Dual Harvest: Agrivoltaics Boosts Food and Energy Production in Asia

1 día 10 horas ago
Dual Harvest: Agrivoltaics Boosts Food and Energy Production in Asia alicia.cypress… Thu, 05/23/2024 - 14:43

Every autumn morning at an aquaculture site near the mouth of the Yellow River in China's Dongying City, Shandong Province, farmers begin packaging shrimp for their customers. Their harvest is increasingly more bountiful thanks to an innovative way of farming that integrates renewable energy into agriculture. 

Here, solar photovoltaic (PV) panels were installed several meters above the water, helping to generate an annual 260 gigawatts-hours of energy — enough to power 113,000 households in China. Since its completion and grid connection in 2021, the farmers have also gained many benefits.

Beyond providing clean energy to the fishery, the solar panels keep water temperatures consistently 2 to 3 degrees C (3.6 to 5.4 degrees F) cooler than outdoor ponds without panels, boosting shrimp and sea cucumber yields by 50%. The solar power company that installed the panels leases the space, helping to reduce farming costs while also paying for improvements and modernization to aquaculture site, such as better pond embankments and irrigation systems. 

These developments are crucial for the future growth of the fishery industry in Shandong Province. In 2019, the total economic output of the fishery sector of Shandong Province reached $62.3 billion, representing 15.6% of China’s total fishery output.

Agrivoltaics Boosts Clean Energy and Food Production

The concept of aquaculture-photovoltaic integration is a form of what’s known as agrivoltaics, which typically integrates traditional agricultural practices such as crop cultivation, livestock farming and fisheries with solar PV installations, maximizing the use of available space. This dual-layered system supports the normal production of both food and electricity, thereby allowing income to stream in from both sources.

In a world where global energy demand is soaring and the use of agricultural land for food production is increasingly displaced by renewable energy projects (such as for solar and wind farms, or growing crops such as corn and soy for biofuels), agrivoltaics has emerged as a win-win solution for sustainable energy and agriculture.  

This concept has already been applied throughout the world, including Europe, the United States and parts of Asia.

China’s pioneering efforts since 2011 with more than 500 agrivoltaics projects — including crop cultivation, livestock grazing, aquafarming, greenhouses and tea plantations — according to a forthcoming WRI report, provide significant insights for further expansion across the region. 

For example, countries like Indonesia and the Philippines in Southeast Asia could potentially benefit from agrivoltaics but have yet to implement many significant projects. The region's abundant sunlight and vast agricultural landscapes can harness solar energy while maintaining crop production. There’s also an outsized need in the region to balance its land resources for both clean energy and food production in the face of a growing population and urgency to reduce emissions. 

Solar photovoltaic panels rise above an aquaculture farm in Dongying City, Shandong Province, China. The panels, which not only produce enough energy to power 113,000 houses, help cool temperature waters which has helped to boost shrimp and sea cucumber yields by 50%. Photo by WRI China. The Symbiotic Benefits for Food and Energy Production

In the land-scarce central and eastern regions of China, agrivoltaics emerged after government policies encouraged the development of PV projects, but the same land was needed for food production. So, companies integrated these projects together.

People soon realized that the solar panels could do more than just produce electricity. The panels can offer plants and animals protection from extreme heat and drought by providing partial shade. Studies also indicate agrivoltaics can reduce water evaporation by 30%. Accompanying upgrades to agricultural infrastructure, which can often contribute to the automation and mechanization of the farm, may also help to increase crop yields, especially in areas with excessive sunlight and high temperatures.

The benefits extend to the solar panels as well. Studies show that solar panels mounted over vegetation exhibit considerably lower surface temperatures than those mounted over bare ground. This cooling effect has a direct impact on the solar panels’ efficiency, as modules typically experience efficiency losses ranging from 0.1% to 0.5% for every degree Celsius increase above 25 degrees C (77 degrees F). 

Agrivoltaics can also offer farmers an additional income stream either by leasing the land to solar PV companies or, if the land-agreement is reversed, through cultivating the land at much lower costs, mitigating the impact of fluctuating crop yields and market prices. For example, these leasing agreements provide farmers with a consistent and foreseeable income from the land and obviate the need for farmers to fund the solar installations themselves.

Beyond economic benefits, agrivoltaics can enhance energy independence and reliability. Agrivoltaic systems contribute to decentralized renewable energy generation, which reduces reliance on centralized power grids, especially in rural communities. The development and maintenance of agrivoltaics systems also creates employment opportunities in rural areas — stimulating the local economy and fostering sustainable livelihoods. Furthermore, the co-location of solar panels with agricultural activities optimizes land usage, promoting efficient utilization of renewable energy resources and minimizing land-use conflicts, which have historically taken place after farmland was diverted for renewable energy projects.

Lessons from China’s Agrivoltaics Projects

Examples of agrivoltaics, like a greenhouse project in Hainan and a livestock grazing project in Inner Mongolia, are among the many projects in China that offer invaluable lessons for Southeast Asia and other regions seeking to harness the potential of agrivoltaics. 

Hainan’s Photovoltaic Greenhouses 

In Hainan, China, photovoltaic greenhouses combine solar panels with farming, enhancing crop growth and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by providing clean electricity to power grids. The solar companies lease land for solar PV project development and simultaneously provide it at no cost to agricultural companies for vegetable cultivation. This approach not only conserves land-leasing expenses, but also ensures year-round production, unaffected by adverse weather, such as typhoons and rainstorms. Current PV greenhouse projects with a total capacity of 2 GW in Hainan are capable of supplying leafy vegetables to around 3 million people, covering about 30% of the province's population, throughout the year. 

Inner Mongolia’s Photovoltaic Livestock Grazing Projects

Inner Mongolia's 1 MW photovoltaic livestock grazing project was established through government grants and private herder investments, pioneering a blend of renewable energy and traditional pastoral practices. This 1 MW solar PV power station, with land leased to a livestock company, generates revenue from electricity sales to the grid, which is distributed as dividends to herders based on their ownership stakes. The annual return rate to herders is 20%, while the rest of the revenue is used for the local community’s infrastructure development.

This successful pilot project has encouraged more herder involvement in PV grazing projects in one of the sunniest regions in China. The grassland area of Inner Mongolia reaches 48.7 million hectares (730 million Chinese mu), accounting for 41% of the total land area in the region and about a fifth of China’s pasture area. Its annual solar radiation is 2,164 kilowatt-hours per square meter, according to the Global Solar Atlas and local government leaders. This makes Inner Mongolia one of the most valuable solar energy regions in China.

Livestock are shaded by the solar panels installed above this livestock grazing project in Inner Mongolia, China. Dividends from the land leased to a solar energy firm have provided income to the herders and the local community. Photo by WRI China. Potential for Expanding Agrivoltaics in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia presents a rich tapestry of opportunities for implementing agrivoltaic projects as well as some challenges. The installed solar capacity in Southeast Asia has already been growing consistently. For instance, in 2023, the solar market in Southeast Asia expanded by 17% compared to 2022, with 3 GW of new installations. This is complemented by a strong pipeline of projects that could significantly enhance the region's solar capacity, indicating a robust future for solar energy development.

However, the successful implementation of agrivoltaic systems in Southeast Asia faces several challenges. Progress in the region is hindered by the convoluted policy framework and the need for strategic land-use planning. In addition, countries like Philippines and Indonesia, which are archipelagic countries, require technology and policies specific to the local politics, the pivotal role of village cooperatives and landscape. 

Some measures to address these challenges could include:

  • Policy Alignment:  A unified policy framework, like what’s observed in France and other countries, could help streamline permit processes and recognize the multifaceted value of agrivoltaics.
  • Local Government Engagement: The active involvement of local governments is crucial for the successful rollout of agrivoltaic projects. Drawing upon the experiences of countries like China, where local government leadership has been instrumental in agrivoltaics success, the Philippines and Indonesia can foster partnerships and alignment between urban developers and local leaders. These partnerships could help catalyze the growth and acceptance of agrivoltaics at the grassroots level, ensuring that projects align with local needs and priorities.
  • Strategic Land Use and Capability Development: Given the relationship between agriculture and solar energy in agrivoltaics, specialized research for each region is essential to gauge the optimal configurations between varied crops and solar installations. Moreover, a detailed case-by-case basis strategy, tailored to the specific conditions and objectives of a country and its investors, is crucial for the successful and sustainable deployment of these systems.
  • Community Cooperation and Ownership: Building upon the Indonesian model of village cooperatives, early and consistent engagement with local communities, coupled with a keen understanding of their needs and aspirations, can foster trust and a collaborative spirit. By intertwining the project's goals with community aspirations, stakeholders can effectively navigate challenges and uncertainties, ensuring that agrivoltaics bring shared benefits to all parties involved. Community ownership and engagement are paramount.
  • Capacity Building and Technical Support: Empowering local stakeholders with the necessary technical knowledge is also important for the long-term sustainability of agrivoltaic systems. Addressing the technical support challenges, especially in far-flung areas, is vital. Establishing regional technology hubs or partnering with educational institutions could help. Such collaborations could not only reduce technical response times, but also elevate the broader understanding of distributed technologies in these regions.
 Achieving a Bright Future for Agrivoltaics in Asia

Agrivoltaics offers a promising solution to the complex task of harmonizing energy production and agriculture. By drawing inspiration from China's experiences and customizing strategies to the local context, this approach could help drive economic growth, promote sustainable energy and deliver environmental benefits.

Realizing the full potential of agrivoltaics will require collaboration, policy alignment and capacity building. But if successful, agrivoltaics can help pave the way to a more sustainable and prosperous future.

Chen Jing, a postdoctoral researcher at Tsinghua University's School of Social Sciences in the Energy Transition and Social Development Research Center, contributed to this article.

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RELEASE: Canada Awards Over CAD$28 Million to Scale Nature-Based Solutions for Climate Adaptation in African Cities

3 días 7 horas ago
RELEASE: Canada Awards Over CAD$28 Million to Scale Nature-Based Solutions for Climate Adaptation in African Cities casey.skeens@wri.org Tue, 05/21/2024 - 17:01

This award will directly benefit over 2 million people in high flood risk areas and indirectly benefit an estimated 7 million residents in African cities.    

Washington, D.C. (May 21, 2024) — The Global Affairs Canada program has awarded CAD$28.7 million (roughly US$21 million) to fund a three-year project that will advance climate adaptation in African cities through nature-based solutions.

The Scaling Urban-Nature-Based Solutions for Climate Adaptation in Sub-Saharan Africa (SUNCASA) project is jointly managed by the International Institute for Sustainable development (IISD) and the World Resources Institute (WRI), with support from Cities4Forests, and guided by a wide array of local policymakers and stakeholders. This project will implement watershed restoration, urban tree planting,  and conservation actions in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia; Kigali, Rwanda; and Johannesburg, South Africa. These actions will reduce climate-fueled flood risks, increase access to green space, improve gender equity, and support  biodiversity  for over two million people.

“Africa’s cities are the fastest growing in the world. Yet, half of these urban residents are living in informal settlements and are dangerously threatened by climate risks from droughts, floods and extreme heat,” said Ani Dasgupta, President and CEO of the World Resources Institute. “To address these challenges, we must harness the power of nature — trees and other forms of ‘green infrastructure’ that can clean and cool the air, build flood resilience, and improve people’s health and well-being. Canada’s Partnering for Climate Initiative will allow IISD and WRI to work with cities across the continent to mobilize political support, deliver technical assistance, and unlock finance, effectively streamlining the process to scale up nature-based solutions to support vulnerable communities.”

Specific activities were identified through engagements with key stakeholders in each city to identify critical resilience challenges and develop high-impact solutions. This approach aims to scale nature-based solutions across each city and ensure the greatest possible benefit for the most people, particularly in vulnerable communities. “Together, we are pleased to support the cities of Johannesburg, Dire Dawa, and Kigali in advancing their climate change adaptation, biodiversity conservation, and livelihood priorities through gender-responsive nature-based solutions,” said the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Canadian Minister of International Development.

“Despite their wide-ranging benefits for people and the planet, nature-based solutions are not being scaled up enough to fulfill their potential,” said Patricia Fuller, Co-CEO of IISD. “SUNCASA is a tremendous opportunity to advance this cause. IISD is pleased to be applying our experience with nature-based solutions to the management of this project in partnership with WRI, and we look forward to working with our wide array of local partners to implement it for the benefit of communities and ecosystems in sub-Saharan Africa.”

The SUNCASA project will take a unique approach in each city to address the most pressing challenges. This includes rehabilitating the Dechatu Catchment in Dire Dawa to address water stress, removing invasive species from the Jukskei River Catchment in Johannesburg to reduce flooding and leading restoration efforts in Kigali to protect agricultural lands. Regardless of the approach, these cities are united in employing equitable nature-based solutions to advance the safety and well-being of their residents.


“As Mayor of the Dire Dawa Administration, it is my priority to rally political support for solutions that help our administration address citizens’ vulnerability to climate change-related disasters like rapid onset floods,” said H.E. Kedir Juhar, Mayor of Dire Dawa, Ethiopia. “The Dire Dawa Administration welcomes the recent announcement from Global Affairs Canada regarding new funding to support locally led nature-based solutions for the rehabilitation of the Awash River Basin’s Eastern Catchment. This investment means more women and youth at the forefront of our climate adaptation measures, helping to boost water security not only in Dire Dawa but in our neighboring cities as well.”

"Flood protection is a critical aspect of the City of Johannesburg's Water Security Strategy,” said Kabelo Gwamanda, Mayor of Johannesburg. “Exacerbated by climate change and urbanization, flooding poses a significant risk to lives, livelihoods and infrastructure, causing devastation and disruption on a massive scale. Through the protection and restoration of ecosystems, we can address flood risk across the city while enhancing water quality, preserving critical habitats, and safeguarding ecological integrity for generations to come. This is where the SUNCASA project comes into play, as it will implement the nature-based solutions outlined in our strategy."

“The City of Kigali welcomes the recent commitment from the Government of Canada to support the city’s vulnerable communities with the resources they need to increase their climate resilience through Nature-Based Solutions for watershed restoration,” said Kigali’s Lord Mayor Samuel Dusengiyumva. “We look forward to advancing this work with our partners, in alignment with Kigali’s ambitious green development goals, and strengthening communities against climate impacts.” 

Learn more about the project from the Government of Canada’s media release, as well as the international commitments that underpin this project.  

About IISD

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is an award-winning independent think tank working to accelerate solutions for a stable climate, sustainable resource management, and fair economies. Our work inspires better decisions and sparks meaningful action to help people and the planet thrive. We shine a light on what can be achieved when governments, businesses, non-profits, and communities come together. IISD’s staff of more than 200 experts come from across the globe and from many disciplines. With offices in Winnipeg, Geneva, Ottawa, and Toronto, our work affects lives in nearly 100 countries. Learn more at iisd.org

About World Resources Institute    

WRI is a trusted partner for change. Using research-based approaches, we work globally and in focus countries to meet people’s essential needs; to protect and restore nature; and to stabilize the climate and build resilient communities. We aim to fundamentally transform the way the world produces and uses food and energy and designs its cities to create a better future for all.  Founded in 1982, WRI has nearly 2,000 staff around the world, with country offices in Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States and regional offices in Africa and Europe. More information at www.wri.org or on Twitter @WorldResources

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RELEASE: WRI Ross Center Prize for Cities Finalists Showcase Successful Efforts to Build Climate-Ready Communities

3 días 23 horas ago
RELEASE: WRI Ross Center Prize for Cities Finalists Showcase Successful Efforts to Build Climate-Ready Communities casey.skeens@wri.org Tue, 05/21/2024 - 01:00

Projects from Buenos Aires, Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar, Fortaleza, New York and Oslo stood out for their ambition, impact and replicable ideas for addressing climate change

WASHINGTON, DC (May 21, 2024) — Today, World Resources Institute unveiled five outstanding projects as finalists for the 2023-2024 WRI Ross Center Prize for Cities. This prestigious award recognizes innovative ideas, visionary leaders and transformative projects creating more sustainable and inclusive cities worldwide. Through the Prize, WRI aims to inspire urban change-makers across the globe by elevating trailblazing initiatives and telling impactful stories of sustainable urban transformation.

A total of 200 applicants representing 148 cities and 62 countries responded to this cycle’s call for submissions. Following a year of record-breaking temperatures, WRI selected the theme of “Accelerating Momentum for Climate-Ready Communities,” seeking initiatives addressing the magnitude and urgency of the climate crisis by increasing the speed, scope or scale of action to create inclusive, climate-ready cities.

“Cities are on the frontlines of the climate crisis. They are centers of innovation that have an outsized role in securing a safe, resilient future for billions of people around the world,” said Ani Dasgupta, President & CEO of WRI. “Climate impacts are becoming more frequent, extreme and widespread. We need to find and champion the urban innovators responding to climate challenges with the most effective and creative solutions so that others can learn from them and bring transformation to their own communities.”

This cycle’s Prize submissions reveal a diverse global community committed to creating a climate-ready urban future. “While the projects differ vastly in scale, scope and approach, they underscore that just, equitable and people-centered solutions are already driving profound change. We received an impressive array of submissions but five stood out as exceptional in terms of their demonstrated impacts,” said Jen Shin, Global Lead, WRI Ross Center Prize for Cities.

The finalists are:

  • Rodrigo Bueno: Climate-Resilient Housing (Buenos Aires, Argentina):
    The Housing Institute of the city of Buenos Aires is collaborating with residents to provide a suite of housing upgrades in the Rodrigo Bueno barrio, an informal neighborhood with poor access to basic city services and rising flood risks. The upgrading project has constructed hundreds of new energy-efficient homes, improved integration with the rest of the city and fostered local entrepreneurship through a participatory, resilience-focused approach that has now been implemented in other neighborhoods too.
  • Kham River Restoration Initiative (Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar, India):
    EcoSattva, with the Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar Municipal Corporation and Varroc Foundation, is restoring the Kham river, which had become a stream of waste due to sewer leakage and improper solid waste disposal. The project has implemented interventions to build shared public spaces, like community-centered riverfront parks, combined with deep ecological restoration, socially integrated waste management and a city-wide cultural campaign. The result has been a revitalized Kham in Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar (formerly known as Aurangabad) and new cultural ethic around the ecosystem. The project is now influencing similar river management plans throughout the region.
  • Re-Ciclo (Fortaleza, Brazil):
    CITINOVA, by the city of Fortaleza, is boosting recycling rates with a new project that empowers informal waste pickers to conduct door-to-door collection with specially designed electric cargo tricycles. The project has increased social inclusion and economic opportunities for hundreds of people and contributed to the city’s sustainable transportation agenda at the same time. By integrating waste management systems with informal waste worker programs and electric mobility, Fortaleza is boosting its recycling rates while empowering residents and reshaping public perceptions around recycling and cycling.
  • Green Community Schoolyards (New York City, United States):
    The Trust for Public Land, in partnership with the city of New York, is transforming hundreds of asphalt schoolyards into community green spaces. Green Community Schoolyards revitalize school infrastructure and open these spaces to the broader community. The designs enhance flood resilience through critical green infrastructure and are collaboratively designed by schoolchildren and community members. The project ensures neighborhood green spaces for millions and has inspired similar participatory schoolyard design programs across the United States.
  • The Climate Budget (Oslo, Norway):
    The Climate Agency of the city of Oslo is pioneering a climate budgeting project that integrates greenhouse gas emissions tracking and reduction into its annual budget cycle. The resulting process, unique for integrating climate considerations across city sectors, is yielding positive impacts on residents' health and quality of life. The Climate Budget has set a global example as a mechanism for urban climate action and is being replicated by cities around the world.

