Nepal has seen an astounding increase in its energy access rate between 2001-2021, moving from a total electrified population of 24% in 2001 to 90% in 2021. However, there are still over 3.5 million people in remote and rural areas of the country that do not have access to electricity services in their homes, schools or healthcare facilities.
In addition, only 35% of the total population in Nepal have access to clean cooking technologies or fuels. This translates to nearly 20 million people using polluting fuels, such as solid biomass in open fire pits, for cooking in their homes. This leads to indoor air pollution harming human health, emits greenhouse gases exacerbating climate change and disproportionately affects women due to their predominant contribution to household cooking activities.
To effectively expand access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy, energy planners, clean energy enterprises, investors and development organizations need data and analytical tools that capture key geospatial parameters of unserved and the underserved populations.
In November, the Nepal Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC), the Clean Cooking Alliance (CCA) and World Resources Institute (WRI) held a three-day convening focused on the recently launched Energy Access Explorer (EAE) Nepal tool. EAE is a free and open source “Digital Public Good” software — visualizing geospatial data to deliver climate-friendly and viable energy transitions for all. It enables clean energy enterprises, energy planners, donors and development-oriented institutions to identify high-priority areas where energy access can be expanded. Using spatial data to link energy supply with growing or unmet demand is essential to gaining a better picture of energy access and expanding energy services — such as access to clean cooking solutions — for those who need it the most. Furthermore, EAE reduces software engineering and data transaction costs for both data providers and users, facilitates data management and improves data governance.Figure 1. Energy Access Explorer data and sample analysis in Nepal. Source: Energy Access Explorer 2023. Note: Figure above shows data representing potential Demand through data on Demographics such as population density, or Social and productive use as schools, health facilities, and commercial cooking. It also integrates potential Supply data on Energy resources as Solar irradiation, or Infrastructure as distribution lines. Additionally, Filter data such as the latest household census or net-benefit results allow to identify areas of interest. Finally, the resulting analysis show priority areas through a granular multi-criteria analysis per square kilometer and a summary report.
EAE Nepal is the first version of EAE to also integrate cost-benefit analysis for clean cooking through the OnStove tool. OnStove, developed and integrated into EAE by KTH Royal Institute of Technology Sweden, determines the net-benefit value of different cooking stoves using spatial data. The tool accounts for four key benefits: reduced morbidity; mortality; emissions and time saved; as well as three costs: capital, fuel and operation and maintenance. OnStove allows users to determine the fuel-stove alternative providing the highest net benefit for a given location or community.Figure 2. OnStove – spatial cost-benefit analysis tool for clean cooking planning. Read more about OnStove here
Nawa Raj Dhakal, Executive Director of AEPC, launched EAE Nepal and the EAE Nepal Working Group. In his address, Dhakal talked about the importance of accountable data and the critical role of the cross-sectoral working group, bringing together partners from government agencies, clean energy enterprises, development organizations and finance institutions. Partners were introduced to the new functionalities of the platform, discussed the EAE sustainability plan to ensure the platform applies to the cross-sectoral stakeholder needs, and how it can support data management and governance.Image credit: WRI
Stakeholders completed the comprehensive EAE training which enabled them to generate customized analysis to identify priority areas for clean cooking interventions in the country through EAE’s front-end interface. They were also trained on EAE’s user-friendly data management and governance system which empowers data providers and administrators without any programming expertise to add, store, manage, harmonize and process granular geospatial data and to assign roles and responsibilities to various data providers.Image credit: WRI
EAE Nepal is a multi-partner initiative that has been developed in a collaborative manner. CCA brings leading expertise in the clean cooking space, WRI leads the technical development of EAE, AEPC is the nodal agency of EAE Nepal, KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Kartoza lead the cost benefit analysis, and Nepal Open University (NOU) support local data collection and capacity building. The consortium received input and feedback from more than 100 stakeholders.
Moving forward, the EAE Nepal Working Group will continue to ensure that the platform applies to the cross-sectoral stakeholder’s needs in the country, and that EAE will provide stakeholders with the data and tools needed to inform and support their national and sub-national programs and strategies for a robust clean cooking transition. We will do this by equipping partners and stakeholders with this digital public good to plan for the attainment of critical development outcomes in health and livelihoods in Nepal.Image credit: WRInepal-energy-access-explorer.jpeg Energy Nepal Energy Equity & Governance renewable energy Type Project Update Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Santiago Sinclair Lecaros Karuna Baijracharya Anobha Gurung Shannon Loyd Tarannum Sarwat Sahar Dimitrios Mentis Camilo Ramirez Gomez Babak Khavari Tim Sutton
According to recent testimony from the American Petroleum Institute (API) and its allies in Congress, the solution to climate change driven by production and consumption of fossil fuels is…more fossil fuels!
Specifically, API is citing recent emissions reductions in the United States as justification for more production of U.S. oil and gas, and especially more exports of liquified natural gas (LNG). This argument is a perfect example of spinning two drops of truth into a downpour of misinformation. You can expect this spin to be amplified loudly by a well-funded and well-coordinated campaign to win expanded drilling on federal lands and approval of additional LNG terminals — actions that would undermine progress in tackling the climate crisis.
So, let’s unpack the argument to uncover its fundamental flaws.A worker pumps down lines at an oil and gas drilling pad site. Research shows that oil and gas use must decrease significantly between now and 2050 to keep the worst impacts of climate change at bay. Photo by Hoptocopter/iStock Photo
One drop of truth is that annual U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions declined by 15.6%, or 1.17 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, between their peak in 2007 and 2021, the latest year for which complete data are available. In absolute terms, this is the largest reduction achieved by any country during that period. The two phrases in italics are the keys to understanding how this fact is a misleading result of cherry-picking the data.
If you look at a longer period (starting with 1990, the base year adopted by the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change) and consider reductions in relative terms, then the United States stands out as a laggard rather than a leader among advanced economies. As shown in the table below, the U.S. has reduced its emissions by a mere 2% over the last 30 years, compared to upwards of 28% in European countries.GHG Emissions (MtCO2e) 1990 2021 Change (%) Change (MtCO2e) EU 4,847 3,469 -28% -1,378 UK 792 422 -47% -390 Germany 1,243 759 -39% -484 Japan 1,269 1,168 -8% -101 USA 6,487 6,340 -2% -147
Another drop of truth is that a shift from coal to natural gas for electricity generation did contribute to reducing U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. But it was not the primary driver, as the oil and gas industry would have you believe.
Between 2007 and 2021, electricity generation from coal decreased from 2,016 billion kilowatt-hours (BkWh) to 899 BkWh, a reduction of 1,117 BkWh or 55%. Meanwhile, generation from gas increased by 682 BkWh, and generation from renewables (including hydro, wind and solar) increased by 463 BkWh. Importantly, total electricity generation remained about the same during this time while the economy grew by 29%, implying that increases in energy efficiency contributed significantly to reducing emissions.
Natural gas emits less carbon dioxide per kWh than coal, but increases in emissions from gas combustion partially offset the corresponding reduction in emissions from coal combustion. So the shift from coal to gas did not reduce emissions as much as the shift from coal to zero-emissions renewable electricity sources did.
Furthermore, methane leaks from the natural gas system need to be considered (which further offset some of the reductions in CO2 emissions from the coal-to-gas shift) particularly during the next crucial decades as we race to avoid breaching climate change thresholds. The U.S. just finalized a strong new methane rule that should help to address some of the impacts from methane emissions, but accelerated production of natural gas could diminish the gains.
This brings us to the biggest problem with the oil and gas industry’s talking points. They argue that because total U.S. emissions dropped from 2007-2021 at the same time oil and gas production increased, then the U.S. oil and gas industry should keep ramping up fossil fuel production.
This is magical thinking. Research shows that all unabated uses of fossil fuels need to be phased out as quickly as possible.
In past decades, there may have been an argument that increased use of natural gas could serve as a bridge to a low-carbon economy, as coal is phased out. But now we need to focus on substituting clean electricity for coal and gas and oil. Cheap renewables can now supply most of that electricity. And we have the technologies at hand to electrify a huge share of end-uses in buildings, transportation and industry.
The figure below from the International Energy Agency (IEA) Net Zero Roadmap presents one pathway for limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C, the limit scientists say is necessary for keeping increasingly dangerous climate change impacts at bay. The left side shows how unabated fossil fuels (without carbon capture and storage (CCS)) would decline sharply over the next 30 years. The right side shows how zero- and low-carbon energy sources would grow rapidly. Renewable energy capacity would rise more than seven-fold by 2050; nuclear generation more than doubles. Modern biomass energy use increases from a current 41 exajoules (EJ) to 100 EJ in 2050. The right side of the figure also shows some residual fossil use, either equipped with CCS or for non-energy use.
This is just one of many scenarios the world could pursue to achieve net-zero global emissions. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessed several hundred others. The common theme in all of them is that electricity replaces fossil fuels as the major workhorse powering the world's economy. Electrification of transportation, buildings and industry, along with applications in hydrogen production and carbon dioxide removal, leads to a doubling or more of global power generation by 2050. And that electricity is overwhelmingly from zero-carbon sources such as solar, wind and nuclear.
Electricity produced from fossil fuels equipped with CCS plays a varying, but usually small role. The IPCC found that to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C, global use of coal, oil and gas in 2050 must decrease by about 95%, 60% and 45%, respectively, compared to 2019 (using the median values for those scenarios).
Some will counter with the fact that the surge in U.S. LNG exports was a tremendous boon to Europe and the global economy in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine — and this is beyond question. However, additional LNG projects would take years to build. Meanwhile, Europe is moving to further reduce its gas consumption, and most of global reshuffling of gas supplies driven by the invasion is complete.
To cut through conflicting talking points and cherry-picked data, it’s wise to remember the old adage: When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. The solution to fossil fuel-driven climate change is not more fossil fuels.natural-gas-fracking.jpg Climate Climate U.S. Climate Type Commentary Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Dan Lashof Karl Hausker
STATEMENT: Bipartisan Concrete and Asphalt Innovation Act Seeks to Drive Materials Innovation, Competitiveness and Industrial Decarbonization
WASHINGTON (December 7, 2023) — Today, Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced the Concrete and Asphalt Innovation Act of 2023, S.B. 3439, which would support research and development, demonstration and commercial applications of low-emissions concrete and asphalt to spur industrial decarbonization and enhance U.S. innovation. The bill would set up a research program to reduce emissions from concrete and asphalt-related products, increase the technological and economic competitiveness of the sectors, secure supply chains and create jobs. This research program would be a multi-agency effort led by the Department of Energy. The bill would also establish performance-based materials grants through the Federal Highway Administration and authorize the Department of Transportation to pursue advance market or purchase commitments to create a market for low-emissions concrete and asphalt. Finally, it would create an interagency task force to improve material performance, reduce costs, support innovation, increase employment, and enhance training in the production and use of these low-emissions materials.
Below is a statement from Angela Anderson, Director Industrial Innovation and Carbon Removal, U.S. Climate, World Resources Institute:
“WRI applauds the introduction of the bipartisan Concrete and Asphalt Innovation Act of 2023 by Senators Coons and Tillis. While the landmark climate legislation passed in 2022 is being implemented, the U.S. still requires further targeted funding for innovation in key heavy industrial sectors such as cement, concrete and asphalt to bolster our climate ambitions and achieve our net-zero targets. WRI is particularly pleased that this bill, which aims to promote technological innovation that would reduce emissions, increase U.S. competitiveness and create jobs, has bipartisan backing. This indicates that there is real potential in Congress to support a scaleup of industrial innovation and decarbonization. We look forward to continuing working with members of Congress who would champion such industrial climate policies.”U.S. Climate Type Statement Exclude From Blog Feed? 0
The UN’s Paris Agreement established three overarching goals: to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) and ideally 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F); to promote adaptation and resilience; and to align financial flows with low-emissions, climate-resilient development. These goals are underpinned by countries’ 2030 climate commitments, known as “nationally determined contributions” or “NDCs.”
