UN Water Conference Needs to See More Game-changing Commitments

17 horas 17 minutos ago
UN Water Conference Needs to See More Game-changing Commitments sarah.parsons@… Tue, 03/21/2023 - 12:01

The UN’s 2023 Water Conference this week marks the first global freshwater conference held by the international organization in nearly 50 years. The event’s main output will be an international Water Action Agenda, made up of voluntary water management commitments from dozens of governments, businesses, NGOs and others. Done well, the Water Action Agenda will inspire the collective political will needed to finally tackle the pollution, scarcity, flooding and other water challenges facing humanity. Done wrong, it’ll be yet another empty promise in the face of mounting water risks.

As of March 18, 2023, the UN had received 400 water action plans, with more expected during and after the conference. But while the volume and diversity of commitments is commendable, WRI found that most are not strong enough to lead to substantial change in the world.

While dozens of commitments deserve praise for their scope, rigor and ambition, many lacked the proper finance, quantifiable targets and cross-border action needed to truly overcome water challenges. Still others failed to consider climate change or address industry and agriculture, some of the biggest water consumers.

Countries, multilateral organizations and others should look to the game-changing commitments submitted so far and step up with similarly ambitious pledges. Without more bold and innovative water management plans, the Water Action Agenda will fall short in its goal of “giving the world’s lifeblood the commitment it deserves.” 

Young women from the Borana tribe in southern Ethiopia carry jugs of water back to their village. Parts of Ethiopia are experiencing drought, creating food shortages. Photo by hadynyah/iStockThis Is the Moment for Water Action

While water is one of the most vital resources — essential for energy, food, security and human survival — water systems around the world are under stress.

The World Health Organization estimates that as of 2021, 2.2 billion people lack access to safe drinking water, while 4.2 billion don’t have adequate sanitation. One-quarter of the world’s population lives in countries facing extremely high water stress, where demand regularly outpaces available supply. Floods and droughts are becoming more frequent and severe due to climate change, exacerbating existing water risks.

Water also acts as a threat multiplier, precipitating or escalating political conflicts. For example, lack of access to water has exacerbated political tensions in many countries throughout the world, including Mali, Sudan, Kenya, Iraq and Iran.

What Does Ambitious Water Action Look Like?

Overcoming these complex, interconnected challenges won’t be easy. It’ll take bold commitments with innovative solutions, clear and measurable targets (and accountability for reaching them!), dedicated finance, and collaboration across national boundaries.

Most pledges submitted to the UN’s Water Action Agenda aren’t game-changers. But the ones that are offer major inspiration.

One standout is a joint commitment from the Niger River Basin Authority and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV).

The commitment includes strong financial backing and an ambitious timeline — $21.2 million through 2029 — to strengthen climate change adaptation and mitigation throughout all nine countries the Niger River runs through. The plan includes climate-smart agriculture, wetland restoration and other nature-based solutions to overcome the region’s increasingly erratic rainfall and desertification.

Transboundary commitments for water management are rare due to conflicting geopolitical, economic and social values of countries across affected watersheds. But they’re essential: Water is inherently a cross-boundary, cross-sectoral issue given its many users. Including all nine countries in the Niger River Basin offers an opportunity for considerable progress, as well as immense knowledge- and data-sharing.

On the private sector side, CDP has included 1,800 companies in one of its Water Action Agenda commitments. These companies pledged to invest in 2,719 water-smart products and services by 2028, at a combined value of $436 billion. This commitment is a game-changer because it leverages societal demands for corporate social responsibility and investor demands for corporate disclosure of water and climate risks and risk mitigation. WRI’s Corporate Water Stewardship and Natural Infrastructure initiatives are working with dozens of these companies in setting voluntary plans related to water quantity and quality, implementing innovative nature-based solutions and prioritizing watershed health.

How to Improve Commitments to the World’s Water Action Agenda?

While some commitments offer inspiration, more of them miss the mark. Small-scale, siloed, underfunded projects — even hundreds of them — are not enough to deliver the changes the world’s water systems need.

We identified several common shortcomings in existing pledges that countries, companies, NGOs and others should address, including:

Dedicated Finance

More than 290 commitments submitted to the Water Action Agenda — 74% of the total, as of March 18, 2023 — lacked clear funding targets. Commitments are meaningless without the finance to put them into action.

Luckily, solving water challenges is not as expensive as you might think, and water investments can yield significant economic benefits. A WRI report estimates that securing water for all communities by 2030 could cost just over 1% of global GDP — about 29 cents per person, per day from 2015-2030. Every dollar invested in water access and sanitation yields $6.80 in return, while failing to implement better water management policies could lead to regional GDP losses of 2-10% by 2050.

Quantified Targets

Only 25% of the 400 water action commitments submitted as of March 18th included quantitative targets for outcomes. This makes it difficult to evaluate projects’ success, both for those implementing them and those evaluating from the outside.

Commitments should include quantitative targets such as: additional quantities of water made available, improved water quality, increased amount of protected/restored landscapes, or increased percentage of the population with access to water, sanitation and hygiene services. It is important to have clear metrics of success, as well as ways to monitor progress and adjust strategies as needed. Targets should align with what the best available science says is necessary for achieving sustainable freshwater systems and curbing climate change.

The Science-Based Target Network’s emerging corporate freshwater science-based targets, part of the network’s first science-based targets for nature, will allow companies to prioritize watersheds and set measurable, actionable, time-bound and quantitative targets for water. 

A Bigger Emphasis on Climate Change

From deadly floods in Pakistan to drought-fueled food shortages in the Horn of Africa, it’s clear that water is one of the most acute ways people experience the impacts of climate change. Yet as of March 18th, only 24% of commitments address climate change.

Governments and others have treated water and climate change as siloed issues for too long. It’s time decision-makers realize that reducing emissions and undertaking adaptation projects is water management. Likewise, fixing leaky pipes, restoring mangroves and expanding access to sanitation and other water services is building climate resilience. These two agendas need to come together to create a water- and climate-resilient future.I

Irrigating a crop field. Agriculture uses 70% of the world's freshwater withdrawals, yet most commitments submitted to the UN's Water Action Agenda do not target the sector. Photo by Alex Traveler/ShutterstockCooperation Across Borders and Sectors

As with climate, only 16% of commitments (as of March 18th) include cooperation, either across national borders or across economic sectors.

That’s a problem, since water is inherently a cross-boundary, cross-sectoral issue. Transboundary waters comprise 60% of the world’s freshwater flows.  When an upstream country uses water to irrigate crops, for example, that water is no longer available to downstream countries. It is therefore important that countries agree in advance on the quantity and timing of flows, what happens during low rainfall years, and myriad other decisions affecting the transboundary water supply.  

The EU’s Water Framework Directive, which aims to improve water resources management across the entire region, is a great example of collaborative water management. The directive requires EU member states to work together on river basin management planning and implementation, involving local communities, businesses, conservation organizations, wastewater treatment facilities and other various water stakeholders. According to the European Commission, the number of hazardous substances found in surface water decreased by 40% from 2007 to 2018 and the number of wastewater treatment plants complying with EU standards increased from 70% in 2007 to 98% in 2017.

More Commitments from Governments and Multilateral Institutions

Half of Water Action Agenda commitments came from NGOs. As of March 18th, only 64 commitments are from governments, and 44 from multilateral institutions like the UN and development banks.

This level of effort from national governments and multilateral organizations is insufficient for addressing the world’s water challenges. Governments control so much of how water is managed and allocated through their water policies and regulations. They also have access to sizable funds, either of their own or through international grant or lending programs.

Multilateral organizations also have the power to shape policies and control large pools of money that can be dedicated to improve the provision of water services and water resource management.

Plans Targeting Agricultural and Industrial Water Users

Few of the plans submitted so far target agricultural or industrial water users. This is a major oversight, since farms and industries are some of the biggest water consumers.

Agriculture is responsible for 70% of the world’s freshwater withdrawals. Industry — which relies heavily on water for cooling, washing, manufacturing and other processes — and energy consume 19% of freshwater withdrawals globally. The world can’t transform its water systems without focusing on its biggest water users.

Seizing the Moment to Create a Better Water Future

With water, we know the problems and we know the solutions. What’s missing is the political will to take action.

The UN Water Conference brings together decision-makers, policy implementers and funders — all of the stakeholders necessary for transformative change. Now is not the time to keep letting water solutions slip through the cracks. Now is the time for governments, businesses, organizations and others to come forward with robust commitments that can ensure a water-secure future for generations to come. 

collecting_water_rajasthan.jpg Water Corporate Water Stewardship Water Quality water risk floods drought Type Commentary Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Related Resources and Data 17 Countries, Home to One-Quarter of the World's Population, Face Extremely High Water Stress Aqueduct Floods Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas Projects Authors Charles Iceland Caroline Black

How to Refine California’s 2022 Scoping Plan for Achieving Climate Neutrality

17 horas 35 minutos ago
How to Refine California’s 2022 Scoping Plan for Achieving Climate Neutrality ciara.regan@wri.org Tue, 03/21/2023 - 11:43

California has long been a climate action leader, often adopting policies that serve as models for other states and even countries. The state, which would be the fourth- largest economy in the world if it were an independent country, recently took another major step forward. In December 2022, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted a “Scoping Plan” to guide state policies to meet its targets to cut emissions at least 40% by 2030 (from 1990 levels) and achieve net-zero emissions by 2045.

Following requirements the state legislature enacted, the plan is designed to directly reduce emissions by at least 85% and compensate for remaining emissions through carbon dioxide removal (CDR). The plan encompasses a broad portfolio of emissions-reduction and carbon-removal strategies, including clean power; transportation and building electrification; green hydrogen; capturing and geologically sequestering carbon from cement kilns, power plants and directly from the air; and nature-based solutions.

Although the Scoping Plan has many key features, other aspects will need to be refined as the broad plan is turned into concrete policies and investments. WRI commissioned Evolved Energy Research (EER) to make suggestions for how CARB and other California state agencies can build on the tremendous effort that went into developing the 2022 Scoping Plan by updating key assumptions and analytic approaches. EER published Observations on the Implementation of the 2022 California Scoping Plan in December and WRI provided it to CARB through a public comment during the meeting where the Scoping Plan was adopted.

Here is a summary of some of EER’s important observations:

Findings on Electricity System Decarbonization

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provides powerful incentives for California and other states to build new renewable and other zero-carbon generation over the next decade. The Inflation Reduction Act was enacted after energy system modeling for the Scoping Plan had begun, and the final analysis was not updated to reflect it. Future analyses should fully incorporate the benefits of the Inflation Reduction Act, which is likely to allow even deeper reductions in emissions from California’s electricity system in 2030 and beyond those reflected in the Scoping Plan.

EER also notes that a refined analysis of electricity system decarbonization should include geospatial analysis to identify the best locations for infrastructure — such as solar arrays and transmission lines — and address land use conflicts as early as possible. Furthermore, greater regional integration of California’s electricity system with neighboring states would increase reliability and lower consumer costs but was not considered in detail in the Scoping Plan.

The Scoping Plan assumed a ban on new fossil gas power plants, resulting in the selection of hydrogen-burning turbines for electricity reliability needs. This should be reconsidered given the risk of higher NOx emissions from hydrogen turbines. The Scoping Plan also assumed that remaining fossil gas power plants would be retrofitted with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) just before the 2045 deadline to reach net-zero emissions. It may be more cost-effective, however, to ensure system reliability by allowing very limited operation of fossil gas power plants without CCS and compensate for those emissions with direct air capture (DAC) or other CDR technologies. Non-combustion options for providing firm capacity, such as long duration energy storage or geothermal power, may also be cleaner and more cost-effective solutions than building hydrogen turbines and retrofitting fossil gas power plants that weren’t designed to incorporate CCS.

Geothermal energy is a source of renewable energy in California, generating 5.7% or 11,116 GWh of in-state electricity in 2021. Photo by Andy Van Horn/FlickrFindings on Carbon Management

Both CDR and CCS have important roles to play in helping California reach net-zero emissions by 2045 or sooner, but further analysis of how and where these approaches should be deployed will be needed as the state implements the Scoping Plan and SB-905, which requires CARB to establish stringent guidelines to govern carbon capture, removal and sequestration in the state. For example, applying CCS to cement kilns makes sense because the process of cement production produces CO2 regardless of which fuel is used. On the other hand, installing CCS at all oil refineries, as the Scoping Plan assumes, would not make sense because most are expected to retire or substantially reduce their output within a few years as electric vehicles replace gasoline- and diesel-powered cars and trucks.

Waste biomass from California agriculture, such as wood, shells and hulls from almond orchards, can be converted into biochar that can be applied to degraded soils or bio-oil that can be injected underground to stabilize empty oil and gas extraction caverns and sequester CO2. Photo by Thank You (23 Millions+) views / Flickr

California’s carbon removal strategy should also examine a wider variety of approaches than those included in the Scoping Plan, such as kelp cultivation, mineralization, and converting waste biomass from agriculture and wildfire risk reduction treatments into biochar or pyrolysis oil. Although biomass energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) is included in the Scoping Plan as a carbon removal strategy, other recent studies suggest that BECCS-hydrogen could play a significantly larger role than envisioned in the Scoping Plan scenario. The location and energy sources for DAC facilities also need further analysis. Significant cost reductions could be achieved by operating DAC and hydrogen facilities as grid-connected flexible loads, rather than assuming they will be powered by dedicated off-grid renewables as the Scoping Plan does.

These suggestions, and others contained in the EER white paper, can help California further refine its world-leading climate policies to produce even better outcomes for Californians and a better model for other jurisdictions to emulate.

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RELEASE: Greenhouse Gas Protocol Receives $9.25 Million Grant From the Bezos Earth Fund

18 horas 47 minutos ago
RELEASE: Greenhouse Gas Protocol Receives $9.25 Million Grant From the Bezos Earth Fund shannon.paton@… Tue, 03/21/2023 - 10:31

WASHINGTON DC (March 15, 2023) – Today the Earth Fund announced its award of $9.25 million to Greenhouse Gas Protocol, which is co-convened by World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The partnership will allow GHG Protocol to update and clarify existing standards, develop new guidance, improve efficiency, and provide additional technical services to companies. This work will support GHG Protocol users’ implementation of greenhouse gas emissions accounting and reporting standards.

In November 2022, GHG Protocol launched a set of surveys on its Corporate Accounting Reporting Standard, Scope 2 Guidance, and Scope 3 Standard and Scope 3 Calculation Guidance to better understand users’ challenges with implementing the standards. The global stakeholder survey process will inform future revisions to existing standards or development of additional guidance and sets the stage for the next two years of GHG Protocol’s work. By soliciting feedback from users on pain points, as well as users’ suggestions for revisions, GHG Protocol is working to better serve practitioners on the ground.

 “The global demand for greenhouse gas accounting and disclosure is skyrocketing and must be scaled and modernized to deliver needed standards, tools and training,” said Dr. Andrew Steer, President and CEO of the Bezos Earth Fund. “Trust in these systems is paramount and this investment in two critical corporate climate and accountability disclosure initiatives will help enable companies to take urgent climate action.”

Ani Dasgupta, President & CEO of World Resources Institute, emphasized the foundational role that GHG Protocol has played in the GHG emissions and accounting ecosystem. “For over twenty years, GHG Protocol has supplied the world’s most widely used greenhouse gas accounting standards which have come to underpin virtually every corporate GHG reporting program,” he said. “This generous award in partnership with the Earth Fund comes at a critical inflection point as the GHG Protocol updates its standards and guidance and significantly ramps up the support it provides to thousands of corporate users.”

This funding will be pivotal to expanding GHG Protocol’s capacity as interest in GHG emissions accounting grows from voluntary to regulatory programs, said Pankaj Bhatia, Director of GHG Protocol. “GHG Protocol has provided comprehensive standards and tools for businesses, cities, and governments to credibly measure their GHG emissions and track progress toward their climate targets, and we are seeing an exponential increase in demand for support in this field.” he said. “This investment will allow us to continue to further strengthen our vital role for years to come.”

About the Bezos Earth Fund

The Bezos Earth Fund is Jeff Bezos's $10 billion commitment to fund scientists, activists, NGOs, and other actors that will drive climate and nature solutions. By allocating funds creatively, wisely, and boldly, the Bezos Earth Fund has the potential for transformative influence in this decisive decade. Funds will be fully allocated by 2030 — the date by which the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals must be achieved.

About Greenhouse Gas Protocol

Greenhouse Gas Protocol is the world’s leading authority and international standard setter on corporate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions accounting. Building on a 20-year partnership between World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), GHG Protocol works with governments, industry associations, NGOs, businesses and other organizations. GHG Protocol also provides standards, tools and online training to help countries and cities track progress towards their climate goals.

About World Resources Institute

Founded in 1982, World Resources Institute (WRI) is an independent, nonprofit global research organization that turns big ideas into action at the nexus of environment, economic opportunity, and human well-being. We are working to address seven critical challenges that the world must overcome this decade to secure a sustainable future for people and the planet: climate change, energy, food, forests, water, sustainable cities, and the ocean. WRI has a global staff of over 1,800 people with work spanning 60 countries. We have offices in Africa, Brazil, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Colombia and the United States, as well as a growing presence in other countries and regions.

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What Does "Net-Zero Emissions" Mean? 8 Common Questions, Answered

1 día 16 horas ago
What Does "Net-Zero Emissions" Mean? 8 Common Questions, Answered wri-admin Mon, 03/20/2023 - 12:40

Editor's Note: This article was updated in March 2023 to include WRI’s latest research and information about new national net-zero targets.

The latest climate science is clear: Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) is still possible. But to avoid the worst climate impacts, global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will need to drop by nearly half by 2030 and ultimately reach net zero.

Recognizing this urgency, a rapidly growing number of national governments, local governments and business leaders are making commitments to reach net-zero emissions within their jurisdictions or businesses. To date, over 90 countries have communicated such “net-zero targets,” including the world’s largest emitters (China, the United States and India). On top of that, hundreds more regions, cities and companies have set targets of their own.

But what does a net-zero target mean, what’s the science behind net zero and which countries have already made such commitments? Here are answers to eight common questions:

1. What Does Net-Zero Emissions Mean?

Net-zero emissions, or “net zero,” will be achieved when all emissions released by human activities are counterbalanced by removing carbon from the atmosphere in a process known as carbon removal.

Achieving net zero will require a two-part approach: First and foremost, human-caused emissions (such as those from fossil-fueled vehicles and factories) should be reduced as close to zero as possible. Any remaining emissions should then be balanced with an equivalent amount of carbon removal, which can happen through natural approaches like restoring forests or through technologies like direct air capture and storage (DACS), which scrubs carbon directly from the atmosphere.

2. When Does the World Need to Reach Net-Zero Emissions?

Under the Paris Agreement, countries agreed to limit warming to well below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F), ideally to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F). Global climate impacts that are already unfolding under the current 1.1 degrees C (1.98 degrees F) of warming — from melting ice to devastating heat waves and more intense storms — show the urgency of minimizing temperature increase.

The latest science suggests that limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C depends on CO2 emissions reaching net zero between 2050 and 2060. Reaching net zero earlier in that range (closer to 2050) avoids a risk of temporarily "overshooting," or exceeding 1.5 degrees C. Reaching net zero later (nearer to 2060) almost guarantees surpassing 1.5 degrees C for some time before global temperature can be reduced back to safer limits through carbon removal.

Critically, the sooner emissions peak, and the lower they are at that point, the more realistic achieving net zero becomes. This would also create less reliance on carbon removal in the second half of the century.

This does not suggest that all countries need to reach net-zero emissions at the same time. However, the chances of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C depend significantly on how soon the highest emitters reach net zero. Equity-related considerations — including responsibility for past emissions, equality in per-capita emissions and capacity to act — also suggest earlier dates for wealthier, higher-emitting countries.

