The POWER Initiative: Energy Transition as Economic Development

The POWER Initiative: Energy Transition as Economic Development. Congressional Research Service. Michael H. Cecire. November 20, 2019

With the decline of the U.S. coal industry, managing the economic effects of energy transition has become a priority for the federal government. The Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative, and the broader POWER Plus Plan of which it was a part, represent the U.S. government’s efforts to ease the economic effects of energy transition in coal industry-dependent communities in the United States, and especially in Appalachia. Launched in 2015 by the Obama Administration as a multi-agency effort utilizing various existing programs, the POWER Plus plan received partial backing through appropriations for Fiscal Year 2016 (FY2016) to the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Economic Development Administration, and for abandoned mine land reclamation. 

Accelerating the Low Carbon Transition: The Case For Stronger, More Targeted And Coordinated International Action

Accelerating the Low Carbon Transition: The Case For Stronger, More Targeted And Coordinated International Action. Brookings Institution. David G. Victor, Frank W. Geels, and Simon Sharpe.  December 9, 2019

The world is committed to acting on climate change. At least since the signing of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992, the international community has been united in its commitment to preventing ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system’. In the Paris agreement of 2015, almost all countries set out individual targets or actions they would take towards meeting this collective goal. Earlier this year, the UN Climate Action Summit highlighted many examples of governments, businesses and civil society groups leading the way to a low carbon economy. There is general consensus on the need for deep cuts in emissions as rapidly as is practical. However, it is equally clear that emissions are still rising, not falling, and economic change is not happening anywhere near quickly enough. Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 71 pages].

Public-Sector Measures to Conserve and Restore Forests: Overcoming Economic and Political Economy Barriers

Public-Sector Measures to Conserve and Restore Forests: Overcoming Economic and Political Economy Barriers. World Resources Institute. Rohini Chaturvedi et al. November 2019

This working paper is a contribution to the FOLU 2019 report, Growing Better: Ten Critical Transitions to Transform Food and Land Use. The paper answers four questions:

  • Why are forests critical to economic development and human well-being?
  • What public sector measures could conserve and restore forests?
  • Why haven’t these public measures sufficiently worked at scale yet?

How can one overcome the economic and political economy barriers to these measures? [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 84 pages].

Oil and Gas Industry Engagement on Climate Change: Drivers, Actions, and Path Forward

Oil and Gas Industry Engagement on Climate Change: Drivers, Actions, and Path Forward. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Stephen J. Naimoli, Sarah Ladislaw. October 1, 2019.

The most important strategic issue facing the energy industry today is climate change. As the earth’s average temperature continues to rise with the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the stable functioning of earth’s natural systems adjusts to the new, high-carbon reality and society begins to witness the effects of an altered natural environment and its impact on our lives and livelihoods. Most greenhouse gas emissions are caused by human activity, including the burning of fossil fuels. This reality demands a change to our energy system. Given this threat, governments are increasingly enacting policies to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and investors in companies that sell fossil fuels are putting increasing pressure on management to show how they will navigate an energy system in transition. In addition, the economics of renewable energy are becoming increasingly attractive, creating potential alternatives to fossil fuels. Facing all of these drivers, some oil and gas companies are strategizing to become “energy companies,” adapting to this global energy transition. This report, based on research and a workshop held at CSIS in February 2019 with industry, investors, academics, and environmental groups, attempts to explore how oil and gas companies are taking action to address climate change, how these actions fit with the overall needs of the energy transition, and whether there is more companies can do to contribute to the solution set of this problem. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 39 pages].

Enhancing NDCs: A Guide to Strengthening National Climate Plans

Enhancing NDCs: A Guide to Strengthening National Climate Plans. World Resources Institute.  Taryn Fransen et al. September 2019.

Published by WRI and UNDP, Enhancing NDCs: A Guide to Strengthening National Climate Plans is designed to help practitioners think through how to structure their country’s enhanced NDCs across three dimensions: strengthening targets to reduce emissions (mitigation), enhancing climate resilience (adaptation) and clearly communicating their actions to build trust and facilitate effective implementation. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 76 pages].

The Endangered Species Act and Climate Change: Selected Legal Issues

The Endangered Species Act and Climate Change: Selected Legal Issues. Congressional Research Service. Linda Tsang. September 20, 2019

For more than a decade, federal agencies have grappled with how to address climate change effects when implementing the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA). The ESA aims to protect threatened and endangered fish, wildlife, and plants from extinction. As set forth by Congress, one of the main purposes of the ESA is to “provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered species and threatened species depend may be conserved.” 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) (collectively, the Services) have acknowledged that the changing climate may threaten the survival of and habitat for some species. As noted by courts and legal scholars, the ESA does not expressly require the Services to consider the effect of climate change in their ESA decisions. However, the ESA and its implementing regulations (1) direct the Services to consider “natural or manmade factors affecting [a species’] continued existence” when determining whether a species should be protected under the ESA; and (2) require the Services to analyze cumulative effects on a species’ survival when analyzing whether federal actions jeopardize a species protected under the Act. The courts and the Services have interpreted these provisions as requiring the Services to consider climate change effects in the ESA decisionmaking process. Various lawsuits have challenged the Services’ interpretation of complex scientific data or models that predict short- and long-term effects from a changing global climate on specific species and their habitats.

[PDF format, 22 pages].

National Forest System Management: Overview, Appropriations, and Issues for Congress

National Forest System Management: Overview, Appropriations, and Issues for Congress. Congressional Research Service. Katie Hoover, Anne A. Riddle. Updated September 5, 2019 

The 193 million acres of the National Forest System (NFS) comprise 154 national forests, 20 national  grasslands, and several other federal land designations. Management of the NFS is one of the three principal responsibilities of the Forest Service (FS), an agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Most NFS lands are concentrated in the western United States, although FS administers more federal land in the East than all other federal agencies combined. The Secretary of Agriculture has various authorities to acquire or dispose of NFS lands, although these are often constrained by geography or other factors. 

[PDF format, 28 pages].