In their NDCs, each of the 194 countries (Parties) that signed the Paris Agreement must lay out its aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Many also include plans for adapting to climate impacts and financial requirements to implement their commitments.
Countries must strengthen their NDCs on a regular, five-year cycle. Most submitted their initial commitments in 2015 and updated them by 2021. A new, stronger round of NDCs is due in 2025.
WRI’s Climate Watch platform tracks more than 200 indicators across all NDCs. Here, we update findings from our 2022 State of NDCs report with new analysis, drawing out key trends and evaluating the current state of play on NDCs. The biggest takeaway? Countries are making incremental progress on strengthening their NDCs, but what the world really needs to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement is a radical increase in both ambition and action on almost every front.
Here’s what we know and what countries should keep in mind as they formulate new NDCs by 2025.1) Despite some progress, countries must reduce emissions by at least 5 times as much as current pledges.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) finds that global emissions must fall by at least 43% from 2019 levels by 2030 to align with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5-degree-C goal. However, current NDCs will only reduce global emissions by about 8% from 2019 levels.
This 8% represents a reduction of 5.9 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent (GtCO2e) compared to the initial round of NDCs — approximately equivalent to eliminating the annual emissions of the United States. Although a step in the right direction, countries will need to reduce emissions by more than 5 times as much to align with 1.5-degree-C pathways.
In the current NDCs more countries have set GHG reduction targets than in the initial round, and some have expanded their targets to cover more sectors and more types of greenhouse gases. But the emissions impact of these improvements has been modest. More than 85% of the improvement has come from large countries ratcheting up the stringency of their targets as opposed to countries adding new targets or expanding them to cover additional sectors and gases. Accelerating ambition on this front is paramount to the success of the Paris Agreement.2) Countries are strengthening adaptation plans, but progress must speed up and expand.
One hundred and forty-five countries — the vast majority — now include adaptation elements in their NDCs. In the current round of NDCs, countries approximately doubled the number of priority adaptation actions compared to their initial commitments. These actions show improved coverage of sectors and systems, with a strong focus on food and nutrition security, water and nature-based solutions. Current adaptation plans also include a stronger emphasis on equity than previous NDCs, with greater consideration of gender concerns and inclusion of Indigenous peoples.
Yet more work needs to be done to implement adaptation at the speed and scale the climate crisis demands. Few countries’ NDCs include timeframes or indicators for implementing adaptation plans or for monitoring, evaluation and learning around adaptation actions — critical elements for ensuring that planned interventions translate into on-the-ground action.3)Current levels of climate finance aren’t enough to implement even a subset of NDCs.
While countries are not required to report on their climate finance requirements in NDCs, 53% (91 countries representing 51% of the global population), included an estimate for how much money they’ll need to implement their plans. These countries say they’ll need $4.5 trillion in total: $2.8 trillion for mitigation, $1.1 trillion for adaptation and $0.6 trillion unspecified.
Importantly, all of the countries reporting on their climate finance needs are developing countries whose ability to implement climate pledges depends significantly on support from developed nations, international finance institutions and others. Of the $4.5 trillion total, $1.6 trillion represents funds needed to achieve “conditional” NDC pledges, those contingent on receiving international finance to implement mitigation and adaptation plans. This figure dwarfs the $100 billion that developed countries promised to provide annually by 2020 to support developing countries’ climate actions — a target which, according to recent reports, was likely met for the first time in 2022.
Finance estimates from the 91 countries who provided them underscore the need to mobilize significantly greater resources to implement NDCs.4) Around 40% of countries include loss and damage in their NDCs.
Seventy-four countries’ NDCs mention “loss and damage,” which refers to the consequences of climate change that go beyond those to which countries can adapt. Most of these countries (57, or 77%) refer to the economic effects of loss and damage. About half of these countries (42, or 57%) reference non-economic impacts of loss and damage, such as reduced biodiversity and weakened cultural heritage. Additionally, more small island developing states now include loss and damage costs and related topics in their NDCs than in the initial round, suggesting that the most climate-vulnerable countries are increasingly prioritizing this information.
Only about one-quarter of the countries that mention “loss and damage” provide information on the required finance and capacity building to address it. However, compared to the initial NDCs, more countries now include information on loss and damage-related topics such as climate-induced migration and slow-onset events (which are gradual changes without a clear starting or ending point, such as sea-level rise or ocean acidification). This suggests that countries may prioritize elements of loss and damage even if they do not include cost figures in their NDCs.
Additional support for countries to analyze trends in loss and damage — including the use of climate scenarios — and approaches for addressing it, such as comprehensive risk management, could improve this information in future rounds of NDCs.5) 87% of NDCs seek to increase renewable energy, but few explicitly aim to reduce fossil fuel consumption.
In addition to economy-wide targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, most NDCs contain sector-specific measures. Those promoting renewable energy are among the most popular: 147 NDCs contain measures to boost renewable power, and more than half of these contain quantified renewable energy targets.
But limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C also requires slashing fossil fuel consumption dramatically, and fewer NDCs explicitly address this. Only 93 contain measures pertaining to fossil fuel consumption, and a mere 11 contain measures to phase out or phase down fossil fuel use.6) Most NDCs include measures addressing forests and land use, but quality varies.
More than 120 NDCs contain measures to protect standing ecosystems, manage working lands to reduce emissions, and/or to restore degraded ecosystems. Fifty-three NDCs contain measures in all three categories.
The quality of these measures, however, varies widely. Only 89 NDCs have quantifiable targets related to land use and forestry, and very few incorporate critical issues such as financial needs and the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities.7) NDCs prioritize electric mobility but don’t include other critical measures to reduce transport emissions.
Current NDCs have embraced electric transport, with measures to promote vehicle electrification more than doubling from the initial round of NDCs. However, a holistic approach to reducing emissions from transport involves more than just vehicle improvements. It must also include avoiding unnecessary vehicle travel, shifting to more efficient travel modes and improving fuel efficiency.
The enthusiasm for electric mobility was not matched by growth in other critical transport-related areas. Less than half of NDCs contain public transport measures. And measures related to active transport (walking and cycling) and low-carbon freight, shipping and aviation appear in only a handful of NDCs. The next round of NDCs should ensure balanced attention across these themes, taking into account both passenger and freight sources.
Learn more about transport in NDCs in WRI's research paper, Sustainable Urban Mobility in the NDCs: The Essential Role of Public Transport.8) Only 15 of the 119 Global Methane Pledge signatories include a specific, quantified methane-reduction target in their NDCs.
Countries committed to the Global Methane Pledge, launched at COP26 in 2021, agreed to collectively reduce global methane emissions by 30% from 2020 levels by 2030. While around 80% of signatories include methane under the umbrella of their economy-wide GHG reduction targets, far fewer (only 15) include quantified methane-specific targets in their NDCs. This makes it challenging to determine how and when the collective Global Methane Pledge target will be met.
The next round of NDCs offers an opportunity for Global Methane Pledge signatories to spell out how they will contribute to the collective 30% reduction in methane emissions by 2030.9) NDCs increasingly recognize the importance of a just transition.
The idea of a “just transition” is to shift to a zero-carbon economy in a way that reduces negative impacts on workers, communities and value chains while also ensuring that the benefits of this transition are fairly distributed. As support for just transitions rises on the UN’s climate agenda, so too, has its recognition in countries’ NDCs.
Explicit attention to this concept was almost non-existent in the initial NDCs, appearing only in South Africa’s plan. Forty-five current NDCs (including that of the European Union) explicitly mention a just transition, although at varying depths. Some, such as Mauritius and Iceland, briefly mention the concept while others, such as Costa Rica, South Africa, and Antigua and Barbuda, have more fully incorporated it, with paragraphs or dedicated sections on just transition.
The next round of NDCs can further detail countries’ plans and needs for a just transition. The Just Transitions Work Programme (JTWP) was established at COP27 to support countries in developing effective just transition policies, and decisions around how to implement the work programme are expected at COP28. The JTWP could highlight opportunities for nations to integrate just transition into their NDCs and help connect country-level action to international processes, including those related to finance.What’s Next for Countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)?
As the next round of NDCs approaches, the large-scale transformations needed to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goals are nowhere in sight.
The Global Stocktake at COP28 — a process designed to assess the global response to the climate crisis every five years — will show what’s needed to meet these goals and help inform countries’ updated NDCs. As countries develop new plans in advance of 2025, it will be important to put forward not just incremental improvements, but an entirely different scale of ambition and a clear sense of how countries will deliver it.
This article was originally published October 18, 2022. It was last updated on December 7, 2023.croatia-plaza-solar-panels Climate Climate greenhouse gases NDC International Climate Action international climate policy Paris Agreement climatewatch-pinned COP28 Paying for Paris National Climate Action Type Finding Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Taryn Fransen Ryan O’Connor Natalia Alayza Courtnae Bailey Molly Caldwell Christopher Henderson Bradley Kratzer Ashna Siddhi Ginette Walls
STATEMENT: Bipartisan MARKET CHOICE Act Seeks to Establish Carbon Tax on Fossil Fuels and Large Industry, Adds Border Tax Adjustment
WASHINGTON (December 7, 2023) — Today, Congressmen Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Salud Carbajal (D-CA) introduced the MARKET CHOICE Act, which would replace the federal gasoline tax with a broader tax on CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and large industrial sources.
The bill also includes a border tax adjustment to address imports and exports, joining bills from both Republicans and Democrats addressing trade and climate. The bill would dedicate most of the revenue for investment in infrastructure, replenishing the Highway Trust Fund which is currently funded by the federal gas tax. Additional funds would go to resilience, with a special focus on flooding, assistance to displaced energy workers, low-income households, and research, development and deployment for carbon removal, carbon capture and storage and advanced energy.
Following is a statement from Dr. Daniel Lashof, U.S. Director, World Resources Institute:
“With 2023 almost certain to be the hottest year on record, and report after report telling us that we are not on target to meet our global emission reduction goals necessary to prevent the worst impacts of unmitigated climate change, WRI is pleased to see Representative Fitzpatrick’s introduction of the bipartisan MARKET CHOICE Act to address climate change.
“While Congress has recently enacted significant measures to curb climate change, the science is clear: we must take additional action and have no time to waste. We are particularly pleased to see a serious bipartisan proposal to use market forces to help address climate change. We hope that additional members of both parties will support smart climate policies like the MARKET CHOICE Act, and we commend Mr. Fitzpatrick and Mr. Carbajal for their leadership.
“WRI looks forward to working with any and all in Congress who are ready to champion serious climate policies.”U.S. Climate United States carbon pricing Type Statement Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Related Resources and Data STATEMENT: Another Bipartisan Carbon Pricing Bill Introduced in the House Carbon Mineralization Needs Greater Policy Support to Reach Carbon Removal Potential Tracking Progress: Climate Action Under the Biden Administration New US Trade Policies Can Incentivize Clean Industrial Manufacturing
The U.S. Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), are poised to deploy hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds and unleash private investment to catalyze climate action and clean energy technology deployment. These investments will not only create new jobs and economic opportunities across the nation, but are critical to putting the United States on the path to meet its climate goals: reducing greenhouse gas emissions 50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030 and achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Between IRA’s passage in August 2022 and July 2023, 272 new clean energy projects totaling $278 billion in private investments have been announced across the country.