Importantly, the time frame for reaching net-zero emissions is different for CO2 alone versus for CO2 plus other greenhouse gases like methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases. For non-CO2 emissions, the net zero date is later, in part because models assume that some of these emissions — such as methane from agricultural sources — are more difficult to phase out. However, these potent but short-lived gases will drive temperatures higher in the near term, potentially pushing temperature change past the 1.5 degrees C threshold much earlier.

Because of this, it's important for countries to specify whether their net-zero targets cover CO2 only or all GHGs. A comprehensive net-zero emissions target would include all GHGs, ensuring that non-CO2 gases are also reduced with urgency.

3. Is the World on Track to Reach Net-Zero Emissions on Time?

No — despite the enormous benefits of climate action to date, progress is happening far too slowly for the world to hold temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F). The UN finds that climate policies currently in place point to a 2.8 degrees C temperature rise by the end of the century.

4. What Needs to Happen to Achieve Net-Zero Emissions?

To achieve net-zero emissions, rapid transformation will be required across all global systems — from how we power our economies, to how we transport people and goods and feed a growing population.

For example, in pathways to 1.5 degrees C, zero-carbon sources will need to supply 98%-100% of electricity by 2050. Energy efficiency and fuel-switching measures are critical for reducing emissions from transportation. Improving the efficiency of food production, changing dietary choices, restoring degraded lands and reducing food loss and waste also have significant potential to reduce emissions.

Additionally, action must be taken to reverse course in cases where change is at a standstill or headed in the wrong direction entirely. For instance, efforts to phase out unabated coal remain well off-track and must decline six times faster by 2030. The world also needs to halt deforestation and increase tree cover gain two times faster by 2030.

It is critical that the structural and economic transition toward net zero is approached in a just manner, especially for workers tied to high-carbon industries. Indeed, the costs and benefits of transitioning to a net-zero emissions economy must be distributed equitably.

The good news is that most of the technologies needed to unlock net zero are already available and increasingly cost-competitive with high-carbon alternatives. Solar and wind now provide the cheapest power available for most of the world. Markets are waking up to these opportunities and to the risks of a high-carbon economy, and they are shifting accordingly.

Investments in carbon removal techniques are also necessary. The different pathways assessed by the IPCC to achieve 1.5 degrees C all rely on carbon removal to some extent. Removing CO2 from the atmosphere will compensate for emissions from sectors in which reaching net-zero emissions is more difficult, such as aviation.

5. How Many Countries Have Set Net-Zero Targets?

Global momentum for setting net-zero targets is growing quickly, with key economies like China, the United States, India and the European Union articulating such commitments. Bhutan was the first country to set a net-zero target in 2015. Now over 90 countries, representing nearly 80% of global emissions, are covered by a net-zero target.

Climate Watch’s Net-Zero Tracker shows how these targets were set, such as through nationally determined contributions (NDCs), long-term low GHG emissions development strategies (long-term strategies), domestic laws, policies, or high-level political pledges from heads of state or other cabinet members. The tracker also includes information on the scope of national net-zero targets, providing details about the GHGs and sectors covered by each, the extent to which the target relies on international offsets and more.

6. Does the Paris Agreement Commit Countries to Achieving Net-Zero Emissions?

In short, yes. Specifically, the Paris Agreement sets a long-term goal of achieving "a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century, on the basis of equity, and in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty." This concept of balancing emissions and removals is akin to reaching net-zero emissions.

The Glasgow Climate Pact, signed at COP26 and marking the five-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement, also emphasized the importance of setting ambitious net zero goals. The pact urges countries to move “towards just transitions to net zero emissions by or around midcentury, taking into account different national circumstances.”  To this end, it encourages parties “that have not yet done so to communicate…long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies” that set the country on a pathway toward net zero. The shift from “in the second half of this century” to “by or around mid-century” reflects a notable increase in perceived urgency.

7. Why and How Should Countries Align Their Near-term Emissions Reduction Targets with Longer-term Net-Zero Goals?

Countries typically set net-zero targets for around 2050 — nearly three decades from now. However, to ensure that the world gets on the right track toward reaching net zero, those long-term objectives must guide and inform near-term action today. This will help avoid locking in carbon-intensive, non-resilient infrastructure and technologies. Countries can also cut near- and long-term costs by investing in green infrastructure that will not need to be phased out later, designing consistent policies and sending strong signals to the private sector to invest in climate action.

Under the Paris Agreement, countries agreed to submit climate plans every five years, known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs). NDCs, which currently target 2030, are an important tool to align near- and long-term emissions reduction goals. When informed by a country’s long-term vision, these documents can help governments implement the policies necessary today to realize an ambitious mid-century objective.

Many countries with net-zero targets are beginning to incorporate them directly into their NDCs, particularly now that the Glasgow Climate Pact “notes the importance of aligning nationally determined contributions with long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies.”

8. Are Net-Zero Targets a Form of Greenwashing?

Not necessarily, but they can be if used as an excuse to not take bold climate action in the near term.

Although net-zero targets continue to gain traction with governments and companies, skeptical voices have emerged, from academic journals to Greta Thunberg’s speech in Davos. Critiques of net-zero targets include:

The “net” aspect of net-zero targets could dampen efforts to rapidly cut emissions.

Critics are concerned that this could foster an overreliance on carbon removal, allowing decision-makers to use net-zero targets to avoid emission reductions in the near term. Decision-makers can address this concern by setting ambitious gross reduction targets (targets that do not rely on removals) alongside their longer-term net reduction targets.

Some countries’ net-zero targets rely on purchasing emissions reductions, delaying reductions within their own boundaries.

Some countries are setting net-zero targets that rely on carbon offsetting, which involves investing in or paying for emissions reductions from other countries to use toward their own targets. There’s concern that government leaders might use this strategy to avoid reducing their own emissions in the long term. Decision-makers can address this concern by setting deep emission reduction targets that explicitly avoid or limit using offsets to achieve their goals.

The time horizon for net-zero targets — typically 2050 — feels distant.

Today’s infrastructure can last for decades and have a major impact on mid-century targets. Decision-makers must take this into account by establishing near- and mid-term milestones for their path to net-zero emissions, including by setting ambitious 2030 emission reduction targets as part of their NDCs. NDCs are subject to transparency and accountability mechanisms under the Paris Agreement that can foster implementation in the near term, which is critical for a long-term net-zero goal to be credible.

In short, net-zero commitments must be robust to be effective and advance climate action. Countries must take concrete steps to ensure this if they are to effectively address the challenge at hand.

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STATEMENT: WRI Statement on IPCC Sixth Assessment Synthesis Report

1 día 20 horas ago
STATEMENT: WRI Statement on IPCC Sixth Assessment Synthesis Report casey.skeens@wri.org Mon, 03/20/2023 - 09:16

WASHINGTON (March 20, 2023) — Today the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a synthesis of its Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) on climate change. Drawing on the findings from over hundreds of scientists, this report provides the most comprehensive and best available scientific assessment of climate change.

The IPCC report warns that the consequences of rising greenhouse gas emissions are already more severe and widespread than expected and the world will face increasingly dangerous and irreversible risks should we fail to change course. The report outlines pathways the world can take to limit global warming to 1.5°C and bolster communities’ resilience to climate impacts. These pathways will require urgent, far-reaching transformations across every global sector and system.

Following is a statement from Ani Dasgupta, President & CEO, World Resources Institute:

“This IPCC report is both a blistering condemnation of major emitters’ inaction and a sound blueprint for a much safer and more equitable world.  

“Our planet is already reeling from severe climate impacts, from scorching heat waves and destructive storms to severe droughts and water shortages. Poor and vulnerable communities in the Global South are suffering the worst consequences of this warmer world, even though greenhouse gas pollution from rich nations is to blame.  

“IPCC scientists don’t mince words on the biggest threat to humanity: continuing to burn fossil fuels. Despite the rapid growth of renewable energy, fossil fuels still account for over 80% of the world’s energy and over 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Without a radical shift away from fossil fuels over the next few years, the world is certain to blow past the 1.5 C goal. The IPCC makes plain that continuing to build new unabated fossil fuel power plants would seal that fate.

“Despite their dire warnings, the IPCC offers reasons to be hopeful. The report shows a narrow path to secure a livable future if we rapidly correct course. This involves deep emission reductions from every sector of the economy, as well as much greater investments to build resilience to climate impacts and support for people facing unavoidable climate losses and damage.  

“The authors also make clear that approaches to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere are necessary to limit warming to 1.5°C, in addition to urgently decarbonizing every sector of society. New technologies like direct air capture are not a fool’s errand or a distraction but rather essential tools to avert climate catastrophe.  

“Thanks to the hard work of IPCC scientists, policymakers know exactly what needs to be done. Real climate leadership means signaling at the COP28 summit that the fossil fuel era is over. It means helping big emerging economies like India and Indonesia to hasten their shift to cleaner sources of energy. It means major emitters significantly raising the ambition of national climate plans. And it means developed countries dramatically scaling up finance for developing nations to bolster climate resilience and protect their forests and ecosystems.  

“These shifts may seem daunting, but the case for action could not be more clear: cost-effective solutions exist today that can avert the worst consequences of climate change, offer huge economic benefits, improve people’s health and livelihoods and build more resilient communities.”

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10 Big Findings from the 2023 IPCC Report on Climate Change

1 día 20 horas ago
10 Big Findings from the 2023 IPCC Report on Climate Change alicia.cypress… Mon, 03/20/2023 - 09:00

The March 20, 2023 release of the final installment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), an eight-year long undertaking from the world’s most authoritative scientific body on climate change. Drawing on the findings of 234 scientists on the physical science of climate change, 270 scientists on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability to climate change, and 278 scientists on climate change mitigation, this IPCC synthesis report provides the most comprehensive, best available scientific assessment of climate change.

It also makes for grim reading. Across nearly 8,000 pages, the AR6 details the devastating consequences of rising greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions around the world — the destruction of homes, the loss of livelihoods and the fragmentation of communities, for example — as well as the increasingly dangerous and irreversible risks should we fail to change course.

But the IPCC also offers hope, highlighting pathways to avoid these intensifying risks. It identifies readily available, and in some cases, highly cost-effective actions that can be undertaken now to reduce GHG emissions, scale up carbon removal and build resilience. While the window to address the climate crisis is rapidly closing, the IPCC affirms that we can still secure a safe, livable future.

Here are 10 key findings you need to know:

1. Human-induced global warming of 1.1 degrees C has spurred changes to the Earth’s climate that are unprecedented in recent human history.

Already, with 1.1 degrees C (2 degrees F) of global temperature rise, changes to the climate system that are unparalleled over centuries to millennia are now occurring in every region of the world, from rising sea levels to more extreme weather events to rapidly disappearing sea ice.

Additional warming will increase the magnitude of these changes. Every 0.5 degree C (0.9 degrees F) of global temperature rise, for example, will cause clearly discernible increases in the frequency and severity of heat extremes, heavy rainfall events and regional droughts. Similarly, heatwaves that, on average, arose once every 10 years in a climate with little human influence will likely occur 4.1 times more frequently with 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) of warming, 5.6 times with 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) and 9.4 times with 4 degrees C (7.2 degrees F) — and the intensity of these heatwaves will also increase by 1.9 degrees C (3.4 degrees F), 2.6 degrees C (4.7 degrees F) and 5.1 degrees C (9.2 degrees F) respectively.

Rising global temperatures also heighten the probability of reaching dangerous tipping points in the climate system that, once crossed, can trigger self-amplifying feedbacks that further increase global warming, such as thawing permafrost or massive forest dieback. Setting such reinforcing feedbacks in motion can also lead to other substantial, abrupt and irreversible changes to the climate system. Should warming reach between 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) and 3 degrees C (5.4 degrees F), for example, the West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets could melt almost completely and irreversibly over many thousands of years, causing sea levels to rise by several meters.

2. Climate impacts on people and ecosystems are more widespread and severe than expected, and future risks will escalate rapidly with every fraction of a degree of warming.

Described as an “an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership” by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, one of AR6’s most alarming conclusions is that adverse climate impacts are already more far-reaching and extreme than anticipated. About half of the global population currently contends with severe water scarcity for at least one month per year, while higher temperatures are enabling the spread of vector-borne diseases, such as malaria, West Nile virus and Lyme disease. Climate change has also slowed improvements in agricultural productivity in middle and low latitudes, with crop productivity growth shrinking by a third in Africa since 1961. And since 2008, extreme floods and storms have forced over 20 million people from their homes every year.

Every fraction of a degree of warming will intensify these threats, and even limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degree C is not safe for all. At this level of warming, for example, 950 million people across the world’s drylands will experience water stress, heat stress and desertification, while the share of the global population exposed to flooding will rise by 24%.

Similarly, overshooting 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F), even temporarily, will lead to much more severe, oftentimes irreversible impacts, from local species extinctions to the complete drowning of salt marshes to loss of human lives from increased heat stress. Limiting the magnitude and duration of overshooting 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F), then, will prove critical in ensuring a safe, livable future, as will holding warming to as close to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) or below as possible. Even if this temperature limit is exceeded by the end of the century, the imperative to rapidly curb GHG emissions to avoid higher levels of warming and associated impacts remains unchanged.

3. Adaptation measures can effectively build resilience, but more finance is needed to scale solutions.

Climate policies in at least 170 countries now consider adaptation, but in many nations, these efforts have yet to progress from planning to implementation. Measures to build resilience are still largely small-scale, reactive and incremental, with most focusing on immediate impacts or near-term risks. This disparity between today’s levels of adaptation and those required persists in large part due to limited finance. According to the IPCC, developing countries alone will need $127 billion per year by 2030 and $295 billion per year by 2050 to adapt to climate change. But funds for adaptation reached just $23 billion to $46 billion from 2017 to 2018, accounting for only 4% to 8% of tracked climate finance.

The good news is that the IPCC finds that, with sufficient support, proven and readily available adaptation solutions can build resilience to climate risks and, in many cases, simultaneously deliver broader sustainable development benefits.

Ecosystem-based adaptation, for example, can help communities adapt to impacts that are already devastating their lives and livelihoods, while also safeguarding biodiversity, improving health outcomes, bolstering food security, delivering economic benefits and enhancing carbon sequestration. Many ecosystem-based adaptation measures — including the protection, restoration and sustainable management of ecosystems, as well as more sustainable agricultural practices like integrating trees into farmlands and increasing crop diversity — can be implemented at relatively low costs today. Meaningful collaboration with Indigenous Peoples and local communities is critical to the success of this approach, as is ensuring that ecosystem-based adaptation strategies are designed to account for how future global temperature rise will impact ecosystems.

4. Some climate impacts are already so severe they cannot be adapted to, leading to losses and damages.

Around the world, highly vulnerable people and ecosystems are already struggling to adapt to climate change impacts. For some, these limits are “soft” — effective adaptation measures exist, but economic, political and social obstacles constrain implementation, such as lack of technical support or inadequate funding that does not reach the communities where it’s needed most. But in other regions, people and ecosystems already face or are fast approaching “hard” limits to adaptation, where climate impacts from 1.1 degrees C (2 degrees F) of global warming are becoming so frequent and severe that no existing adaptation strategies can fully avoid losses and damages. Coastal communities in the tropics, for example, have seen entire coral reef systems that once supported their livelihoods and food security experience widespread mortality, while rising sea levels have forced other low-lying neighborhoods to move to higher ground and abandon cultural sites. 

Coral has turned into rubble in the shallow waters off the coast of Indonesia. Increased temperatures from climate change means that mortality has increased in coral reef systems in coastal communities. Photo by Velvetfish/iStock. 

Whether grappling with soft or hard limits to adaptation, the result for vulnerable communities is oftentimes irreversible and devastating. Such losses and damages will only escalate as the world warms. Beyond 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) of global temperature rise, for example, regions reliant on snow and glacial melt will likely experience water shortages to which they cannot adapt. At 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F), the risk of concurrent maize production failures across important growing regions will rise dramatically. And above 3 degrees C (5.4 degrees F), dangerously high summertime heat will threaten the health of communities in parts of southern Europe.

Urgent action is needed to avert, minimize and address these losses and damages. At COP27, countries took a critical step forward by agreeing to establish funding arrangements for loss and damage, including a dedicated fund. While this represents a historic breakthrough in the climate negotiations, countries must now figure out the details of what these funding arrangements, as well as the new fund, will look like in practice — and it’s these details that will ultimately determine the adequacy, accessibility, additionality and predictability of these financial flows to those experiencing loss and damage.

5. Global GHG emissions peak before 2025 in 1.5 degrees C-aligned pathways.

The IPCC finds that there is a more than 50% chance that global temperature rise will reach or surpass 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) between 2021 and 2040 across studied scenarios, and under a high-emissions pathway, specifically, the world may hit this threshold even sooner — between 2018 and 2037. Global temperature rise in such a carbon-intensive scenario could also increase to 3.3 degrees C to 5.7 degrees C (5.9 degrees F to 10.3 degrees F) by 2100. To put this projected amount of warming into perspective, the last time global temperatures exceeded 2.5 degrees C (4.5 degrees F) above pre-industrial levels was more than 3 million years ago.

Changing course to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) — with no or limited overshoot — will instead require deep GHG emissions reductions in the near-term. In modelled pathways that limit global warming to this goal, GHG emissions peak immediately and before 2025 at the latest. They then drop rapidly, declining 43% by 2030 and 60% by 2035, relative to 2019 levels.

While there are some bright spots — the annual growth rate of GHG emissions slowed from an average of 2.1% per year between 2000 and 2009 to 1.3% per year between 2010 and 2019, for example — global progress in mitigating climate change remains woefully off track. GHG emissions have climbed steadily over the past decade, reaching 59 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) in 2019 — approximately 12% higher than in 2010 and 54% greater than in 1990.

Even if countries achieved their climate pledges (also known as nationally determined contributions or NDCs), WRI research finds that they would reduce GHG emissions by just 7% from 2019 levels by 2030, in contrast to the 43% associated with limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F). And while handful of countries have submitted new or enhanced NDCs since the IPCC’s cut-off date, more recent analysis that takes these submissions into account finds that these commitments collectively still fall short of closing this emissions gap.

6. The world must rapidly shift away from burning fossil fuels — the number one cause of the climate crisis.

In pathways limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) with no or limited overshoot just a net 510 GtCO2 can be emitted before carbon dioxide emissions reach net zero in the early 2050s. Yet future carbon dioxide emissions from existing and planned fossil fuel infrastructure alone could surpass that limit by 340 GtCO2, reaching 850 GtCO2.

A mix of strategies can help avoid locking in these emissions, including retiring existing fossil fuel infrastructure, canceling new projects, retrofitting fossil-fueled power plants with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies and scaling up renewable energy sources like solar and wind (which are now cheaper than fossil fuels in many regions).

In pathways that limit warming to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) — with no or limited overshoot — for example, global use of coal falls by 95% by 2050, oil declines by about 60% and gas by about 45%. These figures assume significant use of abatement technologies like CCS, and without them, these same pathways show much steeper declines by mid-century. Global use of coal without CCS, for example, is virtually phased out by 2050.

Although coal-fired power plants are starting to be retired across Europe and the United States, some multilateral development banks continue to invest in new coal capacity. Failure to change course risks stranding assets worth trillions of dollars.

7. We also need urgent, systemwide transformations to secure a net-zero, climate-resilient future.

While fossil fuels are the number one source of GHG emissions, deep emission cuts are necessary across all of society to combat the climate crisis. Power generation, buildings, industry, and transport are responsible for close to 80% of global emissions while agriculture, forestry and other land uses account for the remainder.

