearly 600,000 farmers in Côte d'Ivoire, ultimately supporting nearly a quarter of the country’s population, or 6 million people. In Ghana it employs more than 10% of the total population, or 3.2 million farmers and workers.

Yet smallholder farmers who make up most cacao producers live on an estimated $2 a day. Moreover, the cocoa industry produces approximately 700,000 tons of waste annually and is a highly inefficient burden on land in its current state. Only the beans are harvested to produce cocoa mass, butter, powder and chocolate. Most of the cacao pod is not utilized and is left to decay on the ground, which damages fertile soil as it degrades. This material, if properly salvaged, can be harnessed for productive purposes.

The cocoa value chain has driven deforestation in nearly every country where cacao is produced, as rainforests are cut down to make way for monoculture plantations. In Côte d'Ivoire, it is estimated that 40% of cacao comes from protected areas. Increasing global demand for chocolate, coupled with decreasing cocoa prices, has put pressure on farmers to continue to clear land to plant cocoa — as opposed to using agroforestry systems, in which cacao is planted under shade trees, increasing carbon capture and biodiversity conservation. Environmental campaigners say that if deforestation continues unhindered, Côte d'Ivoire risks losing all its forest cover by 2034.

In Cauca, Colombia, a 98-year-old farmer separates the inner cacao pods from the bean shells. Harvesting cocoa can produce quite a bit of waste which are almost always discarded at the source. Photo by Jan Sochor/Alamy Stock Photo

Introducing the practices of a circular economy for cocoa – in which all the organic material currently lost or wasted throughout the production chain is utilized – will not only provide environmental benefits but its byproducts can bring more revenue to the farmers.

Getting the Most Out of Cocoa

The discarded organic material from cocoa production holds significant potential to be transformed into various products with valuable economic and environmental benefits.

Cacao pod husks, for example, can be repurposed as an alternative animal feed source (once processed to remove a harmful toxin), providing a sustainable and nutritious option for livestock. Additionally, it can be converted to biochar, which then forms a potent compost. Compost made from cacao pod husks can help improve soil quality by adding organic matter and enhancing soil structure, promoting healthier crop growth.

White sticky pulp surrounds the beans inside of a large cacao pod. Much of this material that is used for waste can instead be used to create byproducts or be used to benefit the environment. ampueroleonardo/iStock

Pod husks can also be used as biomass for electricity production, offering a renewable energy source and reducing reliance on fossil fuels. Research has been conducted on using cacao pod husks to generate electrical energy in Uganda, which faces electric power supply obstacles, predominately in rural areas. The research concluded that using agricultural waste for energy generation is typically most suitable in rural farming areas, where pollution-free raw materials are readily available in large quantities. The potential to scale this innovation is significant within cocoa-producing countries and could help improve access to electricity.

As cocoa farmers know well, cacao pulp extracted from cacao pods during fermentation makes for a delicious, sweet drink. Rich in nutrients, cacao pulp can be used in beverage and food production. The pulp has been commercialized with various companies specializing in cacao pulp drinks.

Cacao bean shells, another byproduct of cocoa processing, also have potential productive uses. These shells can be ground into cocoa flour for use in cooking and baking. Cocoa flour is rich in theobromine, dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants, which make it a healthy, gluten-free option to traditional flour.

Bean shells can also be used as mulch in gardening and landscaping, helping to suppress weeds and retain soil moisture. Moreover, bean shell biochar can be used as a natural fertilizer, improving soil health and promoting sustainable farming practices.

The Benefits

If made economically viable, repurposing cocoa byproducts can bring clear benefits to smallholder farmers, nature and the climate.

By finding profitable uses for byproducts such as husks, pulp, and shells, farmers can generate additional income streams, thereby improving their livelihoods and financial stability. This economic empowerment can lead to increased resilience and autonomy within cocoa-producing communities, reducing reliance on volatile commodity markets.

Discarded cacao pods on the forest floor. Leaving the pods behind after harvesting the beans can deplete nutrients from the soil. Kakou Ralph Arthur Ruben/iStock

Nature will also benefit. Removing discarded pods from the ground, preserves ground soil fertility and allows farmers to help minimize soil acidification and nutrient depletion, promoting healthier soil ecosystems. This, in turn, promotes higher yields on the cocoa plants, so farmers don’t need to clear additional land or forests to plant more crops. This leads to increased biodiversity and ecosystem resilience.

Additionally, by using byproducts as alternatives to chemical fertilizers and pesticides, farmers can reduce their environmental footprint and promote sustainable agricultural practices.

Repurposing cocoa byproducts can also contribute to climate change mitigation efforts. By reducing emissions associated with waste decomposition and deforestation, circular practices can help mitigate the impacts of climate change on cocoa-producing regions.

The Barriers

Despite the many benefits of reusing cocoa byproducts, there are significant barriers to its widespread adoption and scalability within the cocoa industry.

One major challenge is the lack of infrastructure and access to technology for collecting and processing cocoa waste. Many cocoa-producing regions lack the necessary facilities and equipment for efficiently collecting, storing, and processing waste products such as the pod husks, pulp, and shells. Poor infrastructure and high costs mean farmers may struggle to extract value from waste materials and incorporate them into their production systems.

Financial barriers also hinder the scaling up of circular initiatives. Smallholder farmers often lack the resources needed to invest in the necessary equipment, such as to produce biochar. Additionally, the uncertain viability of circular projects deters investors from providing the necessary funding and support.

Another challenge lies in integrating circular practices into existing cocoa supply chains. The cocoa industry is characterized by long and fragmented value chains, with multiple stakeholders involved in production, processing and distribution. Coordinating efforts to productively reuse cocoa byproducts and incorporate them into existing supply chains requires collaboration and cooperation that may be difficult to achieve.

Promising Initiatives

Despite these barriers, several inspiring projects and initiatives are underway to build a circular ecosystem for cocoa and promote sustainable practices within the industry.

One notable initiative is the Circular Economy Cocoa: From Bean to Bar project, led by organizations such as Helvetas Vietnam and funded by the European Union. This project aims to transition Vietnam’s cocoa and chocolate subsector by introducing regenerative and circular economy practices such as resource efficiency. By establishing circular economy business models for companies early in the product life cycle, the project seeks to create an ecosystem that supports closed-loop and circular production, providing an example for others to follow and informing supportive policies. The project is currently working with 3,500 cocoa farmers and 500 farm employees and other cocoa-related businesses.

Another promising project is the Côte d'Ivoire Biomass Electricity Production, a 73.6MW biomass power plant under development in the ‘Sud-Bandama’ region of Côte d’Ivoire, using cacao pod waste. This region has 1.8 million tons of unused pods. Using 400,000 tons of pods per year, the power plant will provide around 500 GWh of reliable, clean energy to the nearby grid all year.

Companies like KOA meanwhile, are capitalizing on the potential of cacao pulp drinks. Founded in Ghana, the company uses a decentralized collection method to buy cacao pulp from farmers and processes the otherwise discarded pulp into profitable products that feed back to the farmer. KOA offers training to small-scale farmers by equipping them with the knowledge and methods to process previously discarded cacao pulp and has served more than 2,200 Ghanaian farmers.

 

This article is part of WRI's work on minimizing food loss and waste. It was written by authors from the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE) supported by research from Resonance Global. PACE, a WRI initiative, is actively collaborating with stakeholders from various fields, such as policy, investment and innovation, to facilitate the transition towards circular food production within the cocoa industry. By engaging with governments, businesses, research institutions, and civil society organizations, PACE aims to equip stakeholders with existing research on cocoa byproducts and facilitate connections to achieve systems change.

cocoa-bean-harvest-ghana.jpg Food Loss and Waste circular economy Food Business natural resources Type Explainer Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Authors Laura Ombelet Laurie Lewis Kathleen Kelly Anna Gorbushina
ciara.regan@wri.org

Research, Technology and Policy Combine to Protect Madagascar’s Forests

1 semana 5 días ago
Research, Technology and Policy Combine to Protect Madagascar’s Forests shannon.paton@… Tue, 02/13/2024 - 12:52

National park rangers in Madagascar are curbing deforestation by using WRI’s Forest Watcher app. WRI also played a pivotal role in designating the Andrefana Dry Forest as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Challenge

Madagascar’s forests hold some of the world’s most remarkable biodiversity. The island boasts lemurs, chameleons, tortoises and tree species found nowhere else on Earth. Communities rely on the country’s forests for food, medicines and the invaluable services they provide, such as preventing erosion and stopping silt from flowing into downstream rice paddies.

Yet Madagascar’s forests face growing threats from slash-and-burn agriculture, climate change, resource extraction and more. Even the country’s 6.9 million hectares of protected areas are experiencing deforestation.

WRI’s Role

WRI used research, technology and community engagement to reduce deforestation and conserve Madagascar’s forests.

Beginning in 2019, WRI trained park rangers, community members, government agencies, conservation organizations and others in using our Global Forest Watch Forest Watcher app. The technology allows users to receive satellite-based alerts of nearby deforestation and fires, download the points onto a map, and access the data offline to investigate activity in the field. With this near-real time information, park rangers and others can quickly navigate to areas where trees are being burned or cut down and swiftly intervene. The tool made forest patrols more efficient and transparent, with use expanding from three pilot sites to 24 areas managed by Madagascar National Parks.

At the same time, WRI conducted extensive research on the biogeography, importance and vulnerability of the Andrefana Dry Forests, analysis that was central in seeking a World Heritage Site designation for the region. WRI’s role involved compiling and analyzing data; mapping and identifying sites that would benefit from UN protections; writing the dossier for nomination; and collaborating with stakeholders to build support, including with government officials, park managers and local communities.

The Outcome

Use of the Forest Watcher app throughout Madagascar’s National Parks dramatically improved forest monitoring, allowing for swifter responses to deforestation. For example, in the Kirindy Mité National Park, the number of fire points dropped from 33 in 2020 to 3 in 2022 thanks in large part to park rangers’ use of the Forest Watcher app.

WRI’s project also actively engaged women from local communities in patrolling forests, breaking down traditional gender barriers.

And in September 2023, UNESCO officially designated the Andrefana Dry Forests as a legally protected World Heritage Site. The recognition highlights the essential role these dry forests play as guardians of evolution, emphasizing the need for their conservation.

WRI’s activities in Madagascar showcase the power of combining community engagement, technology, research and policy to protect critical forest ecosystems.

madagascar-forest-monitoring.jpeg Forests Madagascar Top Outcome: 2023 Forests conservation deforestation Type 2023 Top Outcome Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects
shannon.paton@wri.org

Indian Cities Pioneer Nature-based Solutions and Inspire National Climate Action

1 semana 5 días ago
Indian Cities Pioneer Nature-based Solutions and Inspire National Climate Action shannon.paton@… Tue, 02/13/2024 - 12:51

WRI worked closely with local governments, community organizations and others to develop 30 nature-based projects throughout the Indian cities of Kochi, Mumbai and Jaipur. The projects inspired a national forum dedicated to urban nature-based solutions.