However, unlocking the full impact of these federal laws will not be possible without timely and effective implementation by non-federal actors — especially the private sector, community-based organizations and subnational governments. State and local governments, in particular, will play a critical role in determining whether the country as a whole is able to meet its climate goal.
Highlighting this dynamic, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) published a report that provides a comprehensive roadmap for the U.S. to realize its net-zero emissions goal while achieving a just and equitable transition. Importantly, the chapter entitled “Enhancing and Realizing the Climate Ambitions and Capacities of Subnational Actors: State and Local Government Perspectives” elevates the essential role of state and local governments in deploying and creating an enabling environment for impactful, locally relevant climate and clean energy investments. The authors of this article, WRI’s Devashree Saha and NASEO’s Sandy Fazeli, served on the expert committee that contributed to and developed the report.
As the report notes and in line with WRI’s research on climate federalism, federal, state and local government actors each wield important tools in efforts to decarbonize. These are strengths which can be (and have been) used to set ambitious goals, deploy funds and create conducive environments for climate actions or, conversely, to hinder or impede such actions.
It is insufficient to grant the dollars out with the hope that states and local governments are ready and willing to take on large climate programs and investments. This passive strategy risks excluding the very states and communities with the greatest needs and most opportunities to use the funds to meet local goals, whether they’re reducing greenhouse gas emissions, growing jobs and economies, enhancing resilience or boosting energy security. Rather, federal agencies must empower, engage and support a wide network of players across different levels of government to deliver the transition promised by IIJA and IRA.Understanding the Promise and Challenges of State and Local Government Climate Action
Subnational governments have driven a significant amount of climate progress (see here, here and here) in the last two decades, sometimes in the face of federal inaction. Using policy levers at their disposal, U.S. state and local governments have advanced climate action across all sectors of the economy, including carbon pricing, clean electricity and renewable portfolio standards, low carbon fuel standards, zero-emission vehicle deployment, buy clean standards, building performance and electrification incentives, and energy codes and standards. In fact, states, cities and counties that are committed to climate action currently represent two-thirds of the U.S. population and economy.
At the same time, subnational climate action is a patchwork of political will and capacity, with deep variations across different parts of the country and different policy, regulatory and market environments. How federal agencies tackle the challenges posed by lack of political will and capacity — defined as resources, knowledge and expertise, and staff availability within state and local governments — will determine the extent to which subnational governments will be able to identify, apply for, and implement the new federal resources for climate action.
Building political will for climate action is a complicated topic and not the subject of this article. We will just note that when decarbonization strategies are tied to immediate and tangible benefits important to local populations, electorates and economies, they can often gain support in areas where “climate” policies might not. The economic opportunities presented by clean energy technologies perhaps explain why Texas leads the nation in utility-scale, wind-powered electricity generation, or why local governments of different political hues are looking to clean energy to provide affordable electricity, tax revenue and resilience.
Building state and local governments’ capacities to leverage BIL and IRA funding deserves immediate attention from the federal government. Out of the BIL’s $1.2 trillion to be spent on transportation, infrastructure, energy and climate resilience projects, approximately $984 billion will be deployed by state and local governments. Even though the majority of IRA’s energy and climate funding is in the form of tax credits, as much as $139 billion (including the $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, the $5 billion Climate Pollution Reduction Grant, and the $3 billion Environmental and Climate Justice Block Grants) rely on effective implementation of programs by state and local governments.
New research focused on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities grant program highlights that communities that are most successful in securing these grants tend to be higher-capacity, larger cities. While this is one example, it wouldn’t be surprising to find out that a similar pattern plays out across other federal programs.
The issue of capacity is often an equity concern as well. As IRA and BIL policies are implemented, it will be critical to ensure that federal investments and programs benefit all Americans, particularly given how past disparities have disproportionately affected communities of color and low-income neighborhoods. Lack of capacity can present structural and economic barriers to some jurisdictions’ ability to apply for and deploy federal funding, further perpetuating inequities. While both the IRA and BIL include a significant focus on environmental justice and equity and prioritize investments in disadvantaged communities through the Justice40 Initiative, state and local governments will require support to realize the intended results.
The success of tax incentives, too — whether it is individuals using incentives to purchase an electric vehicle or renewable energy developers accessing the renewable energy Investment Tax Credit or the Production Tax Credit — will depend on how effectively subnational governments are able to communicate the tax credits’ availability and use to households and businesses.
More importantly, state and local governments will need to create the enabling infrastructure that facilitates the uptake of these tax credits. For instance, how effectively and equitably states deploy charging infrastructure with BIL funding will make a big difference to how many people in that state take advantage of the EV tax credit.5 Recommendations to Enhance Subnational Capacity to Implement BIL and IRA
State and local government readiness to take on this work will require targeted investments, assistance and support, but can have widespread benefits. At the seemingly most basic level, bolstering their capacity can help states and localities, including those with smaller budgets and staff sizes, make informed decisions about which federal funding opportunities to pursue. More broadly and over time, it can help draw attention and expertise to the broader policy, regulatory, fiscal and other conditions that affect the expansion of clean energy and climate markets at the local level.
Below are five strategies that can support state and local governments in taking advantage of new opportunities presented by BIL and IRA.
Federal Agencies can:
1) Establish an ongoing process to evaluate and integrate feedback into technical assistance processes and federal applications. The White House Council on Environmental Quality, in cooperation with agencies like the Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), should establish a process to integrate feedback from subnational entities into federal application and technical assistance processes, as well as strengthen and coordinate processes across federal agencies. This process should be relationship-based, iterative and ongoing. It can begin with a national convening through which subnational government entities can elevate concerns with application, implementation and technical assistance processes and quality, and then continue with a working group dedicated to evaluating and informing federal processes on a semi-annual basis. Observations and recommendations from the convening and working groups could be delivered to the Office of Management and Budget, DOE’s Office of State and Community Energy Programs, and other relevant offices across the federal agencies, to empower them to adjust processes and resources according to subnational needs.
The Biden administration has already deployed several new technical assistance programs, including: the Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Centers focused on supporting disadvantaged communities; the National Community Solar Partnership focused on expanding access to affordable community solar; and a Memorandum of Understanding between DOE, the Department of Transportation, the National Association of State Energy Officials, and the American Association of State Highways and Transportation Officials, which includes technical assistance to support coordinated, efficient and equitable investment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The administration has designed many of these technical programs to capture local feedback, including through listening sessions.
Still, federal agencies can do more to ensure that available technical assistance resources are flexible and meet the needs of local and state officials, as well as create new ones to meet the increased demand for federal support. To do this effectively, federal agencies will not only need to listen closely and continuously to the concerns raised by state and local officials, but will also need to improve coordination between the various technical assistance programs.
Finally, there is a real need for federal agencies to develop flexible technical assistance programs that aren’t oriented around specific programs and grants, but rather around providing more general support to state and local officials. This arrangement can help local stakeholders better understand federal funding opportunities, various financing strategies, and how to develop competitive funding applications.
2) Structure competitive opportunities as noncompetitive planning grants followed by competitive grants. To support lower-resourced states and localities in accessing funding opportunities, federal agencies should structure future competitive opportunities under BIL and IRA via a two-stage approach: noncompetitive planning grants followed by competitive grants. As subnational governments try to seize new federal funding opportunities, almost all of them need additional capacity for effective and timely implementation of clean energy programs.
EPA’s Community Pollution Reduction Grants program offers a model. By providing sizeable non-competitive planning grants to states and large localities in its first phase, it can help inform state and local efforts to pursue the remaining $4.6 billion in competitive funding in its second phase. The program aims to support states, large metropolitan areas, U.S. territories and Tribal nations in developing plans and policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Non-competitive planning grants totaling $250 million are flexible and can be used for a wide range of purposes, such as hiring and/or retaining staff, assessing capacity and capability, modeling and data collection, and conducting stakeholder engagement. In this manner, the planning grants support state and local governments’ capacity-building and put them in a better position to compete for competitive funding.
3) Disburse capacity-building funds for state, local and community recipients flexibly and speedily. DOE, EPA and other federal agencies should be held to strict timelines (within 3–6 months of program passage and funding authorization) to disburse funds for existing programs to support state, local and community clean energy and climate planning and capacity-building. There are a handful of key IRA and BIL programs such as the State Energy Program, the Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grants (EECBG), the Environmental and Climate Justice Block Grants, and the Climate Pollution Reduction Grants that provide sufficiently flexible funding for state and local government capacity-building. Maine, for instance, is planning to use a portion of its EECBG program to hire staff to manage grants and provide technical assistance to local governments implementing clean energy and energy efficiency programs. The timely implementation of these crucial federal dollars can be hampered when federal agencies are slow to distribute funds to state and local governments.
DOE began dispersing BIL funds for the State Energy Program in May 2023, more than a year after the passage of the law. The $550 million in EECBGs for state and local governments were also significantly delayed. Both programs have been in existence for years as non-competitive formula programs that should have been relatively straightforward for DOE to administer. The failure to prioritize the release of funding for long-established programs can have repercussions for BIL and IRA implementation by subnational governments.
A bipartisan bill, Investing in State Energy Act, was introduced earlier this year to expedite federal distribution of funding through the State Energy Program and the Weatherization Assistance Program to state agencies and local partners that implement energy initiatives. The bill directs DOE to publish expected WAP and SEP allocations to states within 60 days of enactment of appropriations, enabling subnational entities to effectively plan for the expected funding and distribute it as quickly as practical.
4) Continue and expand reliable and flexible funding to subnational governments. Recognizing the central role that subnational actors will play in BIL and IRA implementation, Congress should continue and expand reliable, annual, flexible funding to subnational governments for the life of BIL and IRA programs. The $500 million in SEP and the $550 million in EECBG funding through the BIL are not insignificant levels of funding. However, when spread across all 50 states and hundreds of local jurisdictions and other community-based recipients, not to mention federal agencies’ share of administration and technical assistance (the $550 million in EECBG funding includes $110 million for program administration and technical assistance by DOE), the funding amount can stretch thin. It may not be adequate in positioning subnational governments to make the most of the opportunity, particularly in terms of integrating disparate funding streams across different types of agencies to maximize their impact.
As proven and well-established programs, both SEP and EECBG should be sustained and annually funded at heightened levels ($100 million annually for SEP, roughly double the amount appropriated in recent years, and $500 million annually for EECBG). For each of these programs, federal contracting officials should reduce the upfront burden of developing written proposals and applications, and instead encourage federal agencies and program officers to interface regularly with recipients and provide customized support.
State and local governments can:
5) Designate an official or entity to track decarbonization program opportunities and deadlines. To ensure that economies and residents do not lose out on economic and emissions-reduction opportunities, every governor, mayor and county official should, at the very least, designate an official or entity to track activities, deadlines and funding opportunities in BIL and IRA that support their state and local needs and priorities. This individual or entity should serve as a coordinating body and engage other agencies to leverage the collective strength and expertise of the state, county or city in pursuing funding.
In a larger state or city, this coordinating body may be an entire office or working group of department staff; in smaller jurisdictions, it may start out as a fraction of someone’s time. In either case, they can help ensure critical opportunities to advance state, county and local economic development and decarbonization goals are not missed.
