STATEMENT: U.S. Senate Passes the Inflation Reduction Act, Advancing Historic Climate Legislation to the House of Representatives

3 horas 27 minutos ago
STATEMENT: U.S. Senate Passes the Inflation Reduction Act, Advancing Historic Climate Legislation to the House of Representatives alison.cinnamo… Sun, 08/07/2022 - 13:26

WASHINGTON (August 7, 2022) – Today the U.S. Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes unprecedented investments to tackle climate change, cut consumer costs, strengthen energy security and create good-paying jobs in the United States. The House of Representatives will consider the legislation on August 12, where it is expected to pass,  before it goes to President Joe Biden to sign into law. Once signed, the Inflation Reduction Act will become the most significant piece of climate legislation enacted in U.S. history.

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

“The Inflation Reduction Act is a victory for all Americans and shows the world that the United States is still an ally in the global fight against climate change.

“The transformational legislation provides breakthrough investments and tax credits that will save households money, create millions of jobs and boost energy security – all while helping put the U.S. within striking distance of its 2030 climate goals.

“Every corner of the country will benefit from this legislation, from farmers planting drought-resistant crops in America’s breadbasket, to new clean manufacturing jobs in the Rustbelt, to clean energy technology production in the South and West.

“Major companies have rallied behind the Inflation Reduction Act because they see how it will create business opportunities and keep America competitive in the rapidly growing clean energy economy.

“This legislation isn’t a panacea for climate change – and no bill ever will be. U.S. states, cities and the private sector all need to step up their efforts for the U.S. to fulfill its climate targets and prove to the world that America stands by its word.

“The U.S. Senate deserves high marks for pushing through strong headwinds to get this bold, decade-defining legislation over the finish line. Now the U.S. House of Representatives needs to show their resolve and quickly pass the historic bill to ensure Americans have a safer, more equitable and prosperous future.”

 

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alison.cinnamond@wri.org

4 Quick and Sustainable Solutions to High Gas Prices in the US

2 días 4 horas ago
4 Quick and Sustainable Solutions to High Gas Prices in the US ciara.regan@wri.org Fri, 08/05/2022 - 12:00

President Biden suggested that the United States implement a Federal Gas Tax holiday to help consumers weather historically high gas prices. Gas prices doubled in the United States between February 2021 and June 2022, topping out at more than $5 a gallon before falling back somewhat in July 2022. While the gas tax holiday idea has been widely critiqued by experts as short-term policy that exacerbates the imbalance between supply and demand, it remains a popular idea.

Understandably, leaders like President Biden are feeling pressure to provide constituents with some relief. But there are more effective, sustainable solutions that can help consumers immediately.

Treating the Root Cause of High Gas Prices

Sudden and sustained spikes in energy prices are a real pocketbook problem not just for individuals, but for the economy in general. Expensive oil makes all kinds of interactions more costly because nearly every part of the American economy depends on it.

Painfully high gas prices are a symptom of this overdependence. While supply constraints have been the focus of recent discussions, higher prices also reflect inelastic demand for oil. In a country with large vehicles, car-dependent land use and limited public transport, the average person currently has few alternatives to a gas-powered car for most trips. In this environment, sudden increases in gas prices can be politically, and sometimes personally, devastating. Politicians then feel pressure to respond with an expedient solution, even if it won’t create the change needed.

Policymakers in Congress and the Biden administration can break this cycle.

The long-term goal for policymakers should be implementing systemic changes that make clean transportation options available to everyone. People are more willing to reasonably adapt their transportation preferences when safe, alternative options are easily accessible. A framework to achieve this goal is the “Avoid-Shift-Improve” model. This framework aims to avoid extra vehicle miles travelled, shift car trips to alternative modes of travel and improve the efficiency and quality of transport.

By implementing this framework, policymakers can build communities where residents have easier access to the people, places and things that matter to them, while lowering the need to travel far and increasing options to travel sustainably. The most effective solutions are long-term projects, including increasing housing density, building “complete streets,” improving public transport systems and electrifying vehicle fleets.

4 Ways to Provide Immediate Relief from High Gas Prices

However, there are also “quick wins” that Congress and the Biden administration can implement immediately to provide people relief from high gas prices today, while supporting the systemic Avoid-Shift-Improve changes needed in the long term.

Here are four solutions to provide immediate relief from high gas prices:

1) Better, Low-cost Public Transit

The federal government could support a deep discounting of public transit fares for a limited period through additional funding via the Federal Transit Administration. Doing so would help consumers in many urban areas avoid high gas prices and provide an incentive for people to return to mass transit after plummeting ridership during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s happening elsewhere: Germany introduced a new low-cost farecard that covers all transit except high-speed rail nationwide for the summer, effectively creating a single nationwide fare structure for the first time. A similar pass for U.S. local transit, also extended to Amtrak, could help rebuild ridership habits and incentivize inter-agency cooperation, a positive long-term outcome. While receiving this federal support, agencies could also negotiate new bulk pass programs to help keep public transit pass prices low after the temporary support ends.

This is an especially impactful moment to do this. Transport habits are sticky, and due to the pandemic-induced shake-up of the job market, many people are still adjusting to new circumstances. An incentive to take transit again can pay off in city and regional networks working to regain ridership. Similarly, investing now to improve the frequency and speed of public transit can attract new riders and help reduce car dependence long-term.

2) Expand Pre-Tax Commuter Benefits into a Sustainable Transport Account

In many workplaces, workers can set aside pre-tax dollars to pay for local transit. These funds are often narrowly assigned to cover the journey to work via the local transit agency’s monthly pass, with funds expiring at the end of the year. These programs have historically benefitted middle-wage white collar workers, but with a few tweaks to their design, they could expand to cover any taxpayer.

For example, the program could be modeled after the non-expiring pre-tax Health Savings Account, but with a focus on sustainable transport. Funds in a “Sustainable Transport Savings Account” could be used to pay for public transit, Amtrak, bike shares, or bicycle or electric vehicle purchases. Importantly, this can also be an equity tool for providing increased benefits to low-income households, who could apply the funds to a greater range of transport expenses.

3) Improve Electric Vehicle Incentives

The U.S. government’s current incentives to buy electric vehicles (EVs) are limited to 200,000 EVs per manufacturer and designed to ease the administrative burden on the government rather than improve access for consumers. These tax credits are only available for new vehicles, are not paid in-full to the consumer if their tax is less than the credit and are only realized once yearly taxes are filed. Converting these credits to point-of-sale rebates for moderately priced electric vehicles would make this gas-free option accessible to more car buyers while putting downward pressure on gas prices for all consumers.

A line of electric vehicle chargers await use at a public charging station. Policy changes like rebates could incentivize consumers to buy electric vehicles. Photo by iaminut/Shutterstock 

The good news is the Inflation Reduction Act, introduced in the Senate on July 27, 2022, would accomplish this by lifting the per-manufacturer cap and allowing an eligible consumer to assign their credit to the auto dealer, which would let them realize the value of the credit as a discount at the point-of-sale. The bill would also provide a tax credit for used EVs and set income and maximum vehicle price limits for eligibility.

However, there is room for improvement. Most notably, there is no federal incentive to purchase or replace vehicles with e-bikes, which can offer tremendous ease and utility for short trips.

4) Encourage Work from Home

Having just come through a two-year (and counting) period where people worked from home for public health reasons, the federal government could incentivize companies to allow staff to continue teleworking for climate change reasons. A campaign to keep and expand teleworking for those who want to would help companies delay or lessen return-to-office plans that are increasing demand for gas-powered car trips.

Unlike during the height of the pandemic when the consequences were deadly, this new phase of telework would be more carrot than stick for both companies and workers. The federal government could lead the way by returning work-from-home privileges to its own workers who are able to do so. To go further, the government could fund research to understand the benefits, limitations, and best practices on remote and hybrid work environments to shape long-term policy.

Biden and Congress Should Seize the Opportunity to Build a Sustainable Transport System

When a pocketbook issue suddenly becomes a crisis, lawmakers face a choice: they can respond with short-sighted and sometimes even long-term harmful policies, or they can enact solutions that deliver real benefits to people. Gas prices are volatile and will continue to be buffeted by global supply disruptions beyond any single government’s control. The only way to fully insulate consumers and economies from this volatility is to build a sustainable transportation system that does not depend on oil. This includes electrification, reducing trip distances, and creating more infrastructure that supports active and shared mobility.

Though advancing systemic changes is nearly always the best course of action, the political calculation in a crisis requires that those changes are coupled with quick wins to help people immediately. Rather than pursue a gas tax holiday that would have minimal impact in the best scenario, President Biden and Congress should implement the ideas above to ease the pressure of high transport costs now while laying the groundwork for a more sustainable future.

gas_prices.jpg Climate United States transportation Climate Cities Energy Clean Energy Electric Mobility Type Commentary Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Authors Adam Davidson Dan Lashof
ciara.regan@wri.org

The Electric School Bus Series: How North Carolina's Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is Planning for Seven Generations of Sustainability

3 días 2 horas ago
The Electric School Bus Series: How North Carolina's Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is Planning for Seven Generations of Sustainability ciara.regan@wri.org Thu, 08/04/2022 - 14:41

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 explains how superintendents and fleet managers across the United States have pursued school bus electrification in their own communities. This edition covers the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, a sovereign nation located in Cherokee, North Carolina, whose school bus contractor – Cherokee Boys Club – and Air Quality Program teamed up for their tribe’s three-phase electric school bus pilot.

Tribal schools and districts are prioritized and thus especially well-positioned to benefit from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new Clean School Bus Program. The program offers $5 billion dollars over the next five years to replace existing school buses with zero- and low-emission models. Tribal schools interested in this opportunity can look to leaders like the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) as a model. In March 2022, under the leadership of Katie Tiger, Air Quality Program supervisor for the EBCI, and Donnie Owle, service manager for the Cherokee Boys Club (CBC), EBCI became the first group located in North Carolina and one of the first tribal schools nationwide to procure an electric school bus.

The electric school bus serves Cherokee Central Schools, a tribally operated school system with approximately 1,300 students in grades K-12. CBC operates 20 route buses (26 total buses) for the school district, and this electric bus is just the beginning.

Motivation & Co-benefits

The EBCI’s longstanding commitment to environmental conservation was foundational for its electric school bus journey. Cherokee Central Schools has invested in myriad green practices, including the largest green building project in the region, storm water management systems and indoor air quality improvements. At the tribal-wide level, EBCI’s Tribal Council passed a resolution in October 2021 focusing on renewable energy and electric vehicles, stating that: “technological advancements and cultural supplantation has drastically changed our way of life and is altering our biosphere… the Cherokee outlook for future generations is to plan for seven generations in advance to ensure our progeny and descendants are able to enjoy the same level of opportunities in the future, or greater, and that the environment in which we occupy will be as fruitful then as it is now.”

When the Land of Sky Clean Vehicles Coalition (part of the Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Coalition Network) approached Tiger in 2019 with the idea that CBC would be a good candidate for state Volkswagen Settlement funding, she had been thinking about applying for funding for an alternative-fuel school bus through the Volkswagen Settlement’s Indian Tribe Trust. Becoming a beneficiary of the trust, however, elongated the process because some waivers required EBCI and Tribal Council approval. Using the state-level Volkswagen Settlement funds administered by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) allowed Tiger to move forward without this paperwork. While Tiger briefly considered applying for a propane bus, she knew that unlike electric buses, they still produce tailpipe emissions.

From Owle’s perspective, the decision ultimately came down to the environmental benefits and the job opportunities. Electric buses delivered both.

Thomas Built Buses’ electric type C Jouley school bus engine. Photo by Katie Tiger. Partners & Advocates

The Land of Sky Clean Vehicles CoalitionDuke Energy and Carolina Thomas were key partners throughout the process. Guided by the Land of Sky Clean Vehicles Coalition, the EBCI Air Quality Program and CBC applied for the DEQ grant in December 2019. This funding covered the entire cost of the bus and charger, but did not cover did not cover the make-ready costs, such as the necessary electrical infrastructure between the utility grid interconnection and the chargers.

While this funding gap could have set the project back, CBC’s electric utility, Duke Energy, stepped up and provided infrastructure for the first electric school bus. When EBCI and CBC decided to apply for a Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) grant from the EPA for four additional electric buses, Duke Energy made the partnership official. The utility agreed to cover a portion of the cost of the four buses and chargers as well as infrastructure for all five buses in exchange for the district’s participation in a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology pilot and the rights to the battery at the end of the bus's useful life.

CBC’s 10-year relationship with Carolina Thomas, a dealer of Thomas Built Buses, has been an important part of the effort. Carolina Thomas has been quick to respond to maintenance needs and has provided three levels of electric vehicle training to its satellite dealers. Through this program, CBC completed the first two levels and will complete the third level once it receives the next five buses (see more below). With this training, CBC can now serve as a resource for electric bus knowledge for the wider region.

Implementation Status

The electric school bus pilot is currently made up of two phases totaling six buses (see Table 1). For Phase 1, CBC placed an order for its first electric school bus with Carolina Thomas in September 2021. Due to COVID-19-related supply chain delays, CBC received the bus in March 2022.

For Phase 2, CBC is working closely with Duke Energy by participating in the utility’s Vehicle-To-Grid (V2G) technology demonstration and study, which will demonstrate the ability of the bus to dispatch energy to the grid when needed. Five electric school buses will be delivered in winter 2022, and CBC’s depot upgrades currently underway would support a total of 15 electric school buses.

For Phase 3, CBC plans to apply for 14 electric school buses through EPA’s Clean School Bus Program, aiming for electrification of all 20 route buses.