Take the transport system, for instance. Drastically cutting emissions will require urban planning that minimizes the need for travel, as well as the build-out of shared, public and nonmotorized transport, such as rapid transit and bicycling in cities. Such a transformation will also entail increasing the supply of electric passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles and buses, coupled with wide-scale installation of rapid-charging infrastructure, investments in zero-carbon fuels for shipping and aviation and more.

Policy measures that make these changes less disruptive can help accelerate needed transitions, such as subsidizing zero-carbon technologies and taxing high-emissions technologies like fossil-fueled cars. Infrastructure design — like reallocating street space for sidewalks or bike lanes — can help people transition to lower-emissions lifestyles. It is important to note there are many co-benefits that accompany these transformations, too. Minimizing the number of passenger vehicles on the road, in this example, reduces harmful local air pollution and cuts traffic-related crashes and deaths.

Explore Systems Change Lab

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

Transformative adaptation measures, too, are critical for securing a more prosperous future. The IPCC emphasizes the importance of ensuring that adaptation measures drive systemic change, cut across sectors and are distributed equitably across at-risk regions. The good news is that there are oftentimes strong synergies between transformational mitigation and adaptation. For example, in the global food system, climate-smart agriculture practices like shifting to agroforestry can improve resilience to climate impacts, while simultaneously advancing mitigation.  

8. Carbon removal is now essential to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C.

Deep decarbonization across all systems while building resilience won’t be enough to achieve global climate goals, though. The IPCC finds that all pathways that limit warming to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) — with no or limited overshoot — depend on some quantity of carbon removal. These approaches encompass both natural solutions, such as sequestering and storing carbon in trees and soil, as well as more nascent technologies that pull carbon dioxide directly from the air.

Hover over each carbon removal approach to learn more: */

Note: This figure includes carbon removal approaches mentioned in countries’ LTSs as well as other leading proposed approaches.
Note: The natural vs. technological categorization shown here is illustrative rather than definitive and will vary depending on how approaches are applied, particularly for carbon removal approaches in the ocean.

Growing trees to restore forests and expand tree cover in un-forested areas.', }); tippy('#a2', { content: 'Soil carbon sequestration:
A range of agricultural techniques and practices that can increase the ability of soils to sequester carbon.', }); tippy('#a3', { content: 'Biochar:
A process of heating biomass without oxygen to turn embodied carbon within the biomass into a kind of charcoal that resists decay and can be used as a soil additive.', }); tippy('#a4', { content: 'Biomass carbon removal and storage:
Range of processes and applications that use biomass and store its embodied carbon. This includes but is broader than bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), which is often included in climate models.', }); tippy('#a5', { content: 'Carbon mineralization:
Range of applications that use reactive minerals in rocks to chemically bind with and store CO2 as a solid.', }); tippy('#a6', { content: 'Direct air capture:
Machines that use chemicals to react with and capture CO2 in the air; CO2 can then be stored underground or used in durable products.', }); tippy('#b1', { content: 'Coastal wetland restoration:
Restoring mangroves, salt marshes and seagrasses, which are natural carbon sinks.', }); tippy('#b2', { content: 'Seaweed cultivation:
Growing seaweed, which sequesters carbon through photosynthesis, then sinking it to the deep ocean or using it in durable products.', }); tippy('#b3', { content: 'Artificial upwelling:
Moving deep nutrient-rich water to the surface to spur phytoplankton growth; a portion of embodied carbon in the phytoplankton is then expected to naturally cycle to the deep ocean for storage.' }); tippy('#b4', { content: 'Artificial downwelling:
Moving surface water to a depth where more dissolved inorganic carbon can be held.', }); tippy('#b5', { content: 'Nutrient fertilization:
Adding materials like nitrogen, phosphorus or iron to areas where it is a limiting nutrient to phytoplankton growth — a portion of embodied carbon in the phytoplankton is then expected to naturally cycle to the deep ocean for storage.', }); tippy('#b6', { content: 'Alkalinity enhancement:
A form of carbon mineralization; adding certain types of crushed rock to react with dissolved CO2 in seawater and increase levels of dissolved inorganic carbon.', }); tippy('#b7', { content: 'Electrochemical CO2 removal:
Using electricity to accelerate mineralization reactions or directly strip CO2 from seawater.', }); //-->

The amount of carbon removal required depends on how quickly we reduce GHG emissions across other systems and the extent to which climate targets are overshot, with estimates ranging from between 5 GtCO2 to 16 GtCO2 per year needed by mid-century.

All carbon removal approaches have merits and drawbacks. Reforestation, for instance, represents a readily available, relatively low-cost strategy that, when implemented appropriately, can deliver a wide range of benefits to communities. Yet the carbon stored within these ecosystems is also vulnerable to disturbances like wildfires, which may increase in frequency and severity with additional warming. And, while technologies like bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) may offer a more permanent solution, such approaches also risk displacing croplands, and in doing so, threatening food security. Responsibly researching, developing and deploying emerging carbon removal technologies, alongside existing natural approaches, will therefore require careful understanding of each solution’s unique benefits, costs and risks.

9. Climate finance for both mitigation and adaptation must increase dramatically this decade.

The IPCC finds that public and private finance flows for fossil fuels today far surpass those directed toward climate mitigation and adaptation. Thus, while annual public and private climate finance has risen by upwards of 60% since the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report, much more is still required to achieve global climate change goals. For instance, climate finance will need to increase between 3 and 6 times by 2030 to achieve mitigation goals, alone.

This gap is widest in developing countries, particularly those already struggling with debt, poor credit ratings and economic burdens from the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent mitigation investments, for example, need to increase by at least sixfold in Southeast Asia and developing countries in the Pacific, fivefold in Africa and fourteenfold in the Middle East by 2030 to hold warming below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F). And across sectors, this shortfall is most pronounced for agriculture, forestry and other land use, where recent financial flows are 10 to 31 times below what is required to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goals.

Finance for adaptation, as well as loss and damage, will also need to rise dramatically. Developing countries, for example, will need $127 billion per year by 2030 and $295 billion per year by 2050. While AR6 does not assess countries’ needs for finance to avert, minimize and address losses and damages, recent estimates suggest that they will be substantial in the coming decades. Current funds for both fall well below estimated needs, with the highest estimates of adaptation finance totaling under $50 billion per year.

Young mangroves ready for planting in Watamu, Kenya. Ecosystem-based adaptation measures like restoration can be low-cost ways to help communities adapt and protect biodiversity. Photo by MariusLtu/iStock.  10. Climate change — as well as our collective efforts to adapt to and mitigate it — will exacerbate inequity should we fail to ensure a just transition.  

Households with incomes in the top 10%, including a relatively large share in developed countries, emit upwards of 45% of the world's GHGs, while those families earning in the bottom 50% account for 15% at most. Yet the effects of climate change already — and will continue to — hit poorer, historically marginalized communities the hardest.

Today, between 3.3 billion and 3.6 billion people live in countries that are highly vulnerable to climate impacts, with global hotspots concentrated in the Arctic, Central and South America, Small Island Developing states, South Asia and much of sub-Saharan Africa. Across many countries in these regions, conflict, existing inequalities and development challenges (e.g., poverty and limited access to basic services like clean water) not only heighten sensitivity to climate hazards, but also limit communities’ capacity to adapt.  Mortality from storms, floods and droughts, for instance, was 15 times higher in countries with high vulnerability to climate change than in those with very low vulnerability from 2010 to 2020.

At the same time, efforts to mitigate climate change also risk disruptive changes and exacerbating inequity. Retiring coal-fired power plants, for instance, may displace workers, harm local economies and reconfigure the social fabric of communities, while inappropriately implemented efforts to halt deforestation could heighten poverty and intensify food insecurity. And certain climate policies, such as carbon taxes that raise the cost of emissions-intensive goods like gasoline, can also prove to be regressive, absent of efforts to recycle the revenues raised from these taxes back into programs that benefit low-income communities.

Fortunately, the IPCC identifies a range of measures that can support a just transition and help ensure that no one is left behind as the world moves toward a net-zero-emissions, climate-resilient future. Reconfiguring social protection programs (e.g., cash transfers, public works programs and social safety nets) to include adaptation, for example, can reduce communities’ vulnerability to a wide range of future climate impacts, while strengthening justice and equity. Such programs are particularly effective when paired with efforts to expand access to infrastructure and basic services.

Similarly, policymakers can design mitigation strategies to better distribute the costs and benefits of reducing GHG emissions. Governments can pair efforts to phase out coal-fired electricity generation, for instance, with subsidized job retraining programs that support workers in developing the skills needed to secure new, high-quality jobs. Or, in another example, officials can couple policy interventions dedicated to expanding access to public transit with interventions to improve access to nearby, affordable housing.

Across both mitigation and adaptation measures, inclusive, transparent and participatory decision-making processes will play a central role in ensuring a just transition. More specifically, these forums can help cultivate public trust, deepen public support for transformative climate action and avoid unintended consequences.

Looking Ahead

The IPCC’s AR6 makes clear that risks of inaction on climate are immense and the way ahead requires change at a scale not seen before. However, this report also serves as a reminder that we have never had more information about the gravity of the climate emergency and its cascading impacts — or about what needs to be done to reduce intensifying risks.

Limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) is still possible, but only if we act immediately. As the IPCC makes clear, the world needs to peak GHG emissions before 2025 at the very latest, nearly halve GHG emissions by 2030 and reach net-zero CO2 emissions around mid-century, while also ensuring a just and equitable transition. We’ll also need an all-hands-on-deck approach to guarantee that communities experiencing increasingly harmful impacts of the climate crisis have the resources they need to adapt to this new world. Governments, the private sector, civil society and individuals must all step up to keep the future we desire in sight. A narrow window of opportunity is still open, but there’s not one second to waste.

Note: In addition to showcasing findings from the IPCC’s AR6 Synthesis Report, this article also draws on previous articles detailing the IPCC’s findings on the physical science of climate changeimpacts, adaption and vulnerability, and climate change mitigation.



ipcc-flooding.jpg Climate adaptation climate change Climate Resilience climate science Type Finding Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Authors Sophie Boehm Clea Schumer

6 Ways to Remove Carbon Pollution from the Atmosphere

4 días 14 horas ago
6 Ways to Remove Carbon Pollution from the Atmosphere wri-admin Fri, 03/17/2023 - 15:15

Since the Industrial Revolution, humans have emitted more than 2,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. (A gigaton is one billion metric tons.)

This concentration of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the air causes the climate change impacts we’re experiencing today, from forest fires to stifling heat waves and damaging sea level rise — and the global community is still emitting more each year. Unless we make serious changes, climate impacts will only continue to intensify.

The imperative for combating climate change is to curb emissions rapidly — for example, by ramping up renewable energy, boosting energy efficiency, halting deforestation and curbing super pollutants like hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The latest climate science tells us, however, that these efforts alone aren’t enough.

To keep global temperature rise to less than 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F), which scientists say is necessary for preventing the worst impacts of climate change, we’ll need to not only reduce emissions but also remove and store some carbon that’s already in the atmosphere

What Is Carbon Dioxide Removal?

Carbon dioxide removal (or simply “carbon removal”) aims to help mitigate climate change by removing carbon dioxide pollution directly from the atmosphere. Carbon removal strategies include familiar approaches like growing trees as well as more novel technologies like direct air capture, which scrubs CO2 from the air and sequesters it underground.

Carbon removal is different from carbon capture and storage (CCS), which captures emissions at the source — like a power plant or a cement producer — to prevent them from entering the atmosphere in the first place. Carbon capture is a form of emissions reduction rather than carbon removal.

How Important Is Carbon Removal in the Fight Against Climate Change?

The latest climate model scenarios show that all pathways that keep temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C (with little or no overshoot) require carbon removal. The amount ultimately needed will depend on how quickly we can reduce emissions in the near term and whether — or by how much — we overshoot climate targets. Estimates, including both natural and technological carbon removal approaches, range from 5 to 16 billion metric tons per year globally by 2050. (For context, the United States emitted just over 6 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2021.) The faster the world reduces its emissions in the near term, the less it will have to rely on carbon removal. 

While enhancing natural carbon removal through reforestation and forest management has long been of interest, efforts to develop and deploy novel technologies and approaches have ramped up only recently. In just five years, carbon removal has grown from a niche concept to a well-accepted component of climate portfolios and has received billions of dollars of federal funding and hundreds of millions of dollars in private investment.

This expansion was largely driven by a 2018 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which concluded that hundreds of billions of tons of carbon removal will be needed by the end of the century to meet global climate goals. The level of carbon removed today remains far below what we expect to need in the coming decades, indicating a need for investment in the public and private sectors to continue growing.

How Is CO2 Removed from the Atmosphere?

Carbon removal can take numerous forms, from new technologies to land management practices. The big question is whether these approaches can deliver carbon removal at the scale needed in the coming decades.

Each carbon removal approach involves tradeoffs, including considerations around costs, resource needs (such as energy, land and water usage), the extent of local benefits or negative impacts, and technology readiness, among others. WRI’s series of working papers explores the possibilities and challenges of using carbon removal to combat climate change and recommends a priority set of U.S. federal policy actions to accelerate their development and deployment.

Here are six options for removing carbon from the atmosphere:

1) Trees and Forests

Plants remove carbon dioxide from the air naturally, and trees are especially good at storing CO2 removed from the atmosphere by photosynthesis. Expanding, restoring and managing tree cover to encourage more carbon uptake can leverage the power of photosynthesis, converting carbon dioxide in the air into carbon stored in wood and soils.

Some management approaches that can increase carbon removal by trees and forests include:

  • Reforestation, or restoring forest ecosystems after they’ve been damaged by wildfire or cleared for agricultural or commercial uses.
  • Restocking, or increasing the density of forests where trees have been lost due to disease or disturbances.
  • Silvopasture, or incorporating trees into animal agriculture systems.
  • Cropland agroforestry, or incorporating trees into row crop agriculture systems.
  • Urban reforestation, or increasing tree cover in urban areas.

WRI estimates that the theoretical carbon-removal potential from forests and trees outside forests in the United States alone is more than half a gigaton per year, equivalent to all annual emissions from the U.S. agricultural sector. What’s more, approaches to remove CO2 through forests can be relatively inexpensive compared to other carbon removal options (generally less than $50 per metric ton of CO2) and yield cleaner water and air in the process.

One major challenge is ensuring that forest expansion in one area doesn’t come at the expense of forests somewhere else. For example, taking farmland out of production would reduce the supply of food. This could necessitate converting other forests to farmland — resulting in more greenhouse gas emissions — unless improvements in farm productivity could fill the gap. Similarly, not harvesting timber from one forest may result in overharvesting in another. These dynamics make restoring and managing existing forests, and adding trees to ecologically appropriate lands outside of farmland, especially important.

2) Farms and Soils

Soils naturally sequester carbon, but agricultural soils are running a big deficit due to frequent plowing and erosion from farming and grazing, all of which release stored carbon. Because agricultural land is so expansive — encompassing more than 900 million acres in the United States alone, or approximately 40% of the country’s land area — even small increases in soil carbon per acre could be impactful.

There are many practices that can increase the amount of carbon stored in soils, although the amount and duration of the carbon sequestered depend on regional climate and soil type, among other factors.

Planting cover crops when fields are otherwise bare can extend photosynthesis throughout the year; using compost can improve yields while storing the compost’s carbon content in the soil; and scientists are developing crops with deeper roots, making them more resistant to drought while depositing additional carbon into the soil. Many of the practices that increase soil carbon also improve soil health and can make agricultural systems more resilient to climate change. 

Increasing soil carbon can benefit farmers and ranchers in addition to removing carbon from the atmosphere. Photo by James Baltz/Unsplash

Managing soil for carbon at a large scale, though, is a tricky proposition. Natural systems are inherently variable, and that makes it a real challenge to predict, measure and monitor the long-term carbon benefits of any given practice on a given acre. More research is needed to understand how these practices affect carbon sequestration in different soil types and different climates, and how long the carbon remains stored.

The efficacy of some soil carbon sequestration practices — such as cover crops and grazing management — is also subject to continued scientific debate. Furthermore, changing conditions or management practices from year to year could erase prior gains. And because climate-smart farming practices would need to be adopted over large tracts of farmland to remove a significant amount of carbon, governments and market systems would need to incentivize landowners to implement these measures.

3) Biomass Carbon Removal and Storage

Biomass carbon removal and storage (BiCRS) includes a range of processes that use biomass from plants or algae to remove carbon dioxide from the air and then store it for long periods of time. These methods aim to leverage the carbon storage capacity of plants beyond their natural lifecycles: Whereas trees remove and store carbon only until they die and decompose, biomass carbon removal and storage aims to sequester the CO2 that plants capture more permanently.

There are many different methods for removing carbon using biomass. These include the creation of biochar, which is made by heating biomass in low-oxygen environments to produce a charcoal-like soil additive that sequesters carbon; bio-oil, which uses a similar process to produce a liquid that gets injected underground; and permanent storage of carbon-rich biomass in vaults. Bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) is another carbon removal pathway which involves generating energy using biomass and then capturing and sequestering the resulting CO2 emissions. One type of BECCS that features prominently in many economy-wide decarbonization scenarios is converting biomass to hydrogen, which could result in a carbon-negative fuel.

While biomass carbon removal and storage can offer long-term CO2 removal, however, not all processes necessarily provide a net carbon benefit.

If BiCRS processes use biomass sources that don’t compete with food crops or ecosystems for land — such as algae or waste materials — they can provide net carbon removal. For example, many forestry and agricultural wastes, such as tree bark, nut hulls, and corn husks and stalks, are burned or left to decompose; using those materials instead for biomass carbon removal and storage can be beneficial from a climate perspective.

But it’s not always straightforward to determine whether biomass is truly sustainable. For example, if crops are grown specifically to be used for biomass carbon removal, they could displace food production or natural ecosystems. This can cause cropland expansion and destruction of forests and grasslands, both of which release carbon, and can erase the climate benefits of BiCRS while also exacerbating food insecurity and ecosystem loss. To fully harness the carbon removal potential of BiCRS pathways, policy and market incentives are needed to encourage the use of waste biomass and disincentivize the use of purpose-grown crops that could undermine the natural ability of forests and soils to sequester carbon.

4) Direct Air Capture

Direct air capture is the process of chemically scrubbing carbon dioxide from the ambient air and then sequestering it either underground or in long-lived products like concrete. This technology is similar to the carbon capture and storage technology used to reduce emissions from sources like power plants and industrial facilities. The difference is that direct air capture removes excess carbon that’s already been emitted into the atmosphere, instead of capturing it at the source.

It is relatively straightforward to measure and account for the climate benefits of direct air capture, and its potential scale of deployment is enormous. However, the technology remains costly and energy-intensive today.

Cost estimates vary but generally range from around $100 up to more than $600 per metric ton of CO2 removed; voluntary purchases of carbon removal credits from direct air capture range from $225 to more than $1,000 per metric ton of CO2 where data is available. These costs are expected to come down significantly in the next decade and beyond as projects are built and technologies improve.

Direct air capture also requires substantial heat and power inputs: Scrubbing 1 gigaton of carbon dioxide from the air could require nearly 10% of today’s total energy consumption. To result in net carbon removal, therefore, direct air capture technology would need to be powered by low- or zero-carbon energy sources.

Investing in technological development and deployment experience, together with increasing availability of cheap, clean energy, could advance prospects for direct air capture at a large scale.

In recent years, direct air capture has seen a significant jump in public and private investment and a growing number of companies are developing the technology. Annual basic research funding for DAC and other carbon removal approaches has grown more than ten-fold since 2019, and the landmark Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act both provided critical funding and deployment support for direct air capture projects in the United States. The private sector has also begun to step up with a set of new initiatives — for example, a group of companies came together in 2021 and committed to spend nearly $1 billion on permanent carbon dioxide removal, including but not limited to DAC, by 2030 to help spur development by creating guaranteed demand.