The Challenge

Indian cities and their residents are at the forefront of multiple climate risks. For example, Kochi and Mumbai are simultaneously struggling with urban flooding, extreme heat and water shortages. Low-income neighborhoods bear the brunt of these hazards. Mumbai's Dharavi neighborhood is almost 6 degrees C (10.8 degrees F) hotter than its more affluent neighbors.

Nature-based solutions, like protecting wetlands or adding urban trees and green spaces, can be effective ways of reducing these risks. But cities have been slow to adopt nature-based approaches due to lack of awareness, limited documented evidence of their effectiveness and their long timelines.

WRI’s Role

WRI worked closely with local governments, community organizations and others to apply nature-based solutions that make Indian cities more resilient to climate change.

WRI used spatial assessments to map and identify climate-vulnerable locations with potential for nature-based solutions, selecting Mumbai, Kochi and Jaipur. WRI then worked with local vendors in each city to implement a range of projects — including urban and rooftop farming, water-body restoration, tree planting, stream rejuvenation, wastewater treatment and more.

WRI ensured the participation of community organizations and local governments, engaging them in consultation, design and mapping projects. WRI also provided technical expertise to city governments to not just implement nature-based projects, but also ensure their continued maintenance.

The Outcome

Thanks to WRI’s analysis, engagement and technical expertise, Mumbai, Jaipur and Kochi have implemented more than 30 nature-based projects over the past three years.

For example, at Jaipur Central Jail, WRI and local partners trained inmates in creating an urban farm on prison grounds. The fresh, organic produce is served to over 1,000 inmates and prison officials, while the farm itself helps cool the property. In Mumbai, a school-based urban gardening project offers students hands-on curriculum on plant care and the importance of local green spaces. The project is now being scaled across 250 public schools around the city, and will ultimately improve food security for an estimated 72,000 students.

Outcomes seen in these cities then led to India’s first national-level forum on urban nature-based solutions. Entrepreneurs, private investors, research organizations, civil society, academia, technical experts, government agencies and policy makers regularly convene to share best practices and experiences implementing nature-based solutions in their cities. WRI India is documenting success stories to raise awareness and provide a roadmap for others. The aim is to help scale nature-based solutions throughout Indian cities and around the world.

nature-based-solutions-india.jpeg Climate India Top Outcome: 2023 Climate nature-based solutions National Climate Action floods climate change Freshwater Type 2023 Top Outcome Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects
shannon.paton@wri.org

Indonesia’s Indigenous and Community Groups Secure Legal Rights to Forests

1 semana 5 días ago
Indonesia’s Indigenous and Community Groups Secure Legal Rights to Forests shannon.paton@… Tue, 02/13/2024 - 12:50

WRI Indonesia helped secure “mukim customary forest” designations for more than 22,000 hectares of land, establishing legal land rights for more than 50,000 people from Indigenous and local communities.

The Challenge

Many of Indonesia’s Indigenous peoples and local communities are dependent on forests for their livelihoods, resources and cultural traditions. It’s the reason they’re such good environmental stewards, sustainably managing their landscapes for generations. Yet they often lack ownership or even legal rights to use the forests they inhabit. This leaves forests vulnerable to exploitation from miners, logging companies and other outside interests.

For six years, local governments and organizations representing Indigenous people and communities in Aceh Province, Indonesia have submitted forest recognition proposals to Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry. Yet they’ve been largely rejected due to unclear policies between Aceh’s different jurisdictions.

WRI’s Role

Through research, funding and communication, WRI Indonesia helped secure communities’ land rights in eight mukims, or specific areas managed by traditional communities, in Aceh Province.

WRI fostered a collaborative process among provincial and regency governments, journalists, academics (including the Research Center for Law, Islam and Customary Study at Syiah Kuala University) and indigenous community networks (including Aceh’s customary community network, Jaringan Komunitas Masyarakat Adat Aceh). Together, these groups identified issues and bottlenecks in Aceh’s social forest recognition program.

WRI also provided financial support for research on a mukim customary forest model and worked with various media channels to publicize the findings. WRI Indonesia supported key stakeholders in Aceh to directly present and discuss the model to the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. The multi-party approach, with assurances from WRI that the research and recommendations were neutral and scientifically grounded, were effective at influencing policymakers.

The Outcome

Through what became known as the “Mukim Customary Forest Model,”  eight customary forests were designated in Aceh, Indonesia in 2023, spanning an area of more than 20,000 hectares. This legal designation secures land rights for more than 50,000 people from Indigenous and local communities. These forests, and the model overall, were endorsed by Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

Eight additional proposals are undergoing further reviews. If approved, the total customary forest designation will expand to 56,988 hectares.

The “Mukim Customary Forest Model” has great potential to be scaled up to the 784 mukims in Aceh, as well as throughout Indonesia and other forested countries.

indonesia-indigenous-legal-rights-forests.jpeg Equity & Governance Top Outcome: 2023 Equity & Governance Indigenous Peoples & Local Communities Forests conservation Type 2023 Top Outcome Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects
shannon.paton@wri.org

India Rolls Out 10,000 Electric Buses in Dozens of Cities

1 semana 5 días ago
India Rolls Out 10,000 Electric Buses in Dozens of Cities shannon.paton@… Tue, 02/13/2024 - 12:49

WRI India supported India’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs in developing the PM e-Bus Sewa Scheme, which will bring 10,000 electric buses to underserved cities around the country.

The Challenge

Many Indians lack access to affordable, safe and reliable public transport — a huge barrier to reaching jobs, healthcare, education and other opportunities. Where public buses are available, they’re typically fueled by diesel, which produces noxious chemicals and spurs climate change.

The transport sector is the third-highest CO2-emitting sector in India, with road transport accounting for more than 90% of these emissions. Moving citizens away from car travel while expanding access to low-carbon public transit is essential for meeting the country’s commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2070.

WRI’s Role

Experts from WRI India were embedded within India's Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) for two-and-a-half years. There, they employed research, engagement and technical assistance to help the government develop and implement a national plan for electric buses (e-buses).

WRI experts used research to make the case for clean, electric buses in underserved cities and determined the quantity of buses needed to support deployment in 169 cities. They then provided technical assistance to procure e-buses and locked in financial support for cities to develop or update their infrastructure.

WRI staff also worked with ministry officials to create a National Intelligent Transport Management System (ITMS) Platform. This technology will allow for the uniform management of e-buses across dozens of cities.

The Outcome

In August 2023, India’s national government announced the PM eBus Sewa Scheme, providing $2.4 billion to deploy and operate 10,000 e-buses across up to 169 eligible cities. Buses will begin hitting the roads in 2024, with deployments completed by 2026.

More than 170 million residents are expected to benefit. In addition to reducing emissions and improving air quality, the e-bus initiative will also dramatically expand access to clean, reliable public transport. Of the cities eligible to receive e-buses, half currently lack any organized bus transport. Almost half of projected riders will be women, who historically have struggled to access jobs, education and other opportunities due to limited vehicle ownership. And at least 25% of the e-buses delivered will be accessible to passengers with disabilities.

india-electric-bus.jpeg Cities Top Outcome: 2023 Electric Mobility transportation public transit electric mobility Cities Type 2023 Top Outcome Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects
shannon.paton@wri.org

New Nature Crime Alliance Forms to Combat Crimes Against People and Planet

1 semana 5 días ago
New Nature Crime Alliance Forms to Combat Crimes Against People and Planet shannon.paton@… Tue, 02/13/2024 - 12:48

WRI and partners mobilized a unique coalition of governments and organizations to halt criminal activities responsible for deforestation, wildlife trafficking, illegal logging and more.

The Challenge

Nature crime — illegal forms of logging, mining, land conversion, wildlife trade and fishing — destroys high-value ecosystems and harms the people who most depend on them. It is a critical but underappreciated barrier to effectively address climate change, biodiversity loss and injustice.

Many places central to preserving nature and sustainably feeding the world are rife with corruption and violence against environmental and human rights defenders. Extensive global criminal syndicates linked to financial crimes, fraud, corruption and human rights violations are often responsible for nature crimes.  

While the resources targeted by nature crime lie largely in developing countries, the beneficiaries, including criminal syndicates, rogue corporations, financiers and consumers, are from industrialized economies like China, the European Union and the United States. Solutions must include coordinated, multidisciplinary global action.

WRI’s Role

For three years, WRI led a process to create a broad coalition against nature crime.

We conducted nearly 150 interviews and roundtable discussions with a wide variety of stakeholders, resulting in a paper commissioned by the Climate and Land Use Alliance to educate donors about the challenges of nature crime and potential solutions. WRI established the alliance’s brand and engaged closely with environmental journalism organizations, resulting in extensive media coverage when the Nature Crime Alliance launched in August 2023.

WRI also helped secure membership from governments, civil society, law enforcement agencies, UN agencies and the private financial sector, bringing together the diverse stakeholders needed to effectively curb nature crime.

WRI now serves as host for the alliance secretariat and a technical implementation partner.

The Outcome

The Nature Crime Alliance was formally launched in August 2023. Founding partners included the governments of Gabon, Norway and the United States; the UN Office on Drugs and Crime; INTERPOL; the Global Environment Facility; the International Union for the Conservation of Nature; Indigenous Peoples’ Rights International; and many international and regional NGOs.

Dozens of additional organizations joined shortly after the launch, creating one of the most robust global networks dedicated to fighting crimes against people and the planet. As of late January 2024, six more governments were formalizing their membership.

The Nature Crime Alliance is now moving forward to support a number of activities, including: disrupting the illegal luxury trade in exotic animals; supporting local environmental defenders and journalists helping to expose nature crimes; working with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and major financial institutions and regulators to halt financial crimes linked to nature crime; and engaging global seafood suppliers in strengthening traceability and transparency to suppress fisheries crime and human rights violations.

nature-crime-alliance-top-outcome-rhino.jpeg Forests Top Outcome: 2023 illegal logging deforestation conservation Type 2023 Top Outcome Exclude From Blog Feed? 0
shannon.paton@wri.org

More than 50 Vulnerable Countries Advance Climate Action

1 semana 5 días ago
More than 50 Vulnerable Countries Advance Climate Action shannon.paton@… Tue, 02/13/2024 - 12:48

A fund co-managed by WRI mobilized $46.5 million to help resource-strapped countries set and implement ambitious climate action plans.

The Challenge

As part of the 2015 Paris Agreement, countries committed to produce national action plans. These plans, known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs), focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing adaptation and resilience, and increasing climate finance.

The scale of technical and financial assistance needed to realize NDCs is massive. International resources are often slow to mobilize in response to countries’ needs. 

WRI’s Role

WRI, along with the UN Office for Project Services, serves as a fund manager for the NDC Partnership Action Fund, created by the NDC Partnership to fast-track the implementation of low-income countries’ NDCs.  

Since its launch in November 2021, the Partnership Action Fund has pooled $46.5 million from nine countries — Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States — to fill critical gaps in support to poorer nations, ensuring no country is left behind in the low-carbon transition.