These outstanding finalists were chosen through a rigorous selection process. Submissions were evaluated and selected based on three broad categories, which submissions demonstrated: large-scale, innovative ideas and novel approaches; life-changing impact on people’s lives, mindsets and behaviors; and ripple effects across and beyond the city. One $250,000-grand prize winner will be selected by an independent world-class jury of leaders in urban affairs, with each of the four runners-up receiving $25,000, and announced at a ceremony in New York City this fall.

"Winners of the WRI Ross Center Prize for Cities serve as powerful examples, illustrating that transformative change is not just a distant dream — it is possible," said Rogier van den Berg, Global Director, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities. "Each finalist presents thoughtful, time-tested solutions to complex challenges. We applaud them for their outstanding impact, not only in their own cities but beyond."

Previous grand prize winners include Todos al Parque (“Everyone to the Park”), Barranquilla, Colombia; Food Production for a Resilient Rosario, an urban agriculture project in Argentina; and SARSAI, which creates safer journeys to school for children in Dar es Salaam and other African cities. These grand prize winners and additional Prize finalists exemplify the vision, coalition-building and perseverance that is essential for creating urban transformation in today’s world.

About World Resources Institute
WRI is a trusted partner for change. Using research-based approaches, we work globally and in focus countries to meet people’s essential needs; to protect and restore nature; and to stabilize the climate and build resilient communities. We aim to fundamentally transform the way the world produces and uses food and energy and designs its cities to create a better future for all. Founded in 1982, WRI has nearly 2,000 staff around the world, with country offices in Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States and regional offices in Africa and Europe. Learn more: WRI.org and on X @WorldResources.

About WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities 
WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities is World Resources Institute’s program dedicated to shaping a future where cities work better for everyone. It enables more connected, compact and coordinated cities. The Center expands the transport and urban development expertise and on-the-ground impact of the EMBARQ network to catalyze innovative solutions in other sectors, including air quality, water, buildings, land use and energy. Our network of more than 500 experts working from Brazil, China, Colombia, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, the Netherlands, Mexico, Turkey and the United States combine research excellence with on-the-ground impact to make cities around the world better places to live. More information at wri.org/cities or on X @WRIRossCities.

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ADVISORY: WRI Press Call Ahead of Bonn Climate Negotiations

1 semana ago
ADVISORY: WRI Press Call Ahead of Bonn Climate Negotiations casey.skeens@wri.org Fri, 05/17/2024 - 14:41

 

WASHINGTON (May 17, 2024) — Join World Resources Institute (WRI) on Thursday, May 23 at 9:30am EDT / 3:30pm CEST, for a press briefing featuring a panel of experts who will reflect on what to expect from the upcoming climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany on June 3-13 and how they relate to broader efforts to address the climate crisis.  

The Bonn session is an important gathering to work toward landing zones for key issues at COP29, most notably establishing a new global climate finance goal for the first time in fifteen years. Bonn will also be a prime opportunity for countries to set expectations for the next round of national climate commitments due to be submitted in spring 2025 and build on the outcomes from last year’s COP28 summit in Dubai.  

Press call speakers will zero in on hot topics like climate finance, NDCs, long-term climate strategies and Loss and Damage.

WHAT

Press call with WRI experts on what to expect from the UNFCCC Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany

WHEN

Thursday, May 23, at 9:30am EDT / 3:30pm CEST

WHO

  • David Waskow, Director, International Climate Action
  • Gaia Larsen, Director, Climate Finance Access, Finance Center
  • Taryn Fransen, Director of Science, Research, and Data, Global Climate Program
  • Nate Warszawski, Research Associate, International Climate Action
  • Moderator: Rhys Gerholdt, Director of Communications & Media Strategy, Climate Program

For any questions, please reach out to Rhys Gerholdt, Communications Director, Climate Program at rhys.gerholdt@wri.org
 

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What Climate-vulnerable Countries Need on the Road to COP29

1 semana 1 día ago
What Climate-vulnerable Countries Need on the Road to COP29 alicia.cypress… Thu, 05/16/2024 - 17:10

The people in countries most vulnerable to climate change are facing widespread devastation from the world’s changing climate. Despite contributing the least to climate change and with limited resources to combat the crisis, climate-vulnerable nations in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia and the Pacific, are hit with the heaviest burdens: from cyclones in Bangladesh, to floods in Libya, to wildfires across South America. As global temperatures continue to soar (2023 standing out as the hottest year ever), we confront a future where climate extremes are poised to unleash even more havoc.

The 28th UN climate change conference (COP28) in late 2023 resulted in some productive outcomes, including the launch of the Loss and Damage Fund and a truth-telling Global Stocktake, which made clear that the world must transition away from fossil fuels.

However, a Global Stocktake outcome that merely recognizes challenges without support to address those challenges hardly offers much hope. Studies estimate that developing countries will need trillions of dollars of public and private finance for climate actions by 2030. Climate-vulnerable nations are also disappointed by the insufficient response to climate-related disasters and agree more progress is urgently needed to align with the Paris Agreement's 1.5 degree C (2.7 degree F) target that would prevent the most devastating impacts of climate change. These shortcomings have set the scene for climate negotiations in 2024.

As the world plans for this year’s COP29 — dubbed the “Finance COP” because negotiations for a new climate finance goal will dominate the agenda — there are major opportunities for vulnerable countries to secure the resources and commitments crucial for transitioning to low-emissions economies and building resilience against the impacts of climate change. COP29 needs to be about setting more ambitious climate targets and ensuring that those targets translate into concrete and transparent actions that drive real change.

Priorities for Climate-vulnerable Countries at COP29

Allied for Climate Transformation by 2025 (ACT2025), a coalition of experts and thoughts leaders who amplify the voices of climate-vulnerable developing nations in climate negotiations, has released a Call to Action that explains how countries, particularly developed countries, can take concrete action to support climate-vulnerable countries. These actions, which are imperative to rebuilding trust and solidarity throughout 2024 and at COP29, will need a full-scale commitment by nations to be successful. Here are the top priorities from ACT2025’s Call to Action:

Set an Ambitious New Climate Finance Goal

At COP29, countries will negotiate a new climate finance goal, replacing the existing commitment of $100 billion annually until 2025. Success at COP29 hinges on establishing a new goal that is based on the needs of developing countries and addresses the previous goal’s shortcomings. Wealthy countries will need to fulfil their responsibility of playing their role in providing climate-vulnerable countries with a level of support that’s needed to transition to a low-emissions, climate-resilient future.

From the perspective of climate-vulnerable developing countries, here’s what’s needed for the New Collective Qualified Goal on Climate Finance:

  • Responsibility and Leadership: Developed countries, which have historical responsibilities and international legal obligations regarding climate change, must take the lead in providing and mobilizing financial resources to support vulnerable countries in their transition to a climate-resilient future aligned with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degree C goal.
  • Meeting the needs of the developing world: To effectively implement national climate plans by 2030, developing countries need at least $5.8 trillion in financing. The new goal must reflect these needs and recognize the pivotal role of international public funding.
  • Holistic coverage: Finance is needed to support emissions reductions and the transition to low-emissions economies, adapt to the impacts of climate change and address unavoidable loss and damage. The new goal on climate finance should include quantified sub-goals for mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage, encompassing the three pillars of climate action.
  • Ensuring quality finance: Building on lessons from the $100 billion goal (for example, around 70% of finance mobilized was linked to loans), the new framework must prevent further unsustainable debt. Specifically, it should prioritize a greater proportion of grants and highly concessional finance for low-income and climate-vulnerable nations, with financial instruments tailored to match specific needs and investment priorities of each country.
  • Accountability: A strong transparency framework, building on the Paris Agreement’s Enhanced Transparency Framework which guides countries on tracking and reporting mitigation and adaptation progress, is essential to ensure countries follow through on commitments and that there’s transparency and accountability of the funds. 
Deliver and Implement More Ambitious Climate Action Plans

COP29 will be one of the last major opportunities for countries to signal their intention to put together new and enhanced climate plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), before submitting them in 2025. NDCs to date fall far short of what is required to avert dangerous levels of climate change. It is especially crucial for the Group of 20 countries, responsible for 75% of the world’s emissions, to commit to ramping up the scale and speed of action.

The countries in the G7 and G20 must lead by example and send a loud and clear signal that solidifies 2025 as the year of increased ambition. These countries can do so by submitting strengthened 2030 NDCs consistent with 1.5 degree C pathways and in line with learnings from the Global Stocktake, as well as putting forward ambitious 2035 emissions-reduction targets that will collectively reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 43% by 2030 and 60% by 2035 relative to 2019 emissions levels.

In practice, this requires swiftly shifting away from fossil fuels towards cleaner energy sources to drive down GHG emissions while ensuring the transition is people-centered and inclusive, particularly for marginalized communities and populations.

Opportunities for this shift lie not only in the energy and transportation sectors but also in the agriculture, forest and land-use, and water sectors, all of which are interconnected with climate.

Dedicated work streams in the UN climate talks — such as the Just Transition Work Programme can help in the design of ambitious NDCs, as long as justice and equity are kept at the center of these discussions. While all countries need to work towards these goals, countries with more capacity and resources should lead the charge, tailoring support to fit the unique needs of vulnerable communities.  

Accelerate Adaptation Efforts and Finance

Last year at COP28, countries agreed to a new framework — the UAE Framework for Global Climate Resilience — to support the achievement of the Paris Agreement’s overarching Global Goal on Adaption (GGA). However, the framework does not adequately address the financial support needed — given that developing counties adaptation priorities require $215 billion to $387 billion in finance annually — or the technology development and transfer and capacity building needed by developing countries to respond to climate impacts. Looking ahead to COP29, it is essential that the enactment of the targets proposed by the GGA framework is accelerated to enhance planning and implementation, not only through action but also by sector-specific and quantitative metrics.

ACT2025 provides a valuable go-to guide for understanding global adaptation. It examines COP28 outcomes on adaptation and sets expectations for what is needed in 2024 and at COP29 to ensure adaptation efforts are effective, equitable and in line with the urgent needs of vulnerable developing countries. The paper also goes beyond the UNFCCC and outlines the trends expected in the global adaptation space in 2024. Learn more here.

Additionally, work is currently underway through the UAE-Belém two-year work programme to develop indicators for measuring progress on the adaptation targets agreed under the UAE Framework. In practice, this means that the work programme must be organized effectively, utilizing a range of strategic approaches (such as hosting workshops dedicated to identifying principles and broad categories for indicators) and forming thematic working groups that actively engage diverse stakeholders, from technical experts to community representatives to historically marginalized groups such as women, youth and indigenous populations. Ensuring adaptation indicators align with the specific needs of vulnerable regions, countries, and demographics is critical for effectively measuring progress toward achieving targets.

Build a Sufficient Response Package for Loss and Damage

Following the launch of the Loss and Damage Fund at COP28, the next steps include securing and scaling more funds and establishing transparent and inclusive funding structures that ensure direct access to the fund’s operations. To this end, during the Fund’s initial board meetings this year, it is paramount to ensure the process is transparent, civil society and observers are actively engaged and to be well coordinated with the Santiago Network on Loss and Damage, which aims to provide technical assistance to developing countries on addressing loss and damage. Commitments made at COP28 totaled $770.6 million; however, this is a drop in the ocean considering the total amount of finance needed for loss and damage is estimated to reach up to $580 billion annually by 2030 and $1.7 trillion annually by 2050.  

The outcomes of the process must result in accessible scalable finance and institutional frameworks that support vulnerable developing countries in responding to loss and damage without imposing further burdens or exacerbating debt issues. Support through the Loss and Damage Fund should be coherent with other funding efforts (such as disaster risk reduction) and avoid  transaction costs and further fragmenting aid. Progress on this front is essential to achieve a fair outcome at COP29. This also provides an opportunity for the upcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Seventh Assessment Report (AR7) that will  provide further scientific insights on loss and damage. Climate-vulnerable countries are expecting solidarity and dedicated financial support, and they’ll be looking for a robust, well-funded and expanded Loss and Damage Fund to deliver it.

Getting on Track: An Opportunity to Act Ambitiously

As climate-vulnerable countries grapple with escalating impacts of climate change, the sluggish pace of international politics is glaringly out of step with the urgency of the crisis. Rather than impeding action, political decisions must catalyze a step change in climate action and support at a far greater pace and scale.

Governments and world leaders must seize COP29 as an opportunity to ensure that the most vulnerable countries and communities can build transformative resilience against the changing climate and thrive.

Countries have a lot on their plate this year, including preparing ambitious national climate commitments, accelerating current efforts to achieve existing targets and scaling up funding to address the urgent needs of climate-vulnerable nations. At COP29, collaboration, alignment and trust-building will be crucial ingredients to make progress on all of these aims and deliver a resilient and sustainable future for all.

flooding-bangladesh.jpg International Climate Action Climate climate impacts Equity & Governance Paris Agreement climate finance Type Commentary Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Authors Gabrielle Swaby Chikondi Thangata Kiyomi de Zoysa
alicia.cypress@wri.org

New Partnership Between Clean Cooking Alliance and World Resources Institute Seeks to Promote Clean Cooking in Key Regions

1 semana 2 días ago
New Partnership Between Clean Cooking Alliance and World Resources Institute Seeks to Promote Clean Cooking in Key Regions ciara.regan@wri.org Wed, 05/15/2024 - 13:45

At the Summit on Clean Cooking for Africa on May 14, 2024 in Paris, France, World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Clean Cooking Alliance (CCA) announced a strategic partnership to further embed clean cooking into a broad range of sustainable development initiatives across the two organisations. The partnership aims to improve lives among the 2.3 billion people around the world who currently lack access to clean cooking — including four out of five people in Africa who have no choice but to use wood, charcoal and other polluting fuels and traditional stoves or even open fires. Clean cooking, on the other hand, includes the use of modern stoves and cleaner fuels that reduces exposure to toxic pollutants.

This partnership builds on a history of collaboration between WRI and CCA, including incorporating clean cooking data from Nepal and Kenya into the Energy Access Explorer, a geospatial energy planning platform hosted by WRI. Going forward, this clean cooking partnership will complement and strengthen work in Kenya, Nepal and other countries in sub–Saharan Africa and Asia, supporting local partners and governments to advance forest protection, landscape restoration and healthy cities, as well as enhancing global initiatives on energy access, sustainable food systems and youth engagement.

Wanjira Mathai, WRI’s Managing Director for Africa and Global Partnerships, said, "At WRI, we are always looking for practical, locally led solutions to the climate crisis that work for people, nature and climate. This partnership with CCA enables us to work collaboratively to tackle one of the biggest development challenges ever. We are thrilled to combine efforts with CCA to embed clean cooking solutions into our work across energy, cities, vital landscapes and food at WRI.”

Through this partnership, WRI and CCA will develop research and tools and organize events to integrate clean cooking solutions into initiatives related to urban communities, nature-based solutions, food systems and youth engagement. By working together, both organizations aim to create strategies to adopt clean cooking practices to benefit those with the greatest need, while ensuring that nature and ecosystems otherwise polluted by traditional cooking practices are preserved and even restored.

Dymphna van der Lans, CCA’s CEO, said, “By partnering with WRI, we can embed clean cooking in ways that will help people and ecosystems flourish. This type of cross-cutting and systemic collaboration is essential for large-scale, long term clean cooking transitions, and I hope that our partnership will inspire others to prioritize clean cooking and secure the financing need for meaningful change.”

jayant-chaudhary-unsplash.jpg Energy Energy Energy Access Type Project Update Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Authors Freya Stanley-Price
ciara.regan@wri.org

STATEMENT: U.S. Transmission Rule a Positive Step for Electric Grid Reliability and Clean Energy

1 semana 4 días ago
STATEMENT: U.S. Transmission Rule a Positive Step for Electric Grid Reliability and Clean Energy mansie.hough@wri.org Mon, 05/13/2024 - 15:16

WASHINGTON (May 13, 2024) — The United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has released its long-awaited rule on transmission planning and cost allocation for the U.S. electricity grid. 

The rule has significant implications for the U.S.’s ability to meet rapidly growing energy demand, quickly and efficiently add more carbon-free energy to the power generation mix, and ensure the grid is resilient and reliable in the face of extreme weather. The U.S. has been underinvesting in the grid and with significant growth in demand expected in coming years, it is critical to accelerate the build out of new lines.

FERC’s final transmission planning rule follows the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s recent announcement of initial selection of potential National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors (NIETC), which are geographic areas where capacity constraints or grid congestion exist or are expected. A NIETC designation enables DOE and FERC to help advance transmission projects within the corridors using federal financing resources and siting tools, and these two announcements will work in tandem to help modernize the U.S. grid. 


Below is a statement from Lori Bird, Director of WRI’s US Energy Program:

“This rule significantly improves the U.S.’s ability to plan its grid investments to meet the country’s growing electricity demand while achieving our climate goals. It will also make the grid much more reliable and resilient amidst increasing extreme weather events. 

“It lays out a roadmap for long-term regional transmission planning that will help grid planners and transmission providers keep pace with evolving needs by considering the changing resource mix, demand growth and new technologies. These improved processes will enable planners to more comprehensively evaluate grid investments. 

“Importantly, the rule also addresses the critical issue of how to pay for new lines by instituting better processes for allocating costs among those who benefit from them. The new rule enables transmission providers to consider a broader set of economic and reliability benefits when determining whether transmission lines are cost-effective and efficient. The inability to effectively assess benefits and determine who should pay for new power lines has long been a sticking point that has impeded new projects, and this rule helps address many of these challenges.

“While much still needs to be done to modernize our power system, FERC has taken a critical step forward by making it easier to plan and pay for a more reliable grid.”

Energy United States U.S. Energy Topics Clean Energy Energy renewable energy electric grid U.S. Climate Policy-Transmission Type Statement Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects
mansie.hough@wri.org

Tragic Flooding in Brazil; a Wake-up Call for the World

2 semanas ago
Tragic Flooding in Brazil; a Wake-up Call for the World wil.thomas@wri.org Fri, 05/10/2024 - 15:15

After a week of record-breaking rainfall in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil is experiencing an environmental and humanitarian tragedy. The death toll from the floods is in the dozens. The number of missing persons has surpassed 100. Hundreds are injured, and thousands displaced. Nearly 1.5 million people are affected. Each story of life and death touches us deeply. The anonymous heroes multiply, and their stories inspire us.

Here at WRI Brasil, we are particularly shaken by the tragedy: One of our offices is in Porto Alegre, where we have dozens of friends, collaborators and partners. We have been taking actions to minimize the impact and take care of the people affected.

The situation is one of uncertainty, concern and fear. Floodwaters are still rising in some areas. Every day brings new reports of water and power shortages. It is a time for solidarity in aiding those stranded and helping those in need, especially as winter approaches.

It’s also a time for analysis and action — especially after people return to their homes, resume their lives and reconstruction efforts begin.

A rescue effort in Igrejinha, Brazil. Flooding in the state of Rio Grande do Sul has left hundreds dead and thousands injured and displaced. Photo by Rafa Campez/Shutterstock

The Southern region of Brazil has already been hit by five extratropical cyclones in the last 12 months — a situation exacerbated in 2024 by a strong El Niño. According to the National Confederation of Municipalities, more than 28.8 million people in Brazil were affected by disasters related to rain, floods and landslides between 2017 and 2022. In just one year, these disasters cost over R$ 105 billion ($20.4 billion) from public coffers.

Intense rainfall and prolonged droughts  are increasingly becoming Brazil's new reality, making urban preparedness an urgent task. We are living in extreme times. There are many factors that contributed to this humanitarian and environmental crisis. All are relevant and deserve careful consideration due to their complexity and interconnectedness.