As interest and investment in direct air capture continue to mount, attention is shifting to also focus on implementation. It will be important for decision-makers and those building direct air capture projects to focus not only climate benefits, but also on equity and sustainability as this industry develops.

5) Carbon Mineralization

Some minerals naturally react with CO2, turning carbon dioxide from a gas into a solid and keeping it out of the atmosphere permanently. This process is commonly referred to as “carbon mineralization” or “enhanced weathering,” and it naturally happens very slowly, over hundreds or thousands of years.  

But scientists are figuring out how to speed up the carbon mineralization process, especially by enhancing the exposure of these minerals to CO2 in the air or ocean. That could mean moving air through large deposits of mine tailings (rocks left over from mining operations) that contain the right mineral composition; crushing or developing enzymes that chew up mineral deposits to increase their surface area; spreading certain types of ground rock on croplands or coastal areas where it reacts with and locks away carbon dioxide; and finding ways for certain industrial byproducts, like fly ash, kiln dust or iron and steel slag, that are reactive with CO2 to sequester it.

Carbon mineralization can also be used to sequester carbon dioxide that’s already been captured by injecting that CO2 into suitable rock types where it reacts to form a solid carbonate, permanently storing it. Other applications could sequester carbon and replace more emissions-intensive conventional production methods — for example, by using mineralization as part of concrete production, which is used at a multi-billion-ton scale globally.

Scientists have shown that carbon mineralization is possible and a handful of start-ups are already developing approaches, including mineralization-based building materials. However, there is more work to be done to map out cost-effective and prudent applications for scaled deployment and improve measurement of carbon sequestration.

6) Ocean-based Approaches

A number of ocean-based carbon removal approaches have been proposed to leverage the ocean’s capacity to sequester carbon and expand the portfolio of options beyond land-based applications. However, nearly all of these strategies are at early stages of development and require more research, and in some cases field testing, to understand whether they are appropriate for investment given potential ecological, social and governance impacts.

Each approach aims to accelerate natural carbon cycles in the ocean. Potential solutions include leveraging photosynthesis in coastal plants, seaweed, or phytoplankton; adding certain minerals to seawater that react with dissolved CO2 and lock it away; or running an electric current through seawater to accelerate reactions that ultimately help extract CO2.

The ocean may offer potential carbon removal options, like seaweed cultivation, that could also have ecological benefits. Photo by the National Parks Service

Some ocean-based carbon removal options could also provide co-benefits. For example, coastal blue carbon (carbon stored in mangroves, seagrasses, and salt marshes) and seaweed cultivation could remove carbon while also supporting ecosystem restoration, and adding minerals to help the ocean sequester carbon could reduce ocean acidification. However, much is still unknown about the broader ecological impacts of these approaches and further research is needed to better understand potential risks before these approaches are pursued at any scale.

In the near term, cultivated seaweed can also be used for products like food, fuel and fertilizer, which may not result in carbon removal, but could reduce emissions compared to conventional production and provide an economic return that supports growth of the industry.

The Future of Carbon Removal

Analysis by WRI has shown that the most cost-effective and lowest-risk strategy for increasing carbon removal capacity involves developing and deploying a variety of approaches in tandem.

Moving forward, diverse methods of carbon dioxide removal must be built into climate change strategies around the world to avoid dangerous levels of global warming. The past few years have seen important steps in this direction, but more will be needed to realize national and global climate goals.

It will be critical to keep increasing public and private investment across the portfolio of carbon removal approaches to determine which can become viable options for meeting the scale of removal we expect to need in the coming decades. 

carbon-removal-forests-andrew-coelho.jpg Climate carbon removal Most Read Type Explainer Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Authors James Mulligan Gretchen Ellison Kelly Levin Katie Lebling Alex Rudee Haley Leslie-Bole

3 Questions on Loss and Damage Funding to Tackle Before COP28

4 días 14 horas ago
3 Questions on Loss and Damage Funding to Tackle Before COP28 alicia.cypress… Fri, 03/17/2023 - 14:34

The importance of the historic agreement at COP27 to establish “loss and damage” financing for vulnerable countries to respond to the impacts of climate change was made excruciatingly evident when two consecutive cyclones hit the small island nation of Vanuatu. Cyclone Judy and Cyclone Kevin wreaked havoc in the South Pacific within 72 hours of each other in early March 2023, causing devastating destruction.

Vanuatu has championed the cause of addressing loss and damage since 1991 and recently garnered the support of more than 105 countries for a resolution at the UN General Assembly that asks for an opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the obligations of governments to fight climate change. Such a document coming from the ICJ could help provide legal backing for activists and advocates, including in the UN climate negotiations, who are seeking increased action from governments, including key topics like loss and damage.

In early March 2023, twin cyclones caused intense flooding and damage across Vanuatu in the South Pacific. Photo by ausnewsde/Shutterstock.  

Loss and damage refers to the consequences of climate change that goes beyond what people can adapt to or the resources communities have to recover. Addressing loss and damage is key in the mission for climate justice because developing countries did the least to cause climate change and yet bear the brunt of these impacts. As part of the decisions coming out of COP27, governments agreed to establish funding arrangements as well as a dedicated fund to address loss and damage. The decision also established a Transitional Committee to develop recommendations ahead of COP28 in November 2023 for how to operationalize these structures.

Considering the short time frame and urgency, it will be crucial for the committee to learn from the experiences of existing climate and environmental funds to inform  a successful design and implementation. For instance, quickly accessing reliable climate funds has been a persistent challenge for developing countries due to factors like insufficient fundraising, difficulties and inconsistencies in fund allocation, delays in access channels, as well as the structural political and organizational complexities in each of the existing funds. The resolution of this challenge is essential for helping vulnerable communities deal with disastrous losses and damages.

While establishing the new loss and damage fund, and to some extent broader funding arrangements, the Transitional Committee will need to consider these three key questions:

1. What type of fund should the new loss and damage fund be?

Determining the role that the loss and damage fund should serve in the wider ‘mosaic of solutions’ — a term used to refer to the collection of channels and initiatives both inside and outside the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement to respond to loss and damage — will be critical for the committee to consider.

Then a decision will need to be made on the structure of the fund which includes options such as a gap fund, a catalytic fund or a mixed model. A gap fund is designed to provide financing for projects that cannot be funded through traditional financing mechanisms, whereas a catalytic fund is designed to mobilize additional financing from other sources, such as private investors, by providing seed funding and technical assistance. For example, the World Bank’s City Climate Gap Fund uses its resources to address the gap in urban climate finance through financing project preparation and capacity building. Meanwhile, the Asian Development Bank’s ASEAN Catalytic Green Finance Facility is an example of a catalytic fund because it uses its financing to de-risk green infrastructure projects and attract more private capital.

This choice will then determine how the fund’s resources are raised and the potential avenues for disbursement. A version that combines the two types of structure is also a possible option. This could support a larger mobilization of resources and capital, which in turn could translate into both faster (disaster-related) responses as well as capacity building and enabling activities. With this in mind, the Transitional Committee may also decide whether the loss and damage fund should play the role of ensuring complementarity and alignment in the new funding arrangements.

Ultimately, the final recommendation must be fit to support vulnerable countries responding to loss and damage from climate change. This includes creating structures that can appropriately respond to the various types of loss and damage, from addressing immediate needs in the aftermath of a sudden-onset catastrophe to responding to slow-onset loss and damage as well as supporting responses to both economic — harm to livelihoods and property — and non-economic loss and damage, which includes loss of life and losses to biodiversity and cultural heritage.

A pile of usable items salvaged from Pakistan’s floods in the summer of 2022, which impacted more than 30 million people. Photo by A M Syed/Shutterstock.2. What are the boundaries and scope for the loss and damage fund and funding arrangements?

The fund and funding arrangements need to ensure their ability to help vulnerable countries which are experiencing the brunt of climate impacts.

They must consider the continuum between loss and damage and adaptation and how funding can also enhance future adaptive capacity. Loss and damage is intrinsically linked to adaptation: increased adaptation leads to less loss and damage and, similarly, responses to loss and damage that increase adaptive capacity in the long run will help avoid future losses and damages. So, while adaptation (averting and minimizing loss and damage) is indeed distinct from addressing loss and damage, solutions to address loss and damage must also ensure a more resilient future so that the effects of climate impacts might be lessened in subsequent crises.

One example is the Pacific Disaster Resilience Program from the Asian Development Bank which provides a source of contingent disaster financing that can be rapidly disbursed following disasters. In addition, the program helps build adaptive capacity and resilience in the countries through platforms that assess disaster risk information, multi-hazard disaster risks and post-disaster financial management capacity.

It’s also important for the committee to consider how loss and damage overlaps with other targets of finance, such as humanitarian finance. But these overlaps are limited — finance for loss and damage and humanitarian finance only have specific areas of convergence — and only form part of the solution. Both types of finance are still insufficient at meeting the needs of developing countries. In December 2022, Oxfam highlighted that humanitarian needs caused by climate change, conflict and economic failure, are outstripping the aid system’s ability to respond to them.

For consistent, aligned programs to holistically address loss and damage over the complete lifespan of the climate-induced crisis, the fund and funding arrangements need to ensure all components of loss and damage— from immediate through to long-term responses — coordinate with each other and flow together.

Lastly, with all of this in mind, it is important to ensure that adaptation and loss and damage finance are not conflated and that finance for loss and damage is not diverted or relabeled from adaptation finance.

3. Where will the money come from?

The funding sources for the loss and damage fund are yet to be confirmed. Vulnerable countries and climate advocates have called on those most responsible for the climate crisis to contribute, but who exactly that refers to and the details for how that would happen are yet to be worked out.

Furthermore, other sources of funding such as private equity on windfall taxes from fossil fuels have been suggested as complementary sources, but there is not yet a scaled-up global mechanism for such an approach. The closest example is probably the allocation of a share of proceeds from carbon credit transactions under the Clean Development Mechanism to the Adaptation Fund . While this is a good precedent in terms of structure, it’s a risky approach in terms of funding reliability. A slump in the market where the levy is applied can lead to a shortfall in funding.

The Transitional Committee might also consider the experience of other financial mechanisms under the UNFCCC as well other non-UN funds that can provide experiences and lessons learnt on various funding approaches, such as through regular or ad-hoc budgetary contributions, via regular replenishments, through levies or taxes, or via Special Drawing Rights from the IMF.

For example, the experience under some UNFCCC mechanisms shows that their model, which currently relies on voluntary country contributions at regular intervals, does not align well with country needs, as it leads to rushed proposals at the end of each cycle as well as project cancellations. This model can also slow down disbursements when resources begin to run low. It is too restrictive in the number and nature of access channels, inevitably limiting resources that can be allocated to each country for specific strategic areas of interventions. A mixed model between a gap and catalytic fund could tackle this issue by providing multiple avenues for capital raising.

Managing the Work of the Transitional Committee

In pursuit of answers to these finance questions, the Transitional Committee is also responsible for recommending institutional arrangements, modalities, structure, governance and terms of reference for the fund, while also drawing out elements of the new funding arrangements, new sources of funding and how to coordinate the ecosystem of institutions addressing loss and damage.

The Transitional Committee will be able to draw on input from the UNFCCC secretariat and information from mandated workshops, the Glasgow Dialogue — which was established at COP26 to discuss loss and damage funding — and the convening of international finance institutions to be hosted by the UN Secretary General. Such input will help support the Transitional Committee’s work and ensure swift but robust decisions can be made.

Beginning March 27, 2023, the Transitional Committee will be holding at least three meetings, which we recommend they organize by concurrently addressing all three funding questions — namely type of fund, scope of the fund, and sources of finance — through the creation of three working groups. After brainstorming and creating the skeleton of the new fund during the first meeting, the following meetings can focus on the details and complexities of all three questions.

 In between sessions, we propose the Transitional Committee seek informal feedback from the UNFCCC at the June negotiation session — which serves as a midpoint check-in between COP27 and COP28 —   which can then inform the second and third meetings.  By the end of this process, the Committee will have developed a proposal for the entire structure of a new loss and damage fund and broader funding arrangements.

The tentative plan could take the following suggested form:

How the Transitional Committee can Succeed

There are important comparisons that can be studied and potentially replicated (even if just in part) not only from climate finance instruments, but also from other financial mechanisms, such as pooled funds which allow donors to pool their contributions into single, unearmarked funds to support local humanitarian efforts, the European Union’s Structural Funds, and other humanitarian funds. Each one of these options can offer insights into good practices for key principles in fund structuring and fund management, namely predictability, adequacy of fund volumes, clarity on methods of co-financing, fast disbursements in urgent or disaster situations and broad access. Over the course of the coming months, we plan to provide analysis on such tools as well as various other topics relevant to the work of the Transitional Committee.

The Transitional Committee’s success will depend on how it manages to clarify and develop the critical issues we outlined. Drawing guidance from processes and workshops within the UNFCCC, as well as interacting with experts within and outside the world of climate negotiations will help address the right solutions for funding loss and damage.

flooding-mozambique .jpg Finance climate finance Climate Resilience adaptation COP27 Type Commentary Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Authors Preety Bhandari Nate Warszawski Niloufar Javadi-Abhari Marta Simonetti Thomas Lechat Andreas Biermann

CEQ’s Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool Needs to Consider How Burdens Add Up

6 días 20 horas ago
CEQ’s Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool Needs to Consider How Burdens Add Up alicia.cypress… Wed, 03/15/2023 - 08:25

In November 2022, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) launched a significant update to the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST), a key step towards meeting the goals of the Biden Administration’s Justice40 Initiative and broader environmental justice agenda. The Justice40 Initiative aims to direct 40% of the benefits of federal climate and clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities.  

Two years from its inception, the Justice40 Initiative is taking on fresh urgency as federal agencies are gearing up to target billions of dollars in investment to disadvantaged communities. Federal spending on climate and clean energy programs is expected to more than triple this decade compared to the 2010s. Sixteen federal agencies have identified over 400 programs, including those that were created or funded in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021, that will invest in disadvantaged communities that bear disproportionate environmental, health and socioeconomic burdens due to historic injustices and impacts of climate change.  

In this regard, CEJST is a critical component to help federal agencies, other policymakers and stakeholders identify disadvantaged communities and ensure that resources are being delivered to those who need it the most.  

CEJST, version 1.0, builds on a beta version that was released in early 2022 and received ample public feedback, including from WRI. CEJST identifies disadvantaged communities through eight categories of disadvantaged status including climate change, energy, health, housing, legacy pollution, transportation, water and wastewater, and workforce development. Census tracts — home to an average 4,000 residents — are identified as disadvantaged if they meet 90th percentile thresholds for indicators within any of the eight categories and are at or above the 65th percentile for low-income. 

CEJST 1.0 now includes: 

  • Nine new indicators related to historically redlined communities, availability of greenspace and indoor plumbing, legacy pollution from abandoned mines and defense sites, projected climate risks from flooding and wildfires, transportation barriers and water pollution from underground storage tanks. 
  • Communities within the boundaries of Federally Recognized Tribes, including Alaska Native Villages, as disadvantaged communities. 
  • Communities that are completely surrounded by other disadvantaged communities and are at or above the 50th percentile for low-income as disadvantaged communities. 

This article assesses how such revisions to CEJST impact the identification of disadvantaged communities, key characteristics of such communities and important considerations for federal policymakers and other stakeholders who plan to use the tool to aid such communities. Our analysis finds that CEJST 1.0, while an improvement on its beta version, still fails to account for the multidimensional burdens borne by disadvantaged communities — with communities of color bearing the heaviest cumulative burden.  Here are our three major takeaways:

1. CEJST 1.0 Identifies More People Living in Disadvantaged Communities 

Thirty-three percent of the U.S. population, or 109.1 million individuals, are living in disadvantaged communities as defined by CEJST 1.0, compared to 93.5 million individuals (29% of U.S. population) identified in CEJST Beta. Designating 33% of the population eligible for Justice40 funds underscores the need to ensure Justice40 exceeds its minimum goal of directing 40% of benefits to disadvantaged communities for it to meaningfully reduce inequalities.  

The share of the population living in disadvantaged communities increased in almost every state. Among the 50 U.S. states and District of Columbia, Wyoming sees the most significant increase, with the share of residents in disadvantaged communities doubling to 14% of residents. Oklahoma and South Dakota also see significant increases in the share of their populations identified as living in disadvantaged communities — 90% and 69% respectively.  

Over half of residents in Oklahoma, Mississippi, West Virginia, Arkansas and New Mexico live in disadvantaged communities, the highest among states. Furthermore, more than 90% of populations in American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico live in disadvantaged communities.

New indicators for transportation barriers, underground water storage, projected flood risk, access to greenspace and lack of indoor plumbing drive much of the overall increase in the number of communities identified as disadvantaged. Some indicators are especially relevant for particular states, as environmental impacts and exposure differ with industrial activities, historical context and locally specific factors. For example, over 50% of the population in disadvantaged communities with abandoned mine land are spread across five states (Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, Alabama and Pennsylvania), with West Virginia home to the highest share (46% of its population) meeting the threshold. 

Other indicators are more prominent in other parts of the country. Large-scale wildfires for example, are increasingly severe and growing more so due to climate change. WRI analysis of CEJST Beta highlighted how the absence of forward-looking climate risk indicators may underestimate vulnerabilities. With the addition of new climate-risk indicators, more than 9.8 million individuals live in communities that meet the projected wildfire risk threshold, while 11.8 million individuals live in communities that meet the projected flood risk threshold. Over half of people living over these two risk thresholds are found in three states — California, Texas and Florida. Wildfire risk is also a major driver of the increase in disadvantaged populations in western regions like Wyoming, where over 62% of people in disadvantaged communities reside in places that meet the threshold.  

Meanwhile, analysis by the Native Lands Advocacy Project urged the inclusion of all federally recognized tribal lands as disadvantaged communities to avoid splitting populations on reservations across census tracts, and because of the “unique historic relationship between Tribes and federal government.” This has particular impact in states like Oklahoma, where 79% of the disadvantaged population in tribal areas across the U.S. are located, and where 81% of the state’s disadvantaged population lives in communities within tribal areas.

2. Persons of Color and Indigenous Populations are More Likely to Reside in Disadvantaged Communities, while the Overall Demographics of Disadvantaged Communities have Grown Whiter

CEJST Beta was met with strong criticism for excluding race as an indicator due to legal concerns. CEJST 1.0 indirectly addresses race by adding the historic underinvestment indicator, which reflects neighborhoods that were marked less suitable for investment due to the presence of non-white residents. This practice, known as redlining, began in the 1930s when the federal government’s Home Owner’s Loan Corporation drew actual red lines on maps to denote predominantly Black and immigrant neighborhoods as “hazardous,” which subsequently saw lower levels of investments and services compared to their white counterparts. Redlining was outlawed by the 1968 Fair Housing Act but its legacy endures. Today, these redlined areas have disproportionately high Black and minority populations, lower incomes and home values, less socioeconomic mobilitymore air pollutionhigher temperatures and worse health outcomes compared to otherwise similar areas.   

This indicator, as well as data from indicators for access to greenspace and proximity to underground storage tanks, captures higher shares of minority populations. Sixty-eight to 72% of residents meeting the threshold for these indicators identify as Hispanic/Latino, Black or Native. 

While the white population remains least likely to reside in a disadvantaged community, the share of this group in disadvantaged communities increases in CEJST 1.0. This is partly due to the addition of indicators that change “who” is burdened across different parts of the country.

For example, over 80% of people in communities that meet the abandoned mines threshold are white — unsurprising given over half live in a handful of predominantly white states like West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky. Likewise, communities meeting thresholds for new indicators like transportation barriers and proximity to formerly used defense sites also tend to be white.