Table 1. Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Electric School Bus Pilot – Summary   Phase 1 Phase 2 Status 

Underway  

Bus delivered March 2022 

Upcoming  

Buses expected winter 2022 

  Number of buses  1 4 1 Type of bus  Thomas Built Buses Jouley Type C  Thomas Built Buses Jouley Type C  Thomas Built Buses Jouley Type C  Prices 

Bus: $360,000  

DC Fast Charger: $40,000 

Bus: $341,957 

DC Fast Charger: $89,930 (price difference due to V2G capabilities

Bus + DC Fast Charger + Installation Costs: $545,460  Funding secured  NC DEQ Volkswagen Funding: $402,810 

EPA DERA Grant: $502,000 

Duke Energy: $860,000 ($215,000 for each bus + charger); covers infrastructure (including needs from Phase 1) 

None   Cost share  EBCI was responsible for infrastructure beyond the charger itself (later covered by Duke Energy’s support in Phase 2) 

EBCI: $297,000  

CBC: $60,000 

CBC covered the full price of the bus 

The Phase 1 bus, with a range of up to 138 miles, has been assigned to a 35-mile route. Given the route length, mid-day charging is not required; CBC exclusively charges the bus overnight. The bus has performed well in mountainous terrain and benefits from the regenerative braking through which the bus battery can gain range when driving downhill.

Cherokee Boys Club’s electric school bus as it prepares its first climb in mountainous terrain. Photo by Katie Tiger.

Within the first month of operation, CBC realized immediate fuel savings from the switch from diesel to electric. CBC’s fuel cost per diesel bus is typically between $700 and $900 per month. Fuel costs for the electric bus, on the other hand, were around $400 for the first month of operation. The chargers use APEX software for data tracking, and CBC plans to publish quarterly data reports in the local newspaper to share performance with the broader community.

Greatest Challenges

While leveraging different grant funding opportunities has greatly reduced the upfront cost of the five electric buses and their accompanying chargers and infrastructure, each opportunity has had its own conditions. Unlike the DEQ grant, Duke Energy’s Electric School Bus Charging program requires that school districts use buses and chargers equipped with V2G technology. The first charger CBC ordered for the DEQ grant was not V2G-capable, so CBC then ordered a second Proterra charger with a different internal platform. The two charging systems possess different components and therefore require different conduit materials, which complicated the planning process. Since CBC joined the Duke Energy program after it had already begun site planning in Phase 1, it needed to select and build out an additional site to accommodate the new chargers. CBC ordered both buses and chargers through Carolina Thomas/Proterra’s partnership to ensure they met the program requirements.

Installation of chargers. Photo by Katie Tiger.

Regarding bus operations, CBC has only encountered one issue. One week after delivery, Owle found that the bus would not come online after charging. Carolina Thomas sent a team to quickly address the issue by changing the circuit board. The team remained in Cherokee for a week to make sure the issue was fully resolved.

Advice for Other School Districts

CBC and the Air Quality Program encourage others interested in transitioning to electric buses to work closely with their electric utilities and to engage their communities from the beginning. Understanding community concerns and educating residents on both benefits and challenges will help a program succeed.

Tiger’s son with Proterra charger. Photo by Katie Tiger.

With the bus’s arrival, EBCI’s Air Quality Program conducted student learning opportunities about its environmental benefits, starting with teaching a 5th grade class at Cherokee Elementary. According to Tiger, the 5th graders “loved it,” noting how quiet it was and observing the lack of exhaust as students used handheld particulate matter sensors to measure air quality differences between the diesel and electric buses. Equipped with new knowledge, the 5th grade students presented the information to a class of pre-kindergarten students, who then made drawings of the electric bus to give to attendees at a dedication ceremony. Giving students hands-on experience with an electric school bus enables the next generation to understand the technology and foster an interest in sustainability.

Additional Resources

Want to learn more from the Electric School Bus Series? Explore the stories of Knox County, MissouriStockton, CaliforniaFairfax County, Virginia and Prince Edward Island, Canada.

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ciara.regan@wri.org

How Prepared Are US Cities to Implement the Justice40 Initiative?

3 días 15 horas ago
How Prepared Are US Cities to Implement the Justice40 Initiative? ciara.regan@wri.org Thu, 08/04/2022 - 01:30

As hubs of talent and innovation, American cities are uniquely positioned to fight climate change and improve the health, economy and well-being of their residents. The Biden administration’s Justice40 Initiative and funding available through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) provide rare opportunities for cities to invest in these priorities and turn big ambitions into tangible progress. City leaders must lean into this moment and align their climate strategies with equity priorities, so they are fully equipped to receive and deliver these investments to their frontline communities through projects that center equity and drive decarbonization. But how ready are U.S. cities to do so, what challenges do they face, and what steps can they take now to prepare?

What is the Justice40 Initiative, and how is it being implemented?

Within days of taking office, President Biden signed the Executive Order 14008, “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.” The order launched the Justice40 Initiative, a whole-of-government approach to ensure federal agencies work with states and local communities to direct 40% of the benefits from certain federal climate and clean energy investments to marginalized, over-polluted, underserved and disadvantaged communities. This historic commitment seeks to address environmental injustices in these communities through investments in climate change mitigation and adaptation; clean energy and energy efficiency; clean transit; affordable and sustainable housing; training and workforce development; remediation and reduction of legacy pollution and clean water and wastewater infrastructure.

In November 2021, President Biden signed the IIJA into law. When implemented with a Justice40 Initiative approach, the law will further help confront decades of underinvestment and bring critical resources to communities that have been overburdened by legacy pollution and environmental hazards. In the first six months since the act’s passage, $110 billion has been allocated to fund more than 4,300 projects in all 50 states. Simultaneously, the administration has been developing guidance for how the Justice40 Initiative will be implemented, and in June 2022, EPA released which early adopter programs will integrate Justice40. These and similar Justice40 federal programs will address questions and challenges such as: how to define a disadvantaged community, which programs are covered, how benefits will be distributed and how results will be delivered and measured.

What will the Justice40 Initiative require for cities applying for federal funding?

For cities applying for federal funding from the IIJA, complying with the Justice40 Initiative likely means they will need to describe in applications and funding plans how funding will flow to disadvantaged communities. To do so will require a strong understanding of community demographics, challenges and needs. Cities will need to undertake quantitative data assessments and qualitative community listening sessions in order to understand community needs and then tailor their applications accordingly.

Once funding has been awarded, recipients will be expected to measure and report how the funding was used to support disadvantaged communities. This may require new capacities to navigate data and tracking processes, as well as use new tools like CEQ’s recently released Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST).

What challenges do cities face in preparing to implement the Justice40 Initiative?

WRI, a partner in the Bloomberg Philathropies’ American Cities Climate Challenge has been working with department officials from participating cities to understand how prepared they are for upcoming federal funding opportunities, with a primary focus on how IIJA can fund equitable decarbonization projects. In April 2022, WRI held Justice40 Initiative discussions with seven Climate Change Challenge cities: Austin, TX; Cincinnati, OH; Columbus, OH; Seattle, WA; Denver, CO; Minneapolis, MN and Orlando, FL. Each hour-long session sought to understand the city’s needs and approaches to integrating equity into operations, readiness to comply with the Justice40 Initiative’s guidance and ability to identify and take advantage of opportunities to raise the ambition and equity impact of its clean energy projects seeking federal funding.

Equity is a key component of the climate strategies for cities participating in the American Cities Climate Change Challenge. Each city participating in the needs assessment had incorporated equity, environmental justice, or social and racial justice in their climate action planning and/or implementation in different ways. However, the discussions revealed three common challenges cities face when it comes to applying for funding and prepping for Justice40:

  1. Finding and applying for federal funding: Access to information about federal grant opportunities was a major challenge cities cited regarding their preparedness for IIJA and Justice40 funding. In many cities, there is a lack of staff capacity for identifying opportunities or coordinating a response. Cities then run the risk of missing deadlines or learning about grants too late to conduct pre-planning activities, such as conducting an environmental impact assessment or getting community feedback on a proposal. Additionally, while some cities have dedicated staff to locate federal opportunities, they may pass responsibility for developing applications to sustainability directors or other program staff who may not have the bandwidth or expertise needed to complete an application. All of these hurdles stop IIJA funding from reaching disadvantaged communities at the very first step.
  2. Connecting existing plans with upcoming funding opportunities: As cities anticipate IIJA and Justice40 funding, they expressed concerns over aligning existing programming with the upcoming unknown grant criteria. With some climate plans and actions well into the implementation stage, cities want to avoid creating any new planning processes or programs to secure an IIJA grant. Other challenges include getting community buy-in for projects and having a process for evaluating the costs and benefits of different funding opportunities to determine which to pursue. Cities will be better able to respond to grants if requirements are flexible enough for existing plans and programs to match federal funding opportunities.
  3. Lastly, cities need support ensuring that federal funding is delivered to their frontline, marginalized and over-polluted communities. Most cities interviewed had done some level of data assessment to understand community demographics, such as a comprehensive planning exercise. Many said they weren’t sure they had the “right” data to measure equity and prepare for Justice40, despite the number of equity screening tools and indicators currently available. In other words, there may be a mismatch in the kind of data cities have readily available versus what they’ll need to fit Justice40 requirements and guidelines. This mismatch could make it challenging to ensure funding goes to the communities who need it most.
What can cities do now to prepare for implementing Justice40?

As the federal administration rolls out Justice40 guidance, cities would be well-served to undertake the following steps to prepare:

  1. Understand which communities within a city can be considered disadvantaged. Many tools exist to help cities understand community demographics and disparities. The White House Council on Environmental Quality has developed the beta version of a Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool specifically to help cities, states and community-based organizations to do this analysis. Cities can also learn from each other. Earlier this year, Cincinnati, OH published a Climate Equity Indicators Report with 52 indicators paired with climate risk exposure for each neighborhood in the city. The report is intended to “serve as the foundation of a broad range of decision-making and action to provide redress to the inequities it details,” including driving the development of the 2023 Green Cincinnati Plan.
  2. Create a plan to guide equitable infrastructure development. If a city does not already have an equitable climate plan in place, it should consider developing one to prioritize actions and projects that could receive federal funding. The Austin, TX City Council adopted the Austin Climate Equity Plan in 2021 following a community engagement process with input from more than 200 residents, including from members of the new Community Climate Ambassadors program. The city used an equity tool ⁠— based on the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE)’s approach ⁠— to evaluate each of the plan’s 74 strategies to account for outcomes related to health, affordability, accessibility, community capacity, cultural preservation, accountability and a just transition to green jobs. In Minneapolis, city staff are currently updating their 2013 Climate Action Plan, which is being informed by environmental justice organizations and residents from low-income and Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities. The new Climate Equity Plan is to be completed in 2023.
  3. Assess whether existing plans are aligned with upcoming federal funding opportunities. Cities shouldn’t start from scratch if a plan with community buy-in already exists. Orlando recently published its Future-Ready City Master Plan. Aligned with other citywide planning strategies, it is Orlando’s roadmap “to advance and embrace new opportunities to help address community challenges” toward equitable resilience. To help operationalize this and other plans, Orlando held a federal funding alignment workshop in spring 2022, which brought together city staff, other jurisdictions in the region and federal employees. Attendees learned about each other’s plans, prioritizing equitable climate projects for the region, aligning them with upcoming federal funding opportunities and discussing how to collaborate going forward.
  4. Learn from other cities that are already directing funding specifically for climate and energy projects within disadvantaged communities. Some cities have been taking a similar approach to the Justice40 Initiative even prior to its announcement. In 2021, the Denver Office of Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency published a five-year investment strategy for their annual $40 million Climate Protection Fund. At least 50% of the funding will be directed “toward projects that directly benefit people of color and Indigenous people, low-income households, people living with chronic health conditions, children, older adults and others most impacted by climate change.” In Minneapolis, the city uses Environmental Justice and Green Zones —  citywide geographic designations based on data on demographics, environmental inequities, institutional racism and underinvestment — to prioritize environmental and clean energy projects through programs like the city’s Green Cost Share program. This program was partially funded by federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

Local leaders can be a driving force in addressing environmental injustices in frontline communities. Now is the time for city leaders to take the necessary steps to better position their cities to secure upcoming funding for equitable decarbonization projects. 

In June 2022, the Biden Administration released the inaugural list of more than 200 programs covered under the Justice40 Initiative for Department of the Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture. We can expect this list of programs to grow with each new announcement of coverage under the Justice40 Initiative. While the level of preparedness to secure these resources varies from city to city, there is still work to do to prepare for these and future opportunities.

Electic-transit.jpg Energy United States environmental justice Equity Cities infrastructure Energy Type Technical Perspective Exclude From Blog Feed? 1 Authors Carla Walker Lacey Shaver Caitlin Macomber
ciara.regan@wri.org

Electric School Buses Win Big in US State Legislative Sessions

1 semana 2 días ago
Electric School Buses Win Big in US State Legislative Sessions ciara.regan@wri.org Fri, 07/29/2022 - 13:30

Electric school buses are experiencing rapid growth in the United States, with a nearly 10-fold increase in commitments by school districts and fleet operators in the past year. Thirty-eight states have now committed to procure more than 12,000 electric school buses.  

In the first half of 2022, several states took important action to further the transition to clean school buses.    

Most significantly, New York enacted a nation-leading commitment to achieve a fully zero-emission school bus fleet by 2035. Following in short order, three additional states passed similar fleet electrification targets, with one additional target still under consideration in California.

In addition to setting transition timelines, several states continued to appropriate dedicated funding for electric school buses, seeking to leverage the federal funds available through the new $5 billion EPA Clean School Bus Program, which will offer a series of funding opportunities over the next five years to cover costs associated with electric school bus fleet transitions, including bus replacements and charging infrastructure.

3 Big Wins for Electric School Buses in 2022 State Legislative Sessions

Governors and state legislators seeking to champion the equitable deployment of electric school buses have a range of policy options to support this transition. In enacted legislation so far this year, we have seen three big wins for kids and communities: 

1) States are setting deadlines for fully electrifying school bus fleets.

In April 2022, New York made history as the first state in the nation to commit to electrifying its school bus fleet, passing legislation as part of the budget requiring all new school bus purchases to be zero emission by 2027 and all buses in operation to be zero emission by 2035. This commitment is especially notable because New York has one of the nation’s largest school bus fleets: approximately 47,000 vehicles, which currently run almost exclusively on polluting fossil fuels that are harmful to students, workers and communities.