Emerging examples from some states and cities point to how this can be accomplished. Earlier this year, Massachusetts created an Office of Climate Innovation and Resilience and the state’s first cabinet-level position of climate chief. The office led by the climate chief is entrusted with taking a whole-of-government approach to addressing climate change, coordinating the state’s climate policy across all agencies, and maximizing implementation opportunities. Michigan created the Michigan Infrastructure Office after the passage of BIL; the office has also taken on the responsibility of coordinating IRA implementation.
Local governments can also play a variety of roles in maximizing new opportunities provided by IRA and BIL, including developing a strategic plan for implementation. Chicago, for instance, released an addendum to its2022 Climate Action Plan highlighting how IRA could assist the city in accelerating or exceeding its goal. It also identified relevant funding provisions for plan actions. The Philadelphia Energy Authority sought the help of consulting firms to provide technical assistance in designing and implementing a strategic plan to help the city prioritize, sequence and blend the different types of funding available in IRA.Working at All Levels of Government to Decarbonize the US
The path ahead for decarbonization relies on many actors across the country making the decision to invest, design programs and policies, and conduct challenging work. The promise of many climate and clean energy investments is that they can be tailored to meet locally relevant goals — from climate change and environmental quality to economic growth, innovation, competitiveness and security.
The task before federal agencies right now is not only to get IIJA and IRA dollars out, but to do so with a sensitivity for which states and communities need investments the most, in what format and timing, and with what types of extra assistance and capacity-building support they might need. The only way this can happen is with greater focus on partnership-building across the federal, state and local levels.palm-springs-wind.jpg U.S. Climate United States Climate Climate Governance U.S. Climate Type Technical Perspective Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Authors Devashree Saha Sandy Fazeli
With all eyes on this year’s climate negotiations at COP28, the United States took a major step forward on climate action by announcing new emissions standards designed to slash planet-warming methane pollution from the crude oil and natural gas industry.
Nearly 1 million public comments shaped the final rule, developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which aims to deeply cut the nation’s “super-pollutant” methane emissions. The new rule requires equipment upgrades and regular inspections against leaks. It includes both New Source Performance Standards for new sources, as well as Emissions Guidelines to assist states in developing plans to cut methane emissions from existing sources.
EPA Administrator Michael Regan announced that the new rule would prevent an estimated 58 million tons of methane emissions from 2024 to 2038. That’s the equivalent of 1.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide — nearly as much as all the carbon dioxide emitted by the U.S. power sector in 2021.
This new rule positions the U.S. as a global leader in using both policies and regulations to slash methane emissions. Furthermore, it will lend credibility to U.S. efforts toward the 155-country Global Methane Pledge, which commits to cut global methane emissions by 30% from 2020 levels by 2030.
Here are five reasons this new methane emissions rule is a significant step in U.S. and global efforts to combat climate pollution:1) Reducing Methane Yields Climate Benefits Quickly
Methane traps more than 80 times as much heat as carbon dioxide over a 20-year time frame, and most of it dissipates in the atmosphere within only a decade, whereas carbon dioxide lingers for centuries. As a result of these differing lifespans, sharp reductions in methane pollution can have a more immediate impact on reducing global average temperatures, with significant benefits evident in the short term.
Experts note that reducing methane pollution is one of the most important near-term actions we can collectively take to achieve the international climate targets set under the Paris Agreement, while simultaneously buying time to accelerate efforts to decarbonize the global economy.2) The New Methane Rule Goes Far Further than Previous Regulations
The Obama administration was the first in the U.S. to set standards expressly targeting methane emissions from new oil and gas production sources. The Biden administration’s rule goes a step further and includes notable firsts in its effort to dramatically slash methane at both new and existing sources.
The final rule requires oil and gas companies to monitor for leaks and repair them at production sites, which often go undetected in remote locations. Instead of relying on the existing system of modeling and estimates, the rule encourages the use of alternative detection technologies, including aerial surveys and continuous monitoring, as well as innovation pathways as these technologies continue to evolve. This embracing of technological innovation parallels other new deals announced at COP28 to use drone-based methane detection and measurements to stem leaks.
In addition to halting leaks, the industry must phase out “routine flaring” that burns off excessive methane at oil and gas wells through a near-total ban at newer facilities (except in emergencies). A recent study by the University of Michigan showed flaring is responsible for 5 times more methane emissions than previously thought in the scientific community, confirming the importance of curtailing this emissions source. Oil and gas companies will have two years from the rule’s enactment to retrofit operations before the ban takes effect.
Another notable first-time inclusion is that this rule applies to older oil and gas infrastructure (such as wells, storage tanks and compressor stations built prior to 2015), which were previously unregulated emission sources. A rule that covers new and old equipment alike is a critical element that ensures the widest range of emissions sources are tracked and reduced.3) Reducing Methane Produces Public Health Co-Benefits
According to EPA forecasts, significant reductions in hazardous air pollutants and smog-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs) will result from this new rule as well. From 2024 to 2038, stricter methane standards are expected to cumulatively slash those two classes of pollutants from the oil and gas industry by 47%, compared to what they would be without the new rule. More specifically, emissions of VOCs will drop by 16 million tons, and emissions of hazardous air pollutants by 590,000 tons. These reductions translate into myriad additional public health benefits including averting thousands of early deaths, heading off 97,000 cases of asthma symptoms, and preventing 35,000 lost school days a year.4) New Methane Rules Reflect a Truer Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases
In conjunction with the methane rule, EPA also released updated estimates of what are called the “social cost of greenhouse gases,” including new estimates for the social cost of carbon (SC-CO2), methane (SC-CH4), and nitrous oxide (SC-N2O).
These economic estimates, used by the U.S. government to calculate the benefits of reducing climate pollution as well as the cost of not taking action, are significant in two ways. First, the new estimates nearly quadruple the estimated cost of carbon dioxide first established under the Obama administration ($42 per metric ton of carbon dioxide) to $190 per ton, which places a serious and comparable price on the true costs of fossil fuel pollution to society. Furthermore, experts suggest these new estimates may result in stronger climate rules and regulations going forward, as the impacts of not taking action can be more clearly seen.
Despite using the latest data and modeling to arrive at these higher social costs, even EPA acknowledges that the resulting SC-GHG estimates likely underestimate potential damages from unchecked greenhouse gas pollution.5) Strong Action from the U.S. Can Galvanize Global Momentum on Methane
Announcing this strong, final rule on the global stage was a critical step for the United States to inspire other nations to follow suit on reining in methane pollution. Combined with a methane fee passed in the Inflation Reduction Act, this new rule could become a key lever for the Biden administration to inspire other major methane emitters to take action. In fact, several new countries joined the Global Methane Pledge during the first week of COP28, with 155 governments now committed to the global target of cutting methane pollution at least 30% by 2030. In addition to governmental pledges, 50 oil and gas companies signed onto the Oil and Gas Decarbonization Charter, pledging to cut methane emissions and end routine flaring by 2030 to reduce their methane intensity by 80-90% by 2030. These 50 companies represent 40% of global oil and gas production, and notably include 30 national oil companies, which have not previously taken bold actions to address their methane emissions.
Melanie Robinson, WRI’s global climate program director, said that it was “encouraging that some national oil companies have set methane reduction targets for the first time, but voluntary commitments from the oil and gas industry will never foster the level of ambition necessary to tackle the climate crisis,” necessitating government regulations.A Full Slate of U.S. Climate Action
When this new methane rule is evaluated alongside key legislative accomplishments like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021, the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 and the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, we can see a fuller picture of the impact these policies will have on cleaning the air, addressing the climate crisis and ensuring a livable future.
At the same time, reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, while essential, must not provide an excuse for increasing oil and gas production and exports. These activities are simply not compatible with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) and keeping some of the worst climate impacts at bay. Strong federal rules to reduce emissions from passenger and heavy-duty vehicles and power plants — along with a corresponding policy to phase out fossil fuel production — will be needed next year to cement President Biden’s climate leadership legacy.
Shannon Wood and Christina DeConcini also contributed to this article.oil-refinery-utah.png Type Explainer Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Jennifer Rennicks Dan Lashof
A new digital platform being piloted in cities around the world is making public transportation more efficient, economical and accessible, while encouraging low-carbon travel.
Mobility-as-a-Service is an on-demand service that integrates various forms of transportation services into a single platform accessible to travelers via a digital app. The platform acts as a one-stop travel planning and payment system, encouraging users to plan their trips via shared bikes, metros, buses and other green forms of transport with support from real-time travel information.
Many countries around the world are piloting Mobility-as-a-Service in their cities, including Finland, Japan, China, the United Kingdom, Singapore, the United States, Sweden, the Netherlands, Australia and Belgium. Learning from these early programs can help design a more successful platform.
Beijing’s pilot, for example, is a unique case that nudges travelers away from private cars toward greener travel modes (like public transport or bike sharing) by linking the Mobility-as-a-System platform with local carbon markets, which rewards travelers for choosing greener travel methods.Congestion on an overpass in Beijing, China. The Mobility-as-a-Service platform aims to steer commuters toward shared transportation options and reduce the use of private cars. Photo by bingdian/iStock.Beijing’s Green Mobility-as-a-Service Journey
Beijing has been piloting a Mobility-as-a-Service platform since 2019. By opening the app on a mobile device and typing in the destination, the platform provides many different travel planning options with different durations, modes, prices and other information. The current platform integrates most transport services, such as bus, metro, shared bike, ridesharing, and taxis.
Since its launch, the platform has consistently adhered to the city’s "green and integrated" transport development strategy, receiving positive public responses. As of today, more than 30 million users have used the app, providing 4.5 million daily trips that include green transport services.
While this data is a very positive start to the program, more progress is needed to shift behavior from private car trips. As of 2022, the motor vehicle fleet in Beijing reached 7.1 million, including 4.9 million private cars. Total daily trips in central city totaled 33.9 million, with green transport, including walking, biking, and public transit, accounting for 73.4%.A screenshot of Beijing's Mobility-as-a-Service platform highlights how choosing a route leads to map and payment options without leaving the app. Photo by Su Song/WRI.
The platform’s initial success is being supported in three ways:1) Strong Government Policies
Strong policies, such as the "14th Five-Year Plan" and various digital transport development plans, have placed Beijing's Mobility-as-a-Service on a green and inclusive track. These policies aim to promote smart mobility services, encourage green transport, increase the share of green travel and improve the Mobility-as-a-Service platform.
Beijing’s Mobility-as-a-Service strategy is also in line with the city’s and county’s low-carbon transport strategy. In June 2023, the Beijing government unveiled the "MaaS 2.0 Work Plan," emphasizing green and inclusive mobility. It aims to continue expanding intelligent mobility services that seamlessly integrates bus, metro, bike sharing, ride-hailing, ridesharing, long-distance coach and more. The goal is to provide green and inclusive service to over 6 million people daily by 2025. This will realize a large share of behavior shift from private cars to green modes, as well as over 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide reduction during the next three years.2) An Ecosystem Where Companies Work Together
Mobility-as-a-Service operates as a public-private partnership that includes governments, transport operators, financial institutions, Mobility-as-a-Service operators, technology and data providers, platform users and research institutions. The roles of each organization and company may vary depending on how the platform is set up and WRI research of the existing platforms shows there’s no defined business model.
For example, the Beijing initiative is led by the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport and functions through a collaborative public-private approach. Operators like Gaode Maps and Baidu, which offer digital mapping services, act as platform facilitators. The city’s bus and metro operators and shared mobility providers are also well integrated. Other companies provide payment access, while additional businesses might be incorporated to provide discounts to online shops as incentives for using the platform. The primary users are individual travelers within Beijing.3) A Reward System that Encourages Green Behavior
The Beijing Mobility-as-a-Service platform has been adopting a carbon market approach to encourage users to choose green transport options. Since September 2020, Beijing has introduced the "MaaS Travel, Green Life" Carbon-Inclusive Campaign, which is built into the app. Users who participate in the campaign automatically receive carbon reduction credits for their green travel behavior (for example, shifting from private car to shared bike, bus or metro). Users can then exchange the credits for things like discounted public transport cards or shopping vouchers. By now, the campaign has attracted over 3.5 million registered users, contributing to a cumulative carbon reduction of nearly 400,000 metric tons.