In contrast, a vast majority (67% to 85%) of the population in disadvantaged communities experiencing burdens related to hazardous waste and diesel particulate matter (PM 2.5) exposure, diabetes, housing burden, proximity to traffic and underground storage tanks and workforce development indicators are Hispanic/Latino, Black and Native.

 Altogether, updates to CEJST shift the overall demographic composition of the population in disadvantaged communities. The white population now makes up about 40% of the population in disadvantaged communities, up from 36% in CEJST Beta, while the share of other groups decreases. However, Black, Indigenous and people of color populations are disproportionately exposed to a higher number of burdens.  

3. Those Experiencing a Combination of Environmental, Socioeconomic and Health-Related Burdens are More Likely Non-White 

While additional indicators have been added to the tool, CEJST 1.0 still does not incorporate a measure of cumulative burden — total harm to communities that occurs due to a combination of environmental, socioeconomic and health-related burdens. A disadvantaged community meeting multiple criteria has the same designation as a disadvantaged community meeting one criteria and does not receive any prioritization for funding. The number of indicator thresholds met by disadvantaged communities ranges from 1 to 18.

More than 7.1 million residents (7% of the population in disadvantaged communities) live in disadvantaged communities meeting 10 or more indicator thresholds. Over 4,000 individuals reside in census tracts in Ohio and Louisiana that meet the threshold for 18 indicators. On the other hand, half of disadvantaged communities — representing over 57 million people — meet the threshold of three indicators or fewer.

CEJST 1.0: Number of indicator thresholds met by disadvantaged communities  

Zoom in and hover over specific locations on the map with your mouse or trackpad to see the number of indicators for each community, signifying where Justice40 investments might be needed most. 

Note: Disadvantaged communities who meet zero indicator thresholds but qualify as disadvantaged under criteria like proximity to other disadvantaged communities are not identified in this map. Source: CEJST and WRI.

Disadvantaged communities experiencing higher cumulative burdens are more non-white than those exposed to fewer.  In communities that meet the threshold for 10 indicators, 35% of residents are Hispanic/Latino, 41% are Black and 17% are white. By contrast, in disadvantaged communities meeting three indicator thresholds, 28% of residents are Hispanic/Latino, 15% are Black and 50% are white.

Cleveland, Ohio, where the Cuyahoga River fires prompted a wave of environmental justice efforts during the 1960s and the eventual passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972, offers one example. CEJST identifies 39% of Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County (more than 487,000 individuals) as residents of disadvantaged communities, meeting anywhere from 1 to 18 criteria. Communities that experienced historic underinvestment register notably higher levels of cumulative burden — an average of about 11 indicators compared to the non-redlined average of about six indicators. 

This pattern highlights how years of discriminatory policies have led to much higher cumulative burdens among communities of color. To illustrate another example, U.S. highways were deliberately built through Black neighborhoods. As a result, our traffic’s air pollution disproportionately impacts these same communities, as does the asthma that results from it. While only the first step had an explicit racial motive, all of the ensuing consequences have race at the root. 

Race is absent from CEJST as an indicator despite its role as the most consistent predictor of environmental burden, but its impact is still visible in the pattern of cumulative burden disadvantaged communities experience. Addressing cumulative impacts is, therefore, a key part of advancing environmental justice. While screening tools can help identify disadvantaged communities, policymakers will need to account for the multidimensionality of the challenges they face in order to effectively prioritize and support them. 

Key Considerations to Make CEJST 1.0 More Effective 

CEJST 1.0 is not meant to be a static tool and is expected to go through improvements in future iterations. Below we offer potential improvements and suggestions to enable more effective use of the tool by different stakeholders. 

  • Direct agencies to consider cumulative burden when allocating funding now, and update CEJST to measure it. A screening tool whose explicit purpose is to target federal funding to disadvantaged communities most in need of those resources should not be treating each community as equal in levels of need. Justice40 programs should target communities with high cumulative burden, which are more likely to be communities of color, for the earliest and most investment. Agencies working to address a specific dimension of disadvantage — whether housing, energy, health or transportation — should weigh whether a community is subject to additional burdens outside their jurisdiction when designing programs and considering funding applications. Communities subject to particularly high levels of burden should receive proactive outreach, more time to complete applications for federal funding, waived cost-share requirements and additional support that increases their capacity to plan for, apply for and steward federal monies. Further, across the eight categories of burden included in CEJST 1.0, the workforce development, housing and health categories identify the most people of color compared to other categories. This highlights that spending through Justice40 programs to address inequities in these three categories will tend to benefit people of color. Lastly, methods of incorporating assessments of cumulative burden into environmental justice screening tools exist— from simply adding up the indicators meeting thresholds, to applying agency-specific weights to certain indicators, to adopting a composite indexing or scoring method as has been done by CalEnviroScreen. CEQ should review which method is most appropriate and update CEJST to incorporate it, rather than leaving it to federal agencies to choose how they might want to prioritize funding amongst disadvantaged communities.
  • Identify severely burdened communities as disadvantaged even if they do not meet the low-income indicator. A census tract qualifies as a disadvantaged community only when they meet the threshold for one or more indicators across the eight categories and meets the low-income threshold (except for workforce, which uses high school education as a qualifying socio-economic indicator). Our analysis reveals that there are more than 2,700 census tracts where approximately 10 million people meet the threshold for five or more indicators but do not qualify as a disadvantaged community because they do not meet the low-income criteria. Of this, 3.8 million people live in majority non-white census tracts. The low-income indicator can be set such that it is easier to meet for census tracts with severe environmental, health and economic burden and more difficult to meet for those with fewer burdens. This could be achieved by waiving the low-income criteria for communities meeting the threshold for a certain number of indicators or lowering the threshold (currently set at the 65th percentile) as communities’ environmental, health and economic burdens increase.
  • Continue to iterate upon and improve the tool. CEJST 1.0 already includes new data that makes it more robust than CEJST Beta. CEQ has said the tool will be updated “at least annually,” and these updates should include not simply fresh data but improved methods for measuring indicators and the addition of new relevant ones. The National Academies’ Committee on Utilizing Advanced Environmental Health and Geospatial Data and Technologies to Inform Investment, which has been tasked with identifying gaps in data availability and quality and suggesting improvements, can be an important resource. Furthermore, it will be important for CEQ to dispel confusion about how federal agencies will use CEJST to target funding to disadvantaged communities and how various subnational actors should use CEJST to identify disadvantaged communities when applying for federal funding. The latest guidance to federal agencies notes that they “may use their own data and metrics to prioritize certain communities within the set of disadvantaged communities identified by the CEJST.” While this is an important step, additional clarifications are needed, including around how federal agencies are using and/or modifying CEJST to help with their decision making, whether subnational actors can use state-specific screening tools if they have them instead of CEJST, or whether they can substitute local data for measuring an indicator included in CEJST 1.0 if they have more granular and richer data to capture state-specific characteristics.  
  • Implement a framework for monitoring and evaluation to ensure that benefits are really flowing to disadvantaged communities. The success of Justice40 depends on its implementation. At a minimum, federal agencies should assess their progress in meeting the goals of Justice40 by tracking both the amount and the share of federal funding that is flowing to disadvantaged communities. Furthermore, given that the goal of Justice40 is to deliver at least 40% of the overall benefits from certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities, there is a need to identify what is meant by those benefits (i.e., pollutants and carbon emissions reduced, number of jobs created) and require federal agencies to track those metrics for Justice40 investments. The forthcoming Environmental Justice Scorecard from CEQ is meant to assess progress being made by the federal government on its EJ efforts. Until its release, however, there is uncertainty around how federal agencies are tracking impact and benefits. 
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ADVISORY: IPCC Scientists and WRI Experts Preview IPCC Report on Climate Change

1 semana 1 día ago
ADVISORY: IPCC Scientists and WRI Experts Preview IPCC Report on Climate Change casey.skeens@wri.org Mon, 03/13/2023 - 15:57

WASHINGTON (March 16, 2023)On Monday, March 20, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will release the capstone of an eight-year long series of climate science papers, collectively known as the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6). The synthesis report will combine findings from the IPCC’s three working groups to offer the world’s best understanding of the physical science of climate change, its impacts and how to adapt, and measures to curb reduce greenhouse gas emissions and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The report will serve as a backbone for the first Global Stocktake (GST) at COP28 this fall. Held every five years, the GST is meant to both assess recent progress to address the climate crisis and accelerate action by countries, businesses and others at the speed and scale necessary to avert catastrophe.  

On March 16 at 11:00am EDT / 16:00 CET, join World Resources Institute for a press briefing featuring IPCC scientists to help journalists prepare for the report’s release next week. Register here.  

During the briefing, IPCC scientists will surface key findings from previous IPCC analysis that will feature prominently in the forthcoming synthesis report, including how climate change is using severe disruptions already, climate impacts at different temperature thresholds, pathways to rapidly curb emissions and limit temperature rise to 1.5°C, resilience strategies and how to support communities when climate changes go beyond their ability to adapt. WRI experts will then discuss how this report should inform the GST and shape decisions by policymakers in the coming months, including the COP28 summit held in United Arab Emirates this November.

Following brief presentations, we will provide ample time for questions from the media.

Speakers include:

  • Piers Forster, Professor at Leeds University, member of the UK Committee on Climate Change and IPCC author
  • Jofre Carnicer, Professor at University of Barcelona and IPCC author
  • Taryn Fransen, Senior Fellow at WRI and UNEP Gap report author
  • David Waskow, International Climate Director at WRI
  • Rhys Gerholdt, Communications Director for the Climate Program at WRI (moderator)

Press call with IPCC scientists and WRI experts previewing insights from the IPCC’s synthesis report on climate science, which will be published on March 20.

March 16 at 11:00am EDT / 16:00 CET

Please contact Casey Skeens (casey.skeens@wri.org) with any questions.


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5 Shifts to Transform Transportation Systems and Meet Climate Goals

1 semana 5 días ago
5 Shifts to Transform Transportation Systems and Meet Climate Goals ciara.regan@wri.org Thu, 03/09/2023 - 13:00

Transportation connects us to one another. It’s how we get to school and work, how we visit our families, and how we access our food and health care. It’s also how we ship goods and deliver services. As economies and populations grow, so does the need for efficient, accessible and sustainable transportation.

The current global transport system accounts for 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions, which continue to grow. In 2019, 71% of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions came from roadways alone (with the rest primarily from maritime and aviation, and a small portion from rail and other sources). Transport has been a laggard for years, with the sector falling behind others, like power and heating, in its decarbonization rate. To limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) and prevent some of the worst impacts of climate change, we need to reverse course and drive transportation emissions down as low and as quickly as possible.


Our current global transport system accounts for 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions per year

In 2019, 72% of transport-related greenhouse gas emissions came from road transport alone, with the rest made up of shipping, aviation, and other sources

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Shifting to electric vehicles will play an important role but transforming transportation will take real systemic change. What does a systems approach involve? Solutions must bring jobs and services closer to where people live as well as promote public transportation, walking, cycling and other low-carbon and clean-energy transportation alternatives. Finding new solutions to decarbonize shipping and aviation are also crucial.

There are five major shifts identified by Systems Change Lab that, if achieved together, can drastically reduce emissions and spark the necessary change for the planet and people to thrive:

1) Guarantee Reliable Access to Safe and Modern Mobility 

Future transportation systems — in addition to being low-carbon — must be safe, modern and center around improving health. For example, expanding the infrastructure around public transportation systems with dedicated walkways or bike paths will not only combat vehicular congestion and reduce air pollution, but will also encourage more physical activity such as walking, cycling or using scooters.

The bridges on Bogota, Colombia’s Avenida Esperanza provide both a pedestrian walkway and a bike lane. Not only should future transportation systems be low carbon, but they should also protect the safety of cyclists and pedestrians. Photo by Devasahayam Chandra Das/iStock 

A safer system will also prevent crashes and death associated with vehicle travel. About 17 out of every 100,000 people in the world were killed on roadways in 2019, and nearly half of them were pedestrians or cyclists. In 2021, the United Nations set a target to halve injuries and deaths from road traffic crashes by 2030. Achieving this goal requires concerted efforts to protect pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike, such as improving street designs, creating protected bicycle lanes and enforcing traffic laws.

Transportation systems must also be affordable and accessible to all. This has not always been the case — for example, women face potential danger from unlit bus stops and potential harassment on public transit. This kind of consideration is often left out of transportation planning. Fortunately, some cities are already working to tackle these challenges — the city of Peshawar, Pakistan recently launched a bus rapid transit system that addresses common issues facing cisgender and transgender women as well as people with disabilities on public transit.

2) Reduce Avoidable Vehicle and Air Travel

The switch from internal combustion to low- and zero-carbon technologies is vital but also unlikely to happen fast enough to decarbonize the entire transportation sector at the necessary speed and scale. Even a complete electrification of cars, buses and trucks would pose challenges due to the increased electricity demand. We need solutions that will also help solve other problems such as traffic congestion, threats to pedestrian safety and inequitable transportation access.

Because of this, in parallel with the electrification process, we must also change the way we move around by limiting the most carbon-intensive forms of transportation, such as cars and airplanes.

Globally, the distance traveled by passenger cars is rising. This is especially noticeable in high-income, car-dependent places like Europe and North America. The share of kilometers traveled by passenger cars grew to 44% in 2020, and without intervention, this is expected to reach 50% in 2030. To reverse this trend, we must ensure people around the world have access to high-quality, safe alternatives such as high-speed rail or well-designed local bus systems. Bringing the share down to 34% to 44% by 2030 would help get the transportation system on track to keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees C.

To reduce car dependence, cities can also embrace higher-density development, devising new ways to increase access to shops, services and leisure opportunities without needing vehicles. Cities can also disincentivize automobile travel through increased parking costs, fuel taxes or congestion-charging schemes.

However, these policies could hurt those who may not have the means to pay and who rely on cars as their only transportation option. Thus, policies to discourage car travel must be paired with sufficient alternatives, such as increasing safe public transportation options.

Strategies such as fuel taxes and frequent flier levies are also helpful to restrict airplane travel. For short-distance or moderate-distance flights, it is possible that as much as 15% of all regional trips taken by plane could instead be served by high-speed rail. Increasing the quality and affordability of alternatives to plane travel, such as trains and ferries, is essential to boost ridership.

3) Shift to Public, Shared and Non-Motorized Transport

Currently, almost three quarters of transport carbon dioxide emissions come from road travel —largely from cars, vans, buses and trucks. Convincing drivers to shift to more efficient modes will require fundamental cultural change around the car-centric design of many cities. This, alongside holding back car adoption in places where cars are not as prevalent, will be driven by investments that vastly improve other modes of travel.

Across the 50 highest-emitting cities, rapid transit tracks and infrastructure increased from about 13 kilometers (roughly 8 miles) per million people in 1990 to about 19 kilometers (or nearly 12 miles) in 2020. At the same time, the length of high-quality bike lanes increased by 6.5 kilometers (4 miles) per person from 2015 to 2020.

Growth in these indicators is a step in the right direction, but recent progress will have to accelerate by 6 times for rapid transit and more than 10 times for bicycles by 2030, to help steer the world toward a 1.5 degree C-compatible scenario.

Alongside crucial emissions reductions, these changes will bring far-reaching benefits for public health and quality of life. A reduction in car usage could open more spaces for walking and cycling, public parks or outdoor dining and socializing. As of 2022, there are 11 countries with targets to shift away from car travel and prioritize public transport — including India and China. As of 2019, 103 countries had plans for walking and bicycling infrastructure.

4) Transition to Zero-Carbon Cars, Trucks and Buses

We need to phase out fossil-fuel-powered vehicles as fast as possible. Fortunately, electric vehicles (EVs) provide a similar service without directly emitting carbon dioxide or air pollution.  While EV uptake numbers are surging, it’s not fast enough.

To stay on track to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C by 2030, all new cars sold globally need to be electric. In 2021, only 8.7% of new cars were electric. EV sales are rising rapidly thanks to improving economics and government support, and dozens of countries plan to end sales of gas and diesel cars by or before 2040. However, recent progress needs to accelerate by 5 times to meet global climate goals.

EVs’ upfront costs are falling, largely due to declining battery prices. It’s been expected to reach price parity with fossil-fuel-powered vehicles across Europe by 2027 (although recent supply chain interruptions have likely pushed this back a few years). In some countries, like Germany and the Netherlands, it is already cheaper to own and operate some types of EVs than their fossil-fuel-powered equivalents. It is reasonable to assume that hitting the milestone of price parity will represent a tipping point that could contribute to accelerated growth in sales.

rollout of integrated charging networks is needed to speed EV adoption. The number of public EV chargers around the world reached 1.8 million in 2021. Policies to push electrification are emerging in many countries. As of 2021, there were 18 jurisdictions — including Norway, the United Kingdom and Singapore — with targets to phase out the sales of fossil-fuel-powered cars. A complementary policy, a zero-emission vehicle sales mandate, has shown up in 47 jurisdictions — including California, China, and the United Kingdom — as of 2022.

This zero-carbon transition must also occur for buses and trucks. Government ownership of many bus fleets can make them low hanging fruit in this respect because they can make decisions about large fleets with predictable schedules: battery electric and hydrogen buses made up 44% of global bus sales in 2021. To reach our climate goals, this number needs to be 100% by 2030. Progress has been uneven in recent years as most sales have taken place in China, but increasing sales in other regions like Europe and North America are likely to continue to push progress forward. Electric buses have surged in the United States over the past few years — a large purchase by a Midwest transit operator brought the total from just over 2,000 electric school buses in the third quarter of 2021 to just over 13,000 at the end of 2022.

Medium- and heavy-duty trucks are more difficult to decarbonize. Just 0.2% of medium- and heavy-duty truck sales were electric or hydrogen-powered in 2021, and there is an urgent need to bring technologies to commercial maturity. This will require more manufacturers offering hydrogen and electric options, more countries setting targets for phasing out gas-powered vehicles, and more places building charging infrastructure.

5) Transition to Zero-Carbon Shipping and Aviation

Both shipping and aviation are seen as hard-to-decarbonize sectors, where zero-carbon technologies are still in infancy. Each is responsible for around 3% of global greenhouse emissions

However, both sectors have pathways to a greener future. Decarbonizing shipping and aviation will require a combination of technological solutions such as zero-emission fuels and batteries alongside operational and efficiency improvements.

For shipping, 5% to 17% of fuel needs to be zero-emission by 2030 to stay on track to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C. By 2050, 87% to 100%  of fuel needs to be zero-emission. Green hydrogen and ammonia, which can be made with renewable electricity, are typically viewed as the most promising fuels to decarbonize shipping. Synthetic fuels made from electricity, hydrogen and captured carbon may also play a part, and batteries could be useful for short-distance trips. Pilot projects will play a key role by helping to prove technical feasibility and demonstrate commercial viability — as of 2022, there were over 200 pilot projects underway.

For aviation, zero-emission options are beginning to emerge, including sustainable aviation fuels made from green hydrogen and captured carbon dioxide or sustainably sourced biomass. Biomass-derived sustainable aviation fuels are the only zero-emission solution commercially available in 2022, but new demonstrations of zero-emission planes are increasing. The share of these fuels needs to rise from less than 0.1% now to 13% to 18% by 2030 and 78% to 100% by 2050, supported by policy incentives.

It is key that zero-emission fuels are not derived from unsustainable biomass sources, such as food crops, which could make it harder to feed people, protect biodiversity and sequester carbon in natural ecosystems. Generally, a massive scaling up of investment and policy is needed in this shift.