WRI’s efficient and robust operational and financial processes enabled NDC Partnership’s member institutions to swiftly access grant agreements, supporting countries’ otherwise unfunded climate action. WRI also deployed 21 embedded advisors and in-country facilitators to help governments advance climate policies and integrate NDCs into their national plans and budgets. 

The Outcome

The Partnership Action Fund has helped more than 50 countries begin turning NDC targets into reality.

As of January 2024, the NDC Partnership disbursed $16.4 million to 54 nations — more than half of which are least developed countries or small island developing states — as well as one regional organization. This support is catalytic, helping to complement and unlock the $1.7 billion in support provided to low-income countries directly by NDC Partnership members.

Grants and expertise help countries increase the ambition of their NDCs, accelerate their implementation, mobilize more finance, and mainstream climate action plans and sustainability goals into national planning frameworks and budgets. For example, Antigua and Barbuda, Burkina Faso, Cambodia and Nepal leveraged Partnership Action Fund grants to enhance their monitoring and evaluation systems to ensure climate action is also enhancing gender equality. Other countries like Benin, Burkina Faso, Dominican Republic and Grenada funding for communications strategies and training tools for awareness-raising and knowledge-sharing. 

Laos officials used funds to organize a workshop with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Ministry of Public Works and Transport to better coordinate low-carbon, climate-resilient transportation solutions. And Grenada developed investment plans for its energy, transport, waste and forestry sectors, as well as create a public website about its NDC and climate change.

solar-installation-rural-development-ndcs.jpeg Climate Top Outcome: 2023 Climate International Climate Action Type 2023 Top Outcome Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects
shannon.paton@wri.org

Jakarta Creates 50+ New Parks to Boost Climate Resilience

1 semana 5 días ago
Jakarta Creates 50+ New Parks to Boost Climate Resilience shannon.paton@… Tue, 02/13/2024 - 12:47

WRI Indonesia’s Cities4Forests initiative supported Jakarta in improving equal access to green space and building urban climate resilience by establishing 54 new urban parks.

The Challenge

As Jakarta, Indonesia’s industrial activity and vehicle use have increased, so, too, has its air pollution.  The city also struggles with extreme heat and flooding.

Jakarta’s lack of greenery only intensifies these challenges. Urban trees can help clean air, sequester greenhouse gases and prevent erosion, while green space can absorb rainwater and provide pleasant areas for recreation. Yet until recently, many neighborhoods throughout the city lacked parks and trees.

WRI’s Role

WRI Indonesia collaborated with Jakarta’s government to protect urban trees and create new parks and green spaces.

Through WRI’s Cities4Forests initiative, WRI experts worked closely with government officials to create two new regulations on tree management and park provision and maintenance. Since the regulations were finalized, WRI has provided research, data and technical assistance to aid in their implementation.

For example, WRI analyzed Jakarta’s existing green spaces and identified underserved areas to be prioritized for park development. Experts held trainings with Jakarta’s Park and Urban Trees Agency on how to conduct tree inventories. And WRI staff launched communications campaigns to help Jakarta’s citizens understand the benefits of urban trees and green spaces.

The Outcome

In 2021, the Jakarta government issued regulations on management and protection of trees, as well as the provision and utilization of parks. These regulations are designed to ensure more equal distribution of green spaces and effective tree-planting. Jakarta has subsequently established 54 new parks since 2022 and planted more than 65,000 urban trees.

Many new parks are located in areas previously lacking green space. According to the regulation, the parks should be designed to meet the needs of all kinds of users, including children, the elderly and individuals with disabilities. In addition to providing pleasant spaces to play and relax, the new trees and green spaces can help cool and clean the air, mitigate flooding and curb climate change.

Since then, Indonesia’s South Sulawesi local government has drafted a similar regulation on tree protection and management, showcasing the potential for Jakarta’s approach to be applied in other cities.

jakarta-urban-park.jpeg Forests Indonesia Top Outcome: 2023 Forests Freshwater nature-based solutions Type 2023 Top Outcome Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects
shannon.paton@wri.org

Indonesian Companies Accelerate Industrial Decarbonization

1 semana 5 días ago
Indonesian Companies Accelerate Industrial Decarbonization shannon.paton@… Tue, 02/13/2024 - 12:46

Leveraging WRI resources and support through the Kadin Net Zero Hub — a joint initiative of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce, WRI Indonesia and partners — 80 companies in Indonesia’s industrial sector are working to understand and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

The Challenge

Indonesia’s industrial sector is central to the country’s economy, but it is also a major driver of climate change. From heavy industries like steel and cement production to “light” industries like food and textile manufacturing, the sector makes up nearly 75% of the country’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This includes the energy, waste, industrial and land-use emissions stemming from companies and their supply chains.

Indonesia, the world’s ninth-largest GHG emitter, is also extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The country cannot keep communities safe or achieve its goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2060 without transforming the industrial sector. However, businesses often lack the technical capacity and resources needed to understand their climate impacts and develop effective emissions-reduction plans.

WRI’s Role

At the Business 20 (B20) summit in Bali in 2022, the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce (KADIN) launched its Net Zero Hub in partnership with WRI Indonesia, WWF Indonesia, CDP and the Indonesian Business Council for Sustainable Development. The Net Zero Hub offers business leaders the tools and training to calculate their greenhouse gas emissions, set emissions-reduction targets and develop tailored strategies to reach their goals.

Two initiatives co-created by WRI — the GHG Protocol and the Science-based Targets Initiative (SBTi) — are central to these efforts. Both provide standardized, globally recognized frameworks for greenhouse gas emissions accounting and target-setting. WRI also leads the Corporate Assistance Program (CAP), through which companies receive mentorship and technical assistance in how to decarbonize their operations and value chains.

The Outcome

Since its establishment in November 2022, 80 companies in Indonesia have joined the Net Zero Hub. Forty have completed GHG accounting bootcamps to learn to calculate their emissions, while 30 have worked toward setting net-zero emissions targets with support from the CAP. This resulted in 20 new commitments to the Science-based Targets initiative (SBTi) in one year.

Some companies are already implementing their green transition plans. PT Pan Brothers Tbk., a leading garment manufacturer in Indonesia, installed solar panels at its operational and production facilities. The panels are expected to reduce up to 2.1 million tons of carbon emissions annually — equivalent to taking more than 450,000 petrol-powered cars off the roads each year. Apparel One Indonesia, a supplier for Adidas, Puma and other major clothing brands, is also leaning into solar power and reduced its energy-based carbon emissions by 43% in 2023.

The impacts of the Net Zero Hub extend beyond Indonesia’s borders. The country hosted the ASEAN Summit in 2023, which convened governments from 10 Southeast Asian countries. After the summit, the group established the ASEAN Net Zero Hub to support decarbonization efforts across the region.

indonesian-companies-industrial-decarbonization.jpg Business Indonesia Top Outcome: 2023 Business Climate GHG emissions GHG Protocol Type 2023 Top Outcome Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects
shannon.paton@wri.org

US Hospitals Reduce Emissions Through Plant-based Foods

1 semana 5 días ago
US Hospitals Reduce Emissions Through Plant-based Foods shannon.paton@… Tue, 02/13/2024 - 12:45

With support from WRI’s Coolfood initiative, 23 hospital systems in the United States reduced their per-plate food-related greenhouse gas emissions by 21%.

The Challenge

The food and land use system is responsible for one-third of the global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions fueling climate change. Agriculture is also a major driver of deforestation and biodiversity loss.

Reducing these impacts while increasing production to feed a growing population requires radical shifts in how the world grows, distributes and consumes food. As large-scale food providers and stewards of health and wellness, hospitals are well positioned to help drive this transformation.

WRI’s Role

WRI’s Coolfood initiative supports healthcare providers, cities, companies, restaurants and universities in tracking and reducing the climate impacts of the food they serve. Through the Coolfood Pledge, organizations commit to cut food-related emissions by 25% by 2030 — a level of ambition in line with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) and averting some of the most dangerous impacts of climate change.

WRI helps Coolfood members set actionable, science-based emissions-reduction targets and track progress annually. It also provides members with hands-on training, marketing guidance and research-based approaches to encourage more climate-friendly diets, such as the Playbook for Guiding Diners Toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service.

The Outcome

Research shows that through 2022, U.S. hospital systems committed to the Coolfood Pledge — which serve 31 million meals per year in total — reduced their greenhouse gas emissions per plate of food by 21%. This is faster than the pace needed to achieve their 2030 target.

GHG reductions were largely driven by a shift away from emissions-intensive animal-based foods and toward plant-rich dishes. Across the pledge’s 23 healthcare members in the United States, the share of beef and lamb on plates decreased by 28%, while the share of all animal-based foods fell by 16%. The same period saw a 27% increase in plant-based foods on the average plate.

The benefits extend beyond the climate, too. Plant-based foods require far fewer resources to produce than meat and dairy. Beef production, for example, requires 20 times more land per gram of protein than beans, peas and lentils. Plant-forward diets are also healthier, shown to reduce risks of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and other issues. Healthcare facilities are in a unique position to embrace and promote these benefits throughout their diverse communities.

These hospitals now serve as a model for how the healthcare sector can contribute to an equitable, healthy and sustainable food future for all.

hospital-cafeteria-coolfood-top-outcome.jpg Food United States Top Outcome: 2023 Food health Climate-Friendly Diets agriculture Type 2023 Top Outcome Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects
shannon.paton@wri.org

Brazilian Cities Save Lives by Improving Road Safety

1 semana 5 días ago
Brazilian Cities Save Lives by Improving Road Safety shannon.paton@… Tue, 02/13/2024 - 12:44

Ten cities in the Brazilian state of São Paulo worked with WRI’s Complete Streets Network to implement road safety measures that reduced traffic fatalities.

The Challenge

Walking and cycling are vastly better for people’s health, the climate and local air quality compared to private vehicles. But cities aren’t often designed with pedestrians, cyclists and even public transit riders in mind. Traffic crashes kill around 1.3 million people every year, most of whom are pedestrians.

Brazil committed to address this issue and cut its traffic deaths in half by 2030. The country is making progress: Road deaths in 2022 were 17% lower than in 2021. But traditional approaches to road safety in Brazil, which tend to focus on changing drivers’ and pedestrians’ behavior rather than improving the streets themselves, are not enough to reach the country’s ambitious goal.

WRI’s Role

WRI, in partnership with the Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS), launched the São Paulo Complete Streets Network to help Brazilian cities create effective road safety solutions and reduce traffic deaths by redesigning roads. Members received resources, mentorship and technical support from WRI and BIGRS experts.

Across 20 cities selected to participate in the network, more than 800 people attended workshops and trainings based on WRI’s road safety research and guidelines. WRI also hosted seminars connecting network cities with one another to share best practices, as well as with state and federal governments and partners to help expand their efforts.