Among campaign participants, 21% of the users that primarily traveled by car each day have now engaged in green travel, which shows a significant increase in citizens' willingness to adopt green options. Carbon credits are calculated based on the "Beijing Low-carbon Travel Carbon Emission Reduction Methodology" developed by Beijing’s transportation authority and its affiliated think tank. The approved local certified emission reductions credits (PCERs) credits will then be traded at Beijing’s local emissions trading system.
In 2021, Gaode Map, one of the platform operators, alone achieved transactions of 24,500 metric tons of PCERs, with 15,000 tonnes traded with local companies. The second phase of PCER transaction reached 97,600 metric tons. The benefits from the carbon trading returns to the app users in the form of public transport discounts, shopping coupons or users can donate their credits to charity organizations that promote green transport and other behavior changes for sustainability.A busy intersection in Beijing. The Mobility-as-Service platforms encourages travelers to use more shared forms of transportation such as this electric bus. Photo by Su Song/WRI.Creating a Successful Mobility-as-a-Service Platform
The value of developing Mobility-as-a-Service platforms is that it can improve efficiency and quality for travelers, encourage more people to choose green and low-carbon mobility modes, shape the public-transportation-centered mobility system, promote the digital transformation and open data system and improve the stability and level-of service of the system.
However, Mobility-as-a-Service also faces some challenges not only in Chinese cities, but in cities around the world. First, there is no single successful business model for all cities, and the operation models vary greatly in different places. Finding a suitable business model based on the local policy and investment environment, and culture to ensure commercial sustainability, will be the key to developing a successful system.
Also, the coordination among different stakeholders in a Mobility-as-a-Service ecosystem needs further improvement, especially for data sharing mechanisms.
Finally, establishing a proper monitoring and governance system is also an important part of the implementation process.
Expanding the development of Mobility-as-a-Service is an important step in building more sustainable cities and urban mobility. However, as we’ve learned through the pilot programs, the platform should be built consistently with a city’s existing low-carbon and sustainable strategy. Instead of public transportation companies acting as competitors with each other, Mobility-as-a-Service offers the possibility of creating a single platform that redefines the integrated transport system encompassing multiple kinds of shared and private mobility services.
This article is an update from the report “Mobility-as-a-Service Guideline for Chinese Cities and Cases Studies” from WRI China’s Mobility-as-a-Service project, under the Mobility and Accessibility Program (MAP), a collaboration between WRI and FedEx. This article reflects the independent views of the authors. The latest annual MAP report is here.shared-bicycles-mobility-as-a-service.jpg Cities Urban Mobility Electric Mobility Cities transportation Integrated Transport Featured Popular Type Explainer Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Su Song Miaoqing Zhong Ding Tan
The United States Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) contained the largest investments in climate action and technology in U.S. history, including funding to decarbonize U.S. industry and reduce embodied carbon emissions in building materials in the process. To help accomplish this goal, Section 60112 of the IRA provides $250 million to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) Assistance Program to “support the development, enhanced standardization and transparency and reporting criteria for environmental product declarations and reporting criteria for environmental product declarations.”What Are EPDs?
An EPD quantifies and reports the environmental impacts of a product, based on the material extraction, manufacturing and transportation associated with it. EPDs are based on the collection of several environmental metrics (e.g. global warming potential) and in the US typically covers the “cradle to gate” stages of the product lifecycle.
On November 6th, 2023, the General Services Administration (GSA) announced that it would invest $2 billion of IRA funds in construction projects that use low-embodied carbon construction materials, building on the Federal Buy Clean Initiative. With the U.S. government and numerous states endeavoring to use greener building materials through these Buy Clean Initiatives, EPDs have become a necessary tool to guide government agencies toward the lowest emissions materials. Manufacturers of low-carbon products can create EPDs to certify that their products have lower than average embodied greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, allowing them to benefit from green procurement initiatives such as Buy Clean.
In September 2023, the EPA issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) opening up applications (due Jan. 16, 2024) for eligible entities to receive funding for projects related to environmental product declarations under Section 60112.Key Dates
- ASAP – All interested entities must register with sam.gov and grants.gov (this can take up to a few weeks)
- November 2 and 14, 2023 – Informational Webinars (presentation slide deck and recording)
- January 16, 2024 – Applications due at 11:59 p.m. (ET) through www.grants.gov
- Spring 2024 (estimated) – Notification of Funding Selection
- Summer 2024 (estimated) – Awarding of Funding
The EPA will award up to $100 million worth of grants in fiscal year 2024, with individual grants ranging between $250,000 and $10 million for periods of up to five years. These awards may be made in full or in installments, depending on a number of factors including funding availability and project performance. Applications will be evaluated within three funding brackets based on the amount requested:
- $250,000 to $749,999
- $750,000 to $4.99 million
- $5 million to $10 million
In cases where some portions of a proposed project are ineligible for funding, the EPA may choose to award partial funding only to the eligible portions of a project.
Awards may be either grants or cooperative agreements in which the EPA will have “substantial involvement” in the performance of the project. Substantial involvement may entail performance monitoring and review, collaboration, scrutiny of personnel qualifications and feedback on publications prepared during the project.Eligible Entities and Projects
This grant program is open to any U.S.-based businesses that produce construction materials, as well as U.S. state and territorial agencies, Native American tribes and non-profit organizations — including public or non-profit higher education institutions and certain private universities — that will support such businesses. Entities not incorporated in the U.S., local governments (as defined in CFR § 200.1) and for-profit businesses that do not manufacture construction materials are not eligible for this program.
Applicants can apply as individual entities, as inter-organizational partnerships or as pass-through entities (in which the applicant will provide subgrants to subrecipients).
In Section I-C of the NOFO, the EPA describes five categories for eligible projects:
- Robust Data for EPDs:
- Projects that contribute data, analysis and feedback to produce EPDs
- Robust Product Category Rule (PCR) Standard Development, PCRs and Associated Conformity Assessment Systems:
- Projects that encourage and facilitate the development of PCRs, which set the product-specific rules and guidelines for developing EPDs definingand define the scope of carbon accounting
- Robust Tools & Resources to Support & Incentivize Development and Verification of EPDs:
- Projects that develop tools and resources that facilitate production and disclosure of EPDs
- EPD Development and Verification:
- Projects in which manufacturers are producing EPDs or projects that assist manufacturers in producing EPDs
- Robust EPD Data Platforms and Integration:
- Projects that support EPD reporting and verification, “standardization of disparate EPD systems,” and support the integration of EPDs into construction design or procurement systems
Additionally, the EPA provides a more detailed list of sample projects for each category under Appendix B of the NOFO.Application Evaluation Criteria
The EPA will evaluate all eligible applications against the following criteria (full descriptions can be found in Section V of the NOFO).
Strategy & Approach
Description of Proposed Project(s) and/or Technical Assistance Approach
Advancing Robustness of EPDs
Maximizing Efficiency and Reach Per Resources Requested
Prioritizing Material Categories and Material Types
Supporting Geographic Diversity of EPD Development
Supporting EPD Development Across Enterprises with Varied Production Volumes
Advancing Equitable Workforce Development
Addressing Additional Environmental Impacts and/or Benefits
Ensuring Long-term Success
Leveraging Expertise and Furthering Standardization Through Partnerships
Quality of Reporting Plan as Described in Section VI.C. as Relevant to the Proposed Project
Publish and Ensure Results as Described in Section VI.C.6 are Available to the Larger Efforts
Programmatic Capability & Environmental Results Past Performance
Project Completion and Reporting History
Organizational Experience and Plan
Subaward Plan (if applicable)
Applications must also demonstrate how their proposed project will support the development or standardization of EPDs as well as how the project will contribute to the EPA Strategic Plan’s goals 1 (confronting the climate crisis), 2 (advancing environmental justice) and 3 (ensuring clean air).Future Outlook
EPDs are emerging as an important tool for reporting the environmental impacts of construction materials. The EPA’s recently announced EPD assistance program will increase the uptake of EPDs by reducing costs and knowledge gaps and increasing consistency, reliability and accessibility. As this process unfolds, procurement of greener building materials should become easier and more streamlined as manufacturers become more capable of producing EPDs.
In addition to supporting Buy Clean policies, data and insights gained through EPDs could be used to support other emerging climate policies such as advance market commitments and carbon border adjustments, encouraging greener industry overall.scott-blake-s9XDWLJ_LyE-unsplash.jpg Climate United States Climate climate policy Type Project Update Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects William Carlsen Ankita Gangotra
When Jan Ridgeway was asked to help revive the recently closed food pantry at Garden Valley Neighborhood House in Cleveland, Ohio, she thought it would be a nice way to give back during her retirement. Located in the Kinsman neighborhood, one of the poorest areas of the city, Garden Valley was an essential source of food for many residents.
“I said OK, I can do this one day a week,” Ridgeway, who spent her career working as a research librarian and in construction, recalled. “And within the first two or three weeks, I knew that it was a lot larger than one day a week.”Jan Ridgeway, former executive director of the Garden Valley Neighborhood House. The organization is the largest food pantry in northeast Ohio, feeding more than 30,000 people every month.
Before long, Ridgeway was the executive director of Garden Valley, which became a lifeline for many residents in the majority-Black neighborhood. It grew into the largest food pantry in northeast Ohio, sometimes feeding more than 30,000 people a month and providing everything from halal meals for Muslim families to food delivery for immunocompromised neighbors to children’s birthday cakes. Ridgeway also expanded the pantry’s programs far beyond food. Garden Valley hosted GED classes, trained people to work in construction, built a home health care program, and opened a vegan restaurant staffed by local teenagers — all free for participants.
But none of this was free for Ridgeway. She not only volunteered her time, but also funded much of the work out of her own pocket. “I was going broke,” she said. “And our utility bills — that was what just blew my mind. We were running sometimes 25 to 30 refrigerators and freezers 24/7 … There were times that my electricity was turned off at home so that I could pay it at the center.”With the help of non-profit RE-volv, Garden Valley Neighborhood House installed rooftop solar panels in 2022. Photo by Andreas Karelas/RE-volv
A local minister suggested Ridgeway consider putting solar panels on Garden Valley’s roof to reduce the electric bills. He put her in touch with RE-volv, a climate justice nonprofit that helps other nonprofits in underserved communities across the country go solar. With support from the Sierra Club and help from participants in Garden Valley’s construction program, RE-volv installed rooftop solar panels at Garden Valley in 2022. Since then, the organization’s utility bills have dropped considerably.
Not only did this ease Ridgeway’s financial burden — especially important as she underwent cancer treatment — but it also allowed Garden Valley to dedicate more time and money to its mission: serving the community.
Garden Valley is not alone. Since 2011, RE-volv has helped bring solar to dozens of nonprofits, typically resulting in electricity bill savings of at least 15%, according to the organization. And nonprofits like Garden Valley are now finding it easier than ever before to access cost-saving renewable energy.