Transforming a Global System

Together, these five shifts can transform our global transportation system. They offer a new system where opportunities and services are easily and equitably accessed through clean, safe mobility from walking to electric buses to bike share programs; a system where planes run on clean fuel and road crashes are not the leading cause of death in children; a system where high-speed trains are prevalent and popular.

Of course, this is only possible if we rapidly accelerate progress in these shifts to meet climate and equity targets in this decisive decade.

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ADVISORY: Transforming Transportation 2023 — Accelerating Toward Green and Inclusive Mobility

1 semana 6 días ago
ADVISORY: Transforming Transportation 2023 — Accelerating Toward Green and Inclusive Mobility casey.skeens@wri.org Wed, 03/08/2023 - 16:47

WASHINGTON, DC (March 14, 2022) — The World Bank and WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities invite the press to attend the 20th anniversary of the Transforming Transportation conference, one of the largest global events dedicated entirely to sustainable transport and development — sponsored by Visa, FedEx and the FIA Foundation.

Transforming Transportation 2023 comes at a time of profound change for transport and global development. This year’s World Bank and WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities flagship conference will pay special attention to ongoing challenges such as climate change, COVID-19, and macroeconomic instability, taking the current context as a starting point to reimagine transport and make it more inclusive, safe, sustainable, and efficient.

Join us in-person or virtually for two days and engage with high-level policymakers, hear from cutting-edge thinkers, and explore solutions for countries and cities around the world at the Word Bank Headquarters in Washington, DC.

Speakers include Patrick Achi, Prime Minister of Cote D’Ivoire; Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukraine’s Minister of Infrastructure; and Dr. Andrew Steer, President and CEO, Bezos Earth Fund.

Sessions will be livestreamed globally and address a range of critical topics, including global supply chains, road safety, e-mobility, decarbonization, urban planning, financing and more.


Transforming Transportation 2023: Accelerating Toward Green and Inclusive Mobility  

Agenda available at transformingtransportation.org.  

For the full virtual experience, register for the conference here.


8:30 – 19:00 ET March 14

9:00 - 17:30 ET March 15


Tini Tran, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, tini.tran@wri.org, +1 (646) 618-3387

Erin M. Scronce, World Bank Group, escronce@worldbank.org 

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The Electric School Bus Series: Powering the Grid with Cajon Valley Union School District

2 semanas 1 día ago
The Electric School Bus Series: Powering the Grid with Cajon Valley Union School District ciara.regan@wri.org Mon, 03/06/2023 - 14:38

In collaboration with partners and communities, WRI’s Electric School Bus Initiative aims to build unstoppable momentum toward an equitable transition of the U.S. school bus fleet to electric by 2030, bringing health, climate and economic benefits to children and families across the country and normalizing electric mobility for an entire generation. The Electric School Bus Series shows how superintendents and fleet managers across the United States have pursued school bus electrification in their own communities. This edition covers Cajon Valley Union School District in California, which has worked with its electric utility and technology partners to build out its electric school bus fleet while participating in a vehicle-to-grid pilot program and discharging energy back to the electric grid. 

Located in southern California, the Cajon Valley Union School District (Cajon Valley) has recently made news headlines for successfully discharging energy from its electric school buses’ (ESBs) batteries back to the electricity grid via vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology. This is an exciting, developing technology that may accelerate transportation electrification, particularly for ESBs.

Serving over 60 square miles of San Diego’s East County, Cajon Valley educates almost 16,000 students and provides transportation services to around 800 students, about half of whom are students with disabilities. Seven of the district’s 49 school buses are V2G capable electric school buses manufactured by the Lion Electric Company, meaning they can charge via a bidirectional charger and later be directed to send energy stored in the bus batteries back to the electric grid.

Sending energy from the vehicle to the grid (V2G) is one of several use cases of a broader array of vehicle-to-everything (V2X) opportunities, which also includes discharging energy to power a building (V2B) or some other connected load (V2L), such as an appliance like a coffee maker. V2X may further incentivize ESB adoption via its ability to bolster resiliency, strengthen the grid and lower energy bills.

The school district’s Transportation Director, Tysen Brodwolf, provided WRI with an insider's perspective on how Cajon Valley found itself participating in one of the nation’s first operating V2G ESB projects. Cajon Valley’s ESB program faced numerous obstacles including significant capital costs and charging reliability problems, but the program has overcome these and other challenges thanks to the frequent collaboration and unshakeable optimism of Brodwolf and her colleagues. Brodwolf is encouraged by the project’s status and hopes to continue procuring additional ESBs.

Motivation & Co-Benefits

Before purchasing ESBs, Cajon Valley was already known as a forward-thinking school district, having pioneered energy efficiency upgrades and investments in rooftop solar. When the school district was considering how best to build a sustainable bus fleet, ESBs were a new technology with ample funding available to help purchase the vehicles and install charging infrastructure. The school district determined procuring ESBs would help achieve its sustainability goals and would reduce student exposure to harmful pollutants created by diesel buses.

In 2019, after hearing a presentation from the local electric utility, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), about developing a V2G ESB pilot project, Cajon Valley connected with the utility about the opportunity. As part of the project, SDG&E would help Cajon Valley obtain federal and state grant funding to purchase the vehicles. The utility would also pay for the charging infrastructure, including the V2G system and necessary bidirectional chargers and any required electrical infrastructure upgrades. Once the V2G pilot was operational, Cajon Valley would provide SDG&E with essential data regarding charging, discharging and impacts on the ESBs and charging infrastructure so the utility and others could learn from the pilot.


Several partners collaborated on this trailblazing ESB V2G implementation.

SDG&E has been a crucial partner to Cajon Valley. Beyond helping Cajon Valley cover vehicle and infrastructure costs, SDG&E appointed a dedicated project manager who worked with the school district throughout the process. SDG&E held monthly meetings with Cajon Valley and other industry stakeholders and school districts to discuss updates on the project’s status, developing technologies and different clean transportation grant opportunities. 

Nuvve, a private sector provider of V2G technologies, has worked with SDG&E and Cajon Valley to implement the V2G component of the pilot project. Nuvve’s software for the charging stations allows a remote operator, like SDG&E, to trigger a discharging event to the grid. Nuvve provided Cajon Valley with a digital charging and energy dashboard, which can set parameters around the charging and discharging of the vehicles to ensure there is no disruption of transportation operations.

Energetics, a clean energy technology and management consulting firm, has developed the software for the buses to ensure SDG&E could collect its desired data and has coordinated with the school district, Nuvve and the electric utility to address software challenges.

Brodwolf was appreciative of the support partners in the pilot project have given her when addressing mechanical and software issues. She said, “The great thing about [our partners] is that they have been extraordinarily consistent on trying to work through and fix the problems...I am very pleased, and I am very fortunate to have the relationship that I do with them.”

Pilot Status

In 2019, Cajon Valley bought five Type C Lion ESBs using a Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These ESBs came with 132 kWh battery packs and could travel around 100 miles on a full charge. Each ESB cost about $380,000, but, thanks to its grant funding, Cajon Valley only spent about $50,000 in total. The funding specified use of the buses within communities with poor air quality and high diesel emissions.

In 2021, the school district bought two additional Type C Lion Electric ESBs, funded by grants from the Carl Moyer Program through the California Air Resources Board (CARB). These buses came equipped with 169 kWh battery packs capable of 120 miles of range, and they cost the school district about the same as the first round of ESBs.

SDG&E and Nuvve installed six 60 kW bidirectional fast chargers that were manufactured by Rhombus Energy Solutions. The utility covered over $1 million in electrical infrastructure upgrades at the school district’s bus depot, none of which had to be paid for by Cajon Valley. Brodwolf plans to expand to over a dozen V2G-capable fast chargers in the near future to power the fleet. Additionally, several Level 2 (L2) wall chargers were installed for resiliency purposes in case any of the V2G-capable chargers went offline.

Unlike the charging infrastructure, the ESBs were not originally V2G-capable and required upgrades to participate in the pilot project. These retrofits were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but they were finally made in June 2022, with the first successful discharge back to the grid undertaken at the end of the month. The hardware and software upgrades to the buses and chargers were part of pre-arranged agreements, so the school district did not need to pay for these upgrades.  

Cajon Valley’s seven V2G-enabled ESBs can simultaneously discharge to the grid through their chargers. The original five buses are reportedly discharging 24 or 28 kW of power back to the grid, depending on the bus model, while the newer two buses are discharging 45 kW of power. To maximize benefits for the grid, the buses are engaged in managed charging and will charge outside of peak hours when not in use (off-peak hours for SDG&E being from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. and super off-peak being 12 a.m. to 6 a.m.), but additional charging may be necessary between routes.

Cajon Valley School District bus chargers. Photo by Cajon Valley Union School District.

Currently, with the V2G infrastructure upgrades completed, the pilot project is just beginning and will operate for the next five years. In late July, Nuvve announced that Cajon Valley’s ESBs would be able to participate in SDG&E’s Emergency Load Reduction Program (ELRP), which pays participants $2/kWh for energy sent back to the grid or reduced energy load during emergencies that occur from May through October. For the school district, this program is currently the only revenue mechanism for battery discharging, but other mechanisms may be created at the state level in the future. The ELRP participation should not disrupt Cajon Valley’s bus services, as the requests will occur between 4 and 9 p.m., most of that period being outside of the regularly scheduled school bus operations. Additionally, the school district is not obligated to participate during an ELRP event and can choose whether to discharge to the grid. Participants will be asked to participate no more than 60 hours per year.

Commenting on Cajon Valley’s long-term plans, Brodwolf said, “We are going to be all V2G. That is the goal of this district… to be able to support the grid and send the energy back to the grid on demand with the vehicles that we have right now.”

Thus far, Cajon Valley has received some revenues from the ERLP program for discharges to the grid, directing those funds into the school district’s general fund. Additionally, managed charging of the vehicles is pushing down its electricity costs since the school district is avoiding high peak electricity prices. SDG&E is also restructuring the depot’s billing, putting the V2G charging on a separate meter.

Greatest challenge in setting up the pilot

Since the purchase of the ESBs, Cajon Valley has had to overcome recurring charging issues between the buses and charging stations. Brodwolf reported that the buses have stopped charging in the middle of the night, and the chargers have sometimes drained the batteries of connected buses. In the past, software updates have shut down chargers, and there have been issues with the power cabinets and display screens.

Brodwolf says that although the ESBs have performed consistently, their operational limitations have created some of the biggest challenges. Despite the quoted range of 100 miles for the first five buses and 120 miles for the second two buses, the school district realistically sees between 70 and 100 miles of range from the respective buses due to the passenger load and use of onboard systems like A/C or the heater. With some of their bus routes being 70-80 miles, the school district only deploys their ESBs on short bus routes where they do not have to be as concerned about battery charge. This has been a major problem because the grant funding for the two most recent buses stipulated that they be used within disadvantaged communities (DACs), which are on higher mileage routes. With additional assistance from Nuvve to determine how to deploy the buses along the required routes, using a detailed charging projection and battery analysis, Cajon Valley has been able to satisfy its grant requirements.

Moving forward, Brodwolf says she is worried about the availability of future funding and whether the school district will be able to afford further expansion of its ESB fleet. With the ongoing supply chain issues, Cajon Valley has been waiting since 2021 for a Lion Type D bus to be manufactured and delivered, and during that time, the ESB’s price has increased about 10%. The California Energy Commission has extended their ESB grant to Cajon Valley while they wait for the bus to be ready for purchase, but Brodwolf says that future grants will be harder to obtain due to their eligibility and equity requirements. Many grants require scrapping older buses, and they prioritize electrifying school buses that operate within disadvantaged communities; however, Cajon Valley has already replaced most of their older buses, and they have already assigned ESBs to their DAC regions.

Brodwolf did express optimism that the ESB market is growing and becoming more competitive, so school districts have more options. With the recently released Clean School Bus Program funding from the EPA awarded to school districts across the country, Brodwolf is hopeful there will be downward pressure on rising ESB prices.

Advice for Other School Districts

Despite all the challenges Cajon Valley has faced, Brodwolf remains enthusiastic about this important work. Brodwolf said, “It is a pilot project. We all must keep that in mind, that before we get to that big success, there's going be a lot of failures.”

When asked about what advice she would give to other school districts, Brodwolf said that planning ahead is essential when undertaking the massive investments for electrifying a school bus fleet. School districts should think about what they want their fleets to look like in the future and ensure that investments made now are ready to meet future needs. This could include considering where buses are going to be parked, where chargers need to be installed, what the future impacts of a V2X system will be, etc.

She also emphasized that when coordinating with the utility on the placement and operation of chargers and other equipment, it is important that the school district applies its knowledge of vehicle operations and reminds the utility that ESBs are vehicles first and grid assets second. This dialogue will ensure that the infrastructure necessary for ESBs and V2X are placed and used appropriately without compromising the school district’s ability to efficiently operate a school bus fleet.

Brodwolf is hopeful the lessons learned from her district can help other school districts who are purchasing ESBs and those who are considering integrating V2X with their ESB fleet, and she is encouraged by the project’s status and hopes to continue procuring additional ESBs. Brodwolf recognizes that many other transportation directors are going through the same challenges she did in the past, which is why being a leader on transportation electrification is so important.

Additional resources:

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STATEMENT: Countries Agree on Historic Treaty to Protect the World’s High Seas

2 semanas 1 día ago
STATEMENT: Countries Agree on Historic Treaty to Protect the World’s High Seas casey.skeens@wri.org Mon, 03/06/2023 - 13:05

NEW YORK (March 6, 2023) — Countries agreed on a historic treaty to place the world on a path to protect 30% of the high seas by 2030, and to safeguard and restore the ocean’s biodiversity. The agreement was reached by 193 countries at the UN headquarters in New York on March 4. It follows almost 20 years of negotiations to reach a legally binding treaty to protect the ocean beyond national boundaries, a vast area that comprises more than two thirds of the ocean.  

Following is a statement from Kristian Teleki, Global Director for the Ocean Program, World Resources Institute:

“The ocean is now significantly better protected thanks to this historic deal to safeguard areas beyond national jurisdictions. The High Seas Treaty will ensure protection of 30 percent of international waters by 2030 to preserve and restore marine biodiversity. This will bridge a major gap in efforts to protect our ocean, which is critical to addressing climate change, biodiversity loss and food insecurity.

Until now, there has never been an overarching treaty to protect marine biodiversity in the high seas, leaving them vulnerable to threats such as climate change, overfishing and pollution. The new agreement will now help control the exploitation of marine resources in the high seas and will be crucial for achieving countries’ UN biodiversity conference commitment to protect 30 percent of the world’s seas and land. It will also help address systemic inequities by ensuring that newly discovered ocean resources and any profits derived from them will be equitably distributed between developed and developing countries.   

While this is a historic win, countries must now urgently begin putting these protections in place to ensure the ocean can continue to play a vital role in fighting climate change and supporting human life.”

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RELEASE: Ocean Panel Countries Call for a Shift Towards Sustainable Tourism to Safeguard the Ocean and Future of the Tourism Industry

2 semanas 4 días ago
RELEASE: Ocean Panel Countries Call for a Shift Towards Sustainable Tourism to Safeguard the Ocean and Future of the Tourism Industry casey.skeens@wri.org Fri, 03/03/2023 - 11:06

Panama City, Panama (March 3, 2023) — Today, world leaders voiced their support for a shift towards sustainable coastal and marine tourism to protect the ocean and the livelihoods of those who directly rely on it.  

In a joint statement issued by the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (Ocean Panel), member countries* highlight the critical relationship between a thriving tourism industry and the health of the ocean and its ecosystems that attract visitors.  

A recent Ocean Panel-commissioned report found that coastal and marine tourism represents at least 50 percent of all global tourism. For most small island developing states and many coastal states, it is the largest economic sector. However, this industry is extremely vulnerable to climate change and biodiversity loss. Without action to address these destructive threats, the long-term future of this critical sector hangs in the balance.  

Economic gains from tourism are not distributed equally, with large foreign companies and tour operators typically receiving disproportional benefits compared to local communities. This inequality is exacerbated by the sector’s economic vulnerability, with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic severely impacting local communities who depend on tourism for their livelihoods.  

Today, members of the Ocean Panel call on governments and tourism operators and other stakeholders in the sector to take action that promotes a renewed focus on new high-quality economic opportunities for local communities, restoring the natural environment and revitalizing cultural heritage. Through this approach, tourism has the potential to be a key pillar in the transformation to a sustainable ocean economy.  

In the statement, Ocean Panel countries reaffirmed their commitment to the goal that by 2030 ‘coastal and ocean-based tourism is sustainable, resilient, addresses climate change, reduces pollution, supports ecosystem regeneration and biodiversity conservation, and invests in local jobs and communities’.  

Achieving this goal requires governments and tourism operators to act across the following areas:   

  • Tackling inequality through investment in regenerative tourism 
  • Strategies that advance environmental, social and economic priorities  
  • Supporting local and Indigenous communities  
  • Implementing nature-based solutions in tourism infrastructure
  • Investing in sewage and wastewater infrastructure  

Today at the Our Ocean Conference in Panama City, members of the Ocean Panel joined industry leaders to share examples of how countries are creating a more sustainable, regenerative and resilient coastal and marine tourism sector.

The Ocean Panel is the only ocean policy body made up of serving heads of state with the authority needed to trigger, amplify and accelerate action worldwide for ocean priorities. Member countries are: Australia, Canada, Chile, Fiji, France*, Ghana, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Namibia, Norway, Palau, Portugal, United Kingdom, United States of America.

Since launching in 2018, Ocean Panel member countries have joined together to realize the mission of sustainably managing 100% of the ocean area under national jurisdictions. Management of marine areas beyond national waters is currently being negotiated at the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdictions (BBNJ) conference at the UN headquarters in New York. Today’s statement comes on the final day of talks to create a legally binding treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity within the high seas.

“Tourism is a critical economic industry for Palau and many other small island developing states and coastal states. In Palau, we understand our environment supports the marine life, terrain, flora and fauna that attract tourists. Additionally, as a people, we have known for a millennium that our very existence relies on healthy lands and ocean. As such, we have taken steps to promote preservation that also supports a robust and sustainable economy. However, we can’t do it alone. The future of our people and our economy continues to be severely threatened by the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss. While we are grateful that other nations are taking action, we must build momentum globally and encourage more countries to switch to sustainable models that serve to protect and regenerate the natural environment as well as the communities and cultures on which the tourism industry depends.”
Surangel S. Whipps Jr, President of Palau and Co-Chair of the Ocean Panel

“Marine and coastal tourism is one of the largest sectors in the ocean economy. It represents more than half of all global tourism and provides a vital source of employment for millions worldwide. However, the activities in the sector can also lead to negative impact on animal health and natural resources, and emissions that contribute to climate change. The tourism sector must be made truly sustainable – for people and for the planet. That is the only way we can safeguard the future of the industry."
Jonas Gahr Støre, Prime Minister of Norway and Co-Chair of the Ocean Panel  

“Coastal tourism depends on thriving nature so it’s decline is a risk to the business bottom line. Yet so often a tourism group doesn’t know the scope of solutions or have capacity to tackle coastal protection and restoration in a meaningful way. At Iberostar we aim to demonstrate coastal protection can be integrated into the business at scale when it is scientifically informed and internally adopted and implemented alongside public-private support.”
Megan Morikawa, Global Director of Sustainability at Iberostar Group

Notes to editors

*Ocean Panel member country France expressed support for this declaration but were not able to endorse this statement prior to the 8th Our Ocean Conference.