One is a failure of government domestically. Risk mitigation projects and disaster prevention measures have been shelved for years across all levels of government. Management has been inadequate. There has been little integration between states and municipalities. There are still politicians and public administrators who doubt climate change or do not use climatological models at the appropriate spatial and temporal scales for their planning. Ecological zoning is in its infancy. There is a lack of resources. In recent years, environmental legislation has been dismantled, reducing Brazil’s resilience to climatic shocks. This lack of prioritization is evident across all political ideologies, highlighting a systemic issue in our national political thinking.

But in many ways, this is not a disaster of Brazil’s making. The whole planet is experiencing increasingly rapid climate changes due largely to the greenhouse gases produced by a handful of wealthy nations.

In just the past few weeks, several countries across different continents have faced disastrous consequences. Our colleagues in WRI Africa are dealing with heavy rains and dam breaches in Kenya. A highway slid down a mountainside in the south of China. Airport runways were submerged in the Dubai desert. Mines flooded in Australia..

"In this context, it is important to remember that the impacts of climate change disproportionately affect the most vulnerable and compel us to urgently seek adaptation solutions," said Luis Antonio Lindau, Director of Cities at WRI Brasil.

This is no shortage of quality data forecasting climate change’s escalating risks. In Brazil, public institutions like the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) have long indicated the country's high risk to extreme precipitation and droughts, as well as gradual events like sea-level rise, said Karen Silverwood-Cope, Director of Climate at WRI Brasil.

We also largely know the solutions.  Risk reduction measures such as efficient alert systems and disaster management are important, but not enough. In many regions, we are still relying on 20th-century infrastructure focused almost solely on concrete and steel. We must shift to 21st-century infrastructure that utilizes nature-based solutions — things like restoring degraded forests to provide a buffer against floods and erosion, or protecting wetlands to absorb excessive rainfall.

New solutions also include urban land use management aligned with housing policies. We must address housing issues, focusing on master plans and zoning that consider the complexity of urban fabric. Providing safe housing close to job opportunities, education and leisure is crucial — not only for improving quality of life, but for enhancing resilience to the impacts of climate change.

These new solutions require significant investments in prevention and adaptation. They demand cooperation between municipalities and states; rivers cut across bureaucratic borders and show us, once again, the need for integrated responses. They require that climate financing for adaptation and resilience actually reach the most vulnerable. And they require coordination between governments, civil society and business.

Volunteers help with rescue efforts in Montenegro, Rio Grande du Sol, Brazil, after waters from the Guaíba river flooded the area. Photo by rodrigorsch/Shutterstock

Amidst all this tragedy, we hold onto a hopeful outlook. Reports from our team in Porto Alegre indicate that the greatest rescue and assistance efforts are coming from "our people," ordinary citizens. They are people who have chosen to stay in the city and help neighbors and strangers in the most affected neighborhoods. They are risking their health and well-being to wade into the muddy waters of Guaíba that have inundated the city. They are mobilizing through social media and organizing rescue teams on boats, jet skis, boats, rubber rafts, on foot — however possible. They are aiding the courageous firefighters, Civil Defense, and social assistance teams from cities and rural towns.

Political will must match the spirit we’re seeing from Brazilian cities today to address the new economic, social and environmental challenges brought by climate change. It is high time leaders dared to do more and differently, inspired by the thousands of people risking their lives and mobilizing to help strangers. When I look at this movement, I see a powerful human force. It is from this energy that we need to draw strength to face the challenges posed by the climate emergency.

porto-alegre-floods.jpg Freshwater Brazil floods Climate Climate Resilience adaptation Type Commentary Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Authors Cristiane Fontes (Krika)
wil.thomas@wri.org

The US Needs to Lower Cement Emissions. ‘Blended Cement’ Can Help.

2 semanas 1 día ago
The US Needs to Lower Cement Emissions. ‘Blended Cement’ Can Help. alicia.cypress… Thu, 05/09/2024 - 21:40

Cement manufacturing is a major contributor to global warming — if the industry was a country, it would be the world’s third-largest greenhouse gas emitter. To decarbonize the industry and reach net zero, a range of existing and emerging technology solutions will be needed — there’s no silver bullet. But in the U.S., there is a relatively untapped solution that can help reduce emissions and make the cement sector more competitive with the rest of the world.

U.S. cement is more emissions intensive than cement produced in other countries. This is in part because the U.S. is lagging in the adoption of low-carbon “blended cements,” a readily available decarbonization solution used in many other countries. While shifting U.S. manufacturing processes to embrace blended cements would make sense both economically and environmentally, it’s not just manufacturers who need to act — the construction industry and policymakers at all levels need to get on board.

Why US Cement Is Emissions Intensive

To understand why U.S. cement is especially emissions intensive, it’s important to discuss its relationship to concrete. While everyday language often confuses concrete and cement, the two materials are distinct. Concrete is the final product we see in buildings, roads and bridges. Cement is the key ingredient that holds it all together and is the primary source of greenhouse gas emissions from making concrete.

The main source of emissions in cement comes from the clinker, an intermediary binding material in cement. Clinker is created using an emissions-intensive process that heats up limestone and other materials. In total, around 70% of carbon dioxide emissions from making concrete results from the production of clinker.

U.S. cement produces more emissions than cement made in many other countries because it contains more clinker. The average clinker-to-cement ratio in the U.S. is 0.88 (i.e., 880 kilograms clinker per ton of cement). The world average is 0.76, and in the EU, India and China, the ratio is between 0.64 and 0.76. In 2019, the emissions intensity of cement production in the U.S. was around 20% higher than that of other major cement-producing parts of the world.

The reason for the difference is unlike the U.S., other countries largely produce cement by swapping some of the clinker with low-carbon materials known as supplementary cementitious materials (SCMs). SCMs include waste byproducts such as slag and fly ash or other natural materials such as clay. This clinker substitution is typically done while making cement at the plant to produce “blended cements.” U.S. manufacturers do not often include SCMs in significant quantities while making cement, though SCMs are generally added to the cement during the mixing of the concrete itself.

How Clinker Substitution Plays a Role in Reducing Cement Emissions

Since SCMs are included in concrete in the U.S., it is important to consider whether the difference in cement emissions intensity across countries is really a fair “apples-to-apples” comparison. Comparison of total binder (i.e., binding materials including cement and SCMs) to concrete ratio would be a better measure to compare clinker substitution in the U.S. to other countries. However, data on the extent to which SCMs are replacing cement, and in effect clinker, in U.S. concrete is hard to come by. Consistent public data on the concrete mixes and related greenhouse gas emissions is not available for the thousands of concrete suppliers across the United States.

Cement in its powder form before water is mixed in. Cement production in the U.S. is more emissions intensive than many other parts of the world, in part because it doesn't swap clinker with lower-carbon supplementary cementitious materials. Photo by Aumada/iStock. 

Recent estimates of the average amount of cement used to make concrete in the U.S — 10% to 15% by volume — are consistent with the rest of the world. And a recent report indicated that U.S. concrete emission intensities are higher than some other countries. This suggests that the higher emissions intensity of cement production in the U.S. is a real concern that isn’t addressed in the process of making concrete. A contributing factor could be the prescriptive content-based standards for concrete, set by various state agencies in 37 U.S. states, that define the maximum amount of cement substitution allowed.

Since there are far fewer cement producers compared to concrete producers, the fastest and most transparent way to address this would be to encourage clinker substitution by adding SCMs when producing cement.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) considers clinker substitution to be the most powerful lever to decarbonize cement through 2030 and estimates that deploying blended cements would reduce U.S. cement emissions by 20% to 25% in its latest Low-Carbon Cement Commercial Liftoff report. In addition to reducing the emissions intensity of concrete, adding SCMs can increase the strength of cement and reduce the overall cost of making cement, the latter of which could generate $1 billion in additional value annually, according to the DOE.

So Why Is the US Lagging on Blended Cements?

The U.S. cement sector is one of the oldest in the modern world and makes cement in a way that has worked well for two centuries. It is also a relatively cheap material with no incentives to use it and its ingredients more judiciously. There are many headwinds to shifting the industry, including long-standing historical practices, institutional inertia, a lack of information about the use of blended cements and the risk-averse nature of the construction industry. This combination leads to low acceptance levels of lower-carbon blended cements by purchasers.

For example, while standards that allow for clinker substitution in cement have been available in the U.S. for more than a decade — such as the ASTM’s C1157 performance-based standard for cement and C595 content-based standard for the addition of SCMs —  they have not been readily adopted by government procurement agencies and private sector contractors that decide which materials will be used in construction projects. The most commonly used cement in the U.S., known as Portland cement, is produced using the ASTM C150 standard, which allows for only a 5% replacement of clinker. Meanwhile, in the EU, the most common type of cement (CEM II) has a clinker substitution rate between 6% and 35%.

Efforts to Decarbonize the US Cement Industry

U.S. government and industry are both ramping up action and investment to decarbonize the cement sector. The DOE recently awarded $1.6 billion to six projects focused on decarbonizing cement. Three of the six projects funded aim to demonstrate commercial scale production of limestone calcined clay (LC3), a type of blended cement.

There are also currently two bipartisan bills in Congress — the Concrete and Asphalt Innovation Act and the IMPACT Act — which seek to promote research, development and demonstration projects in low-carbon cement and concrete, and create markets for these products. At the 2023 UN climate change conference (COP28), the U.S. reaffirmed its pledge to the UN Industrial Deep Decarbonization Initiative, promising to source low-carbon cement, steel and concrete for publicly-funded projects.

A 2023 DOE report showcased the standard for the blended cement known as Portland Limestone Cement (PLC) which has recently been adopted by all state departments of transportation. This has led to blended cements accounting for 35% of cement consumed in the U.S. in 2023, up from just 3% in 2020. While this is good progress, it has likely reduced cement emissions intensity by a nominal amount (about 5%) because the standard for PLC only allows up to 15% replacement of clinker with raw limestone. Therefore, government agencies need to encourage the use of blended cements with much higher clinker substitution rates such as LC3, which can replace up to 40% of clinker using combinations of SCMs based on existing standards. This case study demonstrates that promoting material standards for similar blended cements like LC3 can be an effective tool for scaling clinker substitution and the use of lower-carbon blended cements.

Cement trucks are parked inside a cement factory in Brooklyn, N.Y. State departments of transportation across the U.S. have adopted the use of Portland Limestone Cement, which has led to blended cements accounting for 35% of cement consumed in the U.S. in 2023. Photo by David Grossman/Alamy Stock Photo.

The Portland Cement Association (PCA), which represents many U.S. cement producers, has set a target of reducing its clinker-to-cement ratio to 0.75 by 2050. And the Global Cement and Concrete Association, which represents 40% of the world’s cement producers and 85% of U.S. cement producers, aims to decrease the global average clinker ratio to 0.58 by 2050.

To keep abreast of international targets, the U.S. cement and concrete sector clearly needs to take further steps and needs better policies to support a 0.58 or lower clinker-to-cement ratio target by 2050.

How the US Can Reduce Emissions from Cement and Concrete

Reducing the amount of clinker in cement, as well as the amount of cement in concrete, are decarbonization solutions that must be deployed in tandem and across the value chain

Government policies can help propel this change. Some ways U.S. policymakers can help increase uptake could include:

  • Promoting materials standards. At the cement stage of the value chain, performance and content standards that allow greater clinker substitution, such as ASTM’s C1157 and C595 for blended cements, need to be promoted among state agencies and government and private contractors in lieu of the more rigid C150 Portland cement content standard. Similarly, performance standards need to be adopted for concrete to allow greater cement substitution. Standards should be frequently updated to accommodate innovation and newer cement blends. Policymakers should also encourage further production of SCMs through grants and permits, particularly for natural products like clay, to ensure robust supply chains and future availability of these substitutes.
  • Developing emissions reporting and benchmarking standards. To improve data availability, cement and concrete manufacturers should be encouraged to adopt standards such as Type III environmental product declarations (EPDs) to ensure consistent reporting of emissions intensity. The U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is developing the EPD assistance and carbon labeling programs for harmonized standards, must ensure manufacturers are able to demonstrate lower emissions with the use of blended cements and SCMs in the concrete mix in a consistent and accessible way.
  • Leveraging demand-side policies. Concrete producers, who are the primary purchasers of cement, need incentives and market signals to purchase low-emission, blended cements. Procurement policies like Buy Clean and advance market commitments, which aim to use the government’s purchasing power to create demand for green products, can be used to build the market for blended cements.
  • Increasing awareness across the value chain. To increase awareness and acceptance throughout the value chain, pilot programs and demonstration projects should be launched by agencies such as DOE, EPA and state departments of transportation showcasing the environmental and economic benefits as well as strength and durability of blended cements to contractors and architects.
Why the US Should Ramp Up Efforts on Blended Cement

Clinker substitution to create blended cements is one solution that can be implemented today to reduce emissions from the cement sector. Its potential in the U.S., in particular, needs to be harnessed by increasing the types of blended cements, lowering the amount of clinker in cement blends and improving data reporting to verify reduced cement quantities in and emissions from concrete.

At the same time, multiple emerging technologies such as novel cements, alternative fuels and carbon capture will be needed to completely decarbonize the cement sector. The recent federal investments in these technologies offer unparalleled opportunities toward decarbonizing the U.S. cement sector in the medium- to long-term.

Scaled adoption of blended cements in the U.S. in the near-term would therefore ensure that the U.S. cement sector continues to innovate, positioning the country to become a front-runner in low-carbon cement production.

pouring-cement.jpg U.S. Climate United States industry Climate climate policy U.S. Climate low carbon development Type Commentary Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Authors Ankita Gangotra Kevin Kennedy Willy Carlsen
alicia.cypress@wri.org

Under New Guidance, 'Sustainable' Aviation Fuel in the US Could Be Anything But

2 semanas 1 día ago
Under New Guidance, 'Sustainable' Aviation Fuel in the US Could Be Anything But margaret.overh… Thu, 05/09/2024 - 16:00

The U.S. aviation industry has set a target to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, primarily through the use of so-called “sustainable aviation fuels” (SAF). One of its key levers to achieve this goal is a generous tax credit in the Inflation Reduction Act for sustainable fuels that reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% compared to petroleum jet fuel.

But new guidance laying out how fuel providers will measure emissions reductions in order to receive this tax credit flies in the face of stated climate goals.

The guidance, finalized on April 30, opens the door to tax credits for fuel made from corn ethanol or vegetable oils — despite strong evidence that these crop-based “biofuels” actually increase net emissions while diverting valuable cropland away from food production.

This would be a sharp turn in the wrong direction. U.S. domestic flights were responsible for 150 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions (MtCO2) in 2019, representing almost 3% of the country’s total emissions. With air travel projected to grow rapidly, aviation emissions are expected to roughly double by 2050, both in the U.S. and globally. And that’s before factoring in a heavier reliance on unsustainable biofuels.

The Biden administration's final guidance for the SAF tax credit bows to pressure from the biofuels industry rather than adhering to the best available science for modeling lifecycle airline emissions, which shows that — instead of being a climate solution — crop-based aviation fuels are even worse than their fossil fuel alternatives and could increase hunger and habitat destruction.

Powering Airplanes with Crops Is Not Sustainable

Many scientists and international regulatory bodies have concluded that growing crops to make aviation fuel does not reduce emissions on a full lifecycle basis (from crop production through to processing and consumption). This is because it displaces food crops, which drives the expansion of cropland into forests and grasslands both in the U.S. and globally to compensate for lost food production. Converting forest or grassland to cropland releases stored carbon and severely reduces carbon sequestration on that land in the future.

Because powering airplanes with crops is also extremely inefficient, the effects on food security and global forests would be severe. For example, 1.7 gallons of corn ethanol are needed to make 1 gallon of sustainable aviation fuel. If the U.S. were to reach its stated goal of 35 billion gallons of SAF using ethanol — which is currently its leading approach — this would require 114 million acres1 of corn. That’s 20% more than the total area currently planted with corn in the United States for all purposes.

Cleared corn fields in front of an ethanol plant in Portage, Wisconsin. Meeting the United States’ target for sustainable aviation fuel with corn-based ethanol alone would require 20% more cropland than is currently used for corn production in the country. Photo by Aaron of L.A. Photography/Shutterstock

Ethanol production does generate some useful by products, such as animal feed, which would otherwise be made with purpose-grown crops. But even after accounting for this, the overall increase in corn demand driven by biofuel production would ultimately drive-up food prices and increase hunger. It would also foreclose almost 500 Mt of land-based carbon sequestration due to displaced food production, which can replace natural lands with agriculture or prevent using land for activities like reforestation. When accounting for total emissions, including production emissions and loss of soil organic carbon due to tillage, the impact would be even higher: 782 MtCO2.

This represents a net increase in emissions of approximately 340 Mt when compared to burning the same amount of petroleum-based jet fuel, equivalent to the emissions from 75 million gas-powered passenger vehicles.

SAF made from soy oil would likely have an even bigger impact because soy is less efficient than corn at producing energy. Further, there is one interconnected global market for vegetable oil and new production overwhelmingly comes from the expansion of oil palm and soybeans in the tropics, where they are major drivers of deforestation. If just one-quarter of the world’s aviation fuel likely needed in 2050 were to come from vegetable oil, its production would need to double globally.

Perhaps surprisingly, scaling up carbon removal technology to compensate for the emissions from burning 35 billion gallons of petroleum-based jet fuel would require much less land than replacing it gallon-for-gallon with crop-based fuel. If, for example, direct air capture technology powered by solar energy were used to remove 434 million MtCO2 per year — the amount that would result from 35 billion gallons of petroleum jet fuel — it would require around 3.7 million acres of land. The amount of land needed to replace the same volume of fuel with corn ethanol is around 30 times higher in this scenario.

These types of carbon removal technologies are still nascent and should not be considered a silver bullet; reaching net-zero aviation emissions will require a multifaceted approach. But carbon removal will be needed to compensate for emissions that can’t be avoided and to remove excess carbon dioxide that is already in the atmosphere.

Where Do Emissions Accounting Models Get It Wrong?

Developing more sustainable aviation fuels depends on being able to accurately compare emissions across various fuel types, including from both their use and production.

The International Air Transport Association defines sustainable aviation fuels as those that reduce CO2 emissions by up to 80% compared to conventional jet fuel and are made from feedstocks that “do not compete with food crops or output, nor require incremental resource usage such as water or land clearing.” The Inflation Reduction Act's SAF tax credit also offers emissions-reduction guidance: It starts at $1.25 per gallon for SAF that reduces lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% compared to conventional jet fuel, increasing by an additional 1 cent per gallon for each percentage point of emissions reductions beyond this threshold.

This begs the question: How should the full lifecycle emissions from producing and burning aviation fuel be calculated?

The Inflatin Reduction Act refers to a model adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) or any similar methodology that satisfies criteria established by the U.S. Clean Air Act. Following an intense lobbying campaign by the ethanol industry, the Treasury’s recent guidance allows for the use of an alternative model, a version of GREET, which opens the door for corn ethanol and other crop-based biofuels to qualify for the credit. Major U.S. airlines supported the ethanol industry’s push despite previously agreeing that SAF production should not compete with food production.

Areial view of an expansive soy plantation carved out of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. Diverting farmland to crop-based biofuel production can drive deforestation and reduce land-based carbon storage both in the U.S. and abroad as new land is converted to growing food. Photo by PARALAXIS/Shutterstock

While much of the discussion surrounding the SAF tax credit has focused on which model should be used to estimate airline emissions, more important are the assumptions incorporated into a given model — in particular, how it accounts for the impact of dedicating farmland to fuel production rather than food production.

