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].

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].

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].

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].

Impact of Climate Risk on the Energy System: Examining the Financial, Security, and Technology Dimensions

Impact of Climate Risk on the Energy System: Examining the Financial, Security, and Technology Dimensions. Council on Foreign Relations.   Amy Myers Jaffe et al. September 10, 2019.

Climate change poses risks to energy security, financial markets, and national security. Energy companies and local, state, and federal governments need to better prepare to face these challenges. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 87 pages]. 

Research Handbook on Climate Change Adaptation Policy

Research Handbook on Climate Change Adaptation Policy. Social and Political Science. June 3, 2019.

This topical and engaging Research Handbook illustrates the variety of research approaches in the field of climate change adaptation policy in order to provide a guide to its social and institutional complexity. A range of international expert contributors offer interdisciplinary explorations of climate change adaptation policy from policy sciences, legal, and practitioner perspectives. Using examples from a variety of sectors including water, health and land use, and multiple levels of governance and country contexts, from international to local, and developing to developed countries, the chapters examine a wealth of theoretical orientations towards climate change adaptation policy and their underpinnings. In doing so, this Research Handbook provides an understanding of the complexity of the institutions, decision-makers and assumptions that are involved in adaptation research as well as adaptation policy development and implementation. This Research Handbook will be an indispensable resource for both researchers and practitioners in climate change adaptation with an interest in the research methods and policies that support and advance it. Undergraduate and postgraduate students of environmental studies, public policy and politics will also find this book provides a valuable foundation for building a deeper knowledge of adaptation science and policy. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 528 pages].

Towards More Inclusive Climate Change Adaptation: Journal

Towards More Inclusive Climate Change Adaptation: Journal. International Institute for Environment and Development. April 2019.

Our understanding of climate change impacts and vulnerability in urban centres has grown rapidly in recent years, as has the number of cities developing and implementing plans to respond to the challenges of climate change. The papers in this issue explore such plans and responses in a variety of contexts and scales, from transnational networks for adaptation that incorporate Indonesian cities, to urban adaptation in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Several papers explore the gendered aspects of adaptation (in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Khulna City, Bangladesh). Another zeroes in on the way urban migrants are particularly affected in India.

A common theme is attention to the informal settlements that are particularly exposed to climate-related hazards in cities. Another theme across the papers in this issue is the need for genuinely inclusive adaptation; one paper details the participatory planning processes in three small- to medium-sized Latin American cities.

Also in this issue of Environment and Urbanization are papers on: 50 years of housing policies in Latin America; the Smart Cities craze in India; participatory slum upgrading in Afghanistan; household water consumption in Shanghai; policy pilots for co-production in four Chinese cities; the use of satellilte data to study Indian slums; sanitation bye-law enforcement in Accra; provision of basic services in Syria; and malaria in peri-urban areas of Colombia. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

Analyse Widely, Act Deeply: Forest and Farm Producer Organisations and the Goal of Climate Resilient Landscapes

Analyse Widely, Act Deeply: Forest and Farm Producer Organisations and the Goal of Climate Resilient Landscapes. International Institute for Environment and Development. James Mayers. April 2019.

Local organisations, thriving among smallholders dependent on adjacent forests or trees growing on their farms, constitute perhaps the world’s biggest and most effective force for improved rural livelihoods and sustainability. They face fast-changing pressures. Many are likely to find it useful to have an organisational goal of contributing to climate resilient landscapes. Various international programmes can help in understanding and supporting such contributions – especially through practical actions for climate adaptation and mitigation, and forest restoration. ‘Landscape approaches’ are helpful for analysing the various connected issues, while context-specific politically-savvy planning is needed for effective action. This paper explores the possible motivations and actions for climate resilient landscapes amongst four different sorts of forest and farm producer organisations (FFPOs): indigenous peoples’ organisations, community forest organisations, forest and farm producer groups, and processing groups in urban and peri-urban contexts. The Forest and Farm Facility (FFF) aims to help FFPOs to further develop and pursue such practical actions over the next five years. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 28 pages].

Attaching a Price to Greenhouse Gas Emissions with a Carbon Tax or Emissions Fee: Considerations and Potential Impacts

Attaching a Price to Greenhouse Gas Emissions with a Carbon Tax or Emissions Fee: Considerations and Potential Impacts.  Congressional Research Service. Jonathan L. Ramseur, Jane A. Leggett. March 22, 2019

The U.S. Fourth National Climate Assessment, released in 2018, concluded that “the impacts of global climate change are already being felt in the United States and are projected to intensify in the future—but the severity of future impacts will depend largely on actions taken to reduce greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions and to adapt to the changes that will occur.” Members of Congress and stakeholders articulate a wide range of perspectives over what to do, if anything, about GHG emissions, future climate change, and related impacts. If Congress were to consider establishing a program to reduce GHG emissions, one option would be to attach a price to GHG emissions with a carbon tax or GHG emissions fee. In the 115th Congress, Members introduced nine bills to establish a carbon tax or emissions fee program. However, many Members have expressed their opposition to such an approach. In particular, in the 115th Congress, the House passed a resolution “expressing the sense of Congress that a carbon tax would be detrimental to the United States economy.”

[PDF format, 40 pages].

Creating a New Marketplace for Resilient Infrastructure Investment

Creating a New Marketplace for Resilient Infrastructure Investment. Brookings Institution. Joseph Kane and Adie Tomer. March 18, 2019

Climate change is getting harder to ignore, from alarming new reports about its impacts to debates around a Green New Deal. Yet for all this attention, individual places—from the biggest cities to the smallest towns—are still struggling to do something about it.

An unpredictable climate should serve as a strong motivator for every community to better maintain its manmade and natural stormwater infrastructure to be more flexible and responsive. Increased flood risks are among the clearest challenges, with climate change already having generated billions of dollars in flooding costs. But as we saw in Houston during Hurricane Harvey—and in several other places along the Gulf Coast, Mississippi River, and beyond over the past few years—many communities currently have failing systems of water pipes, plants, and natural wetlands. Even more troubling is how communities cannot even handle runoff from daily rainfall, as well as additional pollution.

Communities need a new approach to accelerate investment in infrastructure that is resilient to growing climate pressures. They should carry out proactive repairs of their aging, inefficient stormwater systems as a way to deliver fiscal savings and long-term environmental and economic benefits. They also should invest in new technologies and green infrastructure to better protect properties and improve livability. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[HTML format, various paging].