About the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy
The members of the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (Ocean Panel) lead nations of highly diverse oceanic, economic and political perspectives. Driven by a commitment to partnership, shared knowledge and science-informed policy, the Ocean Panel aims to advance the values underpinning a sustainable ocean economy—effective protection, sustainable production and equitable prosperity.  
In December 2020, the Ocean Panel launched the ‘Transformations for a Sustainable Ocean Economy: A Vision for Protection, Production and Prosperity’ which included an ambitious goal for coastal and marine tourism, that by 2030 ‘Coastal and ocean-based tourism is sustainable, resilient, addresses climate change, reduces pollution, supports ecosystem regeneration and biodiversity conservation and invests in local jobs and communities’.

For more information visit www.oceanpanel.org and @OceanPanel on social media.

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This Interactive Chart Shows Changes in the World's Top 10 Emitters

2 semanas 5 días ago
This Interactive Chart Shows Changes in the World's Top 10 Emitters wri-admin Thu, 03/02/2023 - 11:00 */ /*-->*/

Editor's Note: This article was updated March 2, 2023, from its last publish date of Dec. 29, 2021, to include WRI’s latest research and information about global greenhouse gas emissions.

A lot has happened since countries met in Paris in 2015 and agreed on an accord to combat climate change. So far, 196 countries ratified or otherwise joined the Paris Climate Agreement, representing more than 96% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, 57 countries — including United States, Japan, Canada, Germany and Mexico — also developed long-term plans to decarbonize their economies.

As countries implement their targets and policies and develop more detailed pathways to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, it’s important to fully understand the global emissions picture and how it changes over time. Our Climate Watch interactive chart explores GHG emissions by country and economic sector1, and shows how top emitters have changed in recent years:

1) The World’s Top Three Emitters Contribute 15 Times the Greenhouse Gas Emissions of the Bottom 100 

The top three GHG emitters — China, the United States and India — contribute 42.6% total emissions, while the bottom 100 countries only account for only 2.9%.  

It’s interesting to note that while India ranks high among emitters, when you factor in population to look at per capita GHG emissions, the highly populated country ranks significantly lower than the other top 10 emitters. 

Collectively, this group of nations account for over two-thirds of global GHG emissions. The world cannot successfully fight climate change without significant action from the top 10 emitters. 

2) The Energy Sector is the Biggest Greenhouse Gas Emitter, but Action in Every Sector Counts 

Since reporting began in 1990, the energy sector — including generation of electricity and heat as well as end uses in buildings, transportation, and manufacturing and construction — remained the largest contributor to GHG emissions over any other sector, representing 76% of global emissions in 2019.

Larger view

Energy emissions have increased by 61.9% since 1990. However, energy emissions growth has slowed down since 2013, only increasing by 4% over the last five years. Land-use change and forestry is the only sector that has decreased its emissions since 1990 (14% decrease, fourth largest sector), although their values reached its lowest point in 2013 and have been steadily increasing since. All the other sectors continued to increase their emissions since 1990, including agriculture (16% increase, second largest sector), industrial emissions (203% increase, third largest sector), and waste (19.5% increase, fifth largest sector). 

Avoiding the worst climate impacts will require reversing the upwards trend in all sectors and rapidly decreasing emissions to net zero by 2050.

3) Many Top Emitters Are Reducing their Emissions Per Capita 

While the top 10 emitters in total increased their emissions by 56.6% since 1990, the United States, European Union, Russia and Japan have since peaked their per capita emissions. 

Larger view

More recent data from the Global Carbon Project, which covers energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, shows that emission growth has slowed down globally from 2013 to 2019, increasing by an average of 0.8% per year, compared to an average of 1.7% since 1990. This slowing of growth happened even as the global economy grew during the same period and 21 countries are already proving that decoupling emissions from economic growth is possible. In 2020, global emissions decreased by 4.9% as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, making it the largest drop in emissions since 1960 (first year of available data for this source). In 2021, however, emissions grew back quickly, reaching a 0.1% increase over 2019 values, showing that emissions are still on an upwards trend, illustrating the need for increased climate actions to see a decoupling of economic growth and carbon emissions.

Larger view

Explore Climate Watch 

To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we need to rapidly reduce emissions to net zero. Climate data is essential to understanding the latest emissions trends and countries’ short- and long-term actions that will bend the emission curve downward. 

Climate Watch, WRI’s climate data platform, offers hundreds of open datasets that visualize historical greenhouse gas emissions of all countries, regions, sectors and various types of greenhouse gasses. The platform allows users to analyze and compare the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and long-term Strategies (LTS) under the Paris Agreement, discover countries’ climate policies, see how countries can leverage their climate goals to achieve their sustainable development objectives and use models to map new pathways to a lower carbon, prosperous future. These tools can help illuminate what changes must be made and chart a path toward achieving net zero. 

  1. The three conclusions explored in this article are based on 2019 data for all sectors, including land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) emissions. However, the interactive circle percentage chart does not show LULUCF emissions, as those emissions can be negative. Visit Climate Watch to see a full inventory for 2019 of all sectors, gases and countries, including LULUCF emissions.↩︎

bridge-city-emissions.jpg Climate National Climate Action Paris Agreement data emissions GHG emissions International Climate Action COP26 climatewatch-pinned Most Read Type Explainer Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Authors Johannes Friedrich Mengpin Ge Andrew Pickens Leandro Vigna

Global Emissions and Local Deforestation Are Combining to Create Dangerous Levels of Heat Stress in the Tropics

2 semanas 6 días ago
Global Emissions and Local Deforestation Are Combining to Create Dangerous Levels of Heat Stress in the Tropics ciara.regan@wri.org Wed, 03/01/2023 - 10:02

Average global temperatures have risen by 1.1 degrees C (2.0 degrees F) since pre-industrial times, and we’re already seeing temperature extremes that threaten human health. Heat waves killed hundreds in North America in 2021 and thousands in Europe in 2022. And it’s only poised to worsen unless emissions drop precipitously.

But in some parts of the world, it’s not just climate change that’s causing dangerously high heat.

recent WRI report shows that in addition to fueling global climate change through CO2 emissions, deforestation in the tropics has acute local effects on climate, resulting in increased average and extreme local temperatures. The local warming effects of deforestation in the tropics are comparable to those from greenhouse gas-driven warming, creating a double-whammy effect on temperatures that threatens public health and economies.

While climate mitigation and adaptation strategies account for emissions-driven warming in the tropics and elsewhere, few policies acknowledge additional heat driven by local deforestation. Here, we unpack the combined effects of local and global warming in the tropics and their implications for the people who live there.

2 Sources of Tropical Warming: Global Greenhouse Gases and Local Deforestation

study published in Nature estimates that 30% of the world’s population is already exposed to combinations of heat and humidity that exceed what’s safe for the human body at least 20 days a year. By 2100, under a climate scenario that limits warming to 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F), nearly half the global population will be exposed to climatic conditions that are potentially deadly for more than 20 days per year.

These impacts will be particularly acute in the tropics, where many communities will experience unsafe conditions for several months a year. Since daily temperatures are already higher and less variable near the equator, it doesn’t take much of an increase to exceed comfortable temperature and humidity thresholds for the human body. And given that a disproportionate share of low- and lower-middle income countries, including those with the highest number of people in extreme poverty, are clustered around the equator, global warming is expected to disproportionately impact low-income populations.

Importantly, these estimates do not yet take into account the additional localized warming effects of deforestation.

At all latitudes, from the tropics to the boreal zone, forests help stabilize the local climate by reducing extreme temperatures and maintaining rainfall patterns. Tropical deforestation poses especially large risks to human well-being because tropical forests provide local cooling benefits to regions already expected to be significantly affected by extreme heat.

Natural rainforest surrounds a plot of land deforested for oil palm plantations in Indonesia. Deforestation hinders tropical forests’ ability to regulate temperatures and rainfall. Photo by Vaara/iStock 

Through evapotranspiration, for example, trees help convert surface and ground water into atmospheric moisture, serving as a natural air conditioning system. Uneven forest canopies cause wind turbulence that can lift heat and moisture away from Earth’s surface. These processes also play a role in increasing cloud cover over tropical forests, which in turn reflects more sunlight, facilitating further cooling.

While estimates vary, tropical deforestation increases the annual local average temperature by approximately 1 degree C (1.8 degrees F). The impacts, however, are even more significant when one looks at extremes: Deforestation can lead to an average increase of 4.4 degrees C (7.9 degrees F) warming in daily high temperatures in the tropics. In one study, researchers found that by 2100, the heat stress caused by continued widespread deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon would be comparable to what’s expected under the worst climate change scenarios.

While the temperature increases due to greenhouse gas-driven warming happen gradually, those due to forest clearance happen abruptly. And it’s not just people living right next to a deforested patch who are affected. Local temperature effects of deforestation increase with the scale of the deforested patch, and have been detected up to 50 kilometers away.

The Impacts of Higher Temperatures on Rural Workers

What happens to the human body in extreme heat? When body temperature rises above its baseline of 37 degrees C (98.6 degrees F), blood thickens, forcing the heart to work overtime, causing damage to it and other organs. Once the body is unable to cool itself by sweating –– which can happen in high humidity when the air is already saturated with moisture –– dehydration and other symptoms of heat exhaustion such as nausea, dizziness and difficulty breathing can occur. If left untreated, an individual may suffer heat stroke, organ failure, neurological damage and, potentially, death. Heat stress may also contribute to kidney disease.

Extreme heat can also affect mental function. A 2020 study of rural agricultural workers in Indonesia found that those laboring in hotter deforested areas scored lower on general cognitive assessments and memory tests than workers located in forested areas. Researchers attributed the differences in test scores primarily to heat exposure. Diminished cognitive functioning due to heat exposure can lead to a number of other negative outcomes, such as increasing workers’ risk of injury.

Outdoor workers in the tropics, such as farmers and agricultural workers, are particularly vulnerable to extreme heat given that many lack access to cool shelters and their jobs require working outside even in hot conditions. This vulnerability is compounded by the fact that many jobs on the frontiers of deforestation tend to be informal and thus unprotected by government safety regulations and enforcement mechanisms.

Lack of worker safety protections manifests in a variety of ways. To give one example: A 2019 study of rural workers in Indonesia found that more than 40% of study participants working in open areas didn’t have access to water when they were working. Yet temperatures in open areas were up to 8.3 degrees C (14.9 degrees F) warmer relative to forested areas, exposing workers to temperatures and humidity levels well above human well-being thresholds for up to 6.5 hours a day.

A man splits wood in Aceh, Indonesia. Agricultural workers are some of the most vulnerable to deforestation-related warming in the tropics. Photo by Teuku Boyhaquie/iStock 

Agricultural workers in hot temperatures also face the risk of increased pesticide exposure and poisoning. Negative cognitive impacts due to heat exposure can diminish workers’ ability to be proactive about safety. Agricultural workers are also less likely to wear protective equipment during hot days; those who do wear it will be more vulnerable to heat stress. The fact that sweating can increase the absorption of chemicals through the skin further increases the risk of pesticide poisoning on hot days.

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon: The Impacts of Heat Stress on Health and the Economy

Brazil, home to the majority of the Amazon rainforest, is a good case study for considering the health and associated economic impacts of increased exposure to extreme heat. Situated in the tropics, Brazil is highly affected by global warming and is a site of significant deforestation.

The extent of deforestation in the Amazon is estimated to be around 17%, with deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon around 20%. Researchers believe that once Amazonian deforestation reaches 20-25%, the effects could be irreversible as the landscape shifts from forest to savanna.

Let’s look at what the compounding impacts of local deforestation-related warming and climate change may mean for future Brazilians. Under continued deforestation and a moderate warming scenario where emissions peak by mid-century and then begin to decline, more than 6 million Brazilians will likely experience heat-related risks to their health by 2100. (Here, risk is defined by temperature, relative humidity and wind speed conditions that exceed the thresholds that are considered safe for the human body for at least an hour daily.) In a more dire warming scenario, where emissions continue to rise through the end of the century alongside continued deforestation, more than 11 million Brazilians are estimated to be at risk by 2100 –– approximately 5% of Brazil’s current population.

For either climate scenario, 40% or more of those affected would be in highly vulnerable populations: communities that lack sufficient living conditions in terms of health, economic development, infrastructure, access to education and other factors.

Not only do rising temperatures in the tropics endanger human health; they can also have significant economic impacts. A study by the International Labor Organization estimates that even if global temperature rise is held to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F), Brazil would still lose the equivalent of 850,000 full-time jobs by 2030 because of reduced working hours due to heat stress exposure. Deforestation-driven warming has the potential to exacerbate these economic impacts by further reducing the number of safe working hours in surrounding areas.

In a 2021 study focusing on two states in Brazil, Mato Grosso and Pará, where more than half of Brazilian deforestation occurred between 2008 and 2019, researchers found a strong relationship between large-scale deforestation and lost working hours. In deforested areas, 45% of workers lost a half hour or more of daily safe work time versus less than 5% of workers in forested areas.

Job and income loss will translate to additional negative impacts on human health and, for those who are employed, may mean added pressure to work in hazardous conditions. The more tropical forests are kept intact, the less severe the inevitable economic impacts of global temperature rise will be for tropical countries.

There is reason for optimism that Brazil may be able to avoid some of these negative health and economic impacts. On October 30, 2022, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva defeated incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro to become the next Brazilian presidentLula committed to reverse Bolsonaro’s harmful environmental policies and has already made moves in that direction. If the past is a guide — and if Lula can overcome political opposition — the future of the Amazon looks more promising: Deforestation rates declined by more than 70% during Lula and his successor’s presidencies from 2004-2016.

The advent of a new administration in Brazil also provides an opportunity to integrate the public health implications of deforestation into the country’s climate and land-use policies.

3 Pathways to Reduce Deforestation-related Heat Stress

What can be done to mitigate the negative public health impacts of deforestation-driven warming in the tropics? Here are three ways countries can act:

1) Integrate deforestation-induced local warming into national climate plans and strategies.

Most countries, as signatories to the Paris Agreement, have created a national plan outlining their strategies to limit emissions and adapt to climate change. These plans, known as “nationally determined contributions,” or NDCs, are updated every five years, but few if any have considered the effects of deforestation-induced local warming.

For example, Brazil last updated its NDC in March 2022. While it mentions the impact global temperature rise has on productivity and employment in the agricultural sector, there is no mention of the impacts of local deforestation-related temperature rise on the economy or on the Brazilian people. Given that Brazil’s NDC states a desire to reduce public health vulnerabilities, it will be important for the next iteration to include the local cooling benefits provided by tropical forests.

2) Address risks of deforestation-induced local warming in sectoral policies, practices and regulations.

Alongside their roles in national-level climate change planning, public health agencies, worker safety regulators and agricultural ministries can protect individuals in the tropics from the dangers of deforestation-driven warming.

In Brazil, for example, the Ministry of Health could provide tools and alert systems to identify when and where individuals face significant risks due to climatic conditions, as well as advisories and protective measures for those in occupations with higher risk of heat stress, such as agricultural and construction workers. Such systems would enable more rapid responses by the health sector and the public to the risks posed by extreme heat. Additionally, the Ministry of Health could spearhead education campaigns that inform the public more broadly of the dangers of heat exposure, especially near recently deforested sites.

The Brazilian Regulatory Standards could mandate additional protections for workers, such as requiring employers to provide access to water and shade, as well as frequent monitoring of worker temperature and vital signs on hot days. It would then fall to the Ministry of Labour and Employment to ensure that these improved workplace standards are implemented. Since more than 40% of employment in Brazil is informal and therefore not covered by labor regulations, additional safeguards will need to be devised that help protect these workers.

Finally, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food Supply could work with government officials, including the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Environment, to ensure that agricultural development policies are well-balanced with human health objectives and Brazil’s climate plan, as deforestation is often associated with agricultural expansion.

3) Raise awareness of the national and local risks of deforestation.

For most policymakers, the climate-related risks of deforestation are understood to be limited to those related to greenhouse gas emissions and their contribution to the gradual warming of the entire planet, and thus the business of climate negotiators. The impacts of the more immediate — and equally severe — effects of deforestation on local temperatures are relevant to the mandates of other public and private actors, including those charged with protecting public health and worker safety. Scientists and civil society advocates should target their outreach efforts to such non-traditional audiences.

Different agencies and stakeholder groups need to break down silos and align their goals to promote, above all, citizens’ well-being. For example, climate adaptation planning to protect public health needs to involve experts on the impacts of land-use change on heat stress exposure, in addition to those who track the spread of disease vectors with rising global temperatures.

It is important that farmers, companies, agricultural ministries, public health officials and worker safety agencies come to realize that they, too, are stakeholders in forest protection.

Thanks to Beatriz Alves de Oliveira and Fabiola Zerbini, who also contributed to this article.

acai-harvest.jpg Forests deforestation Climate health agriculture Type Finding Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Authors Anna Lenaker Frances Seymour

The Ukraine War at One Year: Resilient Food Systems Can't Wait Any Longer

3 semanas 1 día ago
The Ukraine War at One Year: Resilient Food Systems Can't Wait Any Longer ciara.regan@wri.org Mon, 02/27/2023 - 14:15

This article was originally published by the Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU), where WRI is a secretariat, founding member and core partner.

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters its second year on Friday, its ripple effects on hunger continue to reverberate globally, with communities and farmers far beyond the country’s borders weathering the high costs of supply chain disruptions, export blockades and soaring food, fuel and fertilizer prices. Among the most acutely affected are the 25 African countries that rely on Russia and Ukraine for at least one third of their wheat, many of which are still reeling from COVID-19, and caught in the crossfires of surging temperatures, conflict and debt.  

A golden wheat field in Ukraine, taken before Russia's invasion in February 2022. Ukraine and some parts of Russia are referred to as the world's bread basket because they are a global supplier of wheat. Photo by BonnaMistress/Shutterstock

With no end to the conflict in sight, scaling support for the most vulnerable remains an urgent priority. In March 2022, three weeks after the fighting began, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on the international community to “do everything possible to avert a hurricane of hunger and complete meltdown of the global food system”. With 349 million people across 79 countries facing acute food insecurity in early 2023, that plea is even more pertinent today – particularly so for climate-vulnerable and import-dependent regions like East Africa, where the war’s arrival amid a five-season long drought has sparked a twofold increase in fertilizer prices and a 7.2 million tonne decline in cereal production. To prevent further humanitarian catastrophes, wealthy nations must step up their pledges, drawing down on all resources, both public and private, to scale social safety nets for the poor, and financial and technical assistance for farmers.  

While the financial burden of the international humanitarian response lies with the rich, it is the moral responsibility of all countries to accelerate the delivery of lifesaving food and social security assistance to the hardest hit by maintaining open flows of trade and data transparency around their strategic reserves. The World Trade Organization estimates that food prices rose by 1.1 percent for every 1 percent increase in export restrictions during the food crisis, and failure to take that learning forward here would be a missed opportunity. Fortunately, the knee jerk towards protectionism we saw early in the war is easing, but in the absence of robust international mandates that prevent stockpiling and speculation in agricultural markets, the risk of further flair ups will remain a constant threat. 

Protecting the vulnerable and maintaining open trade are just two of the many actions that governments must take as they embark on wider, more transformative reforms that parse the vulnerability of food systems to shocks. The Black Sea Grain Initiative is a welcome coordination effort amid the war but longer-term plans are also required  in the face of the spiraling climate emergency – especially with the Ukrainian Grain Association forecasting a 17 tonne decline in grain exports from the region in 2023 due in part to poor weather conditions. The initiative is set to expire in March, and with no guarantee of an extension, the 900,000 people currently facing famine need longer term fixes that build resilience, support adaptation and localize production.  