The Outcome

Between 2020 and 2023, 10 cities in São Paulo’s Complete Streets Network — comprising more than 6 million residents — made roads safer for walkers, cyclists and public transport riders. Approaches ranged from building out cycle lanes and making bus stops more accessible, to increasing walk signal times and extending sidewalks to reduce road-crossing distances for pedestrians.

Setting and enforcing speed limits was particularly important, as speed is the main risk factor for traffic deaths. Working with local governments, cities like São José dos Campos, Guarulhos and Jundiaí reduced average car and motorcycle speeds by as much as 10-30 kilometers per hour on tracked streets.

Critically, many solutions focused on improving safety for the most vulnerable street users. The city of Diadema created a program called Rua da Gente (“People’s Street”) focused on low-income neighborhoods. The project added infrastructure such as sidewalks, streetlights and speed bumps as well as attractions like street art and sports equipment to encourage walking and the use of public spaces. Five other cities redesigned streets in front of schools to protect children and their caregivers.

These cities’ actions saved lives. In 2021, cities in the Complete Streets Network had more traffic deaths per 100,000 people than the state of São Paulo did. In 2022, their crash mortality rate fell below the state’s average — signaling an important course correction and paving the way for other Brazilian cities to follow suit.

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State of the US Clean Energy Transition: Recent Progress, and What Comes Next

2 semanas 4 días ago
State of the US Clean Energy Transition: Recent Progress, and What Comes Next shannon.paton@… Wed, 02/07/2024 - 12:14

The U.S. clean energy sector received massive legislative wins in recent years, particularly with the Inflation Reduction Act, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and CHIPs Act. But are these laws and the investments that come with them resulting in enough carbon-free power?

While we’ve seen a good deal of momentum over the last year — such as record-breaking EV sales, new energy capacity dominated by renewables, and promising policy movements on key issues such as transmission — significant obstacles remain. Rising interest rates and project costs, permitting and siting challenges, and persistent supply chain issues are holding clean power development back at a time when it needs to be surging ahead.

Here, we take stock of recent clean energy progress and what’s needed to push it forward in the U.S.:  

First, the Good News: Recent Progress on US Clean Energy Development

In many ways, 2023 was a record-breaking year for clean energy deployment in the United States, including the escalating installation rate of solar and energy storage, growing EV sales and the number of planned domestic manufacturing facilities.

Clean energy continues to be the dominant form of new electricity generation in the U.S., with solar reaching record levels in 2023.

A record 31 gigawatts (GW) of solar energy capacity was installed in the U.S. in 2023, a roughly 55% increase from 2022 installations and substantially more than the previous record in 2021. Even with significant project delays due to supply chain issues and other factors, solar was the fastest-growing power source in the U.S, representing half of all new utility-scale generating capacity through Q3 of 2023. Installed solar capacity in the U.S. now totals 161 GW, enough to provide about 5% of the nation’s electricity, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Battery storage also grew substantially in 2023, with installations through Q3 exceeding those of all of 2022. Strong growth is expected to continue, with a projected doubling of capacity in 2024.

Wind had more modest growth in 2023 (about 8 GW), lagging behind 2022 installations. Total installed capacity reached 147 GW by Q3 of 2023, representing about 11% of electricity generation. Projections call for an uptick of new wind projects this year, totaling about 17 GW in 2024.

Together, renewables combined with energy storage dominated new utility-scale generation sources, representing more than three-quarters of total new capacity added (see graphic below). Renewables, including large hydropower, represented about 25% of electricity generated in the United States in the first half of 2023.

Yet despite record growth, renewable energy installations need to ramp up even faster. Analyses of achieving 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035, what’s needed to achieve U.S. greenhouse gas reduction targets, indicate that annual installation rates of renewables in coming years need to nearly double the rates seen in 2023.

Electric vehicle (EV) sales set new records in 2023.

Despite news reports highlighting the slowing of EV sales, a record 1.2 million EVs were sold in the U.S. in 2023, representing 7.6% of total vehicle sales, up from 5.9% in 2022. Sales continued to be strong through year end, with the fourth quarter setting records for both the number and share of EVs sold (317,000 EVs and 8.1% of total sales, respectively) – with EV sales up 40% from Q4 of 2022. Reports of the “slowdown” reflect a slowing in the rate of increase; sales remain robust and at record-setting levels.

Progress, albeit slower than hoped, is also being made on EV charging infrastructure, supported by $7.5 billion in funds under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program, created under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and designed to support new EV charging corridors and fast-charging stations, had its first charging stations installed in Ohio in late 2023, with additional stations set to open in New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Maine in the coming months.

Transmission and grid upgrades are progressing, but slowly.  

Additional transmission capacity and grid upgrades are essential to enabling the clean energy transition and ensuring future grid reliability. While not at the scale needed, 2023 saw continued activity on transmission, as Congress actively debated permitting and policy reforms. The Federal Regulatory Energy Commission (FERC) also continued action on its proposed rule to reform planning processes and finalized its interconnection rule to speed grid access. The Department of Energy (DOE) took steps to implement provisions in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act, designating lines in the national interest that can be expedited by federal action. Federal agencies also launched incentive programs for transmission.

Ten transmission lines, which have been in process for years, have begun construction since 2021. If completed, they are expected to collectively support the addition of 20GW of new power generation to the grid, but they still face hurdles.

Another 26 high-capacity transmission projects are underway across the U.S., although their ability to be completed is uncertain and pending policy reforms.  In late 2023, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), the transmission planning organization covering the area from Louisiana to Manitoba, selected the first competitively bid project to move forward as part of an initial $10.3 billion investment approved under MISO’s Long Range Transmission Planning process.

The U.S. is setting records for planned domestic clean energy manufacturing.

The Inflation Reduction Act stimulated an unprecedented slate of planned domestic clean energy manufacturing facilities, reversing the trend of years of declining investments. According to American Clean Power, 113 manufacturing facilities or expansions have been announced since August 2022, totaling $421 billion of investment in domestic, utility-scale clean energy production, as of early 2024.  

States continue to pass ambitious climate and clean energy policies.

Minnesota adopted a 100% clean electricity standard at the beginning of 2023. Michigan followed suit at the end of the year and joined states such as  California and New York in passing ambitious permitting reforms intended to make it easier to build clean energy and transmission. Seven states adopted California’s tailpipe-emissions standards, which require automakers to increase the share of zero-emission vehicles sold over time. New York adopted a ban on fossil fuel use in most new buildings, beginning in 2026, while Washington set limits on gas appliances in new construction.  State actions are critical to ensuring a successful clean energy transition, as federal actions alone are insufficient.

Crimson Energy Storage Project in California. Battery storage grew substantially in the United States in 2023, with a projected doubling of capacity by 2024. Photo by U.S. government/Rawpixel  Major Obstacles to Clean Energy Development Remain

A number of headwinds also emerged in recent years that have reduced the rate of clean energy deployment, including supply chain issues, interest rate increases and other financial challenges, and slow progress on transmission.  

Supply chain challenges persist in the U.S. and globally, delaying renewables projects and slowing growth rates.

Many projects slated to come online early in 2023 were pushed back in part because of supply chain challenges. Shortages of transformers needed for connecting clean energy to the grid remain a particular obstacle. The delivery time for transformers and other associated equipment has grown from 50 weeks to 150 weeks, as of the end of 2023, according to one developer. Wood Mackenzie estimated that only about 20% of U.S. transformer demand can be met by domestic supply — and that lead times for large transformers, substation power and generator step-up transformers now range from 80 to 210 weeks.

However, solar supply chain challenges eased and global solar module prices fell over the course of 2023, enabling many delayed projects to be completed. But starting in June 2024, President Biden’s two-year pause on solar tariffs will expire; solar modules subject to the duties will become more expensive. Earlier, the Commerce Department determined that solar modules using Chinese-sourced materials imported from four Southeast Asian countries (Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia), which have been the source of three-quarters of U.S. module imports, will be subject to trade duties.

Interest rate increases have raised costs, resulting in clean energy contracts being renegotiated, delayed or cancelled.

The rapid rise in interest rates, resulting from actions by the Federal Reserve, substantially increased the cost of capital for all energy projects. Clean energy projects are more sensitive to interest rate increases than some other forms of power generation because they require significant upfront capital. Their economic advantage is in the lack of fuel costs and price consistency over time.

Higher project costs, supply chain challenges and other factors have affected deal flow for renewables and the price of power purchase agreements (PPAs), or long-term contracts between generators and purchasers. Large energy users like Amazon, Meta and Google have been major drivers for renewable projects, but prices and renegotiations are affecting these markets. In the first half of 2023, corporate purchases of clean energy landed at 6GW, compared to nearly 17 GW for all of 2022. As of the third quarter of 2023, solar PPA prices had risen 21% year over year, wind PPA prices were 16% higher, and blended PPA prices rose 18%. There were signs of stabilization in PPA prices in the latter half of 2023, but prices are still substantially higher than they were previously.

Some companies have struggled financially, and clean energy stocks are down.

Offshore wind challenges have been particularly acute. In 2023, companies announced delays and project cancellations for about half of the U.S. offshore wind pipeline, due to rising costs and supply chain challenges. While the New York South Fork project began operating in 2023 and is slated to become the nation’s largest offshore wind project when additional turbines are completed in 2024 (132 MW,  compared to 30MW in Block Island and 12MW near Virginia) developers are cancelling 5.5GW of offshore wind contracts planned for New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts and renegotiating contracts for another 6.5GW of projects. BNEF now estimates about 14.5GW of offshore wind could come online in the U.S. by 2030, compared to the Biden administration’s goal of 30GW.

The buildout of the transmission system is not happening at the pace needed—and interregional transmission is particularly lagging.  

Lack of transmission is a critical limiting factor for the clean energy transition and poses a threat to reliability in some areas, particularly in the face of increasingly common extreme weather events. Interregional transmission lines that cross state borders continue to face hurdles in gaining approvals from multiple states and determining how to allocate costs among beneficiaries. Lack of sufficient planning processes and methods to assess interregional benefits are the main challenges. Together, the 36 major transmission projects that could begin construction in the near-term represent only about 10% of the transmission investment needed in the U.S. And new lines can take 10 years to build, although technologies to increase the capacity of existing lines can be implemented more quickly. Several analyses (see here, here and here) suggest that transmission capacity needs to double or triple to meet grid needs and achieve President Biden’s 2035 clean energy goals, and interregional transfer capacity needs to quadruple.

Visitors inspect a turbine blade at Wild Horse Wind and Solar Energy Center in Washington state. Wind capacity grew less in 2023 than it did in 2022, but projections call for an uptick in 2024. Photo by Cindy Shebley/iStock  What to Watch in 2024 and Beyond: 5 Questions About the Future of US Clean Energy Development

Perhaps the biggest factor influencing the future of US clean energy development will be results of the 2024 presidential election. But even before voters take to the polls, answers to five questions will help determine the pace of clean energy development moving forward.

1) Is electricity demand outpacing the country’s ability to bring on clean energy generation?