When U.S. President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law last year, he jump-started historic investments in clean energy and other green initiatives. While the funding for many aspects of this work is still being rolled out, many of its provisions promise to help organizations like Garden Valley more easily access renewable energy. Doing so will not just help fight the climate crisis, but also allow many historically marginalized communities to reap the benefits of the clean energy transition.Garden Valley Neighborhood House's rooftop solar panels, shown here, have helped the food pantry lower its operating costs. Photo by Andreas Karelas/RE-volvHow the Inflation Reduction Act Makes it Easier for Nonprofits to Access Clean Energy
RE-volv was founded in 2011 to help under-resourced neighborhoods like Kinsman benefit from solar energy. “We need to make sure that communities are not left out of that opportunity — the jobs, the electricity savings, the air pollution reduction, and then just the resilience factor of having clean energy in their community,” said RE-volv founder and executive director Andreas Karelas.
RE-volv focuses on nonprofits — everything from churches to homeless shelters to health clinics and animal shelters — because they tend to be deeply rooted in local communities. And while the organization has helped more than 60 nonprofits gain access to solar over the past decade, it hasn't been easy. In previous years, a key driver of the U.S. solar industry had been the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC), which allowed qualified commercial investors to receive a tax credit for as much as 30% of the cost of a solar installation — significant savings, especially when solar costs were much higher than they are now. However, this tax credit had its limitations.
Before the Inflation Reduction Act, Karelas explained, only homeowners and commercial entities with tax liability could claim tax credits when installing solar panels. That meant that for nonprofits to adopt solar, they often had to engage tax equity investors — large financial institutions that could fiscally benefit from tax credits by using them to reduce their federal tax liabilities. In addition to being logistically challenging, these arrangements came with significant transactional costs and administrative burdens, particularly for resource-strapped nonprofits.
One way the Inflation Reduction Act will make things easier is through creation of a new “direct pay” (or as the U.S. government calls it, “elective pay”) credit delivery mechanism. For the first time, governments and non-profits can directly access clean energy tax credits themselves without partnering with tax equity investors, receiving the tax credit in the form of a payment rather than a reduction in federal tax liability. Eligible entities include tribal communities and other groups that don't pay federal taxes, such as nonprofits, municipalities, public power utilities and rural electric co-operatives. This means all RE-volv's clients will now qualify for this credit, and the organization can pass the savings on to them.
The Inflation Reduction Act also offers bonus tax credits for certain projects that support job creation and the clean energy economy through labor and domestic manufacturing bonus credits, and for projects developed in certain priority communities. These include projects located in energy communities — those that have historically been centers of fossil fuel industry — and low-income and underserved communities. These bonus tax credits allow customers to add additional savings to the original 30% ITC credit.
Proposed guidance from the IRS makes it clear that other federal grants don’t reduce the tax credit basis. This means that when tax credits are combined with grants and other incentives, it's possible for the majority of a clean energy project's costs to be covered.
RE-volv's work is also poised to benefit from the Inflation Reduction Act’s $60 billion in environmental justice-based climate investments — the largest amount in U.S. history. The environmental justice investments include the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, which aims to mobilize financing and capital for clean energy projects, including solar projects that benefit disadvantaged communities.RE-volv's "solar ambassadors" install rooftop solar panels. Since 2011, RE-volv has helped more than a dozen non-profits go solar. Photo by Andreas Karelas/RE-volvThe Ripple Effects of Solar Power in Disadvantaged Neighborhoods
Because Garden Valley’s solar panels have already been installed, the organization will not directly benefit from new incentives under the Inflation Reduction Act. But its solar panels are exactly the kind of projects that will get a boost moving forward. Rather than relying on complicated tax equity structures to pass through ITC savings, Garden Valley could reap the value of the tax credits directly. Additionally, since Kinsman is in an “energy community,” Garden Valley would be eligible for a 10% bonus credit on top of the 30% ITC.
And solar’s benefits go far beyond cost savings. “There were opportunities all the way around,” said Ridgeway. “The opportunity for the center to be able to reduce its costs, the opportunity for us to be able to further publicize and highlight the importance of solar energy, being able to do the work that we were doing with the food pantry, and the opportunity for the community to see [solar installation] as a viable career option for a community that had very, very high unemployment.”
If the Inflation Reduction Act’s climate investments are implemented to their full potential, the legislation can help the U.S. reduce carbon emissions 37%-42% below 2005 levels by 2030, closing in on the federal target of 50%. Among other impacts, this would save up to 3,900 lives annually by 2030 due to cleaner air — a shift that would likely especially benefit poor communities, people of color and other historically disadvantaged groups that suffer disproportionately from asthma and other pollution-related illnesses.
Even Ridgeway herself has changed her behavior thanks to the project. “I didn't know I was green. Now I'm doing green at home … I signed up for recycling … but it started with Garden Valley.”
Karelas noted that there is often a ripple effect when solar power first appears in a neighborhood. “Some data suggests that for every single installation of solar in a community, you're likely to see 100 additional installations in that community in just five years.”
Although Ridgeway stepped down as executive director of Garden Valley late last year, she remains involved in its programs to make sure the organization doesn’t lose its momentum. “I think this community needed someone to say, ‘I believe that you are worthy,’” she said. “‘I believe that you can help raise and lift your community yourself. You don't need anybody coming in and deciding what's best for you.”harbor-house-solar-panels.JPG Climate United States Climate U.S. Climate Policy-Equity Equity & Governance renewable energy Type Vignette Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Molly Bergen
DUBAI (December 4, 2023) - At today’s COP28 Global Methane Pledge (GMP) Ministerial, Ministers welcomed national actions and catalytic grant funding announced at COP28 to deliver on the goal to cut methane at least 30 percent by 2030. GMP partners announced over $1 billion in new grant funding for methane action mobilized since COP27, more than triple current levels, which will mobilize billions in investment to reduce methane.
The Climate and Clean Air Coalition will now be the new secretariat for the GMP, which also added new members and expanded leadership. Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Germany, Japan, and Nigeria joined the United States and European Union as Global Methane Pledge Champions. Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Romania, and Angola joined the Pledge, bringing total participation to 155 governments.
Following is a statement from David Waskow, International Climate Director, World Resources Institute:
“The slate of actions and funding to address methane pollution that were unveiled at COP28 is encouraging and desperately needed. Finance pledges made in Dubai from governments, companies and philanthropies more than triple the amount of grant funding for projects focused on cutting methane in the oil and gas, waste and agriculture sectors, with the goal of mobilizing billions more. This is major progress, though even more funds are necessary to take the aggressive actions necessary to rapidly rein in methane emissions.
“Over 150 countries have now signed the Global Methane Pledge, first launched by the United States and European Union, which demonstrates that many countries realize the benefits to our climate and health to curbing this greenhouse gas. China just recently committed to include methane in its next national climate plan, and the US unveiled new regulations on methane.
“The world also now has a robust toolkit to hold countries and companies accountable, including several new satellites to identify major methane leaks.
“Curbing this pollutant is one of the most effective ways to limit warming in the near-term because methane is more potent than carbon dioxide but stays in the atmosphere only about 10 years compared to centuries for carbon dioxide. Methane and other air pollutants mix to create ground-level ozone and particulate pollution, which damage our lungs, cause asthma, and increase the risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases – with children at the most risk.
“The announcements at COP28 could play a pivotal role in reducing methane which will save lives and improve the health of millions of people around the world.”International Climate Action COP28 Type Statement Exclude From Blog Feed? 0
In the Seychelles archipelago in East Africa, flooding and erosion caused by rising sea levels pose an imminent threat to the country’s many low-lying islands. At the same time its mangrove forests, which serve as a vital buffer against these impacts, are disappearing: Approximately 70% of Seychelles mangroves have been destroyed since the late 1700s due to human-driven development and agriculture as well as soil erosion from sea-level rise.
Today the Seychelles Government is working with local community leaders to restore the mangroves, and not just for protection against rising seas. Research shows that these forests can store about 2.5 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent (equal to taking 500,000 cars off the road for a year), directly helping to fight climate change. They also provide a breeding ground for fisheries, a sector that contributes one-fifth of the country’s GDP, benefiting local communities’ livelihoods and helping to protect the islands’ vibrant biodiversity.
This is just one example of a nature-based solution, a project which harnesses the power of ecosystems to benefit people, nature and climate.In the Seychelles, residents work with the government to restore depleted mangrove forests. This “nature-based solution” not only improves flood resilience, but also boosts ecosystem health and carbon storage and improves local livelihoods through fisheries and eco-tourism. Photo by UNEP/FlickrWhy Are Nature-based Solutions on the Rise?
While the concept of using nature to benefit both lives and lands is by no means new, global interest in "nature-based solutions" has skyrocketed in recent years. Many now see nature-based solutions as a key approach for addressing not only climate change but a range of social, environmental and economic challenges simultaneously — from biodiversity loss, food security and air pollution to disease control and declining local economies.
Yet there remains widespread debate about what exactly constitutes a nature-based solution as well as how to best incorporate these strategies into broader climate and conservation efforts. This uncertainty has contributed to significant underinvestment: It’s estimated that to limit temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F), halt biodiversity loss and curb land degradation, annual investments in nature-based approaches must triple by 2030.
As nature-based solutions continue to rise on the global agenda, building a more coherent understanding around the concept and its implications will be key to raising support for effective, scalable solutions that benefit both people and the planet. Here’s what to know.What Exactly Are Nature-based Solutions?
Broadly, nature-based solutions are actions to protect, conserve, restore, and sustainably use and manage ecosystems in a way that addresses social, economic and environmental challenges while simultaneously benefiting human well-being and biodiversity. In other words, they are interventions that use nature and the natural functions of healthy ecosystems to tackle some of the most pressing challenges of our time. By contrast, actions that simply minimize humans’ impact on nature, such as reducing waste or decreasing water use, are not considered nature-based solutions.
A central feature of nature-based solutions is that they can deliver a range of positive outcomes or “co-benefits” alongside their intended outcomes. For example, in Mumbai, India, the state government’s initiative to create a 3.2-acre urban forest can not only help address urban heat island effects — with the potential to cool temperatures in the area by up to 3 degrees C (5.4 degrees F) — but will also provide recreational spaces for local communities. In Burundi, terraces of trees and fodder crops intended to control soil erosion over steep hillsides also build resilience to landslides, sequester carbon and help increase agricultural productivity. And a restored wetland in Chennai, India aims to increase the resilience of nearby communities to floods while improving water supply and quality and providing habitat for wildlife.Tree-lined streets in Medellín, Colombia. Since 2016, the city of Medellín has planted over 8,000 trees in 30 “green corridors” to address the city's urban heat effect. Photo by Red River/Flickr People cool off in the shade at Medellín’s Bolivar Park. The city's tree-planting initiative not only reduces local heat, but also increases carbon absorption, reduces local air pollution and improves biodiversity. Photo by Barna Tanko/Alamy Stock Photo
In addition to these environmental and resilience benefits, increasing evidence shows that nature-based solutions can reduce climate-related risks to people and property as effectively as traditional human-built or “gray” infrastructures (such as sea walls or water discharge tunnels).
Given their potential, nature-based solutions are quickly gaining traction in public and private spheres worldwide. Their importance is recognized by major international scientific bodies working on climate change and biodiversity, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Countries are incorporating the concept into their national climate targets — over 92% of which reference nature-based solutions — as well as their biodiversity and restoration targets. And a growing number of international organizations, NGOs and private sector institutions are implementing new nature-based programs.
However, it can be hard to determine which specific solutions fall under this umbrella. There are more than 20 different definitions of “nature-based solutions,” each with varying scopes and emphases. For example, some limit nature-based solutions to those based in functioning ecosystems, meaning “nature-derived” solutions (such as wind and solar energy) and “nature-inspired” solutions (which mimic natural processes using human-made techniques), would not count. Other definitions encompass solutions that mimic or work in concert with nature as long as they provide co-benefits.