Grain loaded onto a cargo ship at a Ukrainian port. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated global food insecurity by hindering the countries' abilities to export products. Photo by AlyoshinE/Shutterstock

Thankfully many of these solutions are readily available, and countries can take significant strides in the direction of food systems stability by supporting farmer-led innovation, tackling food loss and waste, redirecting subsidies towards sustainable agricultural practices, and promoting consumption of diverse and indigenous foods. A recent brief published by the Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU) offers policy guidance on implementing these shifts and aligning efforts to build resilience with those targeting sustainability. 
In the space of just 12 months, the war in Ukraine has wreaked havoc on the world’s food systems, devastating lives and inflaming a global hunger crisis of historic proportions. FOLU stands in solidarity with the millions worldwide who have come together to condemn the conflict, pay respect to its victims and appeal for peace. While we wait for its arrival, we will continue to make the urgent case for food systems transformation in hope that it is this – not the violence – that shapes the course of progress on hunger for generations to come.

bakhmut-ukraine.jpg Food Food food security land use Type Commentary Exclude From Blog Feed? 1 Projects Authors Morgan Gillespy

Pathways to Unblocking Private Financing for Nature-based Solutions

3 semanas 5 días ago
Pathways to Unblocking Private Financing for Nature-based Solutions ciara.regan@wri.org Thu, 02/23/2023 - 12:52

Implementing Nature-Based Solutions (NbS) can be an impactful strategy to confront biodiversity and climate crises, while promoting sustainable rural development and generating financial, social and investment returns. Despite this, NbS face multiple difficulties in implementation, with lack of financing as a critical obstacle. Unlocking investment to close the gap will require investors, governments and infrastructure operators to include natural capital solutions and to implement specific financing strategies.

This is part two of a written series that explores, through interviews, the perspectives and roles of different key stakeholders in breaking down barriers to scale NbS projects in Mexico. This series is part of the Climate Solutions Partnership (CSP), a five-year collaboration which combines HSBC’s financial expertise with the knowledge and experience of WRI, WWF and a network of local partners to scale climate solutions.

Nature-based Solutions (NbS) are a strategic alternative to address the climate crisis and biodiversity loss while also tackling a variety of social challenges, such as water and food security. Despite their great potential and the economic, environmental and social benefits they generate, investing in NbS projects is more than limited: the global financing gap towards protection of nature is more than $700 billionPublic financing alone will not be enough. To close this gap, it is imperative to attract private investors or to build the capacity of NbS projects to leverage private capital. Currently, most NbS projects are financed by public and philanthropic funds, while only 14% of capital is provided by the private sector. Within the private sector, banking institutions are key to promoting investment, since their practices and standards contribute to positioning NbS as attractive and economically viable alternatives within the sector.

As part of the efforts to unlock the great potential of NbS in the region, WRI Mexico interviewed members of three banking institutions to learn more about their visions for NbS. In part 1 of this series, the interviews explored the barriers that, from the bank’s perspective, prevent investment in NbS. Some of the barriers mentioned include novelty of the concept, lack of clarity and length of time on the return on investment, complex methodologies, and lack of tax and government incentives.

This installment of the series explores the role banks can play to break down the barriers to scale NbS, based on interviews.

Role of banks to scale NbS 1) Increase visibility and dissemination of NbS within the private sector

During interviews, the banks’ representatives were clear about the role their sector should play to foster the scaling of NbS. They specifically identified themselves as players that can increase the visibility and dissemination of NbS within the financial and private sector.

"The financial sector moves the economy, [...] we are a relevant key player with authorities and with diverse stakeholders of sustainable development. Even though we are not a highly polluting sector through our direct emissions, through financing we are able to indirectly support projects with great positive impact, by participating in the decarbonization of our portfolios and acting as advisors that push for sustainable transitions.” -Irma Acosta, Director of Responsible Business and Sustainability, BBVA

“Apart from financing projects, that is, besides being the ones who provide the capital for projects [...] our job also includes training clients on the existence of NbS and its benefits, avoiding a focus solely on the carbon footprint side." -Fernando Puente, Deputy Director of Sustainability, Banorte

Among the efforts made within the banking sector to highlight the link between ecosystem services and business activities is the Climate Solutions Partnerships (CSP), which seeks to accelerate the transition to net-zero by creating more opportunities to make climate solutions more commercially viable, as well as to protect and restore biodiversity.

Another relevant project is the Natural Capital Protocol, a standardized decision-making framework through which different organizations, including banks, identify, measure and assess their dependence and impact on natural capital. Understanding the complex relationships with ecosystem services allows the organizations to make more informed decisions. This also creates an important precedent that provides specific and contextualized information on the link between both sectors. Demonstrating this link can allow for NbS to be integrated into companies' value chains or into their climate adaptation and risk reduction strategies. Banorte stands out for having implemented NCP with hotel industry clients in Mexico. The results of their case study show how impacts of climate change and loss of natural capital represent financial risks for hotels and banks and highlight NbS as strategic approaches to address such risks.

2. Common offer among products

“Banks must offer a portfolio of green products suited to the needs of each line of business, since the needs of a person and those of a corporation are not the same.” -Aidée Olmos, Director of Corporate Sustainability, HSBC

Similarly, the interviewees highlighted the importance of having a common offer of products for NbS that maintain real commitments and the same rigor regarding objectives and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to ensure transparency and healthy competition, which prevents the laxest credits from receiving more clients and deters greenwashing.

“A product for wholesale banks that is generic we see perceive as complex; in most cases it has to be a tailor-made product for the project in question.” -Fernando Puente, Deputy Director of Sustainability, Banorte

However, due to diversity of NbS and the potential clients who may invest in these types of projects, there are challenges in developing a one-size-fits all product, since the characteristics of each project are associated with a risk profile and specific times. It is important to note that with creating this offer within the bank, a comprehensive market infrastructure should be provided, integrating products that are applicable to the various stages of NbS projects, such as benchmark assessments, monitoring and evaluation or capacity building.

"In addition to financial information, there must be public non-financial information that states commitments from people and companies on issues related to environmental, social and corporate governance." -Aidée Olmos, Director of Corporate Sustainability, HSBC

The creation of this type of product is still in the early stages. However, an innovative project offered by banks that enables investment in NbS is the Mangrove Bond, created by HSBC Australia and Earth Security. This project is developing a blueprint for market bonds to protect and restore mangroves. Although the project is focused on the Australian market and is being co-developed with local stakeholders, it is expected to work as an outline that can be replicated in other coastal cities that border mangroves.

Alternatives to Unblock NbS 1) Create pilot projects

"A good practice is to be involved with pilot projects. However, it is important to guarantee that there is the guidance, time, methodologies and information necessary to successfully develop projects within institutions. Pilot projects must also consider comprehensive approaches that support results; that is, they take the companies’ operations into account, as well as the scientific guidelines, government position and global trends, among other factors." -Britzia Silva, Deputy Director of Sustainability and Responsible Investment, Banorte

From the banking perspective, pilot projects are low-risk opportunities to engage in NbS financing. In addition, this type of initiative provides a clear picture on what NbS are, the expectations around results, timing, methodologies and partnerships involved.

To strengthen pilot projects, the interviewees deem strategic partnerships, such as with academia, government and non-governmental organizations, as essential. In addition, results from projects will provide timely data on the performance of NbS and will fill the information gaps perceived as barriers.

The Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance (GICF) is an international program focused on identifying innovative climate financing tools in developing countries that create pilot projects and implement them on a large scale. They recognize that well-designed financial instruments can reduce risks perceived by private investors on sustainable financing and can also create new markets and attract new investors. Among the initiatives developed by GICF, GROVE: Forestry Smart Ledger favors the development of small-scale community forestry projects in mangroves. They connect communities associated with the mangroves with stakeholders interested in achieving carbon neutrality through a platform. They also use remote sensing to measure the carbon captured (which reduces the costs associated with third party validation) and integrate an accounting mechanism that ensures full transparency and efficient monitoring of financial flows.

2) Join forces

Scaling NbS is a shared goal, and efforts to promote their use are already happening in various sectors. From the banking perspective, it is important to carry out coordinated initiatives among stakeholders in order to encourage more members of the private sector to join.

"It is a reality that companies prioritize their profitability, therefore, it is not easy for them to quickly accept new initiatives whose main objective does not clearly show the cost-benefit. The role of sustainability is to train, to showcase the benefits, the importance, to catalyze action. However, it is necessary to link efforts and rely on experienced actors. This way, initiatives will gain more strength and be more successful.” -Britzia Silva, Deputy Director of Sustainability and Responsible Investment, Banorte

“The work carried out by non-governmental organizations is very important, since they accompany the communities executing the projects and increase their visibility.” -Irma Acosta, Director of Responsible Business and Sustainability, BBVA

Creating strategic partnerships is an opportunity to join existing efforts while taking advantage of the roles specific to each sector to overcome the barriers associated with NbS projects. In Mexico, Alianza Mexicana de Biodiversidad y Negocios (AMEBIN) (Mexican Alliance for Biodiversity and Business) is a coalition made up of members of the private sector, banking institutions and NGOs that looks to establish a dialogue to address issues related to conservation, sustainable use and restoration of biodiversity from a business perspective. Even though its primary focus is conservation, it sets a good precedent for cross-sector efforts that can be replicated for NbS.

3) Blended Finance

Blended finance strategies are key to unlocking the investment required for NbS. Blended finance consists of the strategic use of capital from public and philanthropic sources to reduce investment risk and to increase the bankability of projects, attracting larger amounts of private capital towards projects that contribute to sustainable development, while providing financial returns to investors. These strategies work best in scenarios where the finance sector would be willing to invest if the risks were lower. Blended finance projects involve collaboration between private, philanthropic and public capital.

For example, the project Risk Mitigation Instrument for Land Restoration, managed by the Inter-American Development Bank, combines a $15 million USD Global Environment Facility investment with $120 million USD in co-financing to implement innovative risk mitigation instruments to restore degraded lands in Latin America, such as intercropping, shade cropping and silvopastoral systems.

4) Determine Strategic Sectors

"We need to translate positive impact indicators into monetary terms. However, I think that for sectors that greatly depend on nature, it is easier to highlight the importance of those solutions [...] where we could pilot [...] more projects, and highlight monetary benefits and of course, benefits regarding sustainability, biodiversity and climate change." -Britzia Silva, Deputy Director of Sustainability and Responsible Investment, Banorte

Ecosystem services are not yet acknowledged in balance sheets, taking them for granted in business projections. Some economic sectors depend heavily on ecosystem services for the development of their activities. For example, coastal protection provided by mangroves and coastal habitats is critical for the hotel industry, while water flows that depend on the upstream catchment, facilitated by forested areas, are essential for bottling plants and soft drinks producers. For these sectors, the benefits of NbS projects are much more tangible, which is why they are strategic options

This tight link has been leveraged in several novel projects that use the NbS perspective. Coastal protection against storms, reduced beach erosion, sand creation and aesthetic appeal are some of the ecosystem services provided by the Mesoamerican Reef that contribute to the maintenance of Quintana Roo’s tourism industry. The insurance company Swiss Re and The Nature Conservancy identified this relationship devised insurance for coral protection, guaranteeing a rapid disbursement of funds for trained members from local communities to address reef damage following tropical storms. The government of Quintana Roo acquired this insurance, which protects 160 km of beaches. It is expected to set a precedent so that members of the hotel sector can acquire similar insurances.

5) Clear Methodologies and Goals

"What we expect from this type of initiative is to have available, clear and replicable methodologies that facilitate the training and integration of business areas to projects, and not only count on sustainability teams." -Britzia Silva, Deputy Director of Sustainability and Responsible Investment, Banorte

Amid the novelty that NbS can be, having specific scopes and processes helps give clarity to the projects and evaluate their economic viability. It is particularly important to have an established methodology that provides certainty to investors on how the scope of the project will be measured. The use of standardized methodologies or third parties that can certify the results contributes to reinforcing the sense of confidence in measuring the scope.

There are numerous ecosystem services and economic valuation efforts. For example, Coca-Cola Company has developed and tested a standardized methodology to account for the ecosystem service benefits from water replenishment. They determined that such projects provide ecosystem services that "reimburse" the original investment and generate a positive return on investment for society.

It must also be recognized that not all benefits can or should be monetized. Non-economic and financial indicators are also important for sound and useful decisions making. For example, current methods to monetize biodiversity benefits are still limited; non-monetary indicators are an obvious and needed alternative.

6) Ensure the Maintenance and Scalability of Achievements

"It is important that company donations consider long-term projects that involve communities where there are skills provided that allow projects to continue and give them scalability." -Aidée Olmos, Director of Corporate Sustainability, HSBC

For members of the private sector, it is very important that the objectives of the projects are met and that the scopes derived from investment are maintained over time. In this sense, the building of capacities among members of financed initiatives is a way of guaranteeing the success of the investment. By encouraging community members to acquire technical skills, the communities receiving the financing are better equipped to implement the projects effectively, guaranteeing the success of the projects and the viability of the investment. Currently, however, most funding for community-based capacity building comes from philanthropic and public funds.

Likewise, a strategy for maintaining the achievements across various NbS projects is the development of sustainable economic activities associated with the projects, which can provide a flow of capital independent of the investments made by the private sector. In this way, conditions are created that favor the scalability of projects and their maintenance over time, making them independent and self-sustaining. In the long run, the investments generated achieve greater impacts within the communities and ecosystems. An example is the RE3CO Project, financed by HSBC and implemented by WRI Mexico in association with the Small Grants Program (UNDP-SGF). The project seeks to support community restoration and conservation of mangroves in key sites by promoting actions for sustainable management of ecosystems and fostering the economic development of local communities and carbon storage.

7) Creating Incentives and Avoiding Greenwashing

Major environmental challenges, such as biodiversity loss and climate change, require global guidelines and treaties (examples include the Paris Agreement, Principles for Responsible Investment and the Sustainable Development Goals). Banks can begin the process of integrating NbS projects into their portfolios by following international guidelines. In turn, it is also vital that other stakeholders, in particular national and subnational governments, set clear lines and give signals to the market on priority issues. For example, since 2013, every company with more than 500 employees is required to issue an annual "environmental and social report" in France. This type of initiative can encourage improvements in reported indicators since companies seek to not be left behind in comparison to their competitors and consumers. At the same time, it increases transparency in the sector and makes visible the impacts of operations.

The interviewees also mentioned the strategic role of the government in creating incentives that drive the scaling of and investment in NbS, be it through blended finance, tax incentives and social responsibility requirements, among others. They discussed the possibility of investments in conservation, and the idea that social responsibility issues could have a mandatory quota for the private sector, accompanied by the implementation of accounting measures that allow verification of said contributions. Other proposed measures were to verify that the investing companies have strong commitments on sustainability issues to prevent NbS from falling into greenwashing practices.


The results of this series of interviews provide an overview of how NbS are perceived within the financial sector in Mexico and help identify specific actions that different players can take to scale them up. These interviews and the products generated also contribute to positioning the issue of NbS on the private sector’s radar.

The interviewees point out that banks play an important role in increasing the visibility and applicability of NbS, and as a union, they can come together to offer products with rigorous standards that simultaneously respond to the diversity of customer needs and variety of NbS. They also mention that the creation of pilot projects can bring an approach to NbS while maintaining a low financial risk for members of the private sector. On the other hand, the development of projects in sectors whose economic activities have a strong link with ecosystem services was proposed as another strategy for scaling up NbS. The creation of partnerships between strategic actors, the development of tax incentives, blended finance, the inclusion of activities that ensure the maintenance of the project's scope when the investments are withdrawn, and the implementation of standardized methodologies were other proposals mentioned to unblock financing barriers.

WRI Mexico continues to work toward unleashing the potential of NbS in the region. In addition to catalyzing discussion on this topic, WRI Mexico helps carry out NbS projects involving strategic actors within academia and the private sector, as well as local governments and communities. For example, the project Adaptation Based on Coastal Ecosystems focused on increasing adaptation to climate change in coastal communities through the restoration of mangrove ecosystems. Similarly, RE3CO supports capacity-building in mangrove-restoring communities, as well as the development of associated economic activities that ensure the maintenance of the achievements from the investments.

Although these endeavors are pioneering and pave the way for scaling NbS in the region, efforts still need to be joined up to make their enormous potential tangible. It is essential to highlight that the goals of the Paris Agreement will not be achieved through actions in a single sector. Efforts from NbS cannot replace forceful action by other sectors, such as power generation and transportation.

This article was originally published in Spanish on the WRI Mexico website.

fotografias-con-limon.jpg Business Business nature-based solutions Type Project Update Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Authors Sheccid Gómez Valeria López-Portillo Sarai Eunice Rodríguez

8 Things to Know about Electric School Bus Repowers

3 semanas 6 días ago
8 Things to Know about Electric School Bus Repowers ciara.regan@wri.org Wed, 02/22/2023 - 11:47

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 costs 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. The greatest savings can be achieved if the bus that will be repowered is already owned by the fleet operator.

Like all electric vehicles, repowered buses 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, but for school districts with limited or no grant funding, repowers can offer a lower cost 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 cost 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, clarified that under certain conditions, electric conversions may be an eligible bus type for its first round of rebates, but has not yet awarded any. Similarly, repowers could qualify under the Diesel Reduction Act (DERA) program, but this approach has not 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. Such bus replacement programs provide an opportunity to create a supply for repowers using buses that would otherwise be scrapped.

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

Repowers promote sustainability and reduce environmental impacts by extending the life of a functional chassis and body. 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 not resold.

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. For every school bus chassis and body that is reused, it reduces the need to manufacture a new bus. This avoids manufacturing emissions associated with building a new bus and reduces 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.

*/ Active Electric School Bus Repower Companies in the U.S. (January 2023)


ESB repower locations


types repowered






a used bus purchase)

Has the company delivered ESB repowers?

Does the company repower other

vehicle types?

Available battery and electric drivetrain warranty?

Available repowered bus chassis & body warranty?

Bison EV Retrofits

Robbinsville, NC

A, C,




No, plan to begin in Q1 2023

Vans and tactical vehicles

5 years, up to 7 years


Blue Bird Corporation

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


Performance expected to be in-line with current Blue Bird EV school buses. Repower pricing lower than initial purchase cost of equivalent EV

No, but gas- and propane-powered Type C buses purchased as of October 2021 are presently eligible for repower


Yes, new OEM warranty on both

Repowered bus will retain the remainder of its original warranties

Legacy EV

Tempe, AZ

A, C,


Parts starting at ~$120k

Labor ~$20k - $80k

No, plan to begin in Q4 2023. 

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



Lightning eMotors

Loveland, CO

A, C (Blue Bird)

Type A <$120,000

Type C (see above)


Class 6-8 trucks, transit buses, motorcoaches

5 years/60,000 miles

5 years/60,000 miles

REVO Powertrains

Alameda, CA

C, D



Straight trucks



SEA Electric

Des Moines, IA

A, C


No, to begin March 2023



Yes, through authorized dealership

Unique Electric Solutions

Holbrook, NY

Costa Mesa, CA

A, B,

C, D




Shuttle bus, motorcoach, class 3-8 trucks

Up to 12 years


Notes: Inclusion in this list does not constitute endorsement. WRI and the Electric School Bus Initiative do not recommend any firm over another. Source: WRI ESB Buyers Guide 2022, company websites and WRI correspondence with companies.

7) Age of a Repowered School Bus Matters

The age of the internal combustion school bus that will be repowered can affect performance, cost 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.

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 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 has not been repowered previously.

Tradeoffs of Repowering Internal Combustion Engine School Buses vs. New Electric School Buses */


Older school bus repower

(>7 years)

Newer school bus repower

 (<4 years)

Brand new ESB



  • ▪ 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




  • ▪ 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 while offering a lower cost solution, priced at around half the cost of a new electric school bus. This approach to school bus electrification also reduces waste, manufacturing emissions, and can help mitigate current supply chain challenges. 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.

    repower-school-buses.jpg Air Quality United States Equity electric school bus series transportation Type Explainer Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Authors Stephanie Ly Emmett Werthmann
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