Decarbonizing the Electric Power Sector

Decarbonizing the Electric Power Sector. Center for Strategic & International Studies. CSIS Briefs. Stephen Naimoli and Sarah Ladislaw. May 12, 2020.

In 2018, the power sector emitted 13.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, 41 percent of total global emissions. To have a chance of holding global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius relative to its preindustrial level, global emissions from all economic sectors, including the power sector, must be reduced to net-zero around 2050.
One of the challenges of decarbonizing the power sector is sufficiently reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while guaranteeing reliability, security, and affordability. Solar and wind power are zero-carbon technologies, but their variability could challenge grid stability if they are not properly balanced by sufficient storage and firm power. Jesse Jenkins, a Princeton professor and one of the speakers at CSIS’s March 30 event on power sector decarbonization, likens the power system to a balanced diet: directly comparing the costs of variable renewable energy to those of firm power sources is like comparing the cost of a banana to the cost of a hamburger. Both can be evaluated on cost alone, but doing so misses the different roles they play in a balanced electric power system. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 7 pages].

Coronavirus Has Shown Us a World Without Traffic. Can We Sustain It?

Coronavirus Has Shown Us a World Without Traffic. Can We Sustain It? Brookings Institution. Adie Tomer and Lara Fishbane. Friday, May 1, 2020

There are few silver linings to the COVID-19 pandemic, but free-flowing traffic is certainly one of them. For the essential workers who still must commute each day, driving to work has suddenly become much easier. The same applies to the trucks delivering our surging e-commerce orders. Removing so many cars from the roads has even led to cleaner air, clearer views, and more room for outdoor recreation, even in major cities.
Yet, stay-at-home orders are far from an ideal way to eliminate traffic. If the choice is between brutal congestion or full employment, we’ll take full employment every time. Nor were governments prepared for the loss in gas tax revenue, which leaves their transportation budgets in tatters.
Now, with many states considering lifting their stay-at-home orders, the question is whether the country can resume economic activity without bringing back the worst effects of our driving. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[HTML format, various paging].

Mapping Public Water Management: Proof of Concept

Mapping Public Water Management: Proof of Concept. World Resources Institute. Cristina Logg et al. April 2020

What cannot be measured cannot be managed. Poor water management poses major risks to agriculture, industry and local communities. However, there is a critical lack of information available about local water conditions — making better management difficult. WRI’s Water Program studies local water data and governance and shares best practices in order to advance context-driven, meaningful water management.
WRI and the Pacific Institute are currently working to map public water risk by harmonizing and sharing water risk information among industrial water users on the following criteria:
• Access to information on water quantity and quality
• State of infrastructure
• Existence and enforcement of allocations and caps
• Local pricing systems
This Technical Note documents the results of a pilot with 6 companies and 41 facilities, and creates an updated question set to better understand conditions of public water management. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 28 pages].

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): An Overview

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): An Overview. Congressional Research Service. Kelsi Bracmort. Updated April 14, 2020

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requires U.S. transportation fuel to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuel. The RFS—established by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58; EPAct05) and expanded in 2007 by the Energy Independence and Security Act (P.L. 110-140; EISA)—began with 4 billion gallons of renewable fuel in 2006 and is scheduled to ascend to 36 billion gallons in 2022. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has statutory authority to determine the volume amounts fter 2022.
The total renewable fuel statutory target consists of both conventional biofuel and advanced biofuel. Since 2014, the total renewable fuel statutory target has not been met, with the advanced biofuel portion falling below the statutory target by a relatively large margin since 2015. Going forward, it appears unlikely that the United States will meet the total renewable fuel target as outlined in statute.

[PDF format, 17 pages].

Implementing Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)

Implementing Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). World Resources Institute. Massimiliano Riva et al. March 2020

How countries’ nationally determined contributions (NDCs) are implemented and improved upon over time will determine whether the long-term temperature goal of the Paris Agreement is achieved.
Each country will prepare for and implement its NDC in different ways, based on the nature of its NDC, how the NDC was first developed, and its national circumstances. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 116 pages].