The measure succeeded in large part due to the support of a broad coalition of public health, environmental, labor, equity and industry stakeholders, as well as continuous engagement with school districts, school bus operators and their representatives.

Critically, advocates were able to secure robust state funding to accompany the state’s ambitious transition target. As part of the final fiscal year 2023 budget, Governor Hochul and state lawmakers committed $500 million for electric school buses and incorporated this funding into a broader environmental bond act that will go before New York voters in November.

In addition to New York, three other states also set school bus fleet electrification targets so far this year. The varied approaches taken by these states highlight the multitude of factors for policymakers to consider as they plan to transition their fleets:

  • In May 2022, Connecticut Governor Lamont signed SB4, which sets an earlier fleet electrification date of 2030 for school buses operating in environmental justice communities (as previously defined in state statute) and includes strong technical assistance provisions.
  • In March 2022, Maryland passed SB528, which determined that all new school bus purchases and contracts statewide will be electric by 2025 (the earliest such date of targets passed this session) and established an electric school bus utility pilot program for up to $50 million per investor-owned utility in the state.
  • In Maine, Governor Mills signed LD 1579 in May 2022, which requires that 75% of new school bus purchases and contracts must be zero emission by 2035, and creates an interagency working group that includes school districts and utilities to help with deployment.

A note to legislators: To be successful, all of these targets will need to be backed up with dedicated funding.

Electric school bus in Bay Shore, NY. New York is one of many states enacting legislation to support cleaner school buses. Photo by UniversityRailroad/Wikimedia Commons 2) States continue to appropriate funds for electric school buses and are prioritizing equity.

State fleet electrification targets and the launch of the EPA’s $5 billion Clean School Bus Program are important and ground-breaking developments. But states are also continuing to launch new state grant programs and enhance existing ones. Continued state funding support for school bus electrification is critical, as EPA Clean School Bus Program funds are not guaranteed and will only cover a portion of a district’s fleet. In addition, many of the existing state programs rely on funds from the state mitigation trust established in 2017 following the Volkswagen settlement, which have largely been spent down. 

It’s worth emphasizing that the EPA Clean School Bus program is awarding funds via a lottery and on a competitive basis. That is to say, there is not a set amount available for each state via a formula program. Additional state and local funds will be needed to cover the full costs of fleet transition.

Several states are creating new funding streams and furthering equity by prioritizing support for underserved communities.  As part of a broader air quality package signed by Governor Polis in June 2022, Colorado created a new school bus electrification grant program with initial funding of $65 million. This program is notable for its equity-first approach. While some implementation details are still to be determined, the final law prioritizes investments based on a variety of equity metrics including income level, racial makeup, health impacts and air pollution burdens (including federal nonattainment areas), and more.

The bill also calls for robust interagency plans for technical assistance. Finally, the bill made an important distinction that diesel-to-electric conversions, or repowers, would be eligible for state funds from the grant program. Including repowers is an important step state programs can take to lower costs for school districts and reduce waste and delivery delays during a time of supply chain shortages. When combined with Colorado’s previous investment in school buses through Volkswagen settlement funds, this new program solidifies Colorado’s leadership as the state that, at the time of passage, had invested the most funding per capita to help school districts go electric. Colorado also outlined goals for electric school bus deployments with the May 2022 release of its Clean Trucking Strategy, which includes goals of 2,000 electric school buses on the road by 2027 and a full fleet transition by 2035.

New Jersey created a new grant program in June 2022 that allocates $45 million over a three-year period dedicated to school bus electrification and associated charging infrastructure. At least half of the funding each year must go toward low-income, urban or environmental justice communities.

Connecticut’s adjusted budget bill, passed in May 2022, established a new $20 million grant program to be designed specifically to maximize applications for federal funds by providing state matching grants for the purchase or lease of zero emission school buses and charging infrastructure. The grant program gives preference to applications that primarily serve environmental justice communities. These matching funds will provide a crucial bridge, especially if federal funds fall short of covering the full incremental cost of transitioning to a zero-emission fleet. The assistance provided to school districts to apply for federal funding will enable under-resourced districts to maximize their opportunities to win federal awards.

3) More states are creating a supportive policy environment for electric school buses.

A record number of states across the nation took action on electric school buses this year, some of which are highlighted below. The proposals often addressed critical but less visible areas of state jurisdiction over electric school buses – including clarifying state education funding terms and lease and contract provisions. Many passed with bipartisan support.

In Washington, HB1644 , passed in March 2022, permits local entities to deploy a fuller suite of actions to move forward with school bus electrification. This bill ensures that state appropriations for county-level transportation vehicle funds can be used for school district charging infrastructure, school bus fleet electrification feasibility plans, and for electric repowers and conversions.

West Virginia also made changes to its state transportation funding for school districts in HB4571, passed in March 2022, following GreenPower Motor's announcement that it would build a new electric school bus manufacturing facility in Charleston. For costs incurred when operating alternative fuel vehicles, including electric school buses, the state will increase the regular transportation reimbursement for school districts by 10%. An additional 5% is provided for alternative vehicles manufactured in West Virginia. This bill demonstrates how school bus electrification can drive both cleaner rides for students and economic opportunities for states seeking to expand domestic manufacturing industries.

Indiana became the latest state to approve utility pilot programs for electric school buses with the passage of HB1221 in March 2022. Upon approval by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), the pilot programs may be structured to deploy charging and make-ready infrastructure and provide various customer incentives to promote public use electric vehicles, such as electric school and transit buses, and their supply equipment.

In Mississippi, SB2887, passed in April 2022, adds electric vehicles to the forms of transportation that school districts may purchase, own and operate under state law. While SB2887 carries no other substantive provisions related to ESBs, it had Republican sponsorship and near-unanimous support.

Finally, in Idaho, S1319, passed in March 2022, extends the possible length of school bus contracts receiving funding under the federal Clean School Bus Program to 10 years from the previous five. The extension of school bus contracts allows for greater total cost of ownership savings to be realized, as the cost benefits of operating an electric vehicle — such as reduced maintenance and fuel costs — increase over the lifetime of the vehicle.

Other Signs of Progress

Outside of these legislative initiatives, two states also joined national multi-state efforts to support  medium- and heavy-duty vehicle electrification that include targets for school buses. In March 2022, Nevada became the 17th state to join the Multi-State Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero-Emission Vehicle (MHD ZEV) Initiative. Additionally, as part of SB4, Connecticut adopted the Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) Rule, becoming the seventh state to establish zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicle sales targets. Colorado and Maryland are expected to take up consideration of adopting the ACT within the next year, and Maine continues to study the issue.

The Road Ahead for Electric School Buses in the US

The variety of bills passed so far in 2022 — from nation-leading fleet electrification targets to economic development and manufacturing support — show that there is no single policy solution in supporting state priorities on electric school buses. And in many of the passed bills, states used existing statutes that define and identify environmental justice communities and prioritized investments in these communities.

Now, state officials, advocates, school districts and others in these states must turn their focus toward thoughtful and equitable implementation of these programs, while other states move to adopt their own measures. The significant federal funds available through the five-year EPA Clean School Bus Program can keep this momentum growing through the coming years. States will play a key role in adding speed, strength and scale to this effort to provide all kids a clean commute to school.

The authors thank former WRI intern Noah Strand for his contributions tracking electric school bus legislation.

school_buses.jpg Cities United States transportation electric mobility Urban Mobility Equity Type Commentary Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Authors Katrina McLaughlin Navva Sedigh
ciara.regan@wri.org

5 Reasons Cities Should Include Trees in Climate Action

1 semana 3 días ago
5 Reasons Cities Should Include Trees in Climate Action sadof.alexande… Thu, 07/28/2022 - 08:00

Cities and communities around the world are stepping up to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and prevent dangerous climate change impacts. Their strategies typically focus on reducing emissions from sectors such as transportation, energy, housing and waste. But there’s one sector many communities are overlooking in their climate plans: forests and trees.

This is a major missed opportunity, as trees not only release carbon to the atmosphere when cleared but also remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow, as well as provide a myriad of other benefits for cities and other communities.

Why Are Communities Leaving Trees Out of Climate Action?

GHG inventories are an important first step in designing a climate action strategy, as they pinpoint where a community’s emissions come from and where the biggest reduction opportunities lie. However, until now, cities and communities have lacked detailed guidance on how to inventory GHG emissions from forests and trees within their borders.

New guidance developed by WRI, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability and C40 Cities aims to change that. The new supplemental guidance for forests and trees to the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Inventories (GPC) — piloted in Jakarta, Mexico City, Mumbai, Salvador and multiple U.S. communities — walks cities and other communities through the process of estimating annual emissions and removals by forests and trees in their jurisdictions, including urban trees and trees in agricultural landscapes.

While the mitigation potential of urban trees and forests may be small compared to other sectors, other less urbanized communities around the world may have substantial forest and tree cover as well as significant opportunities for more. Across the board, there are several reasons why they can and should be part of communities’ efforts to reduce emissions. Here are five reasons communities should include trees and forests in both their GHG inventories and climate change mitigation and adaptation plans:

1. Trees and forests both emit and remove carbon.

When forests and trees are cleared or degraded — such as from urban development, from agriculture or by fires — they become a source of carbon to the atmosphere. Globally, about 10% of all carbon dioxide emissions added to the atmosphere each year are from land use change and forestry. Trees release carbon into the atmosphere as they break down, and land’s ability to remove excess carbon from the atmosphere is reduced without those trees.

Conversely, when forests and trees are left standing, protected, restored and planted, they sequester carbon as they grow, thereby removing CO2 from the atmosphere and mitigating climate change.

Because of the lack of detailed guidance until now, most cities and communities have not tried to estimate how much the loss and degradation of forests and trees in their boundaries is already contributing to their carbon emissions, or how remaining trees may be helping to sequester carbon. Cities and communities need to acknowledge these dual roles and strive to preserve and enhance their “carbon sink.”

Take the example of Montgomery County, Maryland, a heavily forested county on the U.S. East Coast. It has many parks with mature forests, forested areas that protect important watersheds, and plentiful suburban and agricultural landscapes that include trees. As a result, the forests of Montgomery County act as a net carbon sink, as a whole sequestering more carbon than they emit when felled for development. The county is using data generated from its GHG inventory for forests and trees to better understand its land management practices, such as reducing tree removal during development, accounting for lost carbon sequestration potential when trees are removed, and planning tree-planting programs.

2. Protecting urban forests is low-hanging fruit, even if mitigation potential is small.

In urban settings, forests and trees may make up a relatively small piece of the overall climate puzzle, often because they are dwarfed by the immense emissions from other sectors like transportation and energy. This is especially true for large cities, such as many of the ones where this guidance was piloted.

However, these emissions are still important to factor into the city’s climate action plan because they represent relatively low-hanging fruit for cutting emissions and maintaining removals while changes in other higher-emitting sectors are being instituted. Conserving forests and avoiding forest degradation is renowned as one of the most cost-effective strategies to lower emissions. Many communities are pledging to achieve carbon neutrality by mid-century, and forests and trees can help achieve the last mile of emission reductions needed to achieve these ambitious climate goals. At the global scale, ending forest conversion, preserving existing forest carbon sinks and restoring degraded forests has the potential to avoid more than one-third of emissions.

3. Urban trees and forests are important for climate adaptation.

Trees can provide significant benefits for adaptation by providing buffers to certain climate risks and making urban spaces more livable.

For example, in highly urbanized Jakarta — a city which has minimal forest and suffers perennially with the impacts of climate change — the loss of urban trees is a small carbon source, and protection of Jakarta’s existing millions of trees is a small carbon sink relative to other sectors’ emissions. Yet the city’s urban trees provide tremendous benefits for making the city more resilient. Urban trees help protect life and property from the impacts of stormwater by promoting infiltration into the ground and reducing the volume and speed of surface water runoff. They reduce the frequency and intensity of flood events by storing water in the surrounding soil — especially upstream — and preventing erosion. And they can even clean the air that Jakarta’s 11 million residents breathe by collecting airborne particulate matter on their leaves and removing some harmful gases.

In other cities, trees can lower temperatures by providing shade and through evapotranspiration, thereby reducing heat island effect and cooling cities during dangerous and more frequent heat waves. They can also improve local food and nutrition security by providing food such as fruit, nuts and leaves for human and livestock consumption.

4. Expanding tree cover can address inequities.

Once cities understand how much carbon their forests and trees are emitting and removing from the atmosphere, they may take a more keen interest in expanding tree cover across their boundary to further make use of this powerful natural climate solution. This represents a timely opportunity for them to address inequitable access to trees and green space, a phenomenon all-too-common in big cities around the world. Wealthier suburbs typically have more trees than poorer areas, leaving low-income residents more likely to experience hotter neighborhoods and higher levels of air pollution and stormwater flooding.

For example, the city of Mumbai is comprised of 27 wards. There is a vast difference in tree canopy cover between wealthy wards like Borivali with 35% tree cover, and less wealthy wards like Dadar, where tree cover is estimated at only 8%. This new understanding of how the city’s trees contribute to its mitigation efforts enables the city to plan for equitable increases in tree cover across the wards, as laid out in its recently published climate action plan.

A landscape view of Mumbai, India. Photo by Hardik Joshi/Unsplash 5. The benefits of forests and trees go well beyond climate.

Urban trees provide many benefits beyond climate mitigation and adaptation, including improving residents’ health and well-being by decreasing high blood pressure, reducing stress and improving mood, boosting immune systems, reducing the risk of some psychological disorders, and supporting mental development in children. Access to greenery through “forest bathing” or “nature walks” is increasingly linked to physical and mental health benefits. Some doctors are even prescribing these activities to treat conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Urban trees and forests also provide habitat for biodiversity and can support human livelihoods through the creation of jobs to maintain and manage trees and green spaces.

Helping Cities and Communities Use Trees and Forests to Take a Larger Role in Climate Action

Of course, even cities and communities with large amounts of forests should not rely on them alone to reduce emissions. As places that will house 80% of the world’s population by 2050, the war against climate change will be fought on the city battlefield. Cities should rein in emissions from every sector — transportation, energy, industry and more. Forests and trees must be part of the strategy.

