By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.
Recently, the State of New Jersey released its draft 2019 Environmental Management Plan (EMP), which aims to achieve 100 percent carbon neutral electricity generation and maximum transition to electrification of the building and transportation sectors by 2050. In addition to these goals, New Jersey also intends to reduce GHG emissions to meet the New Jersey Global Warming Response Act (GWRA) GHG limits. GWRA’s 2050 target requires that New Jersey reduce GHG emissions by 80 percent from 2006, which is equivalent to 25.4 million metric tons (MMT) of carbon dioxide. Doing so in the most cost effective and beneficially economic way is critical to the state, which will be considering the entirety of its energy demand. Part of New Jersey’s plan is to reduce carbon by incentivizing:
- The deployment of renewable generation;
- Carbon neutral distributed energy resources;
- Upgrades to the grid that handles variable electricity loads; and
- Decreased energy demand through efficiency and conservation measure.
The full draft 2019 EMP can be accessed here
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On June 2, 2019, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced the approval, by the IATA 75th Annual General Meeting (AGM), of the United Nations’ (UN) International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) resolution, which calls governments to continue work on the implementation of the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). The first global carbon pricing instrument for an industry sector, CORSIA will cap carbon dioxide emissions from international aviation at 2020 levels (carbon-neutral growth (CNG)). Between 2020 and 2035, CORSIA aims to mitigate over 2.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide generating at least $40 billion in finance for carbon reduction initiatives. AGM urged ICAO member states to take a number of measures:
- Consider participation in CORSIA in the pilot phase;
- Align domestic regulations on the monitoring, verification, and reporting of emissions with CORSIA’s standards, preventing market distortions through its requirements;
- Implement CORSIA as the single global market-based mechanism for climate change mitigation; and
- Avoid the implementation of overlapping/duplicate measures such as unilateral carbon taxes.
IATA’s Director General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) stated: “CORSIA is a landmark accomplishment. It is a concrete, well-defined way forward to cap global emissions from international aviation. States must not compromise it with inconsistent implementation or by adding a patchwork of taxes on top of it. Its vital mission is to stop growth in net emissions from aviation.” AGM also discussed steps beyond CORSIA, setting the goal to cut net emissions by half of 2005 levels by 2050. Focused on a long-term strategy, IATA calls for investments in better efficiency measures such as sustainable aviation fuels, new aircrafts, and better procedures.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On May 15, 2019, Neste, a Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) member, announced the introduction of a sustainable menu to be served on Zero Island. A Neste initiative to find sustainable solutions for building a fossil-free future for an island, Zero Island is located in the Swedish archipelago. The newly developed menu, also known as the Zero Menu, has been developed with renowned chef Jonas Svensson, taking into consideration not only what is served on the plate, but also how it is produced and transported. The goal of the Zero Menu is to minimize waste, making it easier for people to make sustainable choices. Food production is responsible for a large percentage of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions due to livestock, transportation, packaging, storing, processing, and energy used to cook the food. Hence, the need for sustainable food options as the population grows. The Zero Menu was created to address these needs. It is designed to cause minimal amounts of fossil emissions from the field to the table. All ingredients on the menu are sustainably and locally produced, transported with lower fossil fuel emissions, and cooked with the minimum amount of energy without food waste.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On April 25, 2019, the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) held an event to provide an overview of their latest publication, a book titled Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States. Providing an overview of the book, a few of the authors were part of a panel discussion opened by William K. Reilly, former EPA Administrator under President George H. W. Bush. In his opening remarks, Mr. Reilly emphasized the potential existing with politics to change culture to achieve low-carbon emissions in the near future. Following Mr. Reilly, Commonwealth Professor of Environmental Law and Sustainability Director at Widener University, John C. Dernbach, started the panel discussion by providing an overview of the contents of the book. According to Professor Dernbach, deep decarbonization is defined as achieving at least 80 percent GHG emissions through deep cuts by 2050. The book therefore contains chapters on federal, state, and tribal legal tools that are available to decarbonize the U.S. In the book, the authors present twelve types of legal tools available; some that are regulatory tools, and some that are not. Types of legal tools include, research and development (R&D), market leveraging approaches, removal of incentives for fossil fuels, and infrastructure development, among others. During the event, other authors and co-authors spoke about specific chapters of the book, stating that they were almost certain that the legal tools available would create economic, social, and environmental security. Unfortunately, the event was interrupted by a fire alarm in the building. For further information, the book can be found for purchase here.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On April 17, 2019, Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, Francois Villeroy de Galhau, Governor of the Banque de France, and Frank Edelson, Chair of the Network for Greening the Financial Services (NGFS), published an open letter on the financial implications of global warming. Co-signed by the NGFS coalition, consisting of 34 central banks, the letter warns of global warming’s potential damage to infrastructure and private property, negative human health effects, decrease in productivity, and wealth destruction. The letter states that no countries are immune to the effects of climate change and that “if some companies and industries fail to adjust to this new world, they will fail to exist.” Although the Paris agreement has and continues to promote a low-carbon economy, further measures would be central to achieving zero net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Key to reaching this goal would be a massive reallocation of capital, the financial experts highlight.
Given the challenges associated with achieving zero-carbon emissions, in the letter, Carney, Villeroy de Galhau, and NGFS members propose four recommendations to policymakers and financial firms:
- The integration of climate-related financial risks into daily work, financial stability monitoring, and board risk management. Policymakers and financial firms should conduct scenario analyses and take a long-term strategic approach, which considers risks associated with global warming. These risks should be embedded it into their business-as-usual governance and risk-management frameworks.