Growth in demand of electricity for data centers, artificial intelligence, crypto mining, manufacturing and EVs is creating serious concerns about generation’s ability to keep up. Recently, grid planners have nearly doubled forecasts of electricity demand growth over the next five years. In a recent study, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation noted that these demand drivers are growing faster than the ability to add transmission and new electricity generation. Managing this growth will be critical for achieving a transition to clean energy; the potential imbalance between supply and demand requires increased attention from regulators, utilities, large energy users and grid operators.

2) Will federal agencies uphold strict standards as they use regulatory power to further reduce emissions?

Federal agencies have been hard at work crafting regulations to fulfill legal requirements and reduce emissions. The EPA’s proposal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel-fired electricity faced significant pushback from power suppliers and regional grid operators, who said the proposal could impact reliability and relies on unavailable technology. Meanwhile, the U.S. Treasury Department recently proposed guidance on the 45V Hydrogen Production Tax Credit, which sets strict standards for obtaining tax credits for hydrogen production to encourage clean production pathways. The stringency of the final rules for both regulations is critical to putting the power sector on the path to net-zero emissions.

However, the regulatory power of agencies will be weakened if the Supreme Court overturns the Chevron doctrine, which requires judges to defer to federal agencies in the case of ambiguous laws as long as the agency’s interpretation is reasonable. If this were to happen, agency rulemaking of all types, including power sector rules, would be subject to more judicial scrutiny, and fewer regulations may survive.

3) How quickly will new federal funds, tax credits and the potential fall in interest rates boost new projects?

Much of the funding from the Inflation Reduction Act’s $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund is expected to begin flowing in 2024, mobilizing financing to stimulate new projects. The timing and pace of disbursement, as well as the pace of interest rate cuts expected in 2024, will determine the magnitude of the boost to clean energy.

The Inflation Reduction Act’s clean energy tax credits are already rolling out and will incentivize new clean energy projects, but developers and other stakeholders are still awaiting final guidance from the administration on how the incentives will work. And new funding and financing mechanisms often have a learning curve. For example, the Inflation Reduction Act’s “direct pay” provision, which allows tax-exempt entities such as state and city governments to claim clean energy tax credits, is a new process for organizations that don’t typically file taxes. Some are already moving forward, such as San Antonio, but others will need to get more comfortable with the process to take full advantage of it. Similarly, implementation of the domestic content tax credit bonus is complex. While the industry awaits final guidance, it is unclear if incentives will be widely utilized.

4) Will progress on transmission reforms be sufficient to enable new lines to advance?

While Congressional action on permitting reform is uncertain, several other actions by FERC and DOE will be critical for advancing regional transmission. FERC has not moved on an important transmission planning rule since releasing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) on the subject in April 2022. But with the Commission’s composition having changed at the beginning of 2024, there is some hope that a rule is forthcoming to streamline and modernize the U.S. transmission planning process. FERC Chairman Phillips has indicated that finalizing the planning rule is a priority. A strong rule would address cost allocation processes, a 20-year planning horizon, and defining a comprehensive set of benefits categories that should be considered when assessing lines and allocating costs.

Furthermore, actions by DOE to implement Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provisions could stimulate transmission investment and upgrades. Under the Transmission Facilitation Program, DOE is authorized to borrow up to $2.5 billion to get the development of new, large-scale, interregional transmission lines across the finish line. After initial selections in October 2023, DOE is on track to finalize capacity contract negotiations with a commitment of up to $1.3 billion for three transmission projects across six states, aimed at adding an additional 3.5GW of grid capacity.

Also, $14 billion in funding is slated to be allocated to states, tribes and utilities for grid-enhancing technologies and other upgrades. DOE has also finalized the designation process for National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors (NIETCs), which authorizes the Secretary of Energy to designate geographic areas as NIETCs if she finds that new transmission would advance national interests, such as increased reliability and reduced costs. Designation can unlock federal financing for lines and enable FERC to issue permits for siting in some cases.

5) Will interconnection queue reforms address backlogs?

The ability to get projects approved for interconnection to the grid has become a major barrier to growth in clean energy generation. FERC took a major step towards tackling interconnection queues by issuing Order No. 2023, which requires transmission providers to, among other things, transition from a “first-come, first-served" to a “first-ready, first-served" cluster study process. These reforms will improve interconnection wait times, which are primarily impacting renewables, the vast majority of projects stuck in queues. But there is an open question of how much the reforms will improve interconnection wait times and the scope of additional reforms needed.

Speeding Up the US Clean Energy Transition

While the rate of progress overall is currently insufficient, as we look ahead to 2024 and beyond, many strategies and tools are available to achieve higher rates of clean energy deployment. Policymakers, regulators, developers and manufacturers must double down on their efforts to address the key challenges slowing the clean energy transition. The opportunities are here — now it’s time to seize them.

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STATEMENT: European Union Announces New 2040 Climate Target

2 semanas 5 días ago
STATEMENT: European Union Announces New 2040 Climate Target alison.cinnamo… Tue, 02/06/2024 - 09:50

BRUSSELS (February 6, 2024) — Today the European Commission announced a new climate target aimed at cutting the European Union’s greenhouse emissions by 90% by 2040, from 1990 levels.  

The target aligns with the 90%-95% emissions target recommended by the European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change. This intermediary step bridges the gap between the EU’s existing goals to cut net emissions 55% by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2050. 

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

“The EU’s new climate target sets a strong north star for where the region should be by 2040 to reach net zero by 2050 and maintain a livable future. The sooner we decarbonize, the better, so the EU should double down on climate and cut emissions faster, getting to 90% even before the 2040 deadline.  

“Achieving this target will require each EU country to strengthen its own national climate plan and get to work on swiftly implementing them. Today, they do not all pass the bar. These plans should align with the goals countries agreed to at COP28, especially moving away from fossil fuels. And the EU cannot substitute carbon sinks such as forests in place of decarbonizing its heaviest emitting sectors. 

“The EU is right to recognize the intertwined importance of farmers’ livelihoods and the agriculture sector in slashing the region’s emissions. As the recent farmers’ protests across Europe have shown, governments will need to build greater trust and collaboration with farmers to enact these changes, ensuring these are good for farmers, climate and nature at the same time. 

“Notably, including agriculture in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme would be a positive step, as this could provide more finance for farmers committed to sustainable agricultural practices. But the EU has also left open a significant role for biofuels, which is an unwise use of land that is desperately needed for food and storing carbon, while doing little to curb climate change. Globally, we are already 600 million hectares short of land needed to feed a growing population — we should not increase that shortage by inefficiently using our land.  

“Now, the EU should lead the way by being one of the first parties to submit a new national climate plan (NDC) to the UN, which are due in early 2025 — one that could set the benchmark for other countries. This plan should set out the steps along the way needed to achieve the 2040 target, putting forth a strong 2035 emissions target and revised 2030 target, and actionable plans to transform sectors.” 

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alison.cinnamond@wri.org

A New Solution to Power Africa: Productive Use of Renewable Energy

3 semanas 2 días ago
A New Solution to Power Africa: Productive Use of Renewable Energy shannon.paton@… Fri, 02/02/2024 - 09:46

Access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa has improved tremendously over the last decade, reaching 49.4% of the population in 2022, up from 33% in 2010. Yet, while electricity access has grown, electricity consumption has not.

While this would be considered a good thing in much of the world, for Africa, it is a discouraging indicator of lagging economic development. Despite growing access, per capita consumption of electricity (excluding South Africa) still averages only 124 kilowatt-hours (kWh) a year. This is roughly equivalent to the energy needed to power three light bulbs in a household for about a month.

These statistics reveal a significant development dilemma: Access to electricity is meaningless if customers can’t afford to pay for it.

Take Kenya, for example, where about 78% of rural earners receive about $38 in monthly income. The current cost of electricity (Ksh. 31.75 ($0.20) per kWh) remains significantly higher than they can afford. And while this low electricity use holds back individual households, it also hampers greater expansion of electricity access. If utilities and renewable energy developers aren’t generating sufficient revenues from the sale of electricity, they won’t invest in installing more mini grids or further expanding the grid.

Fixing Africa’s Electricity Access-Consumption Mismatch: Productive Use of Renewable Energy Government officials from Kenya's Makueni County visit a solar-powered water pump on a farm. Solar irrigation can help farmers increase their incomes while also expanding access to affordable, clean energy. Photo by Makueni County Government

In part, Africa’s electricity expansion effort is undercut by well-meaning governments, non-profits and others targeting households, schools and health clinics — operations with low budgets and relatively low electricity demand. Some of these consumers may go months without using any electricity at all simply because it is too costly. What if in addition to directing energy at households, governments, impact investors and development financing institutions invested in expanding energy-intensive services and boosting local incomes so people can better afford electricity? This is the idea behind the Productive Use of Renewable Energy (PURE) concept.

Productive Use of Renewable Energy, or PURE, invests in expanding access to energy in areas that help generate more revenue for rural communities, while spurring demand for clean electricity. Done right, PURE is a virtuous cycle that not only boosts clean electricity use, but supports low-carbon economic growth, creates employment opportunities for growing youth populations, and increases income for rural communities.

For example, say a government or development organization invested in expanding solar-powered irrigation, as well as equipment that adds value in agricultural processing, such as flour-milling machines. These technologies would increase local electricity demand, boost agricultural productivity, enhance food security, create new employment opportunities, and enhance local incomes. Higher incomes improve communities’ ability to pay for electricity, which in turn improves the confidence of energy developers and investors to further expand the grid or, even better, deploy clean energy systems like solar-powered mini grids to meet growing demand. Quality of life improves throughout the community and access to low-carbon energy rises.

PURE Opportunities Abound, but Implementation Lacks

Where PURE has been deployed, results are impressive. For example, over the last three years, WRI Africa has collaborated with local partners to integrate clean energy in the agriculture and healthcare sectors, with the aim of demonstrating the economic, social and environmental benefits of decentralized renewable energy. In Tanzania, WRI partnered with the Tanzania Traditional Energy Development Organization (TaTEDO) to retrofit a diesel-powered generator previously installed by the district government of Chamwino to assist mango farmers with irrigation. By the time WRI intervened, farmers had abandoned the generator due to the high cost of diesel. After retrofitting the generator with solar power and beginning irrigation again, farmers increased mango production by an average of 185% per tree — from about 35 fruits per tree to nearly 100. The project has also helped reduce the distance farmers must travel in search of water for domestic use and livestock, while also improving their resilience and incomes by allowing them to intercrop their mangos with other high-value crops. Now they can better afford to use the clean power they have access to, as well as use more electricity if and when it's needed.

Another example is the Powering Renewable Energy Opportunities (PREO) Programme by Energy for Impact (E4I) . The program helped drivers shift from conventional internal combustion engine motorbikes, commonly known as boda boda, to electric motorbikes. The switch lowered riders’ operational as well as service and maintenance costs by 68% and 33%, respectively, while increasing demand for electricity.