Introducing the GPC Supplemental Guidance for Forests and Trees

With the launch of this supplemental guidance, cities and communities around the world can estimate the climate impact and benefits of their forests and trees, and potentially include them in their climate action plans. Programs like Cities4Forests, CitiesWithNature and C40's Climate Action Planning Framework are supporting hundreds of cities and communities around the world to do so. The new guidance follows the IPCC GHG inventory methods, which means that city and community forest and tree GHG inventories can also be more aligned with national GHG inventories. This can help national governments account for city-led efforts in their mitigation strategies. For a more detailed overview of the guidance, please see this post on TheCityFix

dino-januarsa-8y6rJImFfMs-unsplash.jpg Cities GHG emissions Forests emissions Climate Tracking Climate Action Type Explainer Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Related Resources and Data Hundreds of US Communities Are Making Climate Action Plans, but Few Include Forests Updated Tool Can Help US Communities Include Forests and Trees in GHG Inventories Projects Authors John-Rob Pool David Gibbs Sadof Alexander Nancy Harris
sadof.alexander@wri.org

Up to $5 Billion Is Available for US Electric School Buses. Here Are 3 Things Bus Operators Should Know.

1 semana 4 días ago
Up to $5 Billion Is Available for US Electric School Buses. Here Are 3 Things Bus Operators Should Know. ciara.regan@wri.org Wed, 07/27/2022 - 16:00

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean School Bus Program is a game-changer in deploying zero-emission school buses across the U.S. In prior incentive programs — both federal and those from states like California and New York — electric school buses competed with electric or alternative fuel transit buses, trucks and other equipment for funding. Meanwhile, dedicated electric school bus funding was small in scope and primarily available only in specific states, such as California.

The funding environment has changed, thanks to EPA’s Clean School Bus Program. School districts across the country now have the opportunity to realize the operational cost savings and air quality and climate benefits of electric school buses.

For the next five years, the Clean School Bus Program is offering up to $5 billion  to replace existing school buses with zero- or low-emission ones through rebates (first round of applications for $500 million due August 19, 2022) and grants (applications expected to open in Fall 2022). The program will prioritize low-income and high-need areas, rural districts and tribal communities as directed by Congress and as part of the Justice40 Initiative.  

The program earmarks $2.5 billion for electric school buses and another $2.5 billion for zero- and low-emission school buses, including both electric and alternative fuel buses.

Here’s what  school bus operators should know about the market as they explore this opportunity:

3 Things to Know About the U.S. Electric School Bus Market   1. Demand for electric school buses is growing in the U.S. 

According to WRI’s data, as of March 2022, 415 school districts or private fleet operators had committed to procuring 12,275 electric school buses across 38 states and a range of operating conditions. The vast majority of these buses come from a contract announced at the end of December 2021 between bus dealer Midwest Transit Equipment and SEA Electric, a manufacturer of commercial electric vehicles. This agreement promises to convert 10,000 diesel school buses to electric ones over the next five years (also known as “repowering”).

Meanwhile, major cities and school districts alike are committing to full electrification. For example, Montgomery County, MD pledged to replace 326 diesel school buses with electric by 2025, New York City committed to an initial 75 electric buses by 2030, and Boston Public Schools committed to 20 electric buses for the 2022-2023 school year.

2. The Clean School Bus Program could help increase the supply of electric school buses.

With the anticipated increase in demand for electric school buses due to the EPA Clean School Bus Program and state and local commitments, the supply chain would need to accommodate thousands more electric school bus orders. By comparison, bus operators have committed to 12,275 electric school buses as of March 2022, about 600 of which have been delivered to-date.

Existing manufacturers are ramping up production to meet growing demand, and new manufacturers continue to enter the field, including those working on electric bus repowers. However, automotive and battery manufacturing supply chains are complex, and it can take years to establish even low-volume production. Manufacturers may hesitate to add a new product or fuel type due to the cost and complexity of changing suppliers and building a customer base. The five-year Clean School Bus Program gives the market certainty that purchase orders leveraging government-subsidized rebates will continue.

In gathering model specifications for a new issue brief, WRI found that 22 electric school bus models were available as of January 2022 from 12 manufacturers for Type A, C and D buses: 14 newly manufactured vehicle models and eight repowered vehicle models. While repowered buses are not eligible in the first round of Clean School Bus Program rebates, this could change in future opportunities.

3. Resources are available to help school districts source electric school buses.

Using WRI’s Electric School Bus Market Study and Buyer’s Guide, school districts and other bus fleet operators can navigate electric school bus product offerings for Type A, C and D buses. Electric school bus manufacturers and dealers are ready to work with customers and have been following incentive programs to offset initial high prices. Purchasers should be aware that there will likely be a long lead time between a purchase order and delivery due to ongoing global supply chain issues — which affect buses of all fuel types — as well as increasing demand. WRI recommends referring to resources like our Power Planner to prepare for charging infrastructure, which can take longer than bus deliveries, and reaching out for free technical assistance resources for planning.

Applications for the first round of Clean School Bus funding are due August 19, 2022. Operators can learn more here.

Equity United States transportation Climate Equity Equity renewable energy electric mobility Type Project Update Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Authors Stephanie Ly Alissa Huntington
ciara.regan@wri.org

Innovative Partnerships Bring Community Solar to Low-income Households in the US

1 semana 5 días ago
Innovative Partnerships Bring Community Solar to Low-income Households in the US sarah.parsons@… Mon, 07/25/2022 - 21:11

Over the last 15 years, community solar in the United States has grown dramatically: Installed community solar capacity increased almost 700% between 2006 and 2019.

But these gains have not always translated into access for low- and moderate-income (LMI) customers. To support LMI participation in the clean energy economy and broader uptake of community solar, the development of catalytic partnerships — dynamic relationships that link utilities, non-profits, financial institutions, developers and other stakeholders to ease financial impediments — will be critical.

In theory, and sometimes in practice, community solar is a great option for LMI households that want to participate in their local clean energy economy, for several reasons. LMI households are more likely to rent rather than own their homes, meaning they cannot install solar on their properties. They are more likely to live in a home with roofing issues, which can complicate rooftop solar panel installation. Furthermore, rooftop solar — with some exceptions — generally has upfront costs that can be a financial barrier for LMI households. (For more detail on how community solar can benefit LMI households, see our first article in this series.)

3 Examples of Partnerships Bringing Community Solar to LMI Customers

Community solar can address some of these problems. But too often, barriers — often financial ones —  remain and can limit LMI participation in these programs. Upfront costs can be prohibitively expensive, even if they save households money over time. That’s why partnerships between utilities, non-profits, financial institutions, developers and other parties can be game-changers, creating opportunities for LMI participation in community solar programs that would not otherwise exist.

Here are a few examples of how these kinds of partnerships work:

Habitat for Humanity and Electric Utility Gift Community Solar Subscriptions to Kentucky Households

One example of a catalytic partnership can be found in Kentucky, where electric utilities LG&E and KU established a community solar program. For LMI households, the cost to participate in the program posed a significant hurdle. Although bill credits from the solar array’s production go directly to the customers who subscribe to shares of solar, the credit is not enough to offset the monthly cost. (One share is equal to 250 watts of solar that produces between 18 and 38 kilowatt-hours of energy per month.)

The inventive solution involved a utility, a non-profit and a philanthropic partner. In 2019, in consultation with LG&E and KU, Kentucky Habitat for Humanity (KyHFH) leveraged grant funding to subscribe to 180 shares of community solar from LG&E and KU. Then, it gifted the shares to 10 LMI households. The households received the benefits from the solar panels’ production without taking on the monthly subscription cost. These “gifted” shares are being used to lower LMI households’ electricity bills by a minimum of 30%. With the home performance and energy efficiency investments that Habitat has made, LMI households’ actual electricity bill savings are even higher.

In this case, to allow KyHFH to gift their shares to LMI households, LG&E and KU had to update their Solar Share Tariff, which required approval from the Kentucky Public Service Commission. However, other states may not have to obtain approval to set up such a program.

Of course, the bulk of KyHFH’s work is building and rebuilding housing to ensure LMI Kentuckians have safe, affordable and energy-efficient places to live. KyHFH leverages its existing funding to build new homes that are highly efficient and rebuild homes with energy improvements. By taking the next step and pairing home performance measures and energy efficiency upgrades with gifted community solar shares, KyHFH is ensuring that LMI households can lower energy use and contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible. Through the gifted community solar shares alone, the 10 participating households saved an average of $27.94 per month and lowered their greenhouse gas emissions by 88.7%.

Too often, opportunities to participate in advancing the clean energy economy are restricted to households with substantial disposable income. Through the partnership of KyHFH, LG&E and KU, and funders, these households have been able to directly support the buildout of local, clean solar energy — an opportunity they would not otherwise have had.

Housing Authority and Non-profit in Boulder, Colorado Use Community Solar to Reduce Affordable Housing Electric Bills and Operational Costs

Other innovative partnerships are advancing LMI participation in community solar programs elsewhere in the U.S. In 2020, Boulder Housing Partners (BHP), the City of Boulder and GRID Alternatives finalized the installation of a new community solar project that is completely dedicated to offsetting energy use for BHP and its residents. GRID Alternatives, a non-profit focused on boosting access to renewable energy and providing renewable energy education and training across demographic divides, installed the community solar array. GRID leveraged funding from multiple sources, including a municipal grant, developer equity, construction financing, and a program-related investment from a U.S. foundation.

BHP executed a land lease and solar subscription agreement with GRID. By acting as the “subscriber manager” for LMI households, BHP was able to reduce ongoing management and administration costs significantly. The community solar installation, which is also known as a solar garden in Colorado, will result in estimated energy cost savings of $647,237 over 20 years. Those savings will serve the dual purpose of reducing BHP’s operating expenses and providing direct utility bill savings for residents.

The solar garden is part of BHP’s sustainability initiative to become 100% powered by renewable energy. As one of the first solar gardens in Colorado to be dedicated solely to low-income households, this example demonstrates how housing authorities and non-profit housing developers can partner to maximize the energy and cost savings that solar can provide to residents.

Corporation and Non-profit Increase Community Services by Reducing Energy Bills

Other parties, such as corporations and solar developers, can also play a role in advancing community solar for LMI communities. Earlier this year, FedEx installed a 915 kW solar facility on the roof of a warehouse in Washington, D.C., which will generate enough electricity every year to power 150 homes. FedEx also worked with So Others Might Eat (SOME), a local non-profit that provides services to individuals experiencing poverty and homelessness, to set up an arrangement with ripple effects far beyond the facility.

The solar installation will generate electricity bill credits based on its production, a portion of which will be allocated to SOME. Just as Boulder Housing Partners is using some bill credits to reduce its own operational costs, SOME will use the credits gifted by FedEx to significantly reduce its energy bills. The credits will offset the yearly electricity costs of two SOME facilities, an affordable housing development and a program center for individuals experiencing mental illness or homelessness. Thanks to this partnership, SOME will be able to reinvest these savings in its core mission. Sol Systems, the developer of the solar installation, is also playing a role, matching FedEx’s contributions in the first year and volunteering staff time at SOME for the lifetime of the project.

This project differs from previous examples in that FedEx is the sole subscriber to the facility, and it isn’t directly tied to specific household energy bill savings. However, the additional services SOME will be able to provide, thanks to spending less on utilities, will have a positive impact on the D.C. community.

Lessons for Community Solar Partnerships

From these examples and many more, some of which involve developers, financial institutions and other parties, a few lessons emerge:

  • Cost savings can motivate LMI household participation in community solar programs. This shouldn’t be any great surprise — particularly after two years of COVID-19 and record inflation — but it should serve as a reminder to policymakers, regulators and organizations pursuing catalytic partnerships. It’s clear that in order to be inclusive of LMI households, participatory clean energy programs should present opportunities for these households to save. Leveraging partnerships to reduce the cost of program participation for LMI households is critical, particularly where these programs are not currently cost-saving opportunities.
  • Investments from foundations can be valuable in building a potential partnership. For more guidance on program-related investments, see this resource.
  • Non-profit intermediaries that have a proven record and some level of rapport with their communities are often essential partners in developing community solar programs and models that are inclusive of LMI households.
  • Some states have adopted specific carve-outs and regulatory pathways to reduce LMI households’ energy burden and increase their participation in the clean energy economy. These provide valuable examples for other states to follow. However, in the absence of state policy action, catalytic partnerships can provide valuable opportunities to expand the community solar market to LMI households.
Expanding Community Solar Throughout the United States

Without a unified national effort, it will be difficult to reach the Biden administration’s ambitious goal of powering 5 million U.S. homes with community solar by 2025. And without catalytic partnerships that create more cost-savings opportunities for LMI households, it will be deeply challenging to get everyone on board. By looking closely at potential partnerships between non-profits, developers, utilities, financial institutions, housing authorities and others, communities can take the first step to advance a local, equitable, clean energy economy.

This article is the second in a series on bringing community solar to low- and moderate-income customers in the United States. Read the first installment here.

denver_solar_field.jpg Energy United States Clean Energy Equity U.S. Climate U.S. policy Type Commentary Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Authors Joseph Womble
sarah.parsons@wri.org

How to De-risk Low-carbon Investments

2 semanas 2 días ago
How to De-risk Low-carbon Investments ciara.regan@wri.org Fri, 07/22/2022 - 16:00

Rapidly growing emerging markets and developing countries need new infrastructure: roads, power plants, water systems. There is an opportunity to develop this infrastructure in a sustainable and climate-compatible way — or not. The path we choose could make or break the chance at a decarbonized, sustainable and climate-resilient future.

But building all this infrastructure requires a tremendous amount of capital. According to the UN, the gap between the demand for investment and its supply is vast, and still widening. According to the IEA, annual clean energy investment alone in developing countries needs to increase more than 7 times, from less than $150 billion in 2020 to $1 trillion by 2030. These figures don't include adaptation costs.