Models which suggest that these “indirect land-use change” emissions are small compared with petroleum emissions often underestimate the amount of new land needed to grow food, implicitly assuming that poor people will eat less because food prices rise when crops are diverted to fuel production. Shockingly, these models count this as a climate benefit and ignore the huge harm that underlies it. Other models make arbitrary assumptions which imply that no forests will be cleared to replace the cropland used for fuel, despite the fact that an average of 3.3 million acres of forests are already being cleared each year to make room for expanded palm and soybean oil production. 

Besides relying on opaque and unverifiable assumptions, these complex global models can produce dramatically different results. A much more straightforward approach is to consider the following thought experiment: If there really are millions of acres of prime farmland that aren’t needed for food production, what would be the best use of that land to mitigate climate change? The commonsense answer (supported by rigorous analysis) is that avoiding additional deforestation and restoring forests to previously cleared land is 2-4 times more effective at curbing climate change than turning food into fuel over a 30-year period.

How Should the U.S. Approach the Challenge of Decarbonizing Aviation?

Both airlines and policymakers have conveyed a commitment to decarbonize aviation, but crop-based biofuels are clearly not the way to achieve this goal. More research, investment and innovation are needed to understand the best pathways to net-zero aviation emissions, and there are already ideas and technologies in play that offer promising places to start addressing this challenge.

  • Invest in rail infrastructure: High-speed rail can be more convenient than flying for short- to medium-length trips (less than 500 miles) and can be powered by zero-emissions electricity. U.S. rail infrastructure is far behind that in Europe and parts of Asia, although a few projects are under development.
  • Restrict biofuel production to waste biomass: Plant material left over after harvesting crops and lumber, as well as municipal wastes, have the potential to supply a truly carbon-negative biogenic fuel, particularly when the processing of these fuels is coupled with carbon capture and storage technology. However, the amount of waste biomass available would only produce a portion of total aviation fuel. Estimates of waste biofuel SAF capacity range from supplying 5.5% of European aviation fuel demand in 2030 to up to about 20% of U.S.’s aviation fuel demand in 2050.
  • Explore synthetic e-fuels: Also known as “power-to-liquid fuels,” synthetic fuels like e-kerosene can be produced from captured carbon and hydrogen obtained from water and renewable energy. Europe’s SAF mandate requires that at least 2% of aviation fuel come from synthetic fuels by 2030. Current challenges to expanding the use of synthetic fuels include the high cost and obstacles in scaling production.
  • Use batteries to power short flights: The batteries that would be needed for long-haul flights are currently too heavy to be used, but battery-powered short-range flights have already been proven viable. Companies in the U.S. plan to produce battery-powered planes that can serve commercial flights ranging from 100-150 miles in the coming years.
  • Support development of hydrogen-powered flights: Hydrogen, which can be made from water using renewable electricity, could be the ultimate solution for aviation if fuel handling and storage challenges can be resolved. Several companies are developing planes powered by hydrogen fuel cells for use in short- to medium-haul flights, similar to battery-powered planes. Hydrogen could also be burned in modified jet engines, a concept that Airbus is hoping to commercialize by 2035.

These pathways will require time for development and scaling. In the meantime, permanent carbon removal can compensate for emissions from burning petroleum jet fuel and would require far less land than crop-based biofuels. Carbon removal should not be seen as enabling airlines to continue burning petroleum indefinitely, and offsets claimed using carbon removal should adhere to rigorous standards to ensure their efficacy. Concerns over greenwashing have already led to a class-action lawsuit against Delta Airlines questioning the effectiveness of their emissions offset program.

Although it is not yet clear what will be the most effective way to decarbonize aviation by mid-century, it is certain that crop-based aviation fuels are not the answer. To ensure real reductions in emissions, incentives should be reserved for solutions that are actually sustainable.

 

1 Assumes 2022 average corn yields of 173.3 bushels per acre, as reported by USDA, and a production rate of 1 bushel of corn needed to produce 3 gallons of ethanol, based on EIA and USDA data.

Editor's Note: This article, originally published on Dec. 20, 2023, was updated on May 9, 2024, to reflect the latest news and information.

 

airplane-refueling Climate United States Climate U.S. Climate biofuels transportation climate policy GHG emissions Type Commentary Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Authors Dan Lashof Audrey Denvir
margaret.overholt@wri.org

8 Things to Know about Electric School Bus Repowers

2 semanas 2 días ago
8 Things to Know about Electric School Bus Repowers ciara.regan@wri.org Wed, 05/08/2024 - 13:00

Repowering existing school buses with a new electric drivetrain shows promise to provide school bus operators with a lower cost and more sustainable vehicle compared to buying a brand-new electric school bus. An electric repower — sometimes referred to as an electric conversion or retrofit — involves the removal of a vehicle’s internal combustion engine that runs on a fossil fuel like diesel, gasoline, propane or natural gas and replacing it with an electric drive system, transforming the vehicle to one that is fully battery-electric with no tailpipe emissions. Repowers present a unique approach to fleet electrification and have prompted questions and interest from many involved in advancing school transportation. 

Today, electric conversions are performed on several vehicle types. In the United States, this includes heavy-duty transit buses and motorcoaches. Now, the yellow school bus is taking center-stage as the next opportunity to deploy this technology. The first school bus repowers were performed in 2014, but more recently, the availability of this technology has grown substantially with repowered school bus models currently available from several electric vehicle conversion companies.

In recent months, interest in this technology continues to build momentum, bolstered by public repower announcements. This includes a partnership between SEA Electric and the bus dealer, Midwest Transit to repower 10,000 school buses over the next five years; Blue Bird Corporation’s factory certified repower program with Lightning eMotors to convert Type C gas- and propane-powered school buses; and additional deployments from Unique Electric Solutions, who has seven repowered electric school buses in operation today.

As experience with repowers grows, we will continue to learn about the benefits and challenges of this approach. Here are eight things school bus operators should evaluate when considering repowered buses to meet their electrification goals. 

1) Repowered School Buses Cost Less than New Electric School Buses

Repowered buses have lower upfront purchase prices than new electric school buses. While brand new buses typically cost over $300,000, repowered school buses can cost substantially less — usually between $110,000 to $180,000 (excluding a used bus purchase). The bus to be repowered can be sourced from within a fleet, or a used bus can be purchased. Depending on the approach, this can impact the upfront price of repowering.

Like all electric vehicles, repowered buses can be expected to have lower maintenance costs than those with internal combustion engines. Similarly, the costs of charging infrastructure are equivalent to what is needed for new electric school buses. Repowers may also qualify for certain state government incentive programs, and for school districts with limited or no grant funding, repowers can offer a lower price solution than the purchase of a new electric school bus.

2) Incentive Programs Can Help Fund Repowers

Several state programs support repowered electric school buses by including them as eligible vehicle types in policies or incentives. The lower upfront price of repowers can increase the impact of incentive dollars, further lowering the purchase price for school districts.

Voucher programs in California and New York allow up to $43,500 and $120,000, respectively, for eligible repowered school buses. In Colorado, recent legislation created a new $65 million grant program that explicitly includes electric repowers. Similarly, in New Jersey, a $45 million pilot program allows for the inclusion of repowered school buses.

Repowers can help states meet fleet electrification goals, since they can help increase the available production capacity of electric school buses, which remains limited in scale compared to conventional school bus manufacturing.

For federal funds, the EPA Clean School Bus Program, has excluded electric conversions from both its first round of rebates and its grant program. Repowers can qualify under the Diesel Reduction Act program, but this approach has not yet been used. Going forward, there are opportunities for both programs to consider how to more fully support repowers for electric school buses.

Some existing funding programs designated for electric school buses, such as state-administered Volkswagen Settlement Funding, requires scrapping the old fossil-fuel bus when replacing it with a new bus. This involves drilling a 3-inch hole in the engine block and/or cutting the vehicle frame rails. Where bus replacement programs consider scrapping of the engine block to be a sufficient demonstration of scrappage, the chassis and bus body can be used for a repowered model.

3) Repowered School Buses Offer Environmental, Health and Social Benefits

Like new electric school buses, repowering offers several health benefits for children and their communities by reducing exposure to diesel exhaust — which has known links to physical health effects, including cancer and asthma, as well as cognitive impacts. If a diesel school bus is repowered rather than sold, it can prevent that internal combustion engine from continuing to pollute in another state or country, assuming the engine is scrapped.

Diesel engine and drivetrain parts are removed from a repowered electric bus. Photo by Unique Electric Solutions.

The emissions benefits of repowers also go beyond vehicle operation. When repowers result in an extended life of a bus’s chassis and bus body, they may be responsible for even lower manufacturing-related carbon dioxide emissions than newly-manufactured electric school buses.  For every school bus chassis and body that is reused, it reduces the need to manufacture a new bus. This includes avoided manufacturing emissions associated with building a new bus and reduced demand for emissions-intensive materials like steel, promoting a more circular economy.

Finally, repowers have the potential to incorporate more local labor involvement. With proper training and facilities, authorized dealers and school bus operators can potentially perform a repower locally with a repower system (or kit) shipped to them.

4) The Repower Process and Supply Chain Mimic that of Brand-New Electric School Buses

Brand new electric school buses are typically built by integrating an electric vehicle drive system with batteries and other high-voltage components into a chassis and then attaching the bus body. Some manufacturers use a more vertically integrated model where they may produce much of the powertrain, battery packs, bus body, chassis and other parts in-house while others use a diversified supply chain relying on several suppliers for these components.

Technicians assemble a wiring harness for a school bus repower. Photo by SEA Electric.

Repowered school buses are typically built with a similar electric drive system to new electric school buses and often use the same suppliers for battery packs and other components. The key difference is repowers do not use a brand-new chassis and body and instead take advantage of an existing bus from a fleet or dealer. The most complex part of school bus repowering is ensuring the new electric powertrain system seamlessly integrates with existing systems in the bus chassis and body (steering, brakes, lights, instrument cluster, etc.). Depending on the bus, repowering may also involve refurbishing the interior or exterior of the bus, such as adding new seats or a fresh coat of paint.

In addition, the repower process is more prevalent in electric school bus manufacturing than meets the eye. In the 2010s, before medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicles were widely available for purchase, many start-ups and demonstration projects purchased a new or used diesel vehicle and converted it with an electric drive system. This manufacturing model persists in some new electric school buses produced today, especially for Type A school buses (small buses that typically carry 10 to 16 passengers). As of 2023, more than half of electric Type A school bus models available are new-vehicle repowers. These buses are constructed using a new internal combustion engine cutaway from Ford or General Motors, the engine is removed, and an electric drive system is installed — all of which occurs before the bus goes into service.

5) Repowers Can Avoid Some Supply Chain Hurdles

Due to current supply chain challenges, repowers also have the potential to meet the growing demand for electric school buses because they require fewer parts from global suppliers than new buses. This supply advantage is most relevant for any delays that may arise on school bus chassis and body components. Because new and repowered buses use a comparable electric powertrain, both would face supply challenges for batteries, inverters, or electric motors. With this benefit, repowers can further increase the available annual production capacity for electric school buses.

6) More Companies are Offering Commercial Electric School Bus Repowering

The electric school bus sector has both established repower companies and new, emerging businesses. Unique Electric Solutions (UES) and SEA Electric have public orders or deliveries of repowered electric school buses in the U.S., and Blue Bird Corporation, a nearly century-old school bus manufacturer, recently announced repowers would be available for select internal combustion engine buses in partnership with Lightning eMotors beginning 2023. Several emerging repower companies have also announced their intention to expand into the school bus repower market.

@media only screen and (min-width: 600px) { .table-1 { margin: 0 15% 0 15%; width: 70%; } } Active Electric School Bus Repower Companies in the U.S. (May 2024)

Company

ESB repower locations

Bus types repowered

 

Repower cost (excludes any bus refurbishment)

Has the company delivered ESB repowers?

Does the company repower other vehicle types?

Available battery & drivetrain warranty?

Bison EV Retrofits

Robbinsville, NC

A, C, D

$120,000-$180,000

No

Vans & tactical vehicles

Yes

Blue Bird Corporation

Authorized Blue Bird conversion centers in the U.S. and Canada

 C

Repower pricing lower than initial purchase cost of equivalent EV

No

No

Yes

Legacy EV

Tempe, AZ

A, C, D

Parts starting at ~$120k

Labor ~$20k - $80k

No

Vans, trucks, street sweepers, boats, utility vehicles, and more. All delivered. 

Yes

Optimal EV

Authorized Fontaine Modification locations

A

NA

No

Vehicles built on Ford E-450 platform

Yes

Phoenix Motorcars

Anaheim, CA

A

NA

No

Any body or application build on Ford E-450 platform

Yes

SEA Electric

Des Moines, IA

A, C

<$150,000

Yes

Yes

Yes

Unique Electric Solutions

Holbrook, NY

Costa Mesa, CA

A, B, C, D

$110,000-$175,000

Yes

Shuttle bus, motorcoach, class 3-8 trucks

Yes

Source: WRI ESB Buyers Guide 2023, company websites, WRI correspondence with companies.

Note: Inclusion in this list does not constitute endorsement and the World Resources Institute and the Electric School Bus Initiative do not recommend any firm over another.

7) Age of a Repowered School Bus Matters

The age of the internal combustion school bus that will be repowered can affect performance, cost, environmental benefits and usability of the bus. For example, repowering a 10-year-old school bus will mean having an electric bus with older brakes, seats, paint and accessories while repowering a 3-year-old bus will mean starting with newer parts. The cutoff for a “new” versus “old” school bus is subjective and depends on the mileage, wear-and-tear, weathering, and other conditions of the base bus. Some repower add-ons can include refurbishing the bus by adding newer bus seats or coat of yellow paint.

When repowering younger buses this may mean that, like a new electric bus, the repower’s high-voltage battery could reach its end-of-life and require replacement before the rest of the vehicle reaches its own end-of-life. Based on a review of warranties, electric school bus battery lifespan is estimated to be about 8 years, but because electric school buses are a relatively newer technology, it is too early to assign exact figures. For new or repowered buses, battery replacement should be factored into total cost of ownership estimates.

As part of the repower process, technicians install an electric motor and high-voltage cables between the school bus chassis frame rails. Photo by SEA Electric.

In addition to bus wear-and-tear, it also may be necessary to factor in regulations on bus age. States and school districts may limit the age of school buses used for student transportation. In New Jersey, for instance, some school buses can only be used for student transportation for 12 years from the date of manufacture, which significantly limits the useful life of a repowered school bus and may mean repowering makes less sense for older buses. To open the door for repowers, these regulations, created in part to limit emissions, may need to be revised.

Repower companies often prefer to focus on buses from a specific original equipment manufacturer (OEM), produced within a limited range of model years to reliably repower buses with similar chassis specifications and documented wiring diagrams. The company conducting the conversion ideally has the wiring diagrams and electrical schematics of the base bus from the OEM to ensure existing electronic and mechanical systems properly integrate and function with the new electric drive system. Depending on the bus make and model year, it may or may not fit expectations of the repower company. This can increase the time and cost of repowering, especially if that bus make and model has not been repowered previously.

Tradeoffs of Repowering Internal Combustion Engine School Buses vs. New Electric School Buses @media only screen and (min-width: 600px) { .table-2 { margin: 0 15% 0 15%; width: 70%; } }

 

Older school bus repower

(>7 years)

Newer school bus repower

 (<4 years)

Brand new ESB

Pros

 

  • ▪ Lower upfront price point. Bus can be more easily purchased without incentives
  • ▪ More flexibility to source chassis and body components during supply chain challenges
  • ▪ Ends internal combustion engine bus life and associated emissions
  • ▪ Avoids emissions with lesser material and manufacturing demands
  • ▪ Labor for installation can be local
  • ▪ Warranty on electric powertrain and battery
  • ▪ Potential for new business models for bus leasing after repowering
  • ▪ New condition for interior and exterior
  • ▪ Most generous federal and state incentives available
  • ▪ Longest useful life and maximizes any state limitations on bus age
  • ▪ Dedicated warranty and dealer support
  • ▪ Removes the most polluting buses from the road
  • ▪ Lightly used condition limits need for interior or exterior refurbishing
  • ▪ State rules on maximum bus age can more easily be met

---

Cons

 

  • ▪ Variations by bus make, model and model year; not all buses are good candidates for repowering
  • ▪ Fewer purchase incentives available
  • ▪ In most cases, OEM warranty on base bus body and chassis are voided
  • ▪ May encounter regulatory hurdles to ensure bus is up to local and state specifications
  • ▪ Higher upfront price point. Purchase often needs support of incentives
  • ▪ All bus components dependent on functioning supply chain
  • ▪ Greater material demand and manufacturing needs
  • ▪ Heavily used condition likely needs more refurbishing or upgrades
  • ▪ Lesser longevity
    • ▪ State rules on maximum bus age may apply

 

 

  • ▪ If purchasing a used bus to repower, a newer model bus is more costly

---

Notes: The listed pros and cons linked to bus age may vary by bus type, weathering, state regulations, and repower company. Source: WRI.

8) Safety Compliance and Regulations Vary

School buses fall into specific safety and compliance regulations at the federal, state and sometimes local levels. Whether a repowered bus meets those specifications will vary based on the bus and the existing regulatory approach. Fleets can request documentation on various safety and testing requirements to ensure that repowered school buses will meet or exceed safety regulations and are able to operate in their state or local area, especially if the bus will operate in a new locality.

At the federal level, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issues Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards which implements laws to maximize safety for all U.S. vehicles. Repower manufacturers may be considered vehicle alterers or modifiers, which can dictate the specific safety standards still in compliance from the original vehicle and special labeling.

In addition, there are 50 different state school bus compliance considerations. For example, in California, the California Highway Patrol must be involved in inspecting and approving a new school bus for use, and in New York, the New York State Department of Transportation inspects all school buses at least every six months. In Florida, the Department of Education recently approved updated school bus specifications that explicitly exclude buses converted to electric. There may also be local regulations and policies for school buses like width limitations in New York City or required third-party testing like the Altoona Bus Testing.

Looking Ahead

Repowered school buses use a comparable electric powertrain to a brand-new electric school bus priced at around half the cost of a new electric school bus. This approach to school bus electrification can help mitigate current supply chain challenges, promote a more circular economy and may even reduce waste and manufacturing-related emissions. While there are limited numbers of repowers on the road today, there is an increasing number of state and local provisions for repowers in funding programs. For the ever-growing list of school districts and fleet operators looking to electrify and facing the high cost of new electric school buses, repowers present a promising option to complement new vehicle orders and accelerate the transition to zero-emission school bus fleets.

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published Feb. 22, 2023. It was updated on May 8, 2024, to reflect the latest data and information.

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ciara.regan@wri.org

Mexico Made Safe Mobility a Human Right — Here’s How Its Streets Can Become Safer

2 semanas 2 días ago
Mexico Made Safe Mobility a Human Right — Here’s How Its Streets Can Become Safer alicia.cypress… Wed, 05/08/2024 - 09:25

Mexico became the first nation to declare access to safe mobility a human right in 2020 and two years later passed the General Law of Mobility and Road Safety to protect people, reduce collisions and promote sustainable modes of travel. Now, with this new constitutional mandate, it must redesign its streets to prioritize public transport modes and the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.

WRI research shows that relatively simple modifications — such as lowering vehicle speed limits, expanding sidewalks, adding crosswalks to streets and planting greenery along walkways — can make a huge difference in protecting pedestrians — especially women, children and other vulnerable road users — in Mexico and beyond.

Jalisco Is Paving the Way

Mexico’s cities, like most urban areas around the world, have designed their streets to prioritize fast-moving vehicle traffic, often neglecting pedestrian safety and accessibility. This prioritization has inadvertently marginalized pedestrian infrastructure, crucial not only as a sustainable mode of travel, but also for accessing public transport systems.