PREO also assisted health clinics in adopting clean energy as a stable power source. Use of distributed renewable power reduced operating costs and allowed clinics to provide a range of services that rely on electricity, including sample processing, vaccine storage, telemedicine and digital patient records. Rural healthcare facilities working with E4I improved their monthly profits by an average of $250.

Yet, these examples are few and far between. Like the wider clean energy sector, access to finance is a major bottleneck for PURE. Cost of productive use appliances, coupled with rural entrepreneurs’ risk aversion due to low-income levels, are major impediments. Additionally, the market for PURE solutions is still nascent; investors and financing institutions have not yet been able to identify and appreciate the full scope of opportunities. And many communities have limited capacity for running rural commercial enterprises and lack access to profitable markets.

Businesses line a street in Nairobi, Kenya. While electricity access has expanded in Kenya in recent years, many people do not make use of it due to cost. Photo by agafapaperiapunta/iStock Zooming In: Opportunities for PURE in Makueni County, Kenya

Yet PURE opportunities abound. PURE could be applied in almost any sector, including agriculture (such as through irrigation and grain milling); commercial and industrial activities (like carpentry, tailoring and welding); the service industry (including electric mobility, bars and restaurants, etc.); and healthcare.

A solar-powered water pump makes irrigation easier for Kenyan farmers, while allowing them to increase their incomes. Photo by Government of Makueni County, Kenya

WRI and Strathmore University, with support from UK PACT (Partnering for Accelerated Climate Transitions), supported Makueni County in southeastern Kenya to develop its energy plan. Makueni County has some of the lowest electricity access in the country, at only 25% of the population in 2022. Numerous opportunities for PURE exist which, if tapped into, could help stimulate demand for electricity, improve energy access and enhance rural economic growth.

Our mapping exercise identified significant investment opportunities in agriculture, such as $1.5 million of solar-powered dairy processing plants; 10 solar-powered cold rooms for crop preservation; expansion of solar-powered mango-drying technologies; 43 solar-powered irrigation sites costing $9.5 million; and two industrial parks to support agro-processing and fruit packaging. In the health sector, the county government is exploring use of solar energy for its two main health facilities, Makueni County and Makindu sub-county, to cut the cost of grid-provided power.

How to Move PURE from Idea to Implementation

Capitalizing on these opportunities and others like them requires changing the way policymakers, financiers and development groups operate. Four actions could push PURE to the forefront of the electricity access expansion movement:

1) Investors need to see where productive use opportunities exist.

Providing data and analysis that shows the location, size and ability of end-users to pay for energy would play a big role in growing finance for PURE. Geospatial platforms and tools such as WRI’s Energy Access Explorer can help provide such data and visualize where opportunities lie.

2) Unlock finance for investment in the PURE sector.

An analysis by PREO revealed that at least $1.2 trillion is needed to facilitate investment in PURE in rural sub-Saharan Africa over the next decade — about $120 billion annually. High risk perceptions by financiers, steep upfront investment costs, expensive technology, and an absence of end-user financing are some of the major challenges.

Innovative financing mechanisms can help mobilize funding from domestic and international sources. For example, PREO has proven how grants can lower the risks associated with early-stage business concepts, thus improving risk-return profiles for private capital investors. Further, the recent launch of an $11 million syndicated loan facility arranged by SunFunder to enable SunCulture to scale up renewable energy installations at smallholder farms through a Pay-As-You-Grow business model shows how innovative financing can unlock funding for PURE companies and end-users. WRI and our partners in Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania are collaborating with national and sub-national governments to help identify opportunities for unlocking domestic resources for the PURE sector through integrated planning and budgeting.

3) Empower local communities to pursue existing opportunities.

Communities can pursue PURE opportunities on their own, but they often lack knowledge in how to operate productive use technologies like solar-powered irrigation systems and solar milling machines, or how to develop business plans. Building local groups’ capacities through training and awareness, as well as providing real-time responses for operational and maintenance needs, could help. Village savings and loan groups and community cooperatives have historically been successful in rallying communities behind economic empowerment initiatives. Sub-national governments could also help — particularly through relevant government agencies or in partnership with development organizations.

4) An ecosystem-based approach can help provide sustainable and scalable solutions.

Scaling up PURE opportunities will require addressing other critical issues along the value chain. For example, in addition to providing access to PURE technologies, farmers may require training in agronomy, support with farm inputs, repair of the road networks to expand their access to markets, and business and financial products that meet their specific circumstances. An ecosystem-based model will therefore be critical during the design and execution of PURE programs.

Without more support for PURE, more Africans may find themselves connected to power, but disempowered to actually use it.

This piece is co-authored by H.E Mutula Kilonzo Junior CBS, governor of Makueni County, Kenya.  

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Understanding the Paris Agreement's “Global Goal on Adaptation"

3 semanas 3 días ago
Understanding the Paris Agreement's “Global Goal on Adaptation" margaret.overh… Thu, 02/01/2024 - 15:00

A staggering 3.6 billion people — nearly half of the global population — are currently highly vulnerable to climate change impacts, from droughts, floods and storms to heat stress and food insecurity. And this number will only continue to rise as long as global temperatures keep climbing.

While the world must act swiftly to curb greenhouse gas emissions and halt climate change, this alone won’t be enough to protect the people already feeling its impacts. There is also an urgent need to scale up climate adaptation efforts to safeguard vulnerable communities.

Yet, global progress on climate adaptation has been small-scale and slow to date, coming up woefully short of the world’s need.

The Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) aims to address this shortfall by providing a clear framework and targets that can guide global adaptation efforts and enhance support for adaptation in developing nations.

After eight years of little progress in defining the GGA, countries finally agreed on an overarching framework at the UN’s 2023 climate summit (COP28). This framework provides a strong foundation, laying out broad global adaptation goals and key areas for action. However, it lacks quantified, measurable targets as well as measures to mobilize finance, technology and capacity building for adaptation (known as “means of implementation”). These are key issues which must be resolved as negotiators work to enhance the GGA framework by 2025.

What Is the Global Goal on Adaptation?

The Global Goal on Adaptation is a collective commitment under Article 7.1 of the Paris Agreement aimed at “enhancing [the world’s] adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change.” Proposed by the African Group of Negotiators (AGN) in 2013 and established in 2015, the GGA is meant to serve as a unifying framework that can drive political action and finance for adaptation on the same scale as mitigation. This means setting specific, measurable targets and guidelines for global adaptation action, as well as enhancing adaptation finance and support for developing countries.

In Bangladesh, homes are flooded after extreme rainfall. Many communities and countries that are most vulnerable to climate change impacts also have the fewest resources to scale up their adaptation efforts and build resilience. Photo by Muhammad Amdad Hossain/Climate Visuals

The GGA is meant to enable adaptation actions that are timely, scalable and specific. Because countries are experiencing climate change impacts to different degrees and are vulnerable to them in different ways, it is also meant to encourage solutions that consider both local contexts and the particular needs of vulnerable people.

What Progress Has Been Made on the GGA So Far?

Developing the Global Goal on Adaptation has been a complex challenge, both because adaptation interventions are often hyper local and context-specific, and because negotiators have struggled to reach agreement on key political issues — such who should pay for adaptation in developing countries, which are the least responsible for climate change but often bear its heaviest burden.

Driving Climate Action for Vulnerable Countries

This article was written by members of the ACT2025 consortium, a group of experts from climate-vulnerable countries working to drive greater climate ambition on the international stage. Learn more about ACT2025 and its work here.

Between 2022 and 2023, countries made a strong push to define the Global Goal on Adaptation and its targets through the Glasgow-Sharm el Sheik work program (GlaSS), established at COP26. This helped inform aspects of the final framework which was adopted at COP28 in 2023, such as the “policy cycle” for strengthening adaptation action.

However, with key components missing from the new framework, there is still work to be done. A new two-year initiative, the UAE-Belém work programme, was launched at COP28 to fill remaining gaps in the GGA and will conclude at COP30 in 2025.

What’s Included in the GGA Framework and What’s Still Missing?

The GGA framework put forth at COP28, called the UAE Framework for Global Climate Resilience, highlights key areas that will require adaptation action in all countries, such as food, water and health. These globally relevant themes can help bridge the gap between national and global adaptation priorities and ensure ambitious and unified messaging and outcomes.

The framework also lays out overarching (but not yet quantified) global targets which will help guide countries in developing and implementing adaptation plans. These include:

  • Impact, vulnerability and risk assessment: By 2030, all Parties have conducted assessments of climate hazards, climate change impacts and exposure to risks and vulnerabilities and have used the outcomes to inform their national adaptation plans, policy instruments, and planning processes and/or strategies. Furthermore, by 2027, all Parties have established systemic observation to gather climate data, as well as multi-hazard early warning systems and climate information services to support risk reduction.
  • Planning: By 2030, all Parties have country-driven, gender-responsive, participatory and fully transparent national adaptation plans, policy instruments and planning processes, and have mainstreamed adaptation in all relevant strategies and plans.
  • Implementation: By 2030, all Parties have progressed in implementing their national adaptation plans, policies and strategies, and have reduced the social and economic impacts of key climate hazards.
  • Monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL): By 2030, all Parties have designed, established and operationalized systems for monitoring, evaluation and learning for their national adaptation efforts and have built institutional capacity to fully implement their systems.

But there are important gaps, too. The current framework lacks specific, measurable indicators to track on-the-ground action and measure progress toward achieving global adaptation goals. Defining these indicators will be critical to driving national efforts on adaptation and resilience and to strengthening and tracking support for adaptation action.

Critically, the framework is also silent on how countries should mobilize adaptation finance. Ambitious finance targets are necessary to ensure that adaptation efforts, especially in climate vulnerable countries and communities, can be implemented. Proposed targets from the GlaSS negotiations suggest that by 2030, international climate finance for adaptation should be on par with finance for mitigation and should increase as global adaptation needs ramp up due to intensifying climate change impacts.

Also missing were references to “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” (CBDR-RC). This concept acknowledges that different countries have different levels of responsibility in addressing climate change according to their wealth and development levels.

The two-year UAE-Belém work programme will seek to address some of these shortcomings.

How Can Countries Ensure the GGA Achieves Its Goals?

It is critical to ensure that the needs of all countries, especially those most vulnerable to climate change, are fully included and addressed as countries work to enhance and implement the GGA. This means ensuring that the framework upholds four key principles:    

Focus on equity and justice

Equity and justice must be core considerations when operationalizing the GGA so that adaptation measures do not worsen existing inequalities. For instance, finance mechanisms should be designed to avoid increasing debt levels for developing countries, many of which are already heavily burdened by debt, limiting their ability to pay for climate action.

Support for locally led adaptation

Individual nations must be able to tailor adaptation strategies to their unique contexts. To this end, the GGA should ensure that local populations, especially those most susceptible to the effects of climate change, are included in adaptation efforts. Community-based strategies can encourage ownership, boost resilience and reinforce social cohesiveness, allowing flexibility in adaptation responses given the dynamic nature of climate change.