Everyone knows about this gap. So why isn't it being filled?

Public capital in the form of domestic resources, donor contributions and multilateral development bank support in developing countries simply cannot meet the massive scale of investment needed. And while private investors command substantial resources, the incentives and mindset under which they operate often inhibit them from making investments in climate-smart infrastructure. They operate based on the concept of risk-adjusted returns — a measure that puts returns in the context of the amount of risk involved. And in too many instances, climate investments, especially those in developing countries, are just not attractive enough.

But what if there was a way to reduce the risk associated with such investments? What if the careful application and deployment of public capital could encourage and reassure other investors that it is safe to invest?

This is where the concept of "de-risking" can play a role.

Understanding the Risks of Investing in Low-carbon Infrastructure

In an investment context, risk is the probability that the performance of an investment will be different from expected. Because high risk implies high uncertainty, investors typically demand what is known as a risk premium, which reflects and accounts for risk involved in an investment. This risk premium directly affects the cost of capital. In other words, lenders (investors) will charge higher interest rates to borrowers undertaking riskier projects. The risk premium is why, for example, established companies can borrow at a much lower interest rate than a money-losing start-up.

Risks, of course, are always partially in the eye of the beholder. Private investors in developed countries, where most private capital sits, may be unfamiliar with emerging and developing economies. And the risks they perceive about doing business outside their comfort zone can drive up risk premiums, potentially making the project non-bankable, or non-viable, for investors.

Climate-smart infrastructure investments in developing countries present a variety of risk factors. Let's take a renewable energy project as an example:

  • Political risk: The country where the project is to be located may have an unstable political environment or change energy policy priorities whenever new leadership comes in.
  • Regulatory risk: The regulatory environment may not be conducive to private investments due to insufficient or contradictory enabling policies, weak legal frameworks and limited enforcement capacity, or frequent changes to regulations that create instability.
  • Capital market risk: Financial markets may be fragmented, inefficient and suffer from frequent currency fluctuations.
  • Technology risk: The technology itself may have specific associated risks, such as underperformance, limited in-country expertise in construction and operation and inadequate supporting infrastructures such as transmission and distribution.
How to De-risk Climate-smart Investments

De-risking means reallocating, sharing or reducing the existing or potential risks associated with climate investment. For our purposes, we can divide de-risking into two categories: policy de-risking and financial de-risking.

Policy de-risking mitigates risks through policy measures, which are enacted by policymakers or through policy-based support by external donors or multilateral institutions. These efforts establish the rules of the game. They can be general, like a law clarifying corporate governance. Or they could be specific, like a law strengthening renewable power mandates that would, in turn, provide greater certainty to developers and investors that they could sell solar energy power in the future.

Financial de-risking, by contrast, deploys financial measures to avoid or reduce the risk associated with projects. Typically, this involves public entities such as donor governments, multilateral development banks, development financial institutions and climate funds encouraging private investors to deploy capital by offering to bear a share of the risk. De-risking can be achieved through a range of measures such as debt, equity and guarantees, spreading the risk between participating parties or transferring the risk to a third party.

Public financial institutions play a critical role in de-risking, as they provide the de-risking capital, instrument or mechanism. When public resources are deployed strategically, a previously unbankable project can attract and mobilize capital from commercial and institutional investors.

3 Examples of De-risking Low-carbon Investments

Here, we describe three cases that are currently operating to illustrate how de-risking can work to catalyze additional private capital. The first case presents how a climate fund's participation as an equity investor can attract private capital. In the latter two cases, public finance ultimately backstops private investors ⁠— in the second case through reinsurance and in the third case through equity and guarantee.

1) Espejo de Tarapacá

The Espejo de Tarapacá is an innovative large-scale power project that utilizes the unique geographic characteristics of Chile's Atacama desert. It is sited on a coastal cliff with natural surface concavities ideal for the storage of seawater. The project consists of two power plants: a 300-megawatt pumped-storage hydroelectric plant using the Pacific Ocean as its lower reservoir, and a 561-megawatt photovoltaic solar plant.

The project is essentially a large electricity storage system that will counterbalance the intermittency of renewable energy. As the first renewable bulk energy storage facility in Latin America using seawater, the project contributes to both climate mitigation and adaptation, supporting energy sector resilience, water security (via its own desalination plant) and diversification of the local economy.

Yet the project faced difficulties attracting capital for the final development phase. Traditional private investors were not willing to enter due to the associated risks. These included acquiring permits, establishing energy contracts, engineering and design tests, community engagement and cash funding for guarantees required to participate in power purchase agreement (PPA) processes, among others.

That's why the Green Climate Fund (GCF), a multilateral climate fund, provided $60 million in direct equity, which helped cover last-stage development expenses, put a PPA in place, and attract private investment for final implementation. GCF's participation as an "anchor" equity investor — the first investor to make a substantial capital commitment — represents a stamp of approval that, in turn, helped mobilize private capital that would otherwise have sat on the sidelines. GCF's investment served as an indicator of quality to private investors, including those that are more risk-averse or less experienced. With the support of GCF, the project is expected to raise $1 billion from the private sector.

2) Africa Energy Guarantee Facility

Sub-Saharan Africa remains the least electrified region in the world. Yet investors are reluctant to make the investments necessary to build out the region's sustainable power generation capacity. Due to unpredictable regulatory frameworks and an unfavorable investment environment, the risk-premium investors demand is simply too high.

This is where the Africa Energy Guarantee Facility (AEGF) comes in. The AEGF was created with contributions from several public- and private-sector parties — the reinsurance company Munich RE, the Nairobi-based insurance underwriter African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI), the European Investment bank (EIB) and German Development Bank KfW — to insure and reinsure sustainable energy projects. It is the first risk-sharing facility that insures primary insurers to reduce the risk of their portfolio in the African energy sector. AEGF aims to enhance access to finance for energy projects by eliminating potential risks faced by energy sector investors through a system of backstops and insurance tools.

People ride a public bus in Arusha, Tanzania. Developing cities have a fast-growing need for investments in new roads, power plants, water systems and more. It’s essential that this infrastructure is built in low-carbon ways. Photo by Grigvovan/Shutterstock 

Here's how it works:

  • Primary insurers like ATI assume a portion of the risk related to green energy projects, mobilizing resources from lenders and investors.
  • Through AEGF, primary insurers get re-insured by Munich RE, one of the worlds largest and best-rated reinsurers, to increase their capacity to insure and better address the risks and timelines of green energy projects.
  • KfW and EIB, in turn, issue dedicated guarantees to Munich RE to cover certain risks such as non-payment under a power purchase agreement, expropriation, breach of contract, currency inconvertibility and civil unrest. By doing so, these guarantees increase Munich RE's reinsurance capacity.

With this chain of relationships, the primary insurers can expand their capacity to provide insurance to energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy projects at a reasonable price. The AEGF is expected to facilitate around $1.4 billion of private investment for energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in Africa.

3) Climate Investor Two

Climate Investor Two (CI2) is a "whole-of-life" financing facility that consists of three funds to finance each stage of an infrastructure projects lifecycle. CI2 has used various de-risking techniques, including tranching, to catalyze greater investments into the climate adaptation and resilience sectors in developing and emerging countries.

Here's how it works: equity commitments to the Construction Equity Fund (CED) are allocated into three individual tiers or tranches. Each tranche offers a different risk-return profile provided to investors.

  1. In Tier 1, public donors such as the European Commission and Nordic Development Fund, who do not expect their capital to be recouped, provide a first loss buffer.
  2. Commercial investors and development finance institutions provide equity capital for Tier 2, secure in the knowledge that losses up to a certain point will be borne by tier 1 investors. Their investment is thus substantially de-risked.
  3. Tier 3 provides an even greater level of protection — it is a senior equity tranche with guaranteed returns and is marketed to institutional investors.

A tranche structure that divides tiers by risk, time-to-maturity and type offers a distinct risk-return profile for each tier of capital, making it easier to market to investors and their individual needs. Without the provision of Tier 1 capital, the investment proposition would have been considered too risky for mainstream commercial capital.

With the target of raising $1 billion for CED, CI2 is expected to catalyze $2.5 billion in private sector funds at the construction phase. Projects under CI2 include a seawater desalination project in Thailand where seasonal water scarcity affects local populations, a solar-powered desalination project in Kenya, and a marine ecosystem management project in Africa and Latin America.

De-risking Climate-smart Investments: Doing More with Less

As these cases illustrate, de-risking in various shapes and forms has the potential to make previously risky climate infrastructure projects attractive enough for private investors to join in. De-risking strategically uses public capital to mitigate investment risks that are discouraging the flow of private capital. With innovative approaches, small amounts of public capital can be leveraged to catalyze much larger sums from the private sector.

That being said, de-risking to mobilize private capital isn't for every project and every circumstance. For example, some projects or sectors are best funded by public finance alone, such as the provision of basic infrastructure, research and development, and strengthening the enabling environment.

Dozens of seedlings are now mature enough to be planted in Uganda. While restoring degraded landscapes is essential for reducing emissions, securing private investment has been tricky.  Photo by Dennis Wegewijs/Shutterstock 

The ultimate goal of using public resources to de-risk is not just to finance individual climate infrastructure projects. These practices can also contribute to building a database for leveraging the private sector, facilitate learning, provide demonstrations, build investor familiarity with the sector, and achieve economies of scale so that eventually, standalone private activities are possible. While no single initiative will be able to achieve these far-reaching goals on its own, replicating and scaling successful and innovative de-risking initiatives can help close the climate investment gap and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient world.

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Can the Global Goal on Adaptation Be Locally Led?

2 semanas 2 días ago
Can the Global Goal on Adaptation Be Locally Led? ciara.regan@wri.org Fri, 07/22/2022 - 11:00 The first workshop of the GlaSS work programme was held at SB56 Interessional in Bonn, Germany. Photo by Flickr/UNFCCC

Locally led adaptation is a growing priority for many governments, funders and communities alike. It aims to shift from a top-down approach of adaptation to a new paradigm where decision-making power is devolved and resources are redistributed to empower local actors to build resilience against climate impacts. The Principles for Locally Led Adaptation (LLA) provide a roadmap for programs, funding and practices of adaptation to move towards better integrating local priorities.

LLA does not just happen at the local level, however. International negotiations and discussions around COP27 affect local communities and are an important opportunity to advance LLA. The Global Goal on Adaptation is one major opportunity in the international climate arena.

Recognizing that adaptation is a globally relevant issue, the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) was established under the Paris Agreement to enhance work on adaptation with the aim of building adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience, and reducing vulnerability to climate change. Coming to a common agreement of what the goal should comprise and how it will be measured and reported is still a challenge. Where mitigation has clear metrics in emissions levels, adaptation is context-specific, and metrics of progress are difficult to aggregate globally.

Progress on defining the GGA has been slow. Its been stymied by the complexity of adaptation practice, difficulties in aggregating nationally and globally, and the need to embrace the diversity of local and national experiences, without adding a reporting burden to countries who already face a myriad of reporting requirements. At COP26, countries established the two-year Glasgow-Sharm el-Sheikh work programme on the Global Goal on Adaptation (GlaSS) to enhance and support adaptation action through a country-driven process. Given the rapidly accelerating climate hazards around the world, the GGA must be defined urgently, and it needs to be informed by local climate risks, solutions and limits to adaptation.

First GlaSS Workshop at Bonn Shines Light on the Need for More Meaningful Local Integration

Although adaptation is relevant globally, because climate impacts manifest locally, adaptation actions are contextually determined. There is no one-size-fits-all solution that can apply to all environments. Therefore, adaptation must be locally informed.

Discussions on the advancing GGA are increasingly acknowledging this. Jamie Williams, senior policy advisor at Islamic Relief Worldwide, was one of the participants of the workshop. He said "What was completely missing from the workshops is a forum of real-life practitioners of adaptation working at the very local level; there is a desperate need for our experience to be taken into this international forum."

The recent round of submissions and discussions during the first GlaSS workshop at Bonn heard many voices that recognized the need to link this global process to local realities. This was evidenced by 14 out of 21 submissions that acknowledge the importance of accounting local impacts and priorities into the GGA. For example, the island nation of Maldives highlighted that "the collective nature of the goal [on adaptation] seeks to ensure a link between local and regional/global efforts."

This is where LLA comes in. Integrating LLA, guided by the principles, in operationalizing the GGA can help ensure the inclusion of priorities of frontline communities, thereby making it more beneficial to them.

Kirsten Hagon, senior policy analyst of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), points to how local organizations have been crucial partners in ensuring plans and early warnings lead to meaningful action. She said that in translating adaptation plans into concrete actions, local integration is essential at every stage.

How Can LLA Be Integrated into the GGA?

There are several opportunities for linking LLA with the GGA. Here are some ways that this can be done:

Countries As the Nexus for Global-Local Integration

The next round of submissions for the work programme requests parties to identify existing approaches; this will likely guide the thinking on which adaptation best practices should be amplified. In taking stock of existing approaches of LLA in practice, countries are highly encouraged to consult and collect input from practitioners on the ground and amplify successful local initiatives, knowledge and experience, as well as approaches of multi-level collaboration. Due to the location-dependent nature of climate impacts, regional dialogues are also an important venue to harvest noteworthy experiences and discuss how these can be scaled regionally.

Establish a Common Understanding of Local and Locally Led

Despite the traction that LLA has gained, there remains a need for a common understanding of "local" and "locally led." The importance of these terms lies in the act of centering the priorities of people and communities on the frontlines of climate change, especially those who experience disproportionate vulnerabilities. Promoting a nuanced understanding of adaptation that includes voices of the marginalized is one action that the GlaSS work program can take.

This understanding may be grounded in the strong evidence base already generated by researchers of locally led adaptation globally  that demonstrates good practices and approaches for delivering LLA. This would further reinforce the understanding of LLA as worthy of being scaled and formally recognized through the GGA.