Even with increasing vehicle ownership across Latin America, walking is still the most common form of transportation in many urban areas. In Mexico City, walking represents 47% of all trips, yet only 10% of Mexico’s transportation spending is allocated to pedestrian infrastructure. The World Health Organization estimates there were 16,725 road crashes in 2016, and of these, pedestrians accounted for the largest share of deaths from road collisions (46%), higher than the rate for the entire Latin American region (35%).

The western state of Jalisco, along Mexico’s Pacific coast, is among the first in the country to invest in a transformation. The Jalisco state government, through the Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Works, has already identified the need to build streets that prioritize safe accessibility for pedestrians and integrate with public transport, especially near schools, hospitals, parks and public markets. 

These sidewalks in Mexico are poorly designed for pedestrians. The narrow walkways are often interrupted for vehicles' access, and steps, steep ramps, utility poles and planter boxers are impediments to walkers. Photo by WRI Mexico.

The state is currently planning projects that include an indicator system to evaluate the safety of bus rapid transit stations and ensure the surrounding infrastructure supports high quality access for pedestrians, including installing safe lighting, pedestrian crossing signals, and green buffer zones. The government of Jalisco is also strengthening the technical procedures for the design (and redesign) of public spaces near schools. These areas have a higher need for additional traffic-calming measures like wider sidewalks for children who are walking to school or riding their bikes next to caregivers, raised pedestrian crossings that also act like speed bumps and continuous plant strips to prevent people from crossing the road in unsafe locations.

7 Interventions that Make Streets Safer and More Sustainable

WRI Mexico has been working with state and local governments, including Jalisco, to standardize safer streets, especially around public spaces like schools and hospitals. Infrastructure such as pedestrian zones, green spaces, public transport and traffic calming measures are all examples of modifications that can be implemented not just in Mexico, but in cities around the world. Here are seven interventions cities should consider:

1) Redesigning Existing Streets

To make streets safer, city planners must first understand existing street elements such as road hierarchy (is it intended as a highway or a residential street?), lane width, signage and street lighting, which are basic concepts for a comprehensive starting point. But then the focus of a redesign needs to be on pedestrians. Speed management interventions, such as narrower car lanes, planting trees along the side of the road to create a feeling of enclosure, smaller turning radii at intersections and raised pedestrian crosswalks, can help make streets safer for walkers. Streetlights should be spaced every 30 meters (100 feet) apart on busy vehicle roads. But for smaller roads that see more pedestrians, streetlights should be placed closer — every 10 meters (33 feet) apart — to make streets brighter at night.

2) Pedestrian Infrastructure

A critical element of safe pedestrian infrastructure is even, unobstructed sidewalks. According to minimum safe design recommendations, sidewalks should span 1.8 meters (about 6 feet) with an additional buffer of 0.8 meters (2.6 feet) from road traffic. The buffer zone can include vegetation, street furniture, bike racks, utility poles or other infrastructure. The “Complete Streets” design principles include best practices for accommodating all road users, including obstacle-free pedestrian circulation, ramps with adequate dimensions, rest furniture such as benches, protected bike lanes and safe road crossings. Even if a city can’t fully implement a full complete streets design, each of its elements can provide individual value.

This sketch shows elements of a pedestrian-friendly sidewalk in a Complete Street design. It features three zones: On the left, an area to operate doors or windows from homes or businesses while providing space for furniture; in the middle, a pedestrian-through zone for people to walk by without encountering obstacles; and on the right, space for more infrastructure like bike parking, benches, vegetation and transit stops. Graphic by WRI Mexico. 3) Green Infrastructure

Green infrastructure offers solutions to the many environmental pressures cities face, such as air pollution, noise, flooding and extreme heat. For example, planting tall trees can provide shade, green walls can keep surfaces cool and more permeable surfaces such as rain gardens, bioswales or planter boxes can absorb rainwater. Landscaping and greenery can also be implemented alongside pedestrian infrastructure, utilizing space on medians and buffers, alongside walls and in roundabouts. Not only does greenery provide physical benefits, but it can also improve pedestrian safety by blocking people from stepping into busy roadways or preventing street crossings at dangerous points. The added greenery also has been proven to improve the visual landscape and increase residents’ happiness.

Green infrastructure provides many environmental solutions for cities. In the image on the left, the trees are too low to offer shade and the surrounding strip does not allow for rainwater absorption. The photo on the right, however, depicts a sidewalk with a continuous strip of trees that can create shade, provide climate regulation and visual improvement to the street. Photos by WRI Mexico.  4) Cycling Infrastructure

Cycling is a very efficient and inclusive mode of transportation that requires little space and resources. But more infrastructure and safety provisions could encourage more riders and fewer cars on the road. Key components of cycling infrastructure include segregated one-way lanes with a minimum width of 1.8 meters (6 feet), well-organized intersections to minimize the risk of collisions and frequent bicycle parking where bikes can be locked and secured by one or both wheels. Additionally, bike lanes should be continuous and connected to other modes of transportation like public transit stations.

However, infrastructure alone might not be a complete solution. More consideration for women could encourage more riders. Bogota, Colombia recently saw an increase in bike trips from 6% before the pandemic to 8% in 2023, but found the number of female riders, who currently account for only 24% of cyclists of cyclists, has not increased. Women report that barriers include safety concerns, particularly from harassment, lack of amenities such as bike parking and showers at work, as well as insufficient knowledge on how to ride.

5) Bus Infrastructure

City planners often forget that public transit users start and end as pedestrians who need safe spaces to wait for buses or other forms of public transportation. Several types of bus stops can be implemented, with varying amounts of space used for benches and coverings. Better vertical signage with route information, fare costs and a contact number should be located next to street lighting and must not obstruct pedestrian traffic. Space permitting, a 1.5-meter (5-foot) roof over benches is recommended, with a covered space of the same size for people standing or in wheelchairs. Additional safety suggestions include a transparent backing of the waiting area and a panic button for emergencies, which can be placed on a light post for simple electricity connection.

These sketches show different types of bus stops with increasing amount of dedicated waiting space and shelter. Green infrastructure can be integrated into the design to offer additional shade. Graphics by WRI Mexico.

Also, bus transit lines should be well integrated into other travel networks. Mi Macro Periférico, the newest bus rapid transit corridor in Guadalajara (the capital of Jalisco), saw a surge in ridership to more than 300,000 riders per day because of its integration with cycling and walking infrastructure. The city built 620 bicycle parking spaces along the corridor to improve accessibility, as well as constructed pedestrian bridges and planted trees and other greenery along walkways, demonstrating the benefits of connecting public transit with “active mobility” like biking and walking.

6) Traffic Calming Infrastructure

When designing or redesigning streets, there must be a shift in perspective from moving vehicles to moving people. Modifications to roads can reduce speeds and create safe spaces for all its users. These street elements include medians, speed bumps, raised pedestrian crossings, roundabouts and curb extensions.

One tactic, called a “road diet,” reduces the space allocated for vehicles and parking to make room for bicycle lanes, medians, wider sidewalks, landscaping or an exclusive bus lane.

In Jakarta, Indonesia, which in 2017 was the fourth-most congested city in the world, the government  expanded its sidewalks to make the city more walkable. Implementing a road diet in Jakarta’s biggest financial district in 2018 increased walkability by up to 40% and increased public transportation ridership by 15%. By 2021, Jakarta’s world congestion rating dropped to 46th.

7) Gender Accessibility

Alongside each of these elements of safer streets, greater attention should be given to women’s mobility and safety needs. Globally, men and women’s travel patterns are distinct. While men most often travel directly from point A to point B, women tend to make more stops along their journey, or “trip-chain” for basic activities such as shopping for daily goods, running errands and completing other administrative tasks along their main route. Additionally, women are still the majority of caretakers and often travel with children or elderly people. Yet streets and sidewalks are often inaccessible or inadequate for pushing karts, wheelchairs or strollers, and for resting along the walking route.

A woman, who is pushing a stroller and walking with a child, walks on the road because of narrow and poor sidewalk conditions in Mexico. Photo by WRI Mexico. 

Safe streets don’t stop at sidewalks and better lighting. Crosswalks need to provide more time for a mother pushing a stroller, shrubs should be trimmed to maintain a clear line of sight to public spaces and there should be signage on how to get help if needed. Cities should also make it a priority to provide safe and clean public toilet facilities.  A report from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health shows anxiety around finding a toilet outside of the home can prohibit girls and women from partaking in daily activities.

As Congestion Increases, Walkable Streets Need to Be a Priority

Walking and cycling are the most climate-friendly modes of travel and increasing their use will be critical for cities to reducing emissions.  But this cannot be achieved without safe infrastructure. As cities’ streets get more congested with cars and trucks, more collisions are likely to occur between vehicles and pedestrians, particularly if they must continue to share the road. Protecting the most vulnerable road users must be a priority.

A city with equal access to public spaces with open air, greenery, slower vehicle speeds, convenient public transportation, low levels of noise and air pollution, and short travel times will improve the quality of life for all its residents. Additionally, planning urban spaces, streets, crosswalks, bus stops and cycling lanes with attention to women’s needs and their dependents will further improve the safety and travel quality of all users.

To learn more about how Mexican cities are improving road safety, read the Safe and Walkable Environments Guidebook in Spanish or the document brief in English here. This post is part of WRI’s Mobility and Accessibility Program (MAP), supported by FedEx, to improve public transport globally and in Brazil, China, India and Mexico.

street-safety-pedestrians-mexico.jpg Cities Mexico Cities road safety Urban Mobility Health & Road Safety Integrated Transport Featured Type Explainer Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Related Resources and Data Sustainable and Safe: A Vision and Guidance for Zero Road Deaths Projects Authors Anna Kustar Sandra López José Hernández Anamaría Martinez
alicia.cypress@wri.org

Corporate Climate Disclosure Has Passed a Tipping Point. Companies Need to Catch Up

2 semanas 4 días ago
Corporate Climate Disclosure Has Passed a Tipping Point. Companies Need to Catch Up margaret.overh… Mon, 05/06/2024 - 08:00

Until recently, companies could decide whether to share information about their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and how climate change might affect their business models. But that’s changing rapidly. A suite of new laws — most notably in the European Union and United States — will soon make “climate-related disclosures” mandatory across much of the global economy.

While the United States’ long-awaited disclosure rule, issued in March 2024, was less ambitious than originally proposed, it still signaled a critical shift from voluntary practices to mandatory requirements. It cemented for the world’s largest economy that climate risks can be financially “material” — and that when they are, they must be reported like any other risk to a company’s bottom line. Once all pending disclosure rules are in force, we estimate that they will cover nearly 40% of the world’s economy.1

But it’s not just that: Companies have long seen the global patchwork of disclosure frameworks as an impediment to reporting. But these are consolidating as regulators develop a better understanding of how climate change affects business performance. This is making reporting standards clearer and thus easier for firms, dispelling one of the key arguments against climate disclosures.

The bottom line is that climate disclosure has reached a tipping point. Mandates are becoming the norm. And where differences lie between more stringent and ‘weaker’ mandates, current trends point toward the stronger rules pulling ahead.

Major global firms should prepare to start reporting across more than one jurisdiction and meeting more robust requirements. Meanwhile, a greater number of smaller firms will be required to report which have not done so before. For all involved, preparation should begin now.

Why Are Climate-related Disclosures Such a Big Deal?

Climate-related disclosures are a key enabler for corporate climate action. After all, companies cannot reduce their planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions or build resilience to climate change impacts without robust information on where emissions and climate risks occur within their businesses. This transparency can be an important tool for holding companies accountable to setting up and meeting their climate goals.

But climate disclosures aren’t just a political tool. They’re good for companies, too. The transparency provided by disclosure helps companies to operate more efficiently by surfacing potential risks so that management can respond proactively. Risk disclosure also makes investors happy, because the more information they have, the better they are at avoiding bad investment decisions.

Learn more about how mandatory risk disclosures can help countries achieve their climate goals with our Paying for Paris Resource Hub.

For their part, investors recognize that climate change presents real risks to companies. This includes the direct “physical risks” that climate impacts like heatwaves or sea-level rise pose to a company’s physical assets and supply chains. It also includes “transition risks,” which refer to the ways that reliance on fossil fuels could undermine a business as the world shifts away from them. For instance, a company that produces products such as cement or beef using carbon-intensive methods may become undesirable to consumers as preferences shift toward more climate-friendly options. This is a market risk.

Other types of transition risks could include policy and legal risks (if business practices contradict new climate policies or laws), technology risks (if a company does not keep pace with low-carbon technological advancement), and reputational risks (if the public perceives a company's practices to be harmful to society or the environment). Such risks are considered “material” because they could affect companies’ financial conditions and therefore a reasonable investor’s decision to buy stock — for example, by having a demonstrable impact on share price.

Armed with this information, investors can allocate capital in a way that accounts for climate risks and protects their returns and those of their fiduciaries. In a report surveying 416 institutional investors, 51% said climate risk disclosure was as important as financial reporting, compared with 18% and 4% who felt it was less important or much less important, respectively.

More of this reporting ultimately benefits everyone by helping to manage financial and market stability. And it directs finance toward firms with responsible, low-carbon business practices that are better for people and the planet.

Mandatory Disclosure Requirements Are Ratcheting Up

Over the course of only a few years, disclosure mandates have been passed in jurisdictions on nearly every continent — not only Europe and the United States, but also in Switzerland, Hong Kong, Brazil and New Zealand, among others. Some of these rules are more stringent than others.

In the U.S., new climate disclosure rules from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) were delayed two years before a watered-down version was announced in March 2024. Importantly, these rules dropped a clause requiring companies to disclose their “scope 3” emissions. Scope 3, which includes all emissions associated with a company’s value chain, including investments, accounts for around 75% of companies’ GHG emissions on average. This is particularly relevant for financial institutions: Although they may not produce significant direct emissions (scope 1) or indirect emissions associated with energy use (scope 2), they often invest in fossil fuel companies or firms otherwise exposed to climate risks (scope 3).

The immediate future of the SEC’s rule may depend on the 2024 US Presidential election; the rules are currently on pause due to litigation and it will be up to the Justice Department to defend them or not from these challenges. Partisan tension over environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations, which are closely related to climate disclosure, also makes national legislation requiring climate disclosures unlikely in the U.S.

However, taking a broader lens, many companies around the world are already going to begin higher-quality reporting than what the SEC rules will require.

First, legislation underway at the U.S. state level will have national and global implications. California's Corporate Climate Data Act, for example, requires public and private companies to disclose their scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions to the state government. In July 2023, California also passed law the Climate-Related Financial Risk Act. This goes beyond the SEC proposals: Not only does it apply to any firm, foreign or domestic, that does business in California’s nearly $3 billion economy, but the legislation also includes penalties for companies who do not report or inadequately report. Around 10,000 companies will likely be in scope for California’s mandate; by comparison, just 4,900 companies globally follow voluntary reporting guidelines under the Task Force on Climate-related Disclosures (TCFD). Although not yet passed, New York State Bill 7704 contains similar measures.

What Are Greenhouse Gas Accounting and Corporate Climate Disclosures? 6 Questions, Answered

Meanwhile, the European Union has three directives related to climate and sustainability: the EU Taxonomy, the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) and the Corporate Sustainable Due Diligence Directive (CSDD). The CSRD is perhaps the most complex and comprehensive climate disclosure mandate globally. It requires companies to assess and report on a wider range of risks than other frameworks, including social- and nature-related risks. Along with EU-based companies, this will have implications for larger firms (with over 500 employees or revenue above €50 million) operating but not headquartered in the EU. It is estimated that around 10,000 non-EU companies will fall under the CSRD mandate, including 3,000 U.S. companies.

As Frameworks Consolidate, Reporting Is Becoming More Standardized

Perhaps the most common objection to climate risk reporting is that it presents an undue burden to companies. The fractured reporting frameworks have been criticized as too confusing, unhelpful in creating comparable data and ultimately used as an excuse for not reporting.

It is true that reporting requires companies to collect and collate complex information. Adding to this concern is the fact that some multinational companies will fall into reporting scope in more than one place — for example, both California and the EU. If these jurisdictions have different reporting requirements, the company might appear to be presented with double the work.

However, a closer look reveals significant overlap in the information required by major mandatory disclosure frameworks. It may not be a cut-and-paste job, but it shouldn’t be double the work, either.

This is because as governments have announced mandated disclosures, legacy voluntary reporting frameworks have consolidated. In 2022, the International Financial Reporting Standards Board (IFRS) announced the launch of the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) disclosure frameworks 1 and 2. These merged several legacy frameworks, including the Global Reporting Initiative and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board. The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, whose framework was used as a baseline for several jurisdictions’ disclosure mandates, has also wound down its oversight of the framework and passed the baton to the ISSB. It declared that the ISSB frameworks mark “the culmination of the work of the TCFD.”

Thanks to this consolidation, most reporting rules now rely on the same underlying ISSB framework as a foundation. The table below shows a sample of proposed or active mandates and their criteria for companies which fall within their reporting requirements.

Comparison of climate risk reporting mandatesScopeReporting frameworkFirm typeThresholdAuditingPenaltiesEU-CSRDAligns with TCFD (ISSB), plus additional requirementsOperations in EU or listed500 employees, €50M revenue, €25M balance sheetRequires third party verificationDetermined by member-stateCaliforniaTCFD (ISSB) or other verifiable frameworkAny firms with operations in CA$500MRequires third party assurance$50,000 maxNY BillTCFD (ISSB) or other verifiable frameworkUS based, with any business operating in NY$500MRequired third party verification$50,000 maxHong KongBased on ISSB/IFRSCompanies listed on HK ExchangeN/ANot requiredN/AUKISSB/IFRSUK registered & large companiesNon-UK: 500 employees or >£500M turnoverN/A£2,500 to £50,000

Despite the perception that mandates are overwhelmingly complex, efforts have been made by framework developers and policy makers to ensure overlap in the various regulations. Moreover, U.S. state legislation is not prescriptive in its requirement for a framework; the rules call for the use of the TCFD or another verifiable framework.

On the other hand, the EU’s CSRD claims that no single currently available framework encompasses all of its required disclosures. These include reporting on social and human rights risks in addition to climate risks, for which TCFD guidance has served as a foundation.

Comparison of climate risk reporting frameworksFrameworkAudienceEmissionsFocusMaterialityKey pointsISSB S2 (Voluntary)InvestorScopes 1, 2 & 3Climate (material physical risks, transition risks)Single

Global baseline

Consolidates SASB & GRI

Connects financial statements

EU-CSRD (Mandatory)Stakeholder

Scopes 1 & 2

Scope 3, if material

Environmental & socialDouble

Transition plans

Nature, biodiversity, circular economy

U.S. SEC Rules (Paused)InvestorScopes 1 & 2, if materialClimateSingleCodifies some voluntary practices 

These regional differences can certainly make reporting more challenging. However, multinational companies already comply with various requirements in different jurisdictions when it comes to things like taxes, registration and accounting standards. So environmental and social disclosures are not unique in this regard.

The Next Frontier for Climate Risk Reporting

While climate reporting frameworks are becoming progressively more unified, one new and important difference is emerging: how firms must assess materiality.

“Materiality” is a central concept for investors and businesses. It separates what matters to a firm’s bottom line from what does not.

Most current disclosure rules, including the SEC’s, California’s and voluntary frameworks like the TCFD, are built around the concept of “single materiality.” This means that the requirement to disclose a certain risk is triggered by that risk having a direct financial impact on the company at or above a given threshold.

For instance, take an insurance company that provides homeowners insurance policies for properties in coastal areas. The risks of climate change causing more frequent, intense storms and rising sea levels have a real impact on the company’s bottom line, as storm surges or sea level rise could cause an insurance company to have to make major payouts to policyholders. This is a material climate risk.