A locally led project in Mongu, Zambia aim to update an old canal system which is vital to the area’s economy but often unusable due to climate-driven flooding. Context-specific projects like this are critical for helping climate-vulnerable countries adapt to climate change impacts. Photo by CIF Action/Flickr

Communities should be empowered to participate in decision-making processes and in the development and execution of adaptation strategies to ensure these efforts are contextually appropriate and meet local requirements. The Principles for Locally Led Adaptation provide a useful framework to facilitate this process. Decision-makers must enable meaningful participation and input from all vulnerable groups, including indigenous peoples, women, youth and others — for instance, by publishing and disseminating information on adaptation efforts in local languages to close knowledge gaps.

Science-based decision making

Adaptation actions should be based on the best available science as well as traditional and indigenous knowledge to ensure effective and context-relevant strategies. The GGA must recognize the importance of integrating indigenous peoples’ wisdom into adaptation strategies, respecting their rights and knowledge systems, and promoting their active involvement in decision-making and designing solutions. Facilitating technology and knowledge transfer to developing countries will also be important to enhance development of local adaptive capacity to help adaptation efforts.

Alignment with other global sustainability goals

Adaptation efforts should complement and be integrated into other national and international development initiatives. This includes aligning with the broader Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.

What Challenges Will the GGA Face Moving Forward?

Over the next two years, negotiators will work to resolve thorny questions about the Global Goal on Adaptation which were not answered in the initial framework. Reaching agreement on these issues will be critical to establishing a robust GGA that is truly fit for developing countries’ needs.  

  • Concrete targets versus high-level political messaging: Striking the right balance between concrete, actionable targets and high-level political messaging within the GGA framework is vital. The challenge lies in merging quantifiable objectives and strong visionary narratives without creating a purely theoretical framework that lacks a concrete path forward to drive implementation.
  • Financing adaptation action: Determining financial structures of the GGA framework that are acceptable to all parties is a formidable challenge. Key sticking points — such as addressing and closing the adaptation finance gap and ensuring that countries, especially developed ones, deliver on their financial commitments— must be resolved so that the agreed targets can be fully met. Adaptation methodologies and metrics should be able to track the quantity and quality of climate finance for adaptation, and financial agreements and pledges should be fulfilled in a timely manner.
  • Indicators and measurements: Negotiators are challenged with developing a set of indicators for tracking adaptation action that is comprehensive yet manageable and adaptable. These indicators should accurately reflect the progress made towards adaptation goals, incorporating a wide range of variables including environmental, social and economic factors. Metrics also need to be adaptable to different regional contexts and scales.
  • Competing interests and political differences: Countries currently face very different levels of vulnerability to climate change impacts and therefore different degrees of urgency in addressing them. For some, immediate adaptation measures are a pressing matter of survival, while others might perceive adaptation as a secondary concern compared to economic development or mitigation efforts. This means that the urgency of targets, framework and means of implementation can be difficult to agree on.
  • Limited data and knowledge: Effective adaptation planning requires accurate data and knowledge about local climate impacts and vulnerabilities. Many countries, particularly those with limited resources, may lack the necessary scientific expertise, technical capacity and data to develop robust adaptation strategies, which can impact tracking of targets and progress. The GGA should include measures to help enrich and streamline data collection and analysis and push improvements in data and knowledge sharing.
  • Creating bottom-up metrics and solutions: Creating locally appropriate and context-specific indicator frameworks means defining metrics and solutions from the bottom up. In other words, a one-size-fits-all-approach is not an effective way to address adaptation issues and the framework should not assume that. For countries to develop robust adaptation MEL systems, the GGA must help them take stock of local initiatives and systematically integrate this data into national and subnational-level processes for monitoring, evaluating and learning.
To Protect the Most Vulnerable, the World Needs a Stronger GGA

The GGA framework adopted in 2023 marked a major achievement after nearly a decade of lagging progress. But it doesn’t go far enough.

Over the next two years and at COP30 in 2025, negotiators must work to enhance the existing framework with ambitious targets and strong financial measures to ensure that overarching goals translate to real action, and that the world’s most vulnerable communities are supported. Only then can the GGA truly drive adaptation action at the pace and scale needed to meet the climate crisis head-on.

 

This article was originally published in November 2023. It was updated in February 2024 to reflect progress made on the Global Goal on Adaptation at COP28.

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WRI Ross Center Welcomes Leila Surratt as New Director of Strategic Partnerships

3 semanas 3 días ago
WRI Ross Center Welcomes Leila Surratt as New Director of Strategic Partnerships shannon.paton@… Thu, 02/01/2024 - 09:00

Washington, D.C. (February 1, 2024)—World Resources Institute (WRI) is pleased to announce that Leila Yim Surratt has been named the new Director of Strategic Partnerships for WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities.

“We are very excited to welcome Leila. She brings a wealth of experience in public-private partnerships that will be crucial in our work ahead,” said Rogier van den Berg, Global Director for WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities. “Her strong track record in international development, partnership building and finance is key as we look to expand our impact.”

Surratt has served as the Director of Strategy and Engagement for P4G, WRI’s Partnering for Green Growth and Global Goals by 2030 initiative, since 2018. She was responsible for engaging with partner countries, businesses, financiers and civil society to support and accelerate innovative public-private partnerships.

“Cities play an essential role in addressing climate change, improving human health and fostering sustainable development,” said Surratt. “I look forward to not only strengthening WRI Ross Center’s current partnerships but to growing new partnerships that support local leaders and implement innovative urban solutions.”

Surratt brings a breadth of experience from government, nonprofits and private sectors. She has in-depth knowledge of air quality regulations, climate and energy policies and extensive experience with industry and stakeholder outreach.

Before joining WRI, Surratt served as Chief Operating Officer and Interim-CEO at the Center for Clean Air Policy (CCAP), where she led efforts to support developing countries in Latin America and Asia to strengthen and implement their NDCs in the energy, waste and transport sectors. Surratt also directed CCAP’s research and policy analysis on climate finance and policy development, and previously managed CCAP’s domestic climate policy initiative—a multi-stakeholder dialogue focused on developing pragmatic solutions for climate change in the United States.

She previously worked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Texas and in the Administrator’s Office in Washington, D.C., where she evaluated all major air quality rules prior to promulgation. In addition to her policy experience, Surratt brings private sector expertise, having worked in several industries as a management consultant for Bain and Company and as a software product manager at McKesson-HBOC.

Surratt holds an MBA from Stanford University, where she focused on public and private sector initiatives relating to the environment, and a BA in Economics from Yale University. Surratt continues to be based in Washington, D.C.

About World Resources Institute
World Resources Institute (WRI) is a global research organization that spans more than 60 countries, with international offices in Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States, regional offices in Ethiopia (for Africa) and the Netherlands (for Europe), and program offices in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Our more than 1,000 experts and staff turn big ideas into action at the nexus of environment, economic opportunity and human well-being. More information at www.wri.org.

About WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities
WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities is World Resources Institute’s program dedicated to shaping a future where cities work better for everyone. It enables more connected, compact and coordinated cities. The Center expands the transport and urban development expertise of the EMBARQ network to catalyze innovative solutions in other sectors, including air quality, water, buildings, land use and energy. It combines the research excellence of WRI with two decades of on-the-ground impact through a network of more than 370 experts working from Brazil, China, Colombia, Ethiopia, India, Mexico, Turkey and the United States to make cities around the world better places to live. More information at www.wrirosscities.org.

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Tracking Progress: Climate Action Under the Biden Administration

3 semanas 6 días ago
Tracking Progress: Climate Action Under the Biden Administration helen.morgan@wri.org Mon, 01/29/2024 - 13:46

In 2020, Joe Biden ran for president on the most ambitious climate action platform of any major presidential candidate in U.S. history. As President Biden begins the last year of his first term, it’s time to take stock of what his administration has accomplished, what is still a work in progress and what is off track.  

US Climate Action: What’s on Track, and What’s Not?

The Biden administration’s most important climate action to date was signing the Inflation Reduction Act into law in August 2022, the most comprehensive climate legislation the U.S. has even seen. The law invests hundreds of billions of dollars in clean energy, electric vehicles, environmental justice and more.

But passing the Inflation Reduction Act was just the first step. In the year and a half since its enactment, the administration has focused on developing tax credit guidance and launching programs to implement its many clean energy provisions. Earning top marks in climate action, however, will require continuing timely and equitable implementation of the legislation while taking additional action to fill policy gaps.

Here’s how the Biden administration has performed so far across 10 key climate priorities

 

Achieved  1) Commit to cut total greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030: Achieved. 

In April 2021, President Biden set a new national goal to reduce emissions by 50% to 52% from 2005 levels by 2030, formalizing it in an updated nationally determined contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement. Achieving this goal will be a challenge, but it remains within reach thanks to progress made in 2022 (see #2).  

2) Pass a major climate-smart economic stimulus package after COVID-19: Achieved. 

Congress enacted the Inflation Reduction Act in August 2022, the largest piece of climate legislation in U.S. history. Building on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (or Bipartisan Infrastructure Law) passed in 2021, the Inflation Reduction Act establishes a comprehensive set of clean energy incentives, mostly through decade-long tax credits for everything from electric vehicles to direct air capture and sequestration of carbon dioxide.  

The benefits of both pieces of legislation are being realized across the country. Since the Inflation Reduction Act was adopted, the U.S. has seen a massive surge in clean energy manufacturing projects resulting in billions of dollars of investment and the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs. Americans can now access consumer tax credits for electric vehicles, energy efficient appliances and clean energy technology. In late 2023, the administration announced draft tax credit guidance for clean hydrogen production to drive decarbonization and accelerate the transition to clean energy, one of the final major provisions of the law that had been awaiting policy action.

3) Tackle super pollutants. Achieved.

Super pollutants like hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and methane are emitted in smaller quantities than carbon dioxide, but pound for pound trap much more heat. Tackling super pollutants is a key component of any comprehensive climate strategy.  

The Senate ratified the international Kigali Amendment on reducing HFCs in September 2022, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued regulations to phase down HFCs, as directed by the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act enacted in 2020.  

In November 2022, the Biden administration released an updated Methane Action Plan, which includes 50 specific measures backed by $20 billion in funding provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Inflation Reduction Act and annual appropriations. The Inflation Reduction Act includes a methane emissions fee for certain oil and gas facilities that will kick in in 2024 and increase to $1,500 per metric ton of methane in 2026.  At the UN climate summit (COP28) held at the end of 2023, the Biden administration announced strong standards to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas industry and on January 12 , 2024, the EPA proposed rules to implement the methane emissions fee.

Biden was among the leaders who launched the Global Methane Pledge at the 2021 UN climate summit (COP26). As of December 2023, 155 countries have signed onto the pledge and committed to cut their total methane emissions by at least 30% by 2030. 

Significant Progress  4) Require all new passenger vehicles sold after 2035 to produce zero emissions: Significant Progress. 