- Leadership by example, particularly by central banks, to integrate sustainability into their own portfolio management.
- Internal and external collaboration among public authorities to bridge data gaps important to assessments of climate-related risks.
- In-house capacity building and knowledge sharing with various stakeholders on the financial risks related to climate change.
According to the letter, the successful implementation of these four recommendations would lead to two broader calls for action on disclosure and classification of these risks. Market and regulators’ support in assessing risks and opportunities from climate change accompanied by consistent international disclosure are critical. In addition, NGFS members also encourage the development of a classification system to identify economic activities that would contribute to the transition to a low-carbon economy. In sum, robust leadership and collaboration play a crucial role in identifying global solutions for the financial sector.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On March 13, 2019, the European Commission (EC) published a fact sheet on the sustainability for biofuels specified. EC adopted a delegated act that sets out the criteria for determining high low indirect land-use change (ILUC) risk feedstock for biofuels and the criteria for certifying ILUC-risk biofuels, bioliquids, and biomass fuels. ILUC-risk fuels consist of fuels produced from food and feed crops that significantly expand globally into land with high carbon stock (high ILUC-risk fuels). The consequences of creating high ILUC-risk fuels relate to the release of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which negates the emissions savings from the use of biofuels rather than fossil fuels. ILUC is addressed in the delegated act through two measures: one measure sets national limits for the total contribution towards the renewable energy targets for biofuels, bioliquids, and biomass fuels from food or feed crops; and the other measure sets national limits as Member States’ 2019 level for the period 2021-2023.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On February 12, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its draft Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2017 (Emissions Inventory) for public review. EPA is requesting recommendations on how to improve the overall quality of the Emissions Inventory, which is expected to be issued in final in April 2019. The Emissions Inventory tracks U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and sinks by man-made source and economic sector since 1990. Once it is prepared in final, the Emissions Inventory will then be submitted to the United Nations in accordance with the Framework Convention on Climate Change. The deadline for comment submission is March 14, 2019; the full Emissions Inventory can be accessed here. In addition, EPA has also developed an interactive tool for interested parties to access the data from the national greenhouse gas inventory. Users can create customized graphs, download data, and analyze trends over time. Once the Emissions Inventory is published in April, the national greenhouse gas inventory will be updated accordingly.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On February 7, 2019, Representative Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), in partnership with Senator Ed Markey (D- MA), released the outline for the Green New Deal, a policy package designed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through the transformation of the U.S. economy. The outline includes highlights on the systemic impact from climate change, particularly on women, indigenous populations, deindustrialized and migrant communities, the poor, communities of color, depopulated rural communities, low-income workers, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth. Stating that climate change poses a direct threat to the U.S. national security, the outline of the Deal makes it the federal government’s duty to pass its measures. These duties include transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy; creating millions of high-wage jobs; ensuring economic security for everyone; investing in infrastructure and industry; ensuring clean air and water, climate and community resiliency, access to healthy food, and a sustainable environment; and promoting justice and equity that currently prevent oppression repair. According to Ocasio-Cortez’s outline, all Green New Deal goals should be addressed in ten years through:
- Resiliency building against climate change-related disasters;
- Pollution elimination;
- Expansion of renewable and zero-emission energy sources;
- Spurring growth in clean manufacturing;
- Promoting sustainable farming;
- Building a sustainable food system;
- Provision of resources, training, and education; and
- Public investment in research and development (R&D), among other measures.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On January 28, 2019, Growth Energy, an ethanol supporters group, submitted joint comments with the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) to the Government of Ontario, Canada, in support of the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan (Plan). The Plan outlines the government’s commitment to addressing climate change through the protection of land, air, water, and reduction of waste and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Posted by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, the Plan would increase ethanol use in gasoline by 15 percent in 2025, increase the use of renewable gas and fuels, establish emission performance standards for large emitters, and provide financial assistance for emissions reduction initiatives. Pleased with the Ontario Government’s proposal to increase the ethanol content of gasoline, Growth Energy and USGC highlight the “tremendous benefits to the public” it will provide through lower GHG emissions and levels of other pollutants, better fuel properties, and economic benefits to Canada’s agricultural economy. The letter also reassures Ontario that the increase in demand from a move to 15 percent ethanol (E15) will be met. The two organizations provide additional information on the approval and use of E15 in the U.S., with a note that since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) approval of this rule in 2011, retail and wholesale of E15 continues to grow. The letter concludes by emphasizing once more the substantial advances to Ontario’s goals should the proposed Plan be implemented. According to the letter, the goals and promises of the Plan are not only achievable, but also would still support consumer choice and ensure compliance flexibility and transparency.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On December 6, 2018, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) wrote a letter to President Donald Trump requesting that, in 2019, any infrastructure package to be considered include a focus on the clean energy economy to address climate change. Emphasizing that climate change is, in fact, real and caused by humans, Senator Schumer refers to the Administration’s recent National Climate Assessment report and the drastic need to reduce emissions. In the letter, Senator Schumer outlines a number of policies that must be included in an infrastructure package in the next Congress. Among these policies are the need to:
- Invest in research, development, and deployment of clean energy, energy efficiency, carbon reduction, and energy storage technologies;
- Provide permanent tax incentives and investments for domestic production of clean energy and renewable power; and
- Invest in upgrades in clean energy for public schools, buildings, and other infrastructure.
Senator Schumer concludes his letter to President Trump highlighting that “[t]he challenge is immense, but so is the opportunity to revitalize and modernize our infrastructure, create new jobs and economic opportunities, and position the United States as a leader in clean energy innovation.”