The next frontier is “double materiality.” This is the idea that, in addition to the ways climate change impacts the firm, the firm’s impacts on the climate, the environment, and society can also be material. Decision-making for identifying double materiality would ask:

  • Does an environmental or climate impact translate into financial risks?
  • Would a ‘reasonable person’ consider this business activity to have an impact on people or the environment?

A European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG) working paper uses an example of a company that has cobalt in its products. The suppliers of the cobalt were found to use child labor for mining the mining. Here's how that company might assess risk from a single and double materiality standpoint:

  • Financial (“Single”) Materiality
    • The use of child labor in supply chains increases reputational and legal risks for the company, which could impact its profitability.
  • Impact (“Double”) Materiality
    • Child labor is a negative social impact directly linked to the company’s supply chain.
    • Cobalt mining results in high carbon emissions and loud blasting which can impact local communities and the climate.

Reporting frameworks based on double materiality would require the company to disclose all of these social, environmental and climate impacts — not just those risks which affect its own bottom line.

Continuing the pattern of being ahead of the U.S. in disclosures, double materiality is accepted by the EU and integrated into the CSRD mandates. Double materiality has been a tougher sell in the U.S., where fiduciary duty and materiality have been more narrowly constructed. But once thousands of companies begin reporting on it for the EU, it will likely be more easily accepted by all but hardline skeptics.

What Should Companies Be Doing Right Now?

Although most mandatory disclosures will not go into force for a few years, corporates should start preparing to report now. Those that fall into more than one jurisdiction regime should begin by finding interoperability, implementing processes to collect and analyze the necessary data and contracting a third-party verifier.

Because regions like the EU and California have more rigorous reporting requirements and firms incorporated outside their jurisdictions fall into scope, these mandates could become more accepted as more firms have to report. Further, as other jurisdictions develop their own reporting mandates, taking up the ISSB framework or adapting the CSRD, increasing instances of interoperability should appear. Meanwhile, trends point toward more disclosure rather than less. This would include firms reporting on risks related to nature and biodiversity as well as linking climate risk with human rights and social risk.

In short, as WRI Managing Director Janet Ranganathan recently put it, climate disclosure rules are expanding. And companies need to keep up.

 

1GDP calculations from IMF data. Countries included in the calculations include Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, European Union states, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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4 Things to Know About US EPA’s New Power Plant Rules

3 semanas ago
4 Things to Know About US EPA’s New Power Plant Rules alicia.cypress… Fri, 05/03/2024 - 14:25

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Biden administration announced four major regulations for power plants designed to slash multiple forms of toxic and planet-warming pollution. These rules, announced on April 25, 2024, represent the first legal limits on heat-trapping pollution from coal-fired power plants and will accelerate emissions reductions from the U.S. power sector.

When combined with other policies like tax credits from the Inflation Reduction Act, the new rules will help reduce power plant emissions 75% below 2005 levels by 2035, and 83% by 2040. The rules are expected to yield an estimated $370 billion in climate and public health benefits and reduce 1.4 billion metric tons of carbon emissions over 25 years, according to EPA. They are critical for providing certainty in decision-making by utilities, regulators and others about investments in the power sector in the coming years.

In addition to new standards that address carbon dioxide emissions, EPA also announced new rules covering mercury, wastewater and coal ash disposal at power plants.

Here are four important things to know about the EPA’s new power plant rules:

What Do the EPA’s Power Plant Rules Require?

The new rules require existing coal plants and future natural gas plants to address carbon dioxide emissions in coming years. The rules address coal plants based on how long they expect to operate. For new gas plants, the required emissions controls will depend on how much they operate over the course of a year.

Coal plants that expect to operate beyond 2039 will have to reduce their carbon emissions by 90% by 2032 using carbon capture or other means, two years later than what was initially proposed in the draft rule released in May 2023. Coal plants closing by 2039 will have to reduce their emissions 16% by 2030 (based on what’s achievable using 40% gas co-firing, though plants can use any technology they want to achieve the necessary reductions). Those plants scheduled to retire before 2032 are exempt from reducing emissions, but do have reporting requirements.

If fully implemented, these rules could lead to the closure of most of the country's coal plants — the country’s dirtiest source of electricity — before 2040.

It is, however, important to recognize that coal-fired electricity generation plummeted in the U.S. during the last few decades from just over 50% of total generation in 1990 to 17% in 2022 due to both a surge in natural gas, wind and solar power, as well as regulations requiring cleaner generation. In the final rules, the EPA moved up the retirement date that triggers the need for emissions controls for coal plants from 2040 to 2039, requiring a larger set of plants to control emissions if they extend their lifetimes beyond 2039.  

While rules for existing natural gas plants, which are responsible for more than 40% of electricity generation today, will be addressed in a forthcoming rule covering a wider set of air pollutants, the current rule addresses three categories of new natural gas plants based on their hours of operation over the course of a year:

  • For “baseload” plants that operate more than 40% of the time, EPA will require reductions that are the equivalent to 90% carbon capture and sequestration by 2032. 
  • For “intermediate” natural gas plants that operate 20%-40% of the time, the rules require them to meet a performance threshold of an efficient simple cycle plant, or 1,150 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour (CO2/MWh).
  • For peaker plants that operate less than 20% of the time, the rules require the use of lower-emitting fuels such as natural gas, which is already common practice, rather than diesel or high-emitting alternatives.

In addition to the greenhouse gas rule, EPA also finalized new rules strengthening and updating the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) for coal-fired power plants, reducing pollutants discharged through wastewater from coal-fired power plants, and requiring the safe management of toxic coal ash left after burning coal for electricity.

New EPA Rules for Coal Plants and New Natural Gas PlantsType of Coal PlantEPA Rule, April 2024Long-lived plants (operating beyond 2039)Reductions equivalent to 90% carbon capture and storage by 2032Medium-term retirement (retiring between 2032 and 2039)Reductions equivalent to 40% gas co-firing by 2030Near-term retirement (retiring before 2032) Reporting requirement onlyType of Natural Gas PlantEPA Rule, April 2024Peaker/Low Load (operates < 20% of hours in a year)Emissions based on using lower emitting fuels (e.g., natural gas rather than diesel)Intermediate (operates 20%-40% of hours in a year)Emissions based on efficient simple cycle plant operation (~1,150 lbs. CO2/MWh)Baseload (operates > 40% of hours in a year)Reductions equivalent to 90% carbon capture and storage by 2032

Source: EPA

How Can Power Plants Comply with the New Rules?

Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Massachusetts vs. EPA in 2007 that the agency was responsible for regulating the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases as pollution under the Clean Air Act, EPA has attempted to craft regulations that are based on the “best system of emission reduction” (BSER) to comply with this directive.

The first attempt was in 2015 with the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which proposed a systemwide approach to require carbon emissions reductions. Those regulations were halted by court challenges before full implementation and replaced by the Trump administration’s inaccurately named Affordable Clean Energy Rule in 2019. That rule proposed to raise pollution limits and lower efficiency measures, which would have resulted in more damage to human and environmental health. But it was also halted by the courts before taking effect.

The new rules put forward by the EPA focus on reducing emissions from individual facilities by employing traditional, at-the-source pollution control measures for carbon as well as other forms of pollution. At present, the best way to control carbon emissions at individual power plants is through carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Utilities planning to operate a plant beyond the 2030s can comply with the rule by using carbon capture technologies. If other kinds of technologies develop over time, utilities can use them given the compliance flexibility written into the final rules. The EPA estimates using CCS technology would slash 88% of the carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, preventing up to 1.38 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions over the next 23 years, the equivalent of taking 328 million gasoline-powered cars off the road for a year.

Critics, including the Edison Electric Institute, have been quick to protest that CCS is not a fully mature technology ready for widespread deployment, and that it would be too expensive to widely deploy in order to comply by the 2032 deadlines. However, CCS was among the technologies that earned generous tax credits (known as provision 45Q) and research funding through the Inflation Reduction Act. These tax credits will provide utilities with a strong incentive to install the technology where it makes sense, reducing compliance costs for at least the next decade.

Will the EPA’s New Power Plant Rules Be Overturned or Challenged?

The new rules are expected to face myriad challenges from Congress, the courts and potentially from future administrations.

Before the final rules were even officially announced, members of Congress indicated they plan to use a legislative tool called the Congressional Review Act, which only requires a simple majority to pass, in an effort to overturn the rules. However, in the current 118th Congress, such attempts would likely be vetoed upon landing on President Joe Biden’s desk. Chances of a two-thirds majority in both chambers voting to override the veto are also slim. Efforts to overturn these rules in the next Congress would hinge on when the rules are officially published in the Federal Register, as any rule finalized within 60 working days of the new Congress could be subject to additional review and votes.

On the other hand, the rules will almost certainly be challenged in the courts, and the outcomes are uncertain. Various states’ attorneys general, led by West Virginia's Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, have indicated they will file legal challenges as soon as the rules are published in the Federal Register, which is expected by the end of May. It is possible that utilities and other companies who see themselves impacted by these rules may join in legal filings.

Such legal challenges would likely end up at the Supreme Court, just as the Obama-era Clean Power Plan rules did in West Virginia vs. EPA. In that 2022 ruling, the Supreme Court declared that EPA could not force utilities to meet future regulations by requiring them to shift generation to different sources (e.g., replacing coal with gas or wind), but must rely instead upon the best system of emissions reductions that can be applied on a plant-by-plant basis, which is the path EPA has attempted to follow with these new rules.

In addition to challenges from Congress and the courts, a change of presidential administration would threaten power plant rules. Former President Donald Trump, who is the presumptive Republican nominee for the 2024 election, has promised to roll back these and other climate-focused regulations if elected.

What’s Missing from the New EPA Power Plant Rules?

While these rules will address various forms of pollution from the oldest and dirtiest sources of electricity generation, they do not address the largest source of current carbon pollution in the electricity sector: existing natural gas power plants.

EPA has delayed regulatory standards for existing gas plants, indicating that the rule-making process could begin as soon as 2025 and include control of other air pollutants as well. This could strengthen the regulations and make them potentially less vulnerable to legal challenges.

While the new rules were both weakened and strengthened in areas compared to the 2023 draft rule, the emissions performance standards were substantially watered down for intermediate natural gas plants that operate from 20%-40% of the time. Under the draft rules, these plants would have needed to reduce emissions to a rate of about 1,000 pounds CO2/MWh by 2030 based on blending 30% hydrogen fuel with natural gas.

The removal of the requirement based on hydrogen co-firing and only limiting emissions to those equivalent to a simple cycle turbine is a substantial weakening of the rule for these plants. While the maximum operation of plants in this category was reduced to 40% from 50% in the draft rule, which would reduce the number of qualifying plants and the amount of generation that could come from this category of plants, the emissions standards should be revisited and strengthened in the future.  

As WRI wrote last spring when the draft rule was first proposed, achieving faster and deeper reductions from coal- and gas-fired power plants is the most important thing the United States can do to build on the Inflation Reduction Act and achieve the national target of reducing emissions 50%-52% below 2005 levels by 2030. It’s critical for the federal government to take additional actions to accelerate the construction of zero-emissions generation, energy storage and transmission capacity. The Biden administration should continue enacting its action plan for quicker, smarter permitting of this essential infrastructure. Congress, along with state and local governments, must also continue to encourage more effective community engagement while eliminating duplicative processes that add time without improving decision-making.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This piece was originally published in 2023 to evaluate the EPA's proposed power plant rules. We updated the article in May 2024 once the rules were finalized. 

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alicia.cypress@wri.org

The Impacts of El Niño Go Far Beyond Water

3 semanas 1 día ago
The Impacts of El Niño Go Far Beyond Water wil.thomas@wri.org Thu, 05/02/2024 - 17:10

Over the past several months, the climate pattern El Niño has disrupted different regions and sectors across the world. Zimbabwe recently declared a state of disaster, due largely to El Nino-induced drought. The city government in Bogota, Colombia announced water rationing as reservoir levels dropped to critical lows, restricting water use for approximately 10 million people.

El Niño occurs every two to seven years, usually lasting between nine and 12 months. It decreases Pacific trade winds, which increase water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean and lead to a range of climate and weather effects across the Americas, Southern Africa and Southeast Asia.

And while most attention surrounding El Niño focuses on drier conditions and water shortages, cascading effects impact food and energy production, air quality, human health and more. These impacts are only expected to worsen as climate change intensifies both the frequency and severity of El Niño occurrences and makes precipitation more erratic. 

Below, we examine the ripple effects of El Niño-fueled drought across three countries where WRI works — Colombia, Indonesia and South Africa.

El Niño Threatens Energy Production in Colombia

Colombia’s energy sector is especially vulnerable to drought. The country relies on hydropower for approximately 75% of its power generation.

In July of 2023, the World Meteorological Organization declared the start of the El Niño season. Energy prices rose in August 2023 in anticipation of the predicted El Niño, and the country imported more Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) to supply its thermoelectric power plants in case of reduced hydroelectric supply. By October 2023, experts warned of an extended dry season and the risk of further inflation based on previous El Niño events in the region. As of April 2024, Colombia's reservoirs were at less than 30% capacity, well below historical averages.

Nevertheless, the country was able to meet energy demands — but historically, this has not always been the case.

During the 2015-2016 El Niño, Colombia saw a 40% decrease in rainfall, straining the electrical grid and spiking electricity costs, while increasing the risk of blackouts. In 1992, unprecedented drought and El Niño patterns caused a severe energy crisis, with the government implementing power rationing for up to 9 hours a day in Bogotá and 18 hours a day in San Andrés and Providencia for nearly an entire year. President Cesar Gaviria moved the clocks forward one hour to secure an extra hour of daylight each day, changing Colombia’s time zone from UTC-5 to UTC-4 at midnight on May 2, 1992. The measure, informally known as the “Gaviria Hour,” lasted nine months.

Wildfire smoke in South Kalimantan, Indonesia in August 2023. Wildfires spiked in 2023, due in large part to El Nino-induced drought. Photo by Mas Paijan/Shutterstock El Niño Linked to Crop Failures, Wildfires and Poor Air Quality in Indonesia

Experts predicted that the current El Niño would increase the risks of wildfire and crop damage in Indonesia, warning of drought conditions across several regions. Those predictions were largely proven correct. Crop prices spiked due to drought. Wildfire levels in 2023 increased by a factor of five compared to the previous year. Coffee production in Indonesia declined by 20% and rice prices climbed 25% over government-recommended levels, as farmers either avoided their third rice crop planting in October/November 2023 or planted crops failed due to lack of water.

Warmer, drier conditions from El Niño also caused air pollution to spike in cities like Jakarta, far exceeding the World Health Organization’s recommended limits for particulate matter (PM 2.5). Wildfires spurred by El Niño also reduced air quality, with smoke and haze felt both within and outside national borders.

Like other countries, Indonesia also experienced an intense El Niño in 2015-2016, which led to severe wildfires. These same conditions caused crop failures and price spikes, forcing the Indonesian government to rely on food imports and cloud seeding efforts.

The Indonesian government has since taken aggressive action, including increasing the country’s firefighting capacity and  importing 2 million metric tonnes of rice to boost food supplies. It’s also working to reform agricultural practices by reducing the use of fire in crop and bush clearing in peatlands and restoring fire-damaged areas. But ultimately, more systemic interventions will be needed.

El Niño Hits South Africa’s Economy

South Africa is overwhelmingly dependent on rainfall and surface water for its water needs, making it particularly vulnerable to changes in temperature.

In the months prior to the 2023/2024 El Niño, experts predicted severe drought. And while the current El Niño seems to have passed without drastic impacts on water supplies in the region, the last one in 2018 showed how disruptive the weather pattern can be.

Six years ago, Cape Town faced down a “Day Zero,” where the city came dangerously close to running out of drinking water. This was precipitated by a regional three-year rainfall deficit, linked to El Niño’s effect on ocean weather patterns. Residents were restricted to 50 liters of water per day at the height of the of the crisis. Tariffs were raised on water use, with the heaviest users facing fines and penalties.

But impacts went far beyond water, with economic disruptions extending outside of Cape Town. The years of drought leading up to the potential Day Zero were estimated to have cost the wider Western Cape regional economy R15 billion (approximately $780 million), roughly 3.4% of the provincial GDP and 0.3% percent of the national GDP. The agricultural sector alone suffered an estimated $400 million in damages and tens of thousands of lost jobs. Cape Town’s tourism sector was also impacted, as 2018 saw a record 12.6% decline in April tourist arrivals, with smaller declines throughout the year.

The City of Cape town and the wider province narrowly avoided Day Zero by cutting water usage by 50% over three years, using a combination of severe water restrictions, public communications campaigns promoting efficient water use, technical solutions involving groundwater and desalination, as well as a timely and fortunate increase in rainfall in 2018. But in the long-term, the country will need more systemic measures to address the ongoing risk of drought.

Building Resilience to El Niño and Climate Change

The recurrence of El Niño is historically documented, and its impacts are expected to be heightened because of climate change. Meanwhile, climate change itself is expected to make precipitation patterns increasingly erratic, with many countries grappling with increased risk of floods, droughts or both.

While countries like Colombia, Indonesia and South Africa have managed to overcome El Nino’s threats in recent years through crisis-response measures, longer-term planning and systemic interventions are essential for increasing resilience over the long-term. National leaders and decision-makers will need to increase adaptation and mitigation to fight both El Nino and climate change alike.

This means acting both in the water sector and outside it.

For example, South Africa can expand its water conservation efforts, as well as explore additional sources of water through desalination or water reuse. Already, the country is removing “water hungry” invasive tree species, such as pine and eucalyptus, from the areas surrounding Cape Town. As of October 2023, 46,000 hectares of invasive trees had been removed, saving an estimated 15.2 billion liters of water.

Colombia can reduce its reliance on hydroelectric power and reduce emissions by incorporating more renewable energy into its mix. Research shows there is significant potential for the country to expand its wind and solar power generation capacity, up to 30 and 32 GW, respectively.

And in Indonesia, the government can expand its efforts beyond reforming agricultural and firefighting practices. By fully protecting the country’s wetlands and peatlands, it can further reduce the risk of wildfires, while preserving native food sources such as fish can reduce demands on agricultural land.

Additionally, nature-based solutions can help build more resilient water systems that can withstand the extreme weather associated with El Niño and climate change. Wetland restoration, for example, has the potential to restore depleted groundwater. Healthy forests can filter contaminants from water sources. Restored ecosystems can reduce the risk of wildfires.

The synergistic effects of climate change and El Niño have global implications. All countries will need to work domestically and collaboratively to properly adapt to these changing, increasingly severe weather patterns.

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STATEMENT: U.S. Treasury Department Issues New Guidance for Sustainable Aviation Fuel Tax Incentives, Boosting High-Emitting Crop-based Biofuels

3 semanas 3 días ago
STATEMENT: U.S. Treasury Department Issues New Guidance for Sustainable Aviation Fuel Tax Incentives, Boosting High-Emitting Crop-based Biofuels wil.thomas@wri.org Tue, 04/30/2024 - 16:50

WASHINGTON (April 30, 2024) — Today the U.S. Department of Treasury released final tax credit guidance for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production. The new guidance allows the use of the Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation (GREET) model favored by the ethanol industry to determine the greenhouse gas emissions from aviation fuel production and use.

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) created the SAF tax credit to reduce aviation emissions by subsidizing fuels that achieve at least a 50% reduction in emissions compared with conventional petroleum-based jet fuel. This tax credit is intended to help the aviation industry meet its decarbonization goals.