In 2021, Biden set a goal for 50% of new passenger vehicles sold to have zero emissions by 2030 and signed an executive order directing federal agencies to purchase 100% zero-emission light-duty vehicles by 2027. In 2021, the EPA issued a final rule to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicles (model years 2023 to 2026) and proposed strong standards for model year 2027 and later vehicles. At the state level, California finalized rules to require zero emissions from all passenger vehicles sold in the state after 2035.

An EV charging station near a busy road in Monroeville, Pa. With an increased charging network presence due to plans from the Department of Transportation and funding from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Biden administration has made strong progress for EVs. Photo by woodsnorthphoto/Shutterstock.

In September 2022, the Department of Transportation approved plans from all 50 states plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico to build a national electric vehicle (EV) charging network, supported by $5 billion in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. EV sales are also getting a major boost from the tax credits included in the Inflation Reduction Act, which provide up to $7,500 for qualifying EVs assembled in North America, eliminating the per-manufacturer cap that had made all EVs sold by GM and Tesla ineligible until January 1, 2023. More than 1.4 million EVs were sold in the U.S. in 2023 (including fully electric and plug-in hybrids), representing more than 9% of all vehicle sales for the year and more than a 50% increase over total EV sales in 2022.

To stay on track, the EPA must finalize strong clean car standards in the spring of 2024 for vehicles with model years 2027 to 2030. More states should also opt into California’s zero-emission vehicle standards. 

5) Scale up carbon dioxide removal: Significant Progress.

In addition to reducing emissions as quickly as possible, to meet its climate targets the U.S. will need to scale up methods to remove and permanently sequester carbon dioxide that is already in the atmosphere, using both natural (e.g. trees) and technological (e.g. chemical scrubbers) means.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes significant investments in wildfire risk reduction and ecosystem restoration to protect and promote natural carbon removal. It also establishes four regional hubs for direct air capture in order to demonstrate this technology at commercial scale. The first two awards were announced in August 2023.

The Inflation Reduction Act builds on these programs by allocating $19 billion to support climate-smart agriculture, providing additional funding for wildfire risk reduction and investing almost $3 billion to support carbon sequestration in urban forests and national public lands. The legislation also significantly enhances the Section 45Q tax credits for sequestering carbon dioxide captured directly from air, increasing the value to as much as $180 per ton and making the credit easier to access.  

Similar incentives should also be provided for a broader set of carbon removal approaches, such as carbon dioxide mineralization and biochar production.

Power County Wind Farm, Idaho. President Biden has reiterated his goal to reach 100% clean electricity by 2035. Photo by the U.S. Department of Energy. Some Progress 6) Ramp up clean electricity standards to 55% by 2025, 75% by 2030 and 100% by 2035: Some Progress.

Biden has reiterated his goal to reach 100% clean electricity by 2035 and signed an executive order requiring federal agencies to procure 100% carbon pollution-free electricity by 2030. The tax credits for clean electricity generation included in the Inflation Reduction Act will make substantial progress toward these goals but may not be sufficient to get to a 100% carbon-free electricity system without additional measures — particularly accelerating the construction of additional electricity transmission capacity.  

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has taken some steps to reduce the backlog of clean energy projects waiting to be connected to the grid, but FERC does not have as much authority to expedite interstate transmission projects as it does for fossil fuel pipelines, an anomaly Congress should fix. EPA is expected to issue final power plant emissions standards for greenhouse gases and other pollutants in the spring of 2024, which would encourage further deployment of renewable energy. (The Supreme Court ruling in West Virginia v. EPA constrains, but does not eliminate, the agency’s ability to do so).

7) Set appliance and equipment standards to replace fossil fuels with electricity whenever feasible: Some Progress.

The Inflation Reduction Act includes a $2,000 tax credit for new heat pumps, a 30% tax credit for residential solar systems and batteries, and $9 billion to support state energy efficiency and electrification rebates. The Biden administration continues to follow through on its proposal to use the Defense Production Act to increase the availability of heat pumps. In November 2023, DOE announced $169 million in funding from the Inflation Reduction Act for nine DOE projects focused on accelerating electric heat pump manufacturing at 15 sites nationwide. While some progress has been made in 2023 setting stronger energy efficiency standards for residential refrigerators and freezers, gas furnaces and clothes washers, the Biden administration must now catch up on missed deadlines to set the strongest possible efficiency standards for all appliances.

Although there are no immediate prospects for a federal ban on fossil fuel appliances, the tax credits from the Inflation Reduction Act could incentivize states and cities to enact policies that electrify new buildings. In 2019, Berkeley, Calif., became the first U.S. city to ban the use of natural gas in new buildings in order to fight climate change. Since then, dozens of urban centers have followed, including major cities such as San Jose and New York City (although Berkeley’s ordinance has been overturned in the courts).

At the state level, New York plans to ban fossil fuels in all new buildings no later than 2027. California’s most recent building code update requires new buildings to be wired for all-electric operation and Washington State requires new buildings to have heat pumps, although neither state bans new gas hookups.

A worker retrofits a heat pump to a home. Climate policies passed during Biden's first term offer guidelines and even incentives for installation of heat pumps and other appliances. Photo by Dziurek/Shutterstock.  8) Set emission performance standards for cement, steel and plastics. Some Progress.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes major investments in carbon capture and sequestration and clean hydrogen production and use. These investments could go a long way in demonstrating methods to decarbonize emissions-intensive industrial subsectors.

In addition, a 2021 executive order directs federal agencies to buy low-carbon building materials and achieve net-zero federal procurement by 2045. In 2022, the Biden administration announced a new initiative requiring major suppliers to the federal government to set science-based emission-reduction targets. Meanwhile, the international First Movers Coalition, launched in 2021 at COP26, enlists major companies in decarbonizing cement, steel and chemicals by committing to purchase low-carbon materials when they become available, even if they initially come at a price premium.

These are important efforts to begin cutting emissions from industry. The administration should now take the next step by establishing mandatory low-carbon product standards that apply to everyone — not just federal procurement.

9) Reestablish international leadership: Some Progress.

Biden rejoined the international Paris Agreement on climate change on his first day in office and held the Leaders Summit on Climate in April 2021. U.S. engagement in international climate policy was also clearly evident at COP26 in 2021 and COP27 in 2022. In addition to helping ensure completion of the Paris Rulebook during COP26 and agreeing at COP27 to establish a fund to help vulnerable countries deal with losses and damages from the impacts of climate change, the U.S. also helped launch the Global Methane Pledge, the First Movers Coalition on sustainable supply chains and the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use. And importantly, despite a challenging geopolitical relationship, formal bilateral climate discussions between the U.S. and China were reestablished during COP27, which can help the world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters find areas of common ground to confront the climate crisis.

COP28 in 2023 ended with an agreement to “transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050.” As the world’s largest oil and gas producer, transitioning away from fossil fuels will not be easy for the United States, but in January 2024, the Biden administration  took an important step toward limiting fossil fuel production and accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy by pausing approvals of new liquified natural gas (LNG) export facilities. Biden emphasized that “[t]his pause on new LNG approvals sees the climate crisis for what it is: the existential threat of our time.” When burned, LNG emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Also, methane leaks from the LNG supply chain release pollution that is 80 times more potent at warming the atmosphere than carbon dioxide in its first 20 years. The suspension of LNG project approvals signals the administration is taking the COP28 agreement seriously.

The U.S. will also need to follow through on its pledge to significantly increase its international climate finance. Although Biden has committed to mobilize $11.4 billion in climate finance annually by 2024, the U.S. is not nearly on track to reach that goal. At COP28, the Biden administration pledged $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund but it is up to Congress to appropriate the funding. In the past two fiscal year budgets, Congress has appropriated only $1 billion annually for climate finance. While the U.S. Development Finance Corporation may be able to increase the level of funds mobilized, it will still not come close to the $11.4 billion mark. In addition, it’s not clear whether the U.S. can meet the $3 billion in funding for adaptation as part of a global pledge by developed countries to collectively double their adaptation finance by 2025.

Biden needs to prioritize securing increased Congressional appropriations for international climate finance, which will be even more challenging given the change in House of Representatives leadership in 2023.  

Off Track 10) Tax Pollution: Off Track.

The Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law represent the most significant climate policy advances in U.S. history and include important investments in climate-smart infrastructure and incentives to deploy climate solutions at scale. No climate policy is complete, however, without a mechanism to ensure that emissions-reduction targets are met through enforceable emissions caps and/or an emissions fee that ratchets up if other measures fall short. The U.S. is not yet on track to achieve needed emissions reductions and charging a fee on carbon emissions would be an effective way to help close the gap.

Despite the best efforts of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and others, majority support for carbon pricing in Congress remains elusive. This debate will continue, spurred on in part by the E.U.’s plan to impose border carbon tax adjustments on emissions-intensive imports that don’t face a carbon-price equivalent to that created by the E.U.’s emissions-trading system for domestically produced items.

In 2023, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) introduced the bipartisan Providing Reliable, Objective, Verifiable Emissions Intensity and Transparency (PROVE IT) Act. This bill would direct the Department of Energy to conduct a study comparing the emissions intensity of certain goods produced domestically to the emissions of those same goods produced abroad. 

Additionally, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) introduced the Foreign Pollution Fee Act of 2023. This bill would impose a fee on products that are imported to the U.S. that have a higher emissions intensity than domestic alternatives. These bipartisan efforts have advanced the conversation around carbon border tariffs and the potential climate-smart benefits they could yield.

What’s Next for Climate Action During the Rest of Biden’s First Term?

After decades of effort ending in failure, near-misses or small wins, Congress finally delivered transformative legislation to tackle the climate crisis in 2022. This would not have happened without Biden’s leadership, as well as the efforts of Congressional champions and countless climate action advocates and analysts.

Of course, the hard work of deploying climate solutions at the necessary speed and scale has only just begun. This task is now more difficult due to the divided 118th Congress, but the landmark legislation enacted by the 117th is secure for at least the next year.  There are opportunities for the118th Congress to deliver incremental progress through bipartisan clean energy permitting reform and Farm Bill reauthorization.

During the final year of his first term, Biden must ensure agencies finalize robust federal rules to reduce emissions from the transportation and power sectors, maintain the environmental integrity of the hydrogen production tax credit proposal in the final rule, and adopt analytical assumptions for assessing the lifecycle emissions of Sustainable Aviation Fuels that prevent corn ethanol and vegetable oils from qualifying for generous tax credits given their excessive land-use related emissions.

The Biden administration has also prioritized environmental and climate justice for vulnerable, underserved and historically marginalized communities. While historic progress has been made to advance equity and deliver environmental justice, the administration must continue efforts to ensure federal actions are effectively addressing the unique burdens faced by these communities.

Biden and his administration must stay focused on achieving their climate goals and avoid being distracted by Congressional gamesmanship and frivolous investigations. To stay on track, Biden will need to use every tool at his disposal while enlisting the help of states, cities, enterprises and citizens to deliver on the promise of a healthier, more prosperous and secure future for all.

This article was originally published on Jan. 12, 2022. It was updated on Jan. 29, 2024.

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