Establish a Dedicated Objective of the GGA to Measure Progress on LLA

If LLA is successfully mainstreamed early in the work programme, it follows that GGA may be incorporated as an objective measure of LLA progress, including quality and quantity of finance for LLA. Further, the Global Stocktake would be the mechanism through which countries report on this progress.

Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) has critical implications for local agency and recognition of local knowledge and priorities. The LLA approach can inform composite indicators used to track and assess adaptation interventions and capacities. Countries like Singapore, in its recent submission to the UNFCCC, underscores the importance of including a bottom-up assessment of the effectiveness of adaptation actions as a part of the national adaptation plan. LLA can support monitoring and evaluation by integrating local and indigenous knowledge, locally driven data collection and locally informed metrics of resilience, and by ensuring M&E processes and outputs add value for local actors.

Ensure Local Communities and Organizations Have a Say in the GGA

Through the participatory and iterative process of the GlaSS work programme, parties and non-party actors alike can strategically shape collective thinking towards centring LLA as a central component of the goal. The two upcoming virtual workshops will provide a window of opportunity for open participation.

Furthermore, the UNFCCC aims to ensure representation and meaningful opportunities for local actors to contribute. The UNFCCC may consider creating a designated space within the work programme to gather input from entities such as regional and local government institutions as well as locally based civil society organizations.

The Role of Non-party Actors and Coalitions

Parties of the UNFCCC act as a nexus between the international platform of the GGA and the national, subnational and local levels of adaptation action. However, the onus does not fall solely on party representatives at the national level to do the necessary work. Through the participatory process of the GlaSS, regional and local institutions, governmental and non-governmental, as well as community-based organizations can have a part in influencing the agenda, such as topics of discussion, expected outcomes, highlighted modalities, of the programme. Through contributing to the open submission process as well as the upcoming virtual workshops open to the public.

Civil society organizations working on LLA can be consulted on how to formally incorporate the adaptation needs of localities, especially of communities most vulnerable to climate impacts. Further, consortiums and communities of practice of LLA proponents can directly inform the work by making formal submissions to the GlaSS programme, thereby helping countries, the secretariat and other actors understand how the principles can be further operationalized.

Research institutions have contributed a breadth of knowledge on the efficacy of LLA through case studies capturing existing approaches, lessons learned and challenges, such as the working paper From Principles to Practice. Analysis on how the LLA principles can be addressed and implemented can inform national strategies — such as national adaptation plans, an important entry point to feed into progress of the GGA.

Further, transnational coalitions such as the Adaptation Action Coalition, through its locally led adaptation workstream, are positioned to provide guidance. Not only can these coalitions offer advice on how countries can better mainstream LLA into their national planning, but also how they can shape the work of the GGA in the international arena, thereby activating a synergy between the two.

To make the GGA more meaningful, all stakeholders of climate adaptation should take advantage of this formative period and fast-growing recognition that LLA are crucial for driving and delivering action. At the same time, through participatory avenues, there is a role to be played by all. Local institutions, national governments and civil society can leverage their relative positions to advocate for and work towards the integration of locally led adaptation and the GGA.

Climate Climate Resilience adaptation Climate climate impacts Frequently Referenced Type Technical Perspective Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Authors Kiyomi de Zoysa Tamara Coger
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STATEMENT: Federal Climate Package Faces Setback in US Senate

3 semanas 2 días ago
STATEMENT: Federal Climate Package Faces Setback in US Senate nate.shelter@wri.org Fri, 07/15/2022 - 11:51

WASHINGTON (July 15, 2022)—According to media reports, yesterday U.S. Senator Joe Manchin told Senate leaders that he may not support new climate and clean energy spending in a reconciliation package, effectively blocking passage through the chamber. Climate measures under discussion include investments in clean energy, vehicle electrification, industrial decarbonization and many other provisions that would accelerate U.S. progress to a cleaner, safer and more prosperous future.

Following is a statement from Dan Lashof, Director, WRI United States:

“If this is the final word, it will go down in history as yet another disastrous failure of the U.S. Congress to confront the climate crisis at the pace and scale necessary. It is a sad state of affairs that 51 members of the Senate are more focused on constructing roadblocks than building the engines of clean economic growth for the 21st century. But this deal is too important to give up on. Senators must stay at the table — all summer if necessary — and seize the opportunity to rein in price volatility, create good-quality American jobs and combat the climate crisis by rapidly transitioning to clean energy.

“Senator Manchin’s claim that the climate provisions in this package would contribute to inflation is misguided. Research shows that clean energy measures would save American households $500 annually in energy bills.

“Failure to enact a climate-smart budget package would be a devastating setback to achieving the United States’ pledge to cut emissions in half by 2030. WRI’s research shows that strong financial investments, like those under consideration in the budget reconciliation package, are essential for the U.S. to achieve that timeline.

“As wildfires burn in over 12 U.S. states and much of the country faces sweltering heat waves, the public is demanding America do more, not less, to address the climate crisis.”

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Updated Tool Can Help US Communities Include Forests and Trees in GHG Inventories

3 semanas 5 días ago
Updated Tool Can Help US Communities Include Forests and Trees in GHG Inventories ciara.regan@wri.org Tue, 07/12/2022 - 16:45

Many communities in the U.S. are developing Climate Action Plans (CAPs) to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and achieve carbon neutrality. While many CAPs focus on the energy, transportation and waste sectors, most do not consider the role forests and trees play in the fight against climate change. This is because planners have lacked the data and clear guidance needed to include them in GHG inventories, which CAPs are based.

To address this gap, experts from WRI, ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI USA) and the Woodwell Climate Research Center published guidance for ICLEI USA's U.S. Community Protocol as well as the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories.

These frameworks outline how to estimate emissions caused by forest and tree cover loss within communities, as well as carbon absorbed by forests and trees that a community maintains and plants.

The accompanying Land Emissions and Removals Navigator (LEARN) tool, developed in collaboration with web developer Blue Raster, makes it even easier for communities to implement this guidance and integrate estimates into their GHG inventories.

What is LEARN?

LEARN is a free online calculation tool that combines methods outlined in the U.S. Community Protocol with the data necessary to perform the calculations. In just a few clicks, users can derive locally tailored estimates of the annual GHG impacts associated with changes to forests and tree cover in their community over time.

After specifying an area and years to analyze, LEARN does the rest by performing automated, spatially explicit analyses of data from the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Geological Survey, including:

  • Land cover change
  • Type and age structure of a communitys forest lands
  • Timing and location of forest disturbances like fire, harvest and insect outbreaks
  • Loss and gain of tree canopy cover in urban and other non-forested lands

(Read more about the history and development of the LEARN tool.)

What's new with LEARN in 2022?

In early 2022, the LEARN project team collaborated with the Chesapeake Conservancy to implement a suite of updates to LEARN. Beyond land cover change and forest disturbance data updated through the year 2019, LEARN now includes high resolution (1 meter) tree canopy change maps for the Chesapeake Bay watershed derived from the Chesapeake Bay program 1 meter land cover/land use data. These maps span across six eastern states and the District of Columbia and support communities of more than 18 million people.

Previously, the LEARN tool performed analysis only on the NLCD Tree Canopy product. While this dataset provides national coverage, it fails to accurately capture the true extent and change of trees in many highly urbanized communities due to its relatively coarse (30 meter) spatial resolution. Now, counties and cities along the eastern seaboard can view the new high-resolution tree canopy data in 900 -times more detail than before and analyze tree canopy change down to the scale of individual land parcels. This update not only demonstrates the benefits of significantly enhanced analysis capabilities, it reinforces calls to extend this dataset from regional to national coverage.

In July 2022, the project team will launch a second training cohort to guide 20 communities in implementing the U.S. Community Protocol methods and using the LEARN tool. This follows a first successful Forests & Trees Carbon Accounting Cohort Training Session in 2021. Participants in the second cohort will include municipal governments, tribes and states both within the Chesapeake watershed and across the country.

Next Steps for Community GHG Inventories: Scaling and Impact

The successful launch of the U.S. Community Protocol and LEARN tool spurred the creation of a new internationally applicable protocol for estimating GHG impacts of forests and trees at the local scale. The Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Inventories Supplemental Guidance for Forests and Trees is set to launch in July 2022. The protocol has already been successfully piloted in Jakarta, Mumbai, Salvador and Mexico City, and many more cities and communities across the world plan to incorporate the methods into their emissions inventories. ICLEI USA is also expanding the U.S. Community Protocol with a steering committee to spearhead a more accessible and holistic approach for local and regional governments to view and manage emissions.

Forests and trees play a critical role in carbon sequestration while providing other benefits to communities, including improving air quality, regulating hydrological processes, reducing energy costs and promoting well-being. Accurate monitoring of these resources over time may enable communities to make better land management decisions that benefit both climate and people simultaneously.

WRI and ICLEI USA are continuing to seek input from stakeholders across the U.S. and around the world on how these methods may best be scaled across geographies, governments and technical capacities.

For questions or to learn more, reach out to erin.glen@wri.org or tom.herrod@iclei.org.

Forests United States Forest and Landscape Restoration greenhouse gases emissions GHG emissions global forest watch Type Project Update Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Authors Erin Glen Nancy Harris
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How China Can Cut its Road Transportation Emissions by 95%

3 semanas 5 días ago
How China Can Cut its Road Transportation Emissions by 95% ciara.regan@wri.org Tue, 07/12/2022 - 11:00

The world's ability to overcome the climate change challenge hinges, in part, on what happens on China's roads.

China's cars, buses, trucks, shipping and other transport generated 828 million tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2014. That's almost the equivalent of the EU and UK's transport emissions combined. The country accounted for 11% of the world's transportation emissions in 2018 — second only to the United States, which produced 21% of the total.

And unlike the generally declining trends seen in emissions from power and industry, transport emissions are rising in China and other countries. If current trends continue, China will have the most road freight activity in the world by 2050. China and India combined will experience the most rapid growth in car ownership — 6 times greater than in 2015.

But there is also major opportunity for decarbonization: Unlike aviation and maritime shipping, where immature technologies and high abatement costs limit potential emissions reductions, technology breakthroughs such as electric powertrains and hydrogen fuel cells already exist for road transport. Combined with structural changes that alter the shape of the vehicle fleet, WRI analysis finds that China can cut its road transportation emissions by up to 95% over the next 40 years while also improving air quality.

Decarbonizing China's Road Transport

China's national climate plan calls for carbon dioxide emissions to peak in 2030 and for the country to become carbon-neutral by 2060. WRI evaluated possible pathways to decarbonize China's road transport sector, as well as the cost-effectiveness of different decarbonization policies and their effects on air pollution.

We found that if China implements its stated national policies — such as the Action Plan for Carbon Dioxide Peaking Before 2030, NEV Industrial Development Plan 2021-2035 and the Technology Roadmap for Energy-Saving and New Energy Vehicles 2.0 — the country's road transport emissions could peak before 2030 and petroleum consumption before 2027. If the country goes even further through structural change policies — including increasing vehicle occupancy and shifting from private cars and trucks to low-emitting modes like buses and freight railways — it would advance the peaking timeline to 2025 for GHG emissions and 2024 for petroleum consumption.

Over the long-term, we found China can reduce road transport emissions in 2060 by 50-95% compared to 2020 under several scenarios. Specifically, if China implements the policies highlighted above, its road transport emissions could decline 50% in 2060 from 2020 levels. If the country pushes through radical shifts in vehicle technologies and travel patterns, emissions could drop by as much 93-95% in 2060 compared to 2020 levels, nearly realizing China's 2060 carbon-neutrality commitment.

These emissions reductions would come with significant co-benefits, such as reduced air pollution. Chinese cities have some of the worst air pollution in the world, and in Shenzhen and Beijing, transportation has become the largest source of air pollutant (PM2.5). Improving the air quality can reduce premature deaths as well as the incidence of heart, respiratory and nervous diseases.

3 Ways to Achieve Deep Decarbonization in China's Road Transport Sector

To achieve the largest emissions-reduction potential of 95% by 2060 — what we call the deep decarbonization scenario — three measures are critical:

  1. Vehicle electrification and clean power — including battery electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles — have the largest decarbonization potential, contributing 48% of the cumulative GHG emissions reductions compared to the baseline business as usual scenario. If the power and hydrogen-related sectors get significantly greener, following existing roadmaps outlined by the national government and industrial associations, emissions reductions from vehicle electrification could increase even more, to 60%.
  2. Structural changes — including shifting from private cars to buses and improving vehicle occupancy — have the second-largest mitigation potential and can cut cumulative road transport emissions by 23% by 2060. In the near-term, from 2020 to 2035, structural changes have the largest mitigation potential because vehicle electrification is not likely to reach major tipping points during this timeframe, particularly among heavy-duty trucks.
  3. Vehicle fuel-efficiency improvements can generate an additional 17% of cumulative emissions reductions from 2020 to 2060.
Passengers in the Hongkou District of Shanghai, China board an electric bus. New electric technology can help China decarbonize its transportation sector and achieve its national climate plan. Photo by SCQBJ-JZ/iStock

Ultimately, for China to achieve its carbon-neutrality goal, it must make its policies more ambitious. For vehicle electrification, zero-emission vehicles need to represent 100% of passenger car sales by 2035 and 100% of heavy-duty truck sales by 2050. Structurally, China needs to achieve a 75-85% green transport mode share for passenger transport (including bikes, walking and public transport) and 60% low-emitting mode share for freight transport (including railway and water navigation) by 2060.

Unlocking the Potential of Freight

Decarbonizing road freight could yield more than double the emissions reductions of passenger transport from 2020 to 2060. But this requires special attention to policies and technologies.

Policymakers need to tackle the hard-to-abate truck sector, including long-haul, heavy-duty and refrigerated trucks. Current zero-emission vehicle technologies are not only more expensive than diesel vehicles, but also lack the charging infrastructure, battery ranges and vehicle durability to support long-haul operations. In addition to advancing and promoting these technologies, long-haul freight could be shifted to railways and waterways.