Guidance for Calculating Water Use Embedded in Purchased Electricity

Guidance for Calculating Water Use Embedded in Purchased Electricity. World Resources Institute. Paul Reig et al. February 2020

This working paper provides the first comprehensive approach published that guides organizations on how to calculate upstream water withdrawals and consumption associated with purchased electricity. In addition to a structured methodology, the guidance document provides international country-level and U.S. subnational-level water use factors detailing grid average water withdrawal and consumption resulting from electricity consumption. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 116 pages].

Climate Solutions Series: Deep Decarbonization Pathways

Climate Solutions Series: Deep Decarbonization Pathways: CSIS Briefs. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Stephen J. Naimoli, Sarah Ladislaw. March 10, 2020

Reducing emissions to lessen the long-term impacts of a warming climate has been a shared objective of the international community for decades. To date, progress toward this goal has not kept pace with pathways necessary to deliver a stabilized climate by the end of the century. The result is that the emissions pathways necessary to achieve this target relative to current activity are necessarily steeper and the energy and land-use system changes required are more abrupt. The current scientific consensus indicates that to stabilize the climate and prevent the most catastrophic effects of climate change, we must reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to net-zero by or soon after 2050.1,2 In 2010, GHG emissions reached 49 gigatons of carbon dioxide (CO2)-equivalent per year. To reach net-zero, the world must reduce emissions through a combination of replacing GHG-emitting resources with zero-emissions sources and capturing emissions from the remaining sources that cannot be replaced. This resource brief explores how to understand the pathways to net-zero emissions and some of the ways to achieve this goal. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 8 pages].

As Economic Concerns Recede, Environmental Protection Rises on the Public’s Policy Agenda

As Economic Concerns Recede, Environmental Protection Rises on the Public’s Policy Agenda. Pew Research Center. February 13, 2020

Partisan gap on dealing with climate change gets even wider

Reflecting a strong U.S. economy, Americans’ policy priorities have changed in recent years. The public now places less priority on economic and job concerns than it did just a few years ago. At the same time, environmental protection and global climate change are rising on the public’s agenda for the president and Congress.
For the first time in Pew Research Center surveys dating back nearly two decades, nearly as many Americans say protecting the environment should be a top policy priority (64%) as say this about strengthening the economy (67%). [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 27 pages].

Methane and Other Air Pollution Issues in Natural Gas Systems

Methane and Other Air Pollution Issues in Natural Gas Systems. Congressional Research Service. Richard K. Lattanzio. Updated January 24, 2020

Congressional interest in U.S. energy policy has often focused on ways through which the United States could secure more economical, reliable, and cleaner fossil fuel resources both domestically and internationally. Recent expansion in natural gas production, primarily as a result of new or improved technologies (e.g., hydraulic fracturing, directional drilling) used on unconventional resources (e.g., shale, tight sands, and coalbed methane) has made natural gas an increasingly significant component in the U.S. energy supply. This expansion, however, has prompted questions about the potential impacts of natural gas systems on human health and the environment, including impacts on air quality.

[PDF format, 30 pages].

Playbook for Guiding Diners Toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service

Playbook for Guiding Diners Toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service. World Resources Institute. Sophie Attwood et al. January 2020

Producing beef emits 20 times more greenhouse gases than common plant-based proteins, which is why shifting diets toward containing less beef, and more plants, is an important climate action. To help food service companies support diners in choosing more plant-rich meals, this playbook from WRI’s Better Buying Lab outlines the top 23 ‘behavior change’ strategies drawing on cutting edge academic research into how people choose food, as well as insights from experts in the food service industry about what works and what doesn’t.

The playbook is designed to be used by anyone working in the food service sector wishing to make changes within their operations to encourage diners to choose more sustainable, plant-rich options — including chefs, food servers, managers, sales people, marketing and communications professionals, food operators, distributors, researchers, nutritionists, dieticians, and procurement teams. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 80 pages].
Continue reading