The original IRA language for the tax credit refers to the criteria used globally by the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), under which neither corn ethanol nor biofuels from vegetable oil would qualify as Sustainable Aviation Fuel. Allowance of the GREET model version announced today to determine fuel eligibility, however, will allow corn ethanol and other food crop-based fuels to qualify for the SAF tax credit because it fails to adequately account for the opportunity cost of dedicating prime farmland to energy, rather than food, production.

Following is a statement from Dan Lashof, Director, United States, World Resources Institute:

“Powering planes with crop-based biofuels is anything but sustainable. The United States missed a major opportunity to focus incentives on climate-friendly fuel to help the aviation industry decarbonize.

“At a time of increasing demands on limited global land, we cannot afford to use food to fuel airplanes. Research has shown that crop-based biofuels have lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions factors that are as bad, or worse, than fossil fuels. Tax credits for corn ethanol or vegetable oil to make jet fuel is not the solution for decarbonizing aviation, and any policies that subsidize use of such fuels benefits wealthier air travelers at the expense of average consumers who will pay more for food.

“WRI analysis shows that using corn ethanol to meet the anticipated demand for aviation fuel would require an unviable amount of cropland, and using vegetable oil, such as soy biodiesel, would cause devastating deforestation.

“The Biden administration should use the best available science, which shows that crop-based biofuels do not meet the 50% emissions reduction threshold required to qualify for the SAF tax credit under the IRA. By bowing to pressure from the ethanol industry the administration has put the U.S. aviation industry out of step with its international competitors and made its own climate protection goals harder to achieve.”

U.S. Climate United States biofuels climate policy GHG emissions transportation Type Statement Exclude From Blog Feed? 0
wil.thomas@wri.org

STATEMENT: G7 Leaders Agree to Shut Down Coal Plants

3 semanas 3 días ago
STATEMENT: G7 Leaders Agree to Shut Down Coal Plants alison.cinnamo… Tue, 04/30/2024 - 09:03

TURIN, ITALY (April 30, 2024) – The Group of Seven (G7) countries, which include Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the UK and the US, announced at a ministerial meeting that they will shut down coal-fired power plants by 2030-2035, or on a timeline consistent with the 1.5 C degree temperature limit. In addition, the G7 countries announced they will rapidly scale-up battery storage sixfold by 2030 to support electricity grids powered by renewable energy sources.

Following is a statement from Jennifer Layke, Global Director, Energy, World Resources Institute: 

“Stamping an end date on the coal era is precisely the kind of leadership we need from the world’s wealthiest countries. This decision provides a beacon of hope for the rest of the world, showing the transition away from coal can happen much faster than many thought possible.

“As some of the largest emitters — and with the greatest concentrations of wealth — the G7 countries have a unique ability to steer the world’s course toward a clean energy future. This commitment says to the rest of the planet that this transition is possible — and international cooperation is critical to getting us there. It marks a profound shift in thinking from last year’s G7 meetings when countries failed to reach an agreement to move away from fossil fuels.

“Putting an end to the world’s dirtiest fuel will provide cleaner air and massive health benefits to communities throughout these countries. It’s now imperative that these countries prioritize just transition measures to support the workers and communities who have relied on coal for decades.

“The G7 countries’ commitment to rapidly expand battery storage capacity sixfold by 2030 is critical to meeting countries’ prior commitment to tripling renewable energy, and needed to create resilient electrical grids.

"Today these countries have taken positive steps toward building a zero-carbon energy system that will transform the global economy. Now the G7 countries should back this political will with the critical finance needed to rapidly transition the world away from fossil fuels and toward zero-carbon energy, both in their own countries and abroad.”
 

Energy Energy Type Statement Exclude From Blog Feed? 0
alison.cinnamond@wri.org

E-liabilities vs. GHG Protocol Approaches to Emissions Reporting: What You Need to Know

3 semanas 4 días ago
E-liabilities vs. GHG Protocol Approaches to Emissions Reporting: What You Need to Know shannon.paton@… Mon, 04/29/2024 - 09:54

In an ever-changing climate landscape, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions measurement and management must continue to adapt and evolve to stay relevant as new opportunities and challenges emerge. There is no shortage of ideas. More than 1,400 survey responses and 230 new proposals were received by the GHG Protocol, the world’s most widely used GHG accounting approach, as part of its two-year update process.

One such proposal is E-liability accounting. But for numerous reasons, which I unpack in this article, E-liability is not a replacement for the GHG Protocol.

E-liability and the GHG Protocol serve different purposes, adopt different approaches to accounting, and are in different stages of maturity. E-liability aims to deliver mutually exclusive, comparable, emissions data to support a liabilities approach to holding companies accountable for emissions. The GHG Protocol supports comprehensive corporate GHG management, value-chain wide emissions disclosures and ambitious target-setting. The E-liability concept was first introduced in 2021 in a management magazine. The GHG Protocol is a widely used family of codified standards developed through multi-stakeholder processes over the last 20 years.

One of main criticisms of GHG Protocol by E-liabilities’ authors is the double-counting inherent in the design of its scopes. Yet this is one of GHG Protocol’s greatest strengths. It supports comprehensive GHG management by incentivizing cradle-to-grave value-chain GHG reduction efforts.

Many questions remain on whether and how E-liability could support GHG management. The E-liabilities approach would likely require a regulated system to drive the universal participation necessary to deliver its aims while GHG Protocol can and is used in both voluntary and regulated systems.

This article describes the E-liabilities approach, compares it to the GHG Protocol Corporate Standard, explores how it might be implemented in practice and discusses its potential to support GHG management. 

What Is E-liability Accounting?

First introduced in 2021 by Professors Robert S. Kaplan and Karthik Ramanna, E-liability accounting aims to deliver mutually exclusive and comparable product and entity-level emissions data to enable “well-functioning green-finance and carbon-sequestration markets.” In E-liability accounting, “E” refers to environmental, and one metric ton of E-liability is synonymous with one metric ton of GHG emissions. Similar proposals by other academics include the carbon emissions statement by Reichelstein 2022, the carbon balance sheet by Jia et al. 2022 and consequential impact-based accounting by Ballentine 2023.

How Might the E-liability Approach Work?

E-liability is envisioned to work like a company’s financial cost accounting system, transferring emissions down supply chains with the sale of products. Each company in a value chain would calculate its own direct GHG emissions (scope 1 in GHG Protocol) using primary data and allocate these to its products, together with the cradle-to-gate supply chain emissions of the purchased inputs used to produce them. The upstream cradle-to-gate emissions would be transferred to the company by its direct (tier 1) suppliers. While financial liabilities can include future services owed to others or unsettled obligations from previous transactions, E-liability uses liabilities to refer exclusively to historical or cradle-to-gate emissions ex-post.

The idea behind the approach is that emissions information, referred to as “E-liabilities,” would be transferred sequentially along supply chains to downstream customers. Each company in the supply chain would deduct the E-liabilities attributable to its sold products from its cumulative record of E-liabilities and transfer them to the downstream company buying its products. The buyers would add these cradle-to-gate E-liabilities attributable to the products it purchased to its cumulative record of E-liabilities. With this approach, each metric ton of GHG emissions would be “owned” by only one company at a time.

If companies reduce their cradle-to-gate emissions by sourcing less carbon-intensive inputs (upstream) or decrease their own direct emissions, then they will incur and pass on fewer emissions — “E-liabilities”— to their customers. A company’s cumulative E-liabilities would not reflect the emissions it caused over a period; rather, it would be a point-in-time “owned” E-liabilities value on a “carbon balance sheet,” or “E-ledger.” Companies could also record cradle-to-gate emissions for a given period, like the corporate inventory approach, separately from point-in-time E-liabilities, but this would be limited to cradle-to-gate emissions and direct emissions. 

How Does E-liabilities Relate to Emissions Liability Management? 

Emissions Liability Management, introduced by Roston, Seiger & Heller, 2023, builds on E-liability accounting to create an E-liability Management framework, or “carbon solvency,” whereby a company’s emissions liabilities are matched on a balance sheet (E-ledger) with “duration-matched removal assets” (E-assets). A company’s E-Ledger would net E-liabilities and E-assets. A company with more E-liabilities than E-assets would show net E-liabilities; and a company with more E-assets than E-Liabilities would show net E-assets. E-assets are carbon removal offsets that certify permanent carbon sequestration. The E-asset system aims to tackle some of the existing carbon-offset market challenges, such as inconsistent reporting and lack of audits, by using financial accounting principles to define what constitutes an allowable carbon-offset asset.

A company could buy offsets that are “nettable against liabilities,” effectively counterbalancing their E-liabilities — much like the carbon-neutral concept. Emissions Liability Management authors initially suggested that the liability duration for E-assets be 1,000 years, but in a subsequent paper acknowledged that in practice companies would choose their own liability duration. No limit is set on the use of E-assets, meaning that a company could theoretically buy removal offsets for all its E-liabilities and never decarbonize. This contrasts with the Science-based Target Initiative (SBTi), which only allows a very limited quantity of residual emissions (5-10%) to be neutralized with high-quality carbon removals once a company has achieved its long-term science-based target. 

How Does the E-liabilities Accounting Concept Differ from the GHG Protocol Corporate Standard?

The differences between the E-liability approach and the GHG Protocol Corporate Standard reflect their different goals and maturity.  Five differences are discussed below, noting that E-liability is still evolving and subject to change:

  • Cradle-to-gate and direct versus cradle-to-grave emissions accounting;
  • Transferring emissions liabilities to customers versus collective value-chain emissions accounting;
  • Mutually exclusive versus double-counting of emissions;
  • Use of primary versus estimated data; and
  • Concept versus codified standard.

While this comparison focuses on E-liability and the GHG Protocol’s Corporate Standard, it should be noted that allocating emissions on a product-level basis, a key feature of E-liability accounting, was standardized over a decade ago in the GHG Protocol Product Standard (2011). Further, allocating (e.g., depreciating or amortizing) cradle-to-gate emissions of capital equipment on a product-level basis, per product generated, is not a new concept. Such practices have been commonplace in lifecycle analysis for decades.

1) Cradle-to-gate and direct versus cradle-to-grave emissions accounting

E-liability focuses on accounting for a company’s cradle-to-gate and direct emissions. An oil and gas company, for example, would not account for the downstream emissions from the combustion of its sold products by end users (where most of their cradle-to-grave emissions occur). The authors’ rationale for omitting downstream emissions was threefold: including downstream emissions double counts emissions, collecting emissions data from downstream customers is challenging, and companies have more control or influence over their suppliers than their customers.

A subsequent working paper by the E-liabilities authors reversed this stance and incorporated the disclosure of downstream emissions from product use by end consumers (B2C) when products require energy for their use and when a product’s sourcing and design decisions could influence product energy use. If these conditions are met, companies would disclose per-product performance metrics (GHG intensity) rather than aggregate emissions, as in the case of the GHG Protocol. It is unclear why the E-liabilities authors omitted high use phase emissions from B2B products from disclosure. Such information would likely be material to investors and other users.

The GHG Protocol’s corporate standard quantifies the upstream (cradle-to-gate) and downstream emissions attributable to a company’s activities, classified into three scopes. Scope 1 refers to direct emissions from a company’s owned or controlled sources. Scope 2 refers to indirect emissions from the generation of energy purchased and consumed by a company. Scope 3 refers to indirect emissions (not included in scope 2) that occur in the value chain of a reporting company. Scope 3 emissions are categorized into 15 mutually exclusive categories that distinguish upstream and downstream emissions. Downstream product-use phase emissions include individual end users and business users. The GHG Protocol Scope 3 Standard also provides guidance on how to report product performance metrics effectively, e.g., for long-lived products that result in significant cumulative emissions despite low-carbon on a per-product level.

2) Transferring emissions liabilities to customers versus collective value-chain emissions responsibility

Using the E-liability approach, companies transfer the E-liabilities of their products to downstream customers. This approach risks companies offloading the burden of managing emissions (liabilities) to customers instead of encouraging collaboration and collective target-setting across value chains. A fertilizer manufacturer, for example, would transfer its production emissions liabilities to customers and would not be responsible for the downstream emissions associated with the application of its fertilizers. 

It is unclear who would require E-ledgers and whose E-ledgers, if anyone’s, would capture the E-liabilities effectively offloaded to individual (non-business) end consumers (e.g., individuals driving cars or heating homes). Even if individual consumers did maintain personal E-ledgers, what would happen to their liabilities when they die?

Under the GHG Protocol, responsibility for emissions is not transferred between companies or to end users. Instead, each company in a value chain accounts for and takes responsibility for its upstream (cradle-to-gate), direct (Scope 1) and downstream emissions. This helps companies focus their GHG mitigation efforts on emissions “hot spots” in value chains and prioritize where they can drive the biggest GHG reductions.

Incentivizing an approach like E-liability where everyone looks at their own plates first risks slowing down the decarbonization of value chains. Returning to the oil and gas company example, emissions from sold products typically comprise 90% of oil and gas companies’ total emissions. These would show up as Scope 3 emissions using the GHG Protocol Corporate Standard, creating an incentive for companies to manage and reduce them. Oil and gas companies have opportunities to reduce downstream emissions through the design of their products or by selling energy generated with low-carbon technologies. Calculating product use-phase emissions need not be challenging. Making assumptions about how products are typically used is standard practice for product development. 

3) Mutually exclusive versus double-counting of emissions

By allowing companies to transfer emissions liabilities to their customers, E-liability avoids the double-counting of the same E-liability by different companies. This supports their goal of providing mutually exclusive accounts of emissions. The GHG Protocol’s three scopes result in multiple companies counting the same emissions in shared value chains. One company’s direct (Scope 1) emissions are another company’s indirect (Scope 2 or 3) emissions.

Does double-counting matter? The answer depends on how the information is used. Yes, if the goal is to create a mutually exclusive corporate GHG liabilities framework. No, if the goal is to help companies strategically manage emissions across value chains.

The GHG Protocol scopes drive an expansive approach to GHG reductions. A delivery truck company, for example, can lower emissions by optimizing routes and selecting low-emissions vehicles (Scope 1). A truck manufacturer can lower emissions by making its trucks more energy-efficient and shifting from gas to electric vehicles (Scope 3). The energy provider can explore alternative low carbon energy sources (Scopes 1 and 3). The scopes’ design enables companies to focus on the part of the value chain where they have the greatest opportunities to reduce emissions.

The scopes’ design also ensures no double-counting within a single company’s GHG inventory. Upstream and downstream emissions are also not conflated in an inventory. The GHG Protocol’s Scope 3 Standard (2011) requires the separate disclosure of Scope 3 emissions, in 15 categories, which are grouped exclusively as upstream or downstream. 

4) Use of primary versus estimated data

Primary data is specific and traceable to a company’s products and services. It does not include the use of averaged industry or regional data. The E-liability approach initially advocated for only using primary data to improve accuracy and reliability, acknowledging that this would involve a three or six-year phase-in period. In practice, its approach, as exhibited by recent case studies, mirrors the GHG Protocol by encouraging companies to collect as much primary data as possible, especially for significant emissions sources, while relying on secondary data for less relevant or material emissions sources.

Ideally all companies would collect and share primary data. The challenges to this are multiple, especially in voluntary systems. Supply chains can have thousands of suppliers and components. Suppliers may be unwilling to share proprietary primary data. Thus, it is practical and efficient to use representative secondary (industry average) data to fill data gaps, while focusing a company’s primary data-collection efforts on emissions “hot spots” in the value chain that could make the greatest contribution to mitigating overall emissions. A CDP analysis on the relevance of Scope 3 categories by 16 high-impact sectors, for example, found that on average, companies had significant emissions in only three of the 15 GHG Protocol Scope 3 categories. 

5) Concept versus codified standard 

The E-liability approach is not a codified standard. In their September 2023 updates, the authors indicated that they were not working to “standardize their methodology” because they are still “field testing” their concepts. As a result, it does not specify the GHG accounting and allocation rules, quantification methods, emission factors, and other key elements needed to ensure comparability between companies. E-liability will either need to develop these rules or draw on the GHG Protocol’s existing, codified guidance, as the authors appear to be doing with their recent addition of downstream emissions estimates and disclosures. 

The GHG Protocol is a family of codified standards developed through multi-stakeholder processes involving thousands of experts and stakeholders from business, academia, NGOs and governments over the last 20 years. These include the Corporate Standard (2004), Project Protocol (2005), Scope 2 Guidance (2015), Scope 3 Standard (2011), Scope 3 Technical Guidance (2013), Product Life Cycle Standard (2011), and the forthcoming Land Sector and Removals Guidance (expected in 2024).

In What Ways Is E-liability Like the GHG Protocol?

Both the E-liability and the GHG Protocol’s Corporate Standard involve collecting emissions data and passing it sequentially along a supply chain. E-liability passes along liabilities as mutually exclusive emissions information. The GHG Protocol passes along information, not the associated “ownership” of emissions liabilities.

The E-liability primary data collection methods and principles of allocating supplier-specific, cradle-to-gate emissions to sold products mirrors the specifications from GHG Protocol’s “corporate suite” of standards and guidance. 

The activity-based costing method of assigning overhead and indirect costs to products and services recommended by E-Liability resembles the physical allocation methods (including mass, volume, energy, chemical and unit sales) specified in the GHG Protocol Scope 3 and Product Standards, which build on long-established guidance on allocation within attributional lifecycle assessment (ISO, 2006).

Other similarities include:

  • Both allow a reporting company to collect data from its immediate (tier 1) suppliers and its own activities. The GHG Protocol’s Scope 3 Standard states that reporting companies should use product-level cradle-to-gate GHG data from suppliers to calculate their emissions. Detailed guidance on how to do this is provided in the GHG Protocol’s Product Life Cycle Accounting and Reporting Standard.
  • Both include direct emissions and indirect upstream emissions (cradle-to-gate); GHG Protocol also includes indirect downstream emissions (cradle-to-grave).
  • Both encourage primary data collection.
  • Both specify supplier-specific emissions data transfer.
  • Both use similar data sources and calculations. 
How Practical Would it Be to Implement E-liability?

E-liability is still being prototyped. An E-liability case study of a tire company, for example, included the GHG emissions from only four of the 200 raw materials used to produce tires, and even then had to rely on estimates from environmental product declarations. 

E-liability is not a standalone GHG accounting system. It does not provide methods for calculating emissions. It is not a codified standard. Nor has it specified data formatting or data transfer rules to tackle data-sharing problems and the need to link-up supply chains to facilitate emissions sharing among companies using different technologies and platforms. This data sharing problem is being addressed by GHG Protocol’s co-convenor, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, through its Partnership for Carbon Transparency (PACT). PACT develops a standardized approach for calculating and exchanging consistent, comparable and credible Scope 3 emissions data across value chains. It has two elements: the PACT Framework,  which provides guidance on how to calculate primary product GHG footprints, and the PACT Network,  which facilitates peer-to-peer exchange for ensuring interoperability between technology solutions.

To achieve its goal of only using primary data to calculate emissions, the E-liability approach would need each company in a value chain to quantify and register its GHG emissions liabilities. Such a universal approach is unlikely to be feasible in a voluntary system. Companies with diverse product portfolios or deep global supply chains touch many small- to medium-sized enterprises. Large-cap companies, for example, can have supplier pools of up to 100,000 businesses that span the globe. 

Lastly, and most importantly, it is unclear why companies would be compelled to create E-ledgers, purchase E-assets and treat E-liabilities as costs or legal responsibilities in the absence of regulations or punitive carbon taxes. Liabilities will not matter without regulatory teeth.

Is E-liabilities an Effective Approach to Inform GHG Management?  