Whether liquefied natural gas (LNG) trucks should be treated as a viable decarbonization solution is also worthy of further scrutiny. LNG trucks are increasingly being adopted in China, with the government requiring zero-emission vehicles and natural gas vehicles to collectively represent 40% of annual vehicle sales by 2030. However, our analysis shows that although the CO2 emissions from an LNG heavy-duty truck are 20% lower than those from a diesel truck, the total GHG emissions-reduction potential of an LNG truck is less significant due to methane leakage.

China Will Need Significant Low-Carbon Investments to Reduce its Transport Emissions

Our analysis shows that decarbonizing China's road transport sector would require CNY 39-83 trillion ($5.9- 12.6 trillion) in investments, cumulatively, from 2020 to 2060. The investment demand is the largest from now until 2035, but will steadily decline over time. Across all decarbonization scenarios, transport will require either the largest- or second-largest investment, following the power sector.

Structural changes are the least expensive of these costs. Smaller vehicle fleet sizes, for example, reduce needed investments in power as well as in vehicle and charging infrastructure. As a result, in the two scenarios that would achieve the greatest possible emissions reduction of 93-95% compared to 2020 levels, the average abatement cost of the deep decarbonization scenario is around half the cost of the deep electrification scenario, due to an associated smaller vehicle fleet.

China's Low-Carbon Transport Strategy Has Global Implications

As both an example and because of its scale, China's transport decarbonization strategy has important repercussions domestically and globally. WRI's analysis indicates that getting close to carbon neutrality in road transport is possible, along with substantial air quality co-benefits but only with significant changes to current policies.

To limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) and avert the worst impacts of climate change, research shows that global transport emissions must peak between 2020 and 2025. China's road transport sector needs explicit sectoral emissions-reduction targets, actionable strategies and cost-effective policies to get on track.

beijing_highway.jpg Cities China transportation emissions Climate Energy Clean Energy Electric Mobility public transit Air Quality climatewatch-pinned Type Finding Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Related Resources and Data Decarbonizing China’s Road Transport Sector: Strategies Toward Carbon Neutrality Authors Lulu Xue Daizong Liu
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Profiles of Adaptation: Colombia

1 mes ago
Profiles of Adaptation: Colombia ciara.regan@wri.org Thu, 07/07/2022 - 01:45

The Adaptation Action Coalition's (AAC) country profiles showcase members' efforts in domestic and international adaptation. They aim to highlight recent initiatives, policies, research and programs to share informative examples of how adaptation plans and commitments are being implemented around the world.

Colombia experiences high risks from climate change impacts. Melting of glaciers due to rising temperature and extreme rainfall are among the most prominent, affecting highland areas in the forms of ecosystem degradation, water scarcity, floods and landslides. Coastal zones are exposed to floods due to rising seas and storm surges. Severe water shortages from changes in rainfall patterns and droughts are heavily affecting productivity in the agricultural sector, a major source of food security and export revenue for Colombia. According to the World Bank Group projections, by 2050, climate change in Colombia will impact 14% of the GDP corresponding to agriculture, and that without adaptation, 80% of the country's crops could be impacted in more than 60% of their current areas of cultivation, especially high value perennial and export crops.
For Colombians, responding to climate change is a matter of survival, said Kristie Lopez from the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MADS), who led the effort to update the most recent iteration of Colombia's adaptation communications. For many years already, the ministry has focused on including climate change and variability in its territorial and environmental planning.

How Colombia is Tackling Climate Adaptation

In 2020, Colombia submitted its ambitious enhanced Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), setting the bar high for other countries. Despite having lower resources and capacity allocated for the development of adaptation NDC development than that of mitigation, the adaptation component shows a clear increase in ambition from the previous NDC and puts forward a roadmap for adaptation with extensive sectoral engagement. It contains 30 adaptation goals in fields such as ecosystem conservation and protection, planning and implementation, information management and monitoring and evaluation.

According to Angela Rivera of the Department of Climate Change and Risk Management, for countries of the association of Latin America and the Caribbean (AILAC), NDCs are seen as the main mechanism to show political commitment and ambition to the international community. NDCs additionally highlight priorities and gaps in climate action, she says. In joining the collective strategy of AILAC countries, Colombia has integrated its adaptation communications into the adaptation component of its enhanced NDC to bring international visibility to its national adaptation efforts.

Fostering Synergies Between Instruments

There are several frameworks and processes that inform adaptation action in Colombia such as the NDC, NAP, SISCLIMA and National Development Plan. The National Climate Change Decree (SISCLIMA), for example, is a formal coordinating system that includes the public sector, private sector and civil society, and works through a collaborative and whole-of-government approach to tackle issues such as the pandemic and climate change. However, Colombia recognizes the importance of clarifying distinct functions of each mechanism. For example, whereas the adaptation NDC focuses on current priorities and needs, the NAP outlines Colombia's broader long-term vision for resilience, thereby acting as the core of Colombia's adaptation strategy.

Furthermore, MADS is currently in the process of establishing best practices and guidance documents to identify and leverage synergies between various instruments in the larger national adaptation governance architecture in order to ensure they are aligned and complementary rather than duplicative. For example, adaptation communications are aligned with various domestic instruments used to communicate, report and plan adaptation actions in Colombia, such as their NDC and NAP.

One common challenge, however, is monitoring and evaluation. In line with the Global Stocktake, Colombia has already been working on addressing this problem through its national information system on climate change and is expected to demonstrate progress in the coming years.

Colombia Leads on Nature-Based Solutions and Flood Insurance Programs

Ecosystems-based adaptation, particularly in the agricultural sector, has been a focus of public subnational and local planning. This tactic can help combat serious socioeconomic damages posed by climate change while increasing the resilience of vulnerable farmer communities. In Medellín, Colombia's second-largest city, the Green Corridors project demonstrates the effectiveness of expanding urban forests and green infrastructure, as nature-based solutions, in cities to adapt to rising temperatures and heat waves. Since 2018, the city has seen a 2 degrees c (3.6 degrees F) reduction in ambient air temperature.

In recent years, the private sector has increasingly catalyzed groundbreaking innovation in climate adaptation. Cloud to Street (C2S), a climate adaptation technology company, will roll out the worlds first at-scale parametric flood insurance program, in partnership with parametric insurance platform Raincoat and Munich Re Group. This country-level flood program, powered by C2S's cutting-edge flood intelligence, will provide local payouts with coverage to smallholder farmers across Colombia.

As a steering committee member, Colombia is committed to supporting the Adaptation Action Coalition in helping countries implement action on the ground, in alignment with the global adaptation agenda. The country representatives believe the focus should be on topics that advance the Global Goal on Adaptation by overcoming common challenges in implementation and transmitting knowledge on scalable solutions between countries.

Climate Colombia adaptation Climate climate change Climate Resilience Type Project Update Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Authors Kiyomi de Zoysa
ciara.regan@wri.org

New Data Added to the China Overseas Finance Inventory

1 mes ago
New Data Added to the China Overseas Finance Inventory ciara.regan@wri.org Wed, 07/06/2022 - 11:57

The China Overseas Finance Inventory (COFI) is a comprehensive database of China's investment in power generation abroad. Built with existing public and commercial sources, its purpose is to enable Chinese policymakers, financial institutions and other stakeholders to support decision-making and identify how they can make China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), through which it channels overseas investment, green and sustainable.

We recently updated the part of the COFI database that tracks China's equity and debt investments in the power-generation sector in BRI countries. There were three major updates in the updated COFI database (COFI_v2.0) compared to the COFI database published in February 2022 (COFI_v1.0):

  • We added a new source database, IJ global infrastructure finance data.
  • We updated investment data to include those made in 2021.
  • We added investments made in new BRI countries that have signed BRI memorandums of understanding with China since January 2021.

The update expands coverage of Chinese investments in the power generation sector in Belt and Road countries, from 149.5 gigawatts to 179.3 gigawatts (GW), a 20% increase. The largest increase, 18.8 GW, comes from a new source database IJ global, followed by 8.2 GW of new projects in 2021. There are 2.7 GW of projects from four newly added BRI countries. The chart below gives a summary of capacity added by each element of our update.

Note: *IJ Global Additions Pre-2021: When comparing IJ Global and COFI_v1.0, we only considered investments made between 2000-2020 for consistency in the timeline and ease of comparison. New projects added by IJ Global in 2021 were included in the “2021 New Projects” category.  

The addition of IJ Global improved the coverage of COFI by adding new power plant projects and by supplementing information for existing projects. Most of the expanded coverage by capacity comes from the addition of IJ global  18.8 GW. When comparing COFI_v1.0 and IJ Global's addition from the same period of 2000-2020, IJ Global added 54 new power plants. Installed capacity in most fuel types increased after adding IJ Global to COFI_v1.0. IJ Global also supplemented specific investment and project information, including equity investment amount and installed capacity, for some existing projects in COFI_v1.0.

We updated COFI_v2.0 with 2021 investment data from source databases that maintain yearly updates. It shows the renewable energy trend was very strong. Only commercial databases had new power plant investments that reached financial closure in 2021. There were 13 new power plants in 2021 from IJ Global, and four of them also included in Refinitiv Loan Database. Figure 3 updates the renewable investment trend with 2021 data. Compared to COFI_v1.0, COFI_v2.0 presents an overall increase in the capacity of renewable projects, with a significant increase since 2019. (A dip in the 2009 data is caused by the exclusion of a hydro project that was later canceled; there were also slight capacity decreases in 2012 and 2018 because of the updated capacity from the latest world electric power plant database as part of the COFI_v2.0 update.)

https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/10510184/

We added investments from new BRI countries that signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with China since April 2021. COFI_v2.0 added 12 new power plants from four new BRI countries: Argentina, Central Africa Republic, Eritrea and Malawi. Figure 4 shows the top 10 Chinese debt investment destinations among BRI countries in cCOFI_v2.0. The top five most-invested countries remained the same as COFI_v1.0, but with larger investment totals. Argentina and Bangladesh replaced Ethiopia and Zambia in the top 10 when compared to COFI_v1.0. This is because of the additional projects included in COFI_v2.0 and Argentina as a newly added country.

https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/10510208/

This project is a collaboration among the Global Development Policy Center at Boston University, the Inter-American Dialogue, the China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University and World Resources Institute (WRI).

For more details on the update process and methodology, please refer to our change log. Feel free to download COFI_v2.0 to explore the database yourself and track any new progress made by Chinese investors.

China data climate investment funds Equity Type Project Update Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Authors Ziyi Ma
ciara.regan@wri.org

Clean Air Catalyst Launches in Nairobi

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Clean Air Catalyst Launches in Nairobi ciara.regan@wri.org Tue, 07/05/2022 - 15:36

As work to accelerate global clean air solutions continues, Clean Air Catalyst, a partnership funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and led by WRI and Environmental Defense Fund, is adding Nairobi, Kenya to the project's portfolio of pilot cities. Nairobi joins existing programs in Jakarta, Indonesia and Indore, India as the third city where the catalyst will focus its efforts.

The World Health Organization estimates that 99% of the world's population lives in places where air quality guideline levels are not met, a problem that leads to nearly seven million premature deaths per year, primarily in low- and middle-income countries. Clean Air Catalyst aims to slow this trend by helping cities prioritize air quality solutions that protect health and improve equity while simultaneously confronting the climate crisis.

How the Clean Air Catalyst Will Reduce Air Pollution in Nairobi

Air pollution in Nairobi is 2.4 times higher than the level considered safe by the World Health Organization, and poor air quality is responsible for more than 19,000 deaths in Kenya each year. Air pollution also affects urban livability, including hindering commerce and posing outsized harm to women and children. The worst air quality is found in the city's informal settlements, areas that house more than 70% of Nairobi's residents.

Nairobi's city leaders have signaled a commitment to tackle this issue by developing a city-wide Air Quality Action Plan and passing the Nairobi City County Air Quality Act. However, additional strategic efforts must be taken to protect human life and well-being, particularly for the communities most vulnerable to air pollution.

Clean Air Catalyst's third pilot project will involve close collaboration with national and local government agencies, including Nairobi Metropolitan Services, the Nairobi City County Government, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, and the National Environment Management Authority. The project will prioritize the participation of community members and other local stakeholders to develop a shared understanding of local sources of air pollution, which will be accomplished through the mobilization of air quality monitoring equipment, and through capacity building of local coalitions of public, private and community partners. The project will result in the identification and implementation of effective and sustainable solutions to cleaner, healthier air.

We invite you to learn more about the pilot project and follow clean air catalysts progress by subscribing to our newsletter and visiting our website for project updates.

This Project Update was originally published on the Clean Air Catalyst website.

Cities Kenya Air Quality Cities pollution Type Project Update Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Authors George Mwaniki Amelia Flack
ciara.regan@wri.org

New Project Promotes Integrated Water Resources Management in Ethiopia’s Tana Sub-basin

1 mes ago
New Project Promotes Integrated Water Resources Management in Ethiopia’s Tana Sub-basin ciara.regan@wri.org Tue, 07/05/2022 - 12:30

WRI Africa and WRI's Water Program launched a new project on May 17, 2022. The project — centered on the Tana Sub-basin in Ethiopia and the woredas of North Mecha, Farta and Dera in the Amhara Region — is funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and implemented in partnership with the Millennium Water Alliance, Wateraid and the Abbay Basin Development office. It aims to improve water governance in the basin and project districts and promote healthy watershed management by strengthening water and climate data systems, analytical and management capacities and cross-sectoral coordination.

The project launch was accompanied by a two-day training delivered by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) covering key topics in integrated water resources management and water and land governance, including principles, practices and implementation modalities and the links with the landscape approach.

Water Insecurity in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is vulnerable to recurring drought and water scarcity due to high variability in rainfall and water distribution. Other factors — including climate change, increasing demand for water, land degradation and more — are exacerbating water scarcity, undermining the natural resource base on which sustainable growth, livelihoods and water access depend. As the second-most populous country in Africa, water is central to Ethiopia's development, with potential to drive growth and reduce poverty through investment in irrigation, hydropower and agroindustry.