Despite their differences, these definitions share the core idea that by working with nature, rather than against it, we can develop and implement solutions towards a resilient, resource-efficient and green economy.Harmonizing Nature-based Solutions with Related Approaches
Before the term “nature-based solutions” emerged, there was a variety of concepts and approaches related to working with nature for societal benefits; for example, ecosystem-based adaptation, agroecology, REDD+, forest and landscape restoration, ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction, and green and blue infrastructure. These terms are not mutually exclusive and several may apply to a single nature-based solution. For example, mangrove restoration may reduce coastal flooding locally and thereby qualify as both ecosystem-based adaptation and ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction; if it increases carbon storage, it could also be considered a “natural climate solution.” With interest and investment on the rise, there is growing recognition that “nature-based solutions” should represent a broader umbrella term uniting existing approaches with similar goals.How Can Nature-based Solutions Help Fight Climate Change?
Nature-based solutions are now considered one of the “super solutions” to climate change — meaning the cheapest, fastest and most widely available. Research shows that that they could provide one-third of the carbon mitigation needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. But not all of these solutions are about climate change; projects like coral reef protection and restoration or groundwater conservation and recharging can provide valuable benefits for people and ecosystems without having a specific goal to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
A subset of nature-based solutions, called “natural climate solutions,” are expressly aimed at addressing climate change, either by avoiding or reducing emissions or by removing and storing carbon from the atmosphere. One example would be a forest restoration project that improves the soil quality and tree cover to increase greenhouse gas sequestration. Natural climate solutions can also provide adaptation benefits given their focus on conservation, restoration and improved land management; however, their primary focus historically has been on mitigation.In 2020, a reforestation initiative in Montana’s Lolo National Forest planted 530,500 seedlings across more than 2,500 acres. New trees will not only boost the forest’s carbon storage capacity, but also help improve the forest’s health and its resilience to wildfires. Photo by Dave Gardner Creative, National Forest Foundation/Flickr
The growing global interest in nature-based solutions could have important impacts on climate action. These solutions provide a holistic approach that can consider the full range of potential benefits and outcomes from climate action, rather than just emissions-reduction potential. This helps practitioners design and implement interventions in nature that also support biodiversity, sustainable development and other critical goals.The Cross-cutting Potential of Nature-based Solutions
Nature-based solutions could substantially contribute to the goals of the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other global targets. For example, they are directly relevant to SDGs concerned with food (SDG 2), health and well-being (3), water (6), jobs (8), cities (11), climate change (13), life in water (14) and life on earth (15).
Because nature-based solutions aim to address social and economic challenges, they can also act as a tool for mainstreaming environmental action into policy and practice. For example, they provide the private sector (businesses and investors) with a practical way to rethink how their assets and investment portfolios incorporate the value of, and work in partnership with, nature. Some companies already recognize the inherent value of nature-based approaches to enhance resilience within their supply chains and strengthen their brand reputation. Companies across many sectors have set strategies for nature conservation and restoration. And nature-based solutions are increasingly seen as a critical way to mitigate GHG emissions and achieve net-zero goals while also contributing to the UN’s global “30x30” nature goal.
Finally, nature-based solutions could help bring financial flows more in line with social and environmental challenges. In particular, rising corporate interest in nature-based actions could channel much-needed private sector capital to help fill the substantial climate and nature finance gaps.What Are the Potential Drawbacks of Nature-based Solutions?
While nature-based solutions are generally seen as a promising field, there are some important criticisms to consider.
In the private sector, NGOs, researchers and activists have raised concerns of “greenwashing.” This means that companies might overstate the impact of their nature-based activities without ensuring and verifying the true impacts of these actions. For example, some companies rely on large-scale industrial tree-planting initiatives to meet their climate targets without fully considering how these programs affect native ecosystems, their impacts on the rights and livelihoods of Indigenous peoples and local communities, or whether the carbon is stored permanently.Aerial view of a large eucalyptus plantation in Brazil. While trees are beneficial for the climate, large-scale tree-planting initiatives used as carbon offsets do not always support healthy, biodiverse ecosystems or store carbon permanently. Photo by ValterCunha/iStock
There are also concerns that a heightened focus on nature-based solutions to address climate change could shift investment away from other important areas. For example, over-reliance on nature-based programs as an inexpensive offsetting option in corporate mitigation targets could potentially distract from necessary progress towards industrial decarbonization.
Others worry that this field is becoming overly climate focused, and that this could overlook the urgent need to protect and connect a wide range of intact ecosystems across land and sea. These ecosystems provide important services in their own right, such as regulating local and regional weather regimes, generating rain and reducing risk of drought, supporting pollination and lowering infectious disease risks, to name just a few.How Can We Responsibly Harness the Power of Nature-based Solutions?
Amidst growing interest and private sector involvement, decision-makers should proceed with cautious optimism in understanding how nature-based solutions are being designed and used.
A wide range of stakeholders — from governments and NGOs to private companies and local communities — have called for further guidance and harmonization around how nature-based solutions are defined and implemented, as well as transparent and standardized metrics for labeling, monitoring, reporting and verifying progress on projects. This should include new and additional incentives that encourage public and private sector actors to not only support nature-based solutions, but to maximize and track their contributions over time. Additional measures are needed to ensure that poorly designed nature-based projects and programs are identified and remedied and do not drive out good investments.
It is also critical that project and program developers, donors and investors consider the full range of environmental, socio-cultural and economic impacts that can come with nature-based solutions. Indigenous peoples and local communities are often the ones implementing solutions on the ground and experiencing their impacts. Often, these groups also possess deep knowledge about the ecosystems in which they reside. Therefore, nature-based solutions should be designed with early participation from Indigenous peoples and local communities while ensuring that the benefits are equitably shared.
Properly designed and executed, nature-based solutions have the potential to deliver benefits for people, nature and climate in a manner unparalleled by other approaches. Achieving many (if not most) global goals, public policies and corporate commitments will depend on our ability to appropriately align incentives with this age-old yet radical tool.guinea-womens-coop.jpg Climate nature-based solutions Climate Climate Resilience biodiversity natural infrastructure Type Explainer Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Esther Choi Radhika Rao Roman Czebiniak
DUBAI (December 3, 2023) – Today at the COP28 climate negotiations, the U.S. State Department along with The Rockefeller Foundation and Bezos Earth Fund launched a framework for the Energy Transition Accelerator (ETA), a program designed to generate funding through the voluntary carbon market to help developing countries transition to cleaner sources of energy.
Following is a statement from Ani Dasgupta, President & CEO, World Resources Institute:
“The Global Stocktake shows that we need to rapidly accelerate investments in the energy transition by scaling-up renewable energy while phasing-out fossil fuels. It specifically calls out the urgent need to get financing to developing countries in order to avoid locking-in fossil fuel infrastructure.
“It is absolutely clear that public funding alone will not be sufficient – the transition will require unprecedented amounts of private capital to flow to the Global South, which is not happening today.
“The Energy Transition Accelerator has taken an innovative approach to channel private capital to the Global South through corporate climate action. The details really matter to ensure this initiative is rigorous and impactful.
“We support the commitment of the ETA to create the highest-quality carbon credits that can complement companies’ efforts to reduce emissions in their own operations and value chains. If done right, these jurisdictional-scale credits have the potential to re-energize carbon markets and provide a new path towards real global emission reductions.
“We commit to work with the ETA and standard-setters, including VCMI, SBTi and IC-VCM toward a robust crediting methodology and a comprehensive framework to incentivize companies to invest in high-quality credits.”International Climate Action COP28 Type Statement Exclude From Blog Feed? 0
DUBAI (December 2, 2023) — On December 2, the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (Ocean Panel) launched the Joint Declaration on Ocean and Climate Action, calling for countries around the world to sustainably manage 100% of their national waters, to safeguard the long term health and resilience of the ocean.
The Declaration, signed by members of the Ocean Panel and the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States, emphasizes the importance of a healthy ocean in tackling climate change, citing that ocean-based solutions can potentially reduce the “emissions gap” by up to 35% on a 1.5°C pathway.
“We invite all ocean and coastal states to unite in the goal of 100% sustainable ocean management and to endorse the ocean action declaration launched by the Ocean Panel today” said Jonas Gahr Støre, Prime Minister of Norway and co-chair of the Ocean Panel.
The 18 members of the Ocean Panel have committed to 100% sustainable management of the ocean under national jurisdictions to advance long-term economic and social development — by protecting the natural marine ecosystems that underpin that development, and by using the ocean’s resources sustainably. Together they represent 50% of the world’s coastlines and over 45% of the world’s Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs).
Yesterday, leaders of Pacific nations also committed to holistic ocean management through the Unlocking Blue Pacific Prosperity Plan. The Plan will aim to sustainably manage 100% of the Pacific Ocean and effectively protect 30% of it, making it one of the world’s largest conservation efforts.
“The Pacific is 40 million square kilometers, almost 3 times the size of Russia. What happens to the Pacific is make or break for the planet.” said Siaosi ‘Ofakivahafolau Sovaleni, Prime Minister of Tonga. “That’s why we have committed to protecting 30% of our blue continent as we strive to protect and sustainably manage critical ecosystems. We mean to show the world that Pacific people are resilient and determined to hope.”
Making this ambitious plan possible will require global partnerships and fit-for-purpose funding to support conservation. Today Carlos Manuel Rodriguez CEO of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) announced a commitment of $125 million and Dr Andrew Steer, President and CEO of the Bezos Earth Fund announced a contribution of $100 million to this initiative.
The Ocean Panel declaration calls for countries to adopt ocean-based action in their national climate goals, including Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), long-term strategies and adaptation communications. It also invites countries to adopt Sustainable Ocean Plans (a policy tool pioneered by the Panel) as a vehicle to achieving 100% sustainable management.
About the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy
Co-chaired by Norway and Palau, the Ocean Panel includes Australia, Canada, Chile, Fiji, France, Ghana, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Namibia, Norway, Palau, Portugal, Seychelles the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. Together, these 18 nations represent 50% of the world’s coastlines, 45% of global EEZs, 26% of the world’s fisheries, 20% of the world’s shipping fleet. The Ocean Panel is supported by the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Ocean. Based on the shared understanding of the need to improve the state of the ocean, the countries in the Ocean Panel are committed to producing national sustainable ocean plans with the aim of sustainably managing 100% of the ocean area under national jurisdiction. Learn more at oceanpanel.org. World Resources Institute (WRI) serves as the Secretariat for the Ocean Panel. Learn more at www.wri.org/our-work/topics/ocean.
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RELEASE: Subnational Climate Action Leaders’ Exchange (SCALE) Launches Transformative Initiative to Scale Up Multi-Level Collaboration on Methane
DUBAI (December 2, 2023) — Today, at COP28, the Subnational Climate Action Leaders’ Exchange (SCALE), marked a successful first year with the launch of a major new initiative to cut methane from the waste sector and discussion with subnational leaders on opportunities for further strengthening climate action across sectors at the city, state, and regional level
Through this work, SCALE incubated a new initiative – Lowering Organic Waste Methane (LOW-Methane) – to jumpstart a dramatic scale-up of global action to cut methane emissions from the waste sector. The ambition of LOW-Methane is to cut at least 1 million metric tons of annual waste sector methane reductions well before 2030 with 40 subnational jurisdictions and to unlock over $10 billion in investment.