The raison d'être of counting emissions is to help manage and reduce them in line with achieving the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature stabilization goal. E-liabilities is based on financial accounting approaches. Financial accounting was not designed to count GHGs or address GHG risks. The flow of money is unconstrained by the laws of physics and chemistry. GHG emissions are different. It is therefore reasonable to ask: Is an approach based on financial accounting an effective way to inform GHG management? The answer is unclear since E-liabilities has not been tried beyond a handful of case studies. 

Other questions remain. Would E-liabilities encourage companies to think strategically across their value chains to identify their most impactful GHG reduction opportunities? No, because it focuses a company’s accounting on Scope 1 and cradle-to gate emissions. And while downstream product use phase disclosures have now been added, these are limited to a subset of product use types and do not account for product use phase emissions. Would it help investors assess GHG risks? No, because investors want information on the full value chain risks, as evidenced by the 297 comment letters submitted on a draft U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Climate Disclosure Rule. In these submissions, a whopping 97% of investors supported including Scope 3 emissions in the disclosure rule.

What about the Emissions Liability Management E-ledger approach that allows a company to purchase unlimited E-assets or offsets to cancel its E-liabilities? All sectors need to reduce their value-chain emissions. This includes radical decarbonization of GHG-intensive sectors such as utilities, oil and gas, transportation, banking, chemicals, steel, and concrete. 

Emissions Liability Management claims to provide a mechanism for pricing emissions to “properly reflect the cost of the externalities (emissions).” It states that price is determined by the cost to manage a portfolio of E-assets over a specified duration. This assumes well-functioning markets with regulators, enforcers, and controllers. Unfortunately, this is not the reality today. And absent regulations on emissions, such as a cap or carbon tax, it is unclear what would determine a price on emissions or E-liabilities other than the cost of purchasing voluntary offsets.

In a voluntary system, E-liabilities’ effectiveness would depend on upstream companies being motivated to reduce GHGs because they see a competitive advantage to passing lower liabilities to customers. This would only happen if end customers cared about GHG liabilities. And if they don’t care, would producers simply pass their production-related E-liabilities to customers and assume no responsibility for these emissions? 

Lastly, would regulators be likely to adopt an E-liabilities approach to drive decarbonization of the economy? The answer is unclear, given concerns around its efficacy for GHG risk management. And as Gillenwater, 2024 notes, regulators typically target individual facilities or end products rather than companies as their point of regulation.

Is E-liability Accounting a Replacement for the GHG Protocol? 

No. E-liability and the GHG Protocol serve different goals and adopt different accounting approaches. E-liability is not a codified standard and it is unclear how it would work in a voluntary system.

The world is not on track to achieve the Paris Agreement on climate change. Neither the GHG Protocol nor E-liabilities can be surrogates for GHG regulations. Liabilities will not matter without regulatory teeth. Voluntary reduction efforts can only go so far, absent a regulatory leveling of the playing field. It’s time for governments to mandate GHG reductions. This may require new forms of GHG emissions information. 

While it is important to remain open to new ideas, we shouldn’t be too quick to throw the baby out with the bathwater. For voluntary programs and regulatory systems, the GHG Protocol’s family of standards provides a policy-neutral foundation for accounting for emissions attributed to business activities.

Regulators can and do prescribe which elements of the GHG Protocol to use to meet specific objectives, including achieving comparability across companies (e.g., organizational boundary method, scope, minimum inclusion, and data quality). If regulators or others see value in new approaches to GHG accounting, these could operate side-by-side with the GHG Protocol and rely on its technical foundation.

Disclosure Statement: WRI is a co-convener of the GHG Protocol Initiative. Janet Ranganathan was a co-founder of the GHG Protocol Initiative and lead author of the GHG Protocol Corporate Standard.

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shannon.paton@wri.org

New Platform Will Promote Integrated Water Management in Ethiopia's Amhara Region

4 semanas ago
New Platform Will Promote Integrated Water Management in Ethiopia's Amhara Region ciara.regan@wri.org Fri, 04/26/2024 - 10:31

Ethiopia’s Amhara region lies partially within the Abbay (Blue Nile) River Basin, which is one of the country’s twelve major river basins. It is also home to Ethiopia’s largest freshwater lake — Lake Tana — from which the Blue Nile River originates. Within the broader river basin, the Tana Subbasin is an area identified as a growth corridor for Ethiopia due to its vast productive potential. However, the subbasin faces challenges with water access and availability due to growing water withdrawals, agro-industrial pollution, changing climatic patterns, and environmental damage like deforestation and soil erosion. This puts economic activities and the livelihoods of the region’s predominantly rural communities at risk, making it a vital issue to address.

Amhara IWRM-WASH Platform launching event in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. Photo by Cherinet Tsegaw/ ABAO Photographer

For this reason, many government agencies, nongovernmental organizations and development partners are working on projects to improve water resources governance and access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in Amhara. However, many of these interventions lack coordination or complementarity. This siloed approach leads to duplication of efforts, redundancy in activities, minimal accountability, resource loss and reduced capacity to collectively scale. In addition, the intersection of the Amhara administrative region with catchment boundaries adds further complexity. Water is primarily governed from an administrative perspective without considering natural hydrological flows and settings important to its continuity. Managing water without considering hydrological boundaries or broader catchment conditions could severely hinder sustainable water resources management (WRM) in both the region and the larger basin.

The Abbay Basin Administration Office (ABAO), an agency of the Ministry of Water and Energy (MoWE), is mandated to advance sustainable water resources management at the basin level. On the other hand, the Amhara Regional State Bureau for Water and Energy (BoWE) is MoWE’s operating branch at the regional scale, responsible to endorse and implement water policies and regulations, improve utilization and management of water resources, and expand safe drinking water supply to both urban and rural areas. The mandates of these two government agencies align in many ways, but complementarity and cooperation are generally inadequate, sometimes even leading to overlap. And until recently, there was no system or platform in the region for increasing collaboration and integration in planning, implementation, monitoring and policy.

The Amhara Regional IWRM-WASH Platform was launched in December 2023 with the main purpose of uniting actors working in both the WRM and WASH spheres and tackling institutional, governance and integration challenges. The platform was driven by the need to improve integrated water resources management (IWRM) in the region, an approach which seeks to promote the sustainable use of water resources for socio-economic development while protecting the environment. The Amhara Regional IWRM-WASH Platform was initiated by ABAO and BoWE, with the support of World Resources Institute (WRI), IRC WASH, United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Millennium Water Alliance (MWA), Plan International Ethiopia and WaterAid Ethiopia. Although it was established as a platform at the regional level, due to institutional decisions on water in Ethiopia being made at the administrative scale, the platform aims to better connect different water-using sectors and actors while enhancing the region-basin linkage.

Objectives of the IWRM-WASH Platform

The overall objective of the IWRM-WASH Platform is to promote, support, and better coordinate regional and basin efforts to enhance sustainable WRM and WASH services, improve livelihoods, and protect the health of the environment and freshwater ecosystems.

Specific objectives include:

  • Enhance cross-sectoral coordination and planning and build collaboration for better collective impact in the WRM and WASH sectors.
  • Avoid silos in WRM and WASH as well as among basin and sub-basin authorities, regional bureaus, and other sub-national offices in the development and management of water and other natural resources.
  • Share data and information and engage in regular learning and promotion of best practices.
  • Enhance coordination among relevant programs and/or projects undertaken by government agencies, development partners, NGOs/CSOs, universities/research institutes, etc.
  • Facilitate forums and discussions and engage in joint advocacy on WRM-WASH linkage.
  • Monitor progress in the WRM and WASH agendas and identify challenges and recommendations for improvement in policy, strategy and implementation.
  • Help set a shared agenda for IWRM-WASH implementation in the Amhara region.

The platform launch event saw broad participation from high level officials and experts from different governmental and non-governmental organizations. During the launch ceremony, Yewendwesen Mengistu, Head of ABAO, said that one of the main responsibilities of ABAO is to prepare a strategic plan for the Abbay Basin with the full participation of stakeholders in the water sector. Once prepared, the basin plan must be executed by different actors and multiple sector offices in each region overlapping the Abbay Basin. He said the existence of this platform will allow better integration and cooperation during the implementation of the plan.

Mamaru Moges, Head of BoWE, also acknowledged the importance of the platform to address the intersectionality of WASH and WRM issues. He said the platform will improve the much-needed coordination and integration of government agencies, nongovernment organizations and all stakeholders working towards water security. He pledged BoWE’s full support for the participation and sustainability of the platform. 

According to Haymanot Belete, a federal representative of MoWE, a similar platform was recently launched at the national level. However, regional IWRM-WASH platforms are still missing and are critical to ensure that the national platform translates into action on the ground. He said regional platforms are critical for sharing expertise, securing financing and implementing more sustainable interventions. MoWE is happy to provide support from the federal level for this first regional platform that links basin and region and actors working across the water sector, he added.

The platform was established primarily as a collaborative effort by ABAO and BoWE with initial technical and financial support provided by WRI, IRC WASH, UNICEF and Plan International, representing a good example of cross-agency cooperation. Following the platform launch, ABAO and BoWE organized the first IWRM-WASH stakeholder and member meeting in February 2024 to share updates on progress, including finalizing the terms of reference for the platform and establishing working groups. This first event included sessions by BoWE and NGOs active locally on continued challenges in water access in addition to good regional experiences in WRM and WASH implementation.

The first stakeholder platform meeting in February 2024. Photo by Cherinet Tsegaw/ ABAO Photographer

During this first meeting, ABAO was also elected to chair the platform, with BoWE as co-chair. In addition, the Amhara Plan and Development Commission was nominated as secretary while the Amhara Environment & Forest Protection Authority and Health bureaus were designated to lead the IWRM and WASH thematic subgroups respectively. WRI, UNICEF and IRC WASH will take on advisory roles.

Since the launch of the platform, 32 agencies and organizations submitted applications for official membership.

IWRM is a long and participatory process. Gaining political support at various levels is important, and the establishment of multi-stakeholder platforms for consultation, experience sharing and coordination can be vital. A key discussion point going forward will be exploring solutions to ensure platform sustainability.

WRI’s support to the IWRM-WASH platform falls within an ongoing program of technical assistance to the ABAO. WRI long acknowledged the need for the establishment of such a platform to foster better alignment and collaboration to collectively improve water management and governance in the Amhara region, to both spur the protection of water supplies and freshwater ecosystems and to improve water access. WRI has provided technical and financial support to establish this platform, mainly through a project funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, titled “Promoting IWRM and environmental sustainability to enhance water availability and livelihoods in Ethiopia’s Tana Subbasin."

tewodros-getnet.jpg Freshwater Madagascar Water Security Freshwater water risk nature-based solutions Type Project Update Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Authors Muluneh Bimrew Francesca Battistelli Zablon Adane
ciara.regan@wri.org

Zero-emission Zones Are Helping Some Cities Fight Pollution

4 semanas 1 día ago
Zero-emission Zones Are Helping Some Cities Fight Pollution alicia.cypress… Thu, 04/25/2024 - 09:15

With growing urban populations and increases in cars, trucks and buses, cities are poised to experience more harmful pollution threatening people’s health and livelihoods.

But some cities around the world are turning to an emerging solution called zero-emission zones (ZEZs).

These are designated small areas of about 1.5 square miles to 11 square miles inside large cities in Europe, Asia and North America where only zero-emission vehicles (such as electric cars and trucks), pedestrians and bikes are granted unrestricted access, with gas and diesel vehicles either prohibited or forced to pay an access fee.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Zero-emission Zones?

The policy, which requires limited public funds, considerably reduces emissions and can bring additional environmental and economic benefits. For example, research shows that ZEZs can reduce most tailpipe nitrogen dioxide emissions from trucks — a major source of air pollution. Further, carefully-conceived ZEZs are expected to reduce the number of cars on the road making cities less congested and helping spur the market for more zero-emission vehicles.  

A sign warns drivers of a zero-emissions zone in Oxford, England. Oxford is among a dozen cities across the world that have implemented or announced formal plans for a zero-emissions zone. Photo by Martin Anderson / Alamy Stock Photo.

              

Although city leaders often like the idea of ZEZs, they are also daunted by the possible negative socioeconomic impacts of the policy. For example, the high costs of new zero-emission vehicles or access to transportation may impact low-income residents and vulnerable groups living in the zones, who need to get to work or school. Or small freight carriers may not be able to reach their customers, disrupting the supply of food and other goods.

Overcoming Barriers: Lessons from Zero-emission Zones Leaders

Still, even though ZEZs are still a nascent approach with some knots to untangle, several cities are beginning to implement them. A WRI report, “Feasibility of Zero-Emission Freight Zones: Scenario Analysis and Risk Assessment,” shows only about a dozen cities around the world have officially implemented or announced formal proposals to pilot ZEZs. Currently, these cities include Rotterdam and Amsterdam in the Netherlands, London and Oxford in England, Brussels in Belgium, Santa Monica and Los Angeles in the United States, Oslo in Norway and the cities of Shenzhen, Foshan, Dongguan and Hangzhou in China.

 These early adopters have already found effective ways to implement ZEZs, offering lessons for other cities:

1) Start By Targeting Trucks

When first implementing a program, it’s more common to prioritize trucks over private cars for a couple of reasons. First, in recent years, banning gas-powered private cars from entering ZEZs (often in city centers) could have profound accessibility impacts for local residents and stimulate widespread public objection. Further, compared with the soaring market shares of electric passenger cars (22% in the EU, 35% in China and 9% in the U.S. by 2023), the adoption of zero-emission trucks has been much slower. Implementing more policy instruments like ZEZs can help stimulate the growth of zero-emission trucks.

To reduce air pollution and to bring the transport emissions close to zero by 2030, Amsterdam initially proposed to introduce a ZEZ for all vehicles — including private cars — within the city’s built-up area (which is almost the entire city) in 2030. However, due to concerns about public acceptance, the city postponed private car restrictions to after 2030, to provide ample time to foster public support. Instead, the city plans to pursue a ZEZ for trucks inside of the A10, a ring road circling Amsterdam, beginning in 2025.

Within the truck segment, light-duty trucks and vans will be targeted first in Amsterdam, because heavy-duty trucks — particularly long-haul trucks — have limited zero-emission models and are too expensive to purchase.

A PostNL truck parked along the side of a road in Amsterdam. The Netherlands mail service uses electric trucks to make its deliveries in city centers. Photo by Bjoern Wylezich.

Amsterdam is not an isolated case. All the global cities WRI studied restricted or plan to restrict gas- or diesel-powered trucks in the initial phase of implementing a ZEZ policy. Only London and Oxford have also banned private cars, which will be planned pilots on a few streets that are less than 1 kilometer (0.62 miles) long.

Oslo plans to target both gas or diesel-powered light-duty trucks and heavy-duty trucks in the first phase of its ZEZ implementation. Chinese cities, such as Dongguan and Hangzhou, are also banning diesel heavy-duty trucks from entering the ZEZs, aiming to eliminate heavy-duty trucks in the city center. Arguably, this measure could lead to increased freight movements and worsen traffic congestion since heavy-duty vehicles could be replaced by many smaller vehicles.

2) Small Zones Avoid Bigger Challenges

Cities need to make sure the design of ZEZs doesn’t disrupt the supply of goods and interfere with a city’s economic and social activities. Opting for small zones, like Shenzhen did, is one strategy to avoid these challenges.

As part of the 2018 “Shenzhen Blue” Sustainable Initiative, the city government created to quickly curb air pollution, 10 ZEZs were established. But to manage potential public objection, the city started by designating small zones in high visibility areas of the city.

Under the rationale, the 10 zones totaling 22 square kilometers (8.5 square miles), or 1.1% of Shenzhen, were established in the center of each urban district where there were high levels of air pollution, traffic congestion and parking shortages. The individual zones span from 0.37 to 5.4 square kilometers (0.14 to 2.1 square miles).

Some ZEZs are also located around city government offices or public schools to take advantage of public procurement of zero-emission trucks and avoid impacting local residents.

In 2023, Shenzhen introduced six additional ZEZs near universities and public parks to further accelerate the adoption of zero-emission trucks, increasing the total ZEZ area to 26 square kilometers (10 square miles).  

Similar to Shenzhen, most of the global cities WRI analyzed have all started or planned to implement ZEZs in small areas that measure 4 to 31 square kilometers (1.5 to 12 square miles). Some cities are also exploring other small locations outside of city centers. For example, the Chinese central government is considering establishing ZEZs (or ultra-low emission zones) at industrial parks, seaports, railway yards and airports.

Report: Feasibility of Zero-Emission Freight Zones: Scenario Analysis and Risk Assessment

Insights: Zero-emission Delivery Zones: A New Way to Cut Traffic, Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gases

Project: Advancing Equity-centered Zero-emission Delivery Zones

3) Create Support Measures for Small Businesses

Small trucking companies serving areas and neighborhoods within ZEZs are particularly vulnerable to the economic impact from new ZEZ policies. Therefore, supportive measures should be designed to protect this segment of traffic that would need to reach residents and businesses located in these zones.

Staff from a zero-emissions delivery program use an electric cargo trike for distribution. Zero-emissions delivery will be a critical practice as ZEZs continue to grow. Photo by Simon Turner/Alamy Stock Photo 

In Rotterdam, during the transition to electric vehicles, small trucking companies, which transport goods in and out of the city, warned that the high transitional costs from purchasing new vehicles would diminish their profits. But supportive government measures were created to help. The city of Rotterdam expanded subsidies created by the Netherlands that encouraged small carriers to purchase electric trucks. The city is also providing advice on costs, information on relevant subsidies and tax exemptions, advice on charging solutions and making free trials of zero-emission vehicles available.

Further, to ensure small companies are prepared for the new policy, Rotterdam is also providing a long phase-in period. The ZEZ policy, which covers 13 square kilometers (5 square miles) and restricts various sizes of trucks from all-day access, was communicated to the public in 2020, about four years before its implementation is set to begin in 2025. In addition, Rotterdam included a 3 to 5 year phase-out period for existing gas- or diesel-powered trucks (Euro V and VI). These trucks won’t be banned completely until 2030 so that small companies don’t have to retire newly-purchased gas- or diesel-powered trucks and can buy zero-emission vehicles at cheaper prices.

Last but not the least, Rotterdam is expanding the battery-charging network at public parking lots and major destinations (such as distribution centers, offices and depots). It is also addressing issues such as the interoperability of chargers and the charging impact on the grid systems. 

4) Combine Zero-emission Zones with Additional Benefits

ZEZs do not necessarily generate additional benefits such as congestion relief or delivery efficiency. For example, zero-emission trucks may not be able to travel as far as gas- or diesel-powered trucks before needing to recharge and the heavy weight of the batteries may mean these zero-emission trucks can carry less goods. This leads to operational inefficiencies and increased traffic congestion. Therefore, cities need to go beyond the single goal of emission reduction when designing ZEZs.

When the city of Rotterdam created its policies, it wanted the ZEZs to have multiple goals: achieve zero emissions, efficient operation and zero congestion through the implementation of the ZEZs. To tackle operational inefficiency and create additional benefits, Rotterdam adopted a series of efficiency improvement measures, including establishing urban consolidation centers outside the ZEZ so that goods from various origins are bundled into fewer vehicles and distributed to ZEZs and adopting efficient delivery practices (such as data-driven route planning) to reduce empty runs.

Successfully Achieving More Zero-emission Zones

Accelerating the transition to more zero-emission vehicles is vital to improving air quality, reducing human health risks and lowering emissions that harm the climate and environment. While the introduction of ZEZs may be daunting, cities like Amsterdam, Shenzhen and Rotterdam show that creating ZEZs is possible. However, it’s important that the policies should also avoid negative impacts that could impact small trucking companies and residents, as well as create co-benefits for operational efficiency and congestion alleviation.

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