The Tana Sub-basin is part of the Abbay Basin, which is one of Ethiopia's 12 major river basins, and lies within the Amhara Region. It is a populous area identified as a growth corridor for Ethiopia because of its vast productive potential. Lake Tana, found at the center of the basin, is also a valuable source of freshwater for the region and the river Abbay (Blue Nile).

However, access to clean and reliable sources of water is a challenge for those living in the sub-basin. Rising water withdrawals, agro-industrial pollution, environmental degradation — particularly in the form of deforestation, devegetation and soil erosion — are reducing water availability and jeopardizing economic activities and the livelihood and wellbeing of communities.

Improving Water Resources Management in the Tana Sub-basin

To solve these challenges, it is critical to improve cross-sectoral coordination and the planning and decision-making processes around water. Decision-makers need to consider water's multiple uses and users, the risks to water sources and the hydrological systems within which they lie. However, technical, operational and financial constraints exist, including inadequate data and analytics, limited capacity to pursue water-wise planning, and lack of institutional frameworks for coordination and participation in water-related decisions.

Through the Tana Sub-basin project, WRI will:
  • Enhance data and analytics to help officials at the basin, region and district level understand current and future water risks and better prepare for and manage those risks.
  • Support capacity-building efforts for water- and climate-wise learning, planning and decision-making.
  • Promote on-the-ground interventions in watershed management and water safety that lead to more secure livelihoods and water resilience.
  • Promote coordination among stakeholders, decision-makers, practitioners and other partners in the water resources management and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) spheres to enhance critical linkages with integrated water resources management.

Through the project, WRI will also promote a more holistic approach to water resources management that considers the underlying drivers of water risk and the protection of landscapes and freshwater sources. Healthy watersheds help sustain a stable, safe supply of water, and should be considered integral to water service delivery systems.

For more information, visit our Water for Sustainable Development in Ethiopia Project Page, or contact Francesca Battistelli and Zablon Adane.

Hilton launch1.png Water Africa adaptation climate impacts water risk Water Type Project Update Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Authors Francesca Battistelli Tsion Issayas
ciara.regan@wri.org

STATEMENT: US Supreme Court Curtails EPA’s Authority to Regulate Power Plant Emissions

1 mes 1 semana ago
STATEMENT: US Supreme Court Curtails EPA’s Authority to Regulate Power Plant Emissions julianna.gil@wri.org Thu, 06/30/2022 - 10:27

WASHINGTON (June 30, 2022) – Today the U.S. Supreme Court curtailed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate carbon emissions from the power sector. The Supreme Court ruled that the agency is not authorized to consider shifting generation from dirtier to cleaner power generating sources when establishing greenhouse gas emissions standards under the Clean Air Act provision in question.

The case that led to this decision was brought by coal mining companies and Republican states’ attorneys general in an effort to cripple the EPA’s ability to address climate change. The power sector is the second highest carbon emitter in the United States and last year coal generation increased. Rapidly reducing power plant emissions is essential to achieve the country’s climate goal of reducing emissions 50-52% by 2030 and ensure healthy and safe air quality for all Americans. Research has found that achieving 100% clean electricity in the United States by 2050 could save 1.6 million lives globally through 2100. Congress has the power to expand the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and enact policy that tackles power plant emissions.

Following is a statement from Dan Lashof, Director, WRI United States:

“The Supreme Court’s illogical decision to hamstring the EPA’s ability to limit carbon pollution from power plants makes it much harder for the agency to achieve its core mission to protect human health and the environment. The ruling ignores the interconnected structure of the power sector and imposes unnecessary limits on the pollution reduction options EPA can consider, which will result in higher costs and worse air pollution across the United States. Nonetheless, EPA should move forward with setting standards at the plant level, for which it has a strong basis.

“Congress must step up and finally start regulating emissions from the power sector and making climate investments that accelerate a transition to clean electricity. States, cities and the private sector also have roles to play in advancing a whole-of-society approach to tackle the climate crisis. Shifting to cleaner sources of electricity would lower Americans’ utility bills, protect our climate and dramatically cut down on air pollution that plagues communities across the nation, especially those that are disadvantaged and marginalized.”

U.S. Climate United States Type Statement Exclude From Blog Feed? 0
julianna.gil@wri.org

RELEASE: Finalists for 2021-22 WRI Ross Center Prize for Cities Show How to Thrive Together in Turbulent Times

1 mes 1 semana ago
RELEASE: Finalists for 2021-22 WRI Ross Center Prize for Cities Show How to Thrive Together in Turbulent Times julianna.gil@wri.org Wed, 06/29/2022 - 12:00

KATOWICE, POLAND (June 29, 2022) — World Resources Institute announced five projects as finalists for the 2021-2022 WRI Ross Center Prize for Cities today at the 11th World Urban Forum in Katowice, Poland. The Prize for Cities is WRI’s urban transformation award, recognizing the leaders creating more sustainable and inclusive cities worldwide.  

This cycle’s theme, “Thriving Together in Turbulent Times,” invited submissions demonstrating how cities are responding to uncertainty, disruption and crisis. With 260 applications from 155 cities in 65 countries, the applicant pool demonstrates enormous drive, commitment and creativity in responding to an increasingly tumultuous world. 

Through the Prize, WRI seeks to inspire urban changemakers across the globe by elevating trailblazing initiatives, telling impactful stories of sustainable urban transformation, and creating a network of changemakers.  

“The Prize is something very special because it offers a barometer of the challenges cities are facing and then unearths the most impactful and innovative responses,” said Ani Dasgupta, President and CEO at WRI. “It recognizes the very best ideas, working at scale, and celebrates the people and places driving change. By holding up exemplary leadership, it encourages the global urban community to strive for excellence in their own cities.”  

“For the 2021-2021 cycle we challenged people to show it’s possible to create outsized positive change even during times of unprecedented uncertainty and disruption,” said Anne Maassen, Global Lead for the Prize. “The finalists address a range of challenges – natural disasters, climate and public health emergencies, gridlocked mobility systems and a housing crisis. They’ve lifted up a kaleidoscope of beneficiaries, including the urban poor, women, children, transgender people, migrants, and informal workers, and helped their cities become more resilient, inclusive and better prepared to withstand future shocks.” 

 The five finalists are: 

  • Todos al Parque (Barranquilla, Colombia): Barranquilla’s citywide urban parks project, led by the mayor’s office, is reversing decades of decline and insecurity by creating safe and healthy greenspaces for residents in every neighborhood of the city. 
  • Participatory Housing and Urban Development in Iloilo City (Iloilo City, The Philippines): In Iloilo City, the Homeless People’s Federation Philippines and the city government are addressing the complex urban housing crisis from the ground up and without uprooting communities from their jobs and support systems.  
  • The Urban Wage Employment Initiative – MUKTA (Odisha State, India): During India’s COVID-19 lockdown, the Department of Housing and Urban Development of the Government of Odisha State pioneered an innovative mass employment scheme in cities for migrants, informal workers and the urban poor that created climate-sensitive infrastructure and has now been replicated by other Indian states at a massive scale.    
  • The 15-Minute City (Paris, France): The Mayor of Paris and Chaire ETI sparked a global movement to tackle car dominance, climate change and urban inequality by creating the “15-minute city;” now more residents have services and amenities at their doorsteps.  
  • ZU Peshawar (Peshawar, Pakistan): TransPeshawar is putting vulnerable people at the center of the city’s new public transit system, unlocking life-changing opportunities for women and children, and thereby creating a safer and healthier city for everyone. 

These exceptional finalists were chosen through a rigorous selection process. Criteria included the extent to which submissions demonstrated big, innovative ideas and novel approaches; life-changing impact on people’s lives, mindsets and behaviors; and ripple effects across and beyond the city. Finalists are chosen by a large evaluation team, and the $250,000-grand prize winner is selected by an independent jury of leaders in urban affairs. The four runners-up each receive $25,000. The grand prize winner will be announced in December 2022. 

Previous grand prize winners have demonstrated the vision, coalition-building and perseverance that are key to sustaining change and amplifying lessons learned. The 2020-2021 grand prize was awarded to Sustainable Food Production for a Resilient Rosario, a far-reaching urban agriculture program from the municipality of Rosario, Argentina. In 2019, the inaugural grand prize was awarded to SARSAI, a program of the non-profit Amend, for its highly impactful and replicable approach to creating safer journeys to school for children in Dar es Salaam and other African cities. 

###

About World Resources Institute  

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

About WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities 

WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities is the World Resources Institute’s program dedicated to shaping a future where cities work better for everyone. It enables more connected, compact and coordinated cities. The Center expands the transport and urban development expertise of the EMBARQ network to catalyze innovative solutions in other sectors, including air quality, water, buildings, land use and energy. It combines the research excellence of WRI with two decades of on-the-ground impact through a network of more than 350 experts working from Brazil, China, Ethiopia, India, Mexico, Turkey and the United States to make cities around the world better places to live. More information at www.wrirosscities.org.

Cities Prize for Cities Type Press Release Exclude From Blog Feed? 0
julianna.gil@wri.org

Profiles of Adaptation: Japan

1 mes 1 semana ago
Profiles of Adaptation: Japan ciara.regan@wri.org Wed, 06/29/2022 - 11:40

The Adaptation Action Coalition's (AAC) country profiles showcase members' efforts in domestic and international adaptation. They aim to highlight recent initiatives, policies, research and programs to share informative examples of how adaptation plans and commitments are being implemented around the world.

Japan is a country that confronts a wide array of natural hazards — from earthquakes and tsunamis to frequent typhoons, deadly heatwaves and landslides. But the country has also been proactive in boosting its resiliency to these disasters. The world has a lot to learn from its experiences.

Japan's National Climate Change Adaptation Act

The Climate Change Adaptation Act enacted in 2018 provides the country's legal foundation for adaptation measures. It mandated the establishment of Japan's Climate Change Adaptation Plan, to be monitored and updated every five years.

In October 2021, the Japanese cabinet approved the revised Climate Change Adaptation Plan. The Japanese government then submitted to the UNFCC its adaptation communication, outlining the latest impacts of climate change and expanding its adaptation intentions to areas such as disaster risk reduction, agriculture and health. The plan includes strategies for: coordinating and collaborating adaptation policies across relevant ministries; developing climate research, an information infrastructure and disseminating climate information; implementing localized adaptation measures; improving public awareness; promoting adaptation action in business sector; and providing aid for climate change adaptation in developing countries.

In addition, the revised plan includes a total of 66 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for sectoral and fundamental measures to monitor the progress of each measure. The Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) approach has been introduced to manage the progress of the plan, specifically by using these KPIs and following up each year to manage the progress of short-term measures implemented by ministries and agencies. The relevant ministries collect a wide range of indicator data, while the climate change adaptation promotion council monitors progress of medium- and long-term adaptation measures every five years.

Local and National Actions for Implementing Adaptation

In addition to national legislation, Japan is working to implement adaptation in several ways. Domestically, local climate change adaptation centers at the municipal and prefectural levels play important roles to support locally led adaptation. These centers collect and provide climate information to businesses and residents and incorporate local knowledge and capacity building into their plans. As of April 2022, there are active centers in 38 out of 47 prefectures.

In recent years, the Ministry of Environment (MOE) and the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) have ramped up support for private sector investments and innovative startups that help to manage climate risks. METI has identified seven promising areas where Japanese companies can contribute on an international scale through adaptation businesses: resilient infrastructure against natural disasters; sustainable energy supply; food security and agricultural production; health and sanitation; climate monitoring and early warning; secure resources and sustainable water supply; and climate change finance. In line with these areas, a collection of good practices on climate change adaptation was compiled in February 2022 by the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI). METI promotes adaptation business initiatives by sharing and showcasing good practices of Japanese adaptation business at seminars in Japan and abroad.

Japan also has deep expertise in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), which is applied internationally through development assistance. Examples include projects such as a flood-resilient subway system in Bangkok, Thailand and erosion-control dams in Indonesia that utilize Japanese erosion control technology. Building infrastructure that is resilient to local disaster risks can alleviate disasters impacts on the economy and facilitate recovery and reconstruction. Japans early warning systems technologies, particularly against earthquakes/tsunamis, typhoons and heatwaves, are some of the most advanced in the world.

Japan distributes user-friendly climate information nationwide to facilitate adaptation actions by all stakeholders. Its climate change Adaptation Information Platform (A-PLAT) consolidates climate risk information so that local governments can more easily apply it to formulate local adaptation plans. A-PLAT also showcases innovative measures being carried out in prefectures across Japan. The platform acts as a nexus between national and local research and governance, collaborating on building a cohesive national ecosystem of resilience.

A Global Leader in Adaptation Assistance

Japan also offers a great deal to climate resilience globally, in terms of both technical and financial assistance. Expanding upon the domestic A-PLAT platform described above, the national institute for environmental studies of Japan launched a revamped Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Information Platform (AP-PLAT) website in 2021 to promote climate-resilient societies across the Asia-Pacific region. Its three main pillars of services are: (1) providing easy-to-understand, cutting-edge scientific knowledge on climate change adaptation; (2) developing tools to help co-create regional climate-related risk information infrastructure; and (3) offering capacity-building and trainings for adaptation policy development and project development. It facilitates practical international partnerships to share knowledge, which in turn informs effective national adaptation plans and policies.

Japan is also a global leader in adaptation finance. It has committed to doubling adaptation finance to approximately $14.8 billion from public and private sources from 2021 to 2025. The country also contributed about $6 million to the adaptation fund in march 2022 toward the global goal of doubling adaptation finance. Its international development assistance agency, JICA, shares Japanese adaptation know-how and technology in sectors such as DRR, water resources and agriculture around the world.

Consistent with its global and regional leadership in climate change adaptation, Japan demonstrates its leadership on the Adaptation Action Coalition (AAC) as a steering committee member. Japans AAC focal points believe that sectoral workstreams are where, together, the AAC can drive the most impactful change in climate adaptation globally.

Equity Japan adaptation adaptation finance Climate Resilience climate impacts Type Project Update Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Authors Kiyomi de Zoysa
ciara.regan@wri.org
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