Today’s dialogue was a chance to hear directly from subnational leaders on the opportunities they see for raising climate ambition at the local level, as well as the challenges they face and support they need from their national governments, private sector, and others to achieve their climate commitments. Notably, the President of the Inter-American Development Bank highlighted the Too Good to Waste Initiative, launched with the Global Methane Hub and the AquaFund, including recently approved projects totaling $372.5 million.
“Methane is a critical piece of the climate puzzle,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Climate Ambition and Solutions and founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies. “But to tackle it, national governments, cities, and states need better data and much more transparency on where emissions are happening. The new LOW-Methane coalition will empower local and national leaders to do more – and more quickly – to reduce methane emissions.”
“To keep a 1.5 C future within reach, we need everyone — cities, states, regions, and national governments — to keep stepping up their ambition,” said John Kerry, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. “LOW Methane is going to be a pivotal tool for supercharging multi-level action to tackle methane from waste, which accounts for 20% of global methane emissions.”
At COP27, the U.S. Department of State and Bloomberg Philanthropies joined with five other organizations – C40 Cities, the Center for Global Sustainability, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the Under 2 Coalition, and the World Resources Institute – to launch SCALE as a first-of-its-kind initiative to empower subnational champions to drive climate ambition at the national and international level, with an initial focus on accelerating implementation of the Global Methane Pledge.
SCALE has pledged to advance multi-level action across a range of thematic and sectoral goals needed to keep a 1.5-aligned, climate-resilient future within reach, and it will announce its next area of focus by Earth Day in 2024. In its first year, SCALE focused on accelerating the implementation of the Global Methane Pledge and its call for a 30 percent reduction in methane emissions by 2030. The launch of LOW Methane, which comes one year after SCALE was formed, is set to increase global climate ambition by accelerating the adoption and implementation of critical waste sector policies and projects through direct engagement across as many as 40 globally diverse jurisdictions and their national governments.
SCALE was jointly announced by U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and Michael R. Bloomberg, Special Envoy to the UN Secretary-General on Climate Ambition and Solutions and Founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies at COP27 in Egypt. SCALE aims to harness multi-level governance to empower subnational leaders to fuel ambitious national climate action and, in turn, reduce global emissions. Through targeted analysis, information dissemination, and fostering political will, SCALE will identify priorities for additional action and resource mobilization.
Through SCALE, C40 Cities, the Center for Global Sustainability at the University of Maryland, the Under2 Coalition (Secretariat – Climate Group), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), and WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities are supporting efforts aim to shape a future where cities, regions, national governments, and more are more connected, compact, and coordinated for sustainable living.
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DUBAI (December 2, 2023) - Today, the Oil and Gas Decarbonization Charter was released. It calls on the oil and gas sector to achieve the goal of reaching net-zero emissions for their own operations by 2050. The charter also includes commitments to achieve near-zero methane emissions and no routine flaring by 2030.
Following is a statement from Melanie Robinson, Global Climate Program Director, World Resources Institute:
“This charter is proof that voluntary commitments from the oil and gas industry will never foster the level of ambition necessary to tackle the climate crisis. We can’t meet our climate goals unless governments set policies that rapidly and equitably transition our economy away from fossil fuels.
“The oil and gas companies that joined the charter committed to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, but this is only for their own operations. The pledge doesn’t cover a drop of the fuel they sell, which accounts for up to 95% of the oil and gas industry’s contribution to the climate crisis. Ignoring emissions from the fossil fuels that companies sell is like a cigarette maker claiming no responsibility for the impact of their product once it leaves the factory door.
“It is encouraging that some national oil companies have set methane reduction targets for the first time. However, most global oil and gas companies already have stringent requirements to cut methane emissions. Strong measures to verify progress are crucial to holding oil and gas companies accountable."International Climate Action COP28 Type Statement Exclude From Blog Feed? 0
STATEMENT: 117 Countries Pledge to Triple World's Renewable Energy Capacity and Double Energy Efficiency by 2030
DUBAI (December 2, 2023) - Today, 117 countries pledged to triple the world’s renewable energy capacity and double energy efficiency by 2030.
Following is a statement from Jennifer Layke, Global Energy Director, World Resources Institute:
“The widespread support for this declaration demonstrates that renewable energy has moved from the sidelines to center stage. Tripling annual renewable energy capacity over the next six years would be the single largest step the world can take toward achieving our global climate goals.
“Achieving this aim can reduce the need for countries to maintain old, polluting power plants and offers major knock-on benefits, including cleaner air, less use of fossil fuels and greater incentives to adopt energy-efficient electric vehicles and heat pumps.
“Wealthy countries must do much more to finance affordable renewable energy around the world. While renewables are the cheapest energy option for most people, high upfront costs and interest rates often put wind and solar out of reach for developing countries.
“Ramping up renewable energy and improving efficiency alone cannot address the climate crisis. At COP28, it is crucial for all countries to also commit to rapidly and equitably transition away from fossil fuels, and action must be taken on energy efficiency, transport, and industry.
“This declaration cannot take the pressure off reaching consensus on ambitious commitments within the climate negotiations themselves to secure a clean energy future. All countries need to be part of the energy transition – no one can opt out.”
DUBAI (December 2, 2023) - Today the Biden administration announced a $3 billion pledge to the Green Climate Fund. The GCF is the largest international fund dedicated to supporting developing countries to tackle climate change.
Following is a statement from Ani Dasgupta, President and CEO, World Resources Institute:
“The US pledge to the Green Climate Fund shows that the Biden administration is committed to helping developing countries quickly transition to net-zero carbon economies and build their resilience to climate disasters.
“The Green Climate Fund is the largest in the world dedicated to supporting sustainable development in poor and vulnerable countries. It helps farmers plant drought-resistant crops, brings solar energy to rural communities and so much more. It is also a centerpiece in the global climate negotiations. No country has greater responsibility to contribute to these efforts than the United States.
“President Obama in 2014 pledged $3 billion, out of which $2 billion has been delivered so far. During the current replenishment cycle, peer countries like Germany, France and the United Kingdom have dug even deeper relative to the size of their economies. But today’s announcement can be a step towards delivering on President Biden’s commitment to provide $11.4 billion annually to developing countries by 2024.
“The United States has good economic, diplomatic and security reasons to deliver on this pledge. It is imperative that these funds get delivered.”
DUBAI (December 2, 2023) - On the second day of COP28 in Dubai, ministers Marina Silva and Fernando Haddad, together with ambassador André Corrêa do Lago, announced the launch of the 'Tropical Forests Forever' fund, a financial instrument for payment for standing forests, with contributions from countries with sovereign wealth funds, among other investors. The fund aims to encourage conservation and strongly discourage deforestation and forest degradation.
The following is a statement from Mirela Sandrini, Director of Forests, Land Use and Agriculture], WRI Brasil:
"For this Fund to be effective, it must align with countries’ existing environmental legislation. In the case of Brazil, it is essential that the Fund benefits indigenous and other local people who are guardians of territories with the largest forest cover and depend on the products and services from the forests. The fund’s focus on protecting the forest area rather than focusing on just avoiding carbon emissions ensures that biodiversity and other ecosystem services are treated as equally important goals.
"The New Economy for the Brazilian Amazon, launched this year, shows that ending deforestation and keeping the forest standing will not restrict social and economic development in the region. Quite the opposite: preserving forests is an opportunity for all sectors - to guarantee healthy food, reduce inequality by creating new jobs and grow the economy, while also protecting nature and improving the lives of local inhabitants in a fair and inclusive way.
“This fund could be helpful in accelerating new partnerships that are taking shape with other countries in the Pan Amazon region, as well as restoration efforts in other biomes with significant forest potential, such as the Atlantic Forest.”Brazil COP28 Forests Type Statement Exclude From Blog Feed? 0
RELEASE: Expert Group Launches Report to Help Cities, States and Regions Strengthen Credibility of Net Zero Climate Commitments
DUBAI (December 2, 2023) — Today at COP28, an Expert Group convened by the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (GCoM) and WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities (WRI) launched the Integrity Matters for Cities, States, and Regions report outlining fit-for-purpose recommendations for local, state and regional governments to ensure the credibility, accountability and transparency of their climate and sustainability commitments.
“For cities, states and regions to keep leading from the front on climate action, they need stronger partnerships with their national governments,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Climate Ambition and Solutions and Founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies. “This report, which highlights the ambitious targets local leaders are setting, will give national governments more reasons to collaborate with them in fighting climate change.”
This report offers in-depth recommendations tailored for local, state and regional governments as they increasingly commit to emissions reduction pathways that are “net zero” or “net zero aligned.” The recommendations consider the distinct circumstances, scopes, resources and knowledge of subnational governments. They also spotlight instances where cities, states and regions are already surpassing the minimum standards set by the COP27 report, and the opportunity for significant progress toward net zero goals when accelerated through coordination with national government and net zero alliances and initiatives.
“City, state, and regional governments are navigating the dual reality of adapting on the frontlines of the climate crisis and being crucial to achieving net zero by 2050 – and this report charts a course for subnational leaders to accomplish both,” said Carolina Basualdo, Mayor of Despeñaderos, Argentina, and Member of the Expert Group.
Supported in part by Bloomberg Philanthropies, Integrity Matters for Cities, States, and Regions was developed by a dedicated Expert Group representing leading subnational climate initiatives and alliances including UN-Habitat, the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, the Stockholm Environment Institute and Race to Zero Expert Peer Review Group, Regions4, WWF Cities, C40 Cities, the Data Driven EnviroLab, Under2 Coalition, CDP and ICLEI World Secretariat, convened by GCoM and WRI.
“This report presents clear recommendations to help subnational governments set and achieve their net zero commitments and highlights progress already being made in these communities,” said Gregor Robertson, Chair of the Expert Group and Global Ambassador of the Global Covenant of Mayors. “These recommendations accelerate stronger multi-level governance and take us one step closer to a credible, equitable and climate-resilient future.”
The report builds upon the foundation laid by the flagship United Nations High-Level Expert Group on the Net Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities through the Integrity Matters: Net Zero Commitments By Businesses, Financial Institutions, Cities And Regions report, published at COP27.
It outlines actionable steps for national governments, businesses and financial institutions, and net zero initiatives and alliances to adopt in their pursuit of fulfilling net zero commitments. These recommendations align with the aspirations of the UN Climate Change Secretariat and the Paris Agreement, serving as a strategic roadmap for net zero alliances and initiatives engaged in capacity-building, technical support and advocacy endeavors with subnational governments.
“Credibility, fairness, and transparency are at the heart of effective and ambitious climate commitments. This report provides a common global starting point for the setting and implementation of ambitious, high integrity, transparent, credible and fair net zero commitments by subnational governments,” said Rogier van den Berg, Global Director for WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities. “Given the Global Stocktake’s assessment, it’s more important than ever that there’s a clear pathway for cities, states and regions to achieve net zero by 2050.”
About the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy (GCoM)
GCoM is the largest global alliance for city climate leadership, uniting a global coalition of over 13,000 cities and local governments and 100+ supporting partners. The cities and partners of GCoM share a long-term vision of supporting voluntary action to combat climate change and towards a resilient and low-emission society. GCoM serves cities and local governments by mobilizing and supporting ambitious, measurable, planned climate and energy action in their communities by working with city/regional networks, national governments, and other partners to achieve our vision. The coalition comprises cities across 6 continents and 144 countries, representing over 1 billion people or more than 13 percent of the global population.
About WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities (WRI)
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.wri.org/cities.Cities COP28 Urban Efficiency & Climate Cities Featured Popular Type Press Release Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects