Twelve Economic Facts on Energy and Climate Change

Twelve Economic Facts on Energy and Climate Change: A Joint Report from the Hamilton Project and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago. Brookings Institution. March 27, 2017

The United States is in the midst of an energy revolution. The North American shale boom has unlocked vast quantities of natural gas, upending domestic electricity markets and enabling rapidly growing export volumes. American shale oil has sent global oil prices to their lowest sustained level in a decade and slashed U.S. imports in half. Meanwhile, the cost of renewable fuels like wind and solar electricity has plummeted, and they now account for the majority of new electric generating capacity.

Given this technological and economic context, the United States has perhaps never been better positioned to tackle the urgent threat of climate change. Though it is often discussed as a future problem, climate change caused by greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is happening now. The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere has increased from 317 parts per million in 1960 to more than 400 parts per million in 2016 (NOAA 2016), while the global average temperature has risen 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit (0.9° Celsius) above its 1960 level.

These changes are already impacting our everyday lives. Record-breaking temperatures, melting ice caps and more frequent coastal flooding, prolonged droughts, and damaging storms are just some of the intensifying risks we face as our planet continues to warm (IPCC 2007a). Despite these risks, the prices U.S. consumers pay for fossil fuels rarely reflect their costs, skewing consumption and investment choices away from cleaner fuels and discouraging the kinds of technological advancements that would allow the nation to make more efficient use of its energy resources. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 24 pages, 2.19 MB].

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Future of the Funds: Exploring the Architecture of Multilateral Climate Finance

Future of the Funds: Exploring the Architecture of Multilateral Climate Finance. World Resources Institute. Niranjali Manel Amerasinghe et al. March 2017

Multilateral climate funds play a key role in using public finance to help drive the economic and societal transformation necessary to address climate change. There is growing pressure for policymakers to make the architecture of funds more effective and coherent. This report examines seven key multilateral climate funds and recommends operational and architectural reforms to improve their ability to deliver low-emissions and climate-resilient development. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 100 pages, 4.62 MB].

NATO, Climate Change, and International Security: A Risk Governance Approach

NATO, Climate Change, and International Security: A Risk Governance Approach. RAND Corporation. Tyler H. Lippert. December 2016.

This dissertation offers a prospective analysis of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the anticipated security consequences of climate change. Using climate and security literature to complement recent foresight and scenario analysis developed by NATO, the author applies the International Risk Governance Council’s (IRGC) Risk Governance Framework to identify the considerations and actions that could assist NATO in a context where climate and environmental factors more intensively shape security.
Climate-driven environmental change is anticipated to influence some, if not all, of the factors that threaten security; undermining livelihoods, increasing migration, creating political instability or other forms of insecurity, and weakening the resilience and capabilities of states to respond appropriately. Climate change has the potential to increase the need for humanitarian assistance and disaster response, to create tension over shared resources, to renew and enhance geo-political interest in the Arctic, and to deepen concern with respect to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 176 pages, 1 MB].

Delivering on Sustainable Infrastructure for Better Development and Better Climate

Delivering on Sustainable Infrastructure for Better Development and Better Climate. Brookings Institution. Amar Bhattacharya et al. December 23, 2016

2015 was a milestone year in which the world set clear and ambitious objectives through the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis in July; the UN Summit in September that adopted the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 development agenda; and the COP21 in Paris in December that resulted in the milestone climate agreement. The three central challenges now facing the global community, as crystallized in 2015, are to reignite global growth, deliver on the sustainable development goals (SDGs), and invest in the future of the planet through strong climate action. At the heart of this new global agenda is the imperative to invest in sustainable infrastructure. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 160 pages, 5.62 MB].

Federal Minerals Leasing Reform and Climate Policy

Federal Minerals Leasing Reform and Climate Policy. Brookings Institution. James Stock and Kenneth Gillingham. December 8, 2016

Through its minerals leasing program, the U.S. government plays a large role in the extraction of oil, natural gas, and coal. This footprint is the largest for coal: 41 percent of U.S. coal is mined under federal leases, and burning this coal accounts for 13 percent of U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Currently, producers and consumers of this coal do not bear the full social costs associated with its use. At the same time, the threat of climate change has led the international community, including the United States, to pledge significant reductions in CO2 emissions. Over the past two decades Democratic and Republican administrations have taken steps to reduce U.S. CO2 emissions by reducing use of fossil fuels. Despite growing public attention to the climate consequences of fossil fuel extraction, U.S. climate policy so far has not extended to the government’s role as a major source of fossil fuels. In a new paper from The Hamilton Project and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, Kenneth Gillingham and James Stock propose to incorporate climate considerations into federal coal leasing by placing a royalty adder on federal coal that is linked to the climate damages from its combustion. The magnitude of the royalty adder should be chosen to recognize both the substitution of nonfederal for federal coal, and the interaction of the royalty adder with other climate policies. A royalty adder set to 20 percent of the social cost of carbon would reduce total power sector emissions, raise the price of federal coal to align with coal mined on private land, increase coal mining employment in Appalachia and the Midwest, and provide additional government revenues to help coal communities. This proposal strikes a middle path between calling for a stop to all federal fossil fuel leasing on the one hand, and relying entirely on imperfect downstream regulation on the other. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 32 pages, 723.17 KB].

A Milestone Moment As the Paris Agreement On Climate Change Enters Into Force

A Milestone Moment As the Paris Agreement On Climate Change Enters Into Force. Brookings Institution. Nathan Hultman. November 4, 2016

On November 4, the Paris Agreement on climate change formally entered into force. That it has happened less than a year after the conclusion of the agreement, in December 2015, is itself remarkable. The agreement enters into force with 94 Parties having ratified and 192 Parties having signed, indicating their intention to ratify soon. The agreement’s provisions are now operational, including mechanisms designed to encourage countries to implement commitments and increase ambition over time.
Now is a good time to ask what the agreement means in the overall arc of global and national climate politics and what we might expect to emerge from it in coming years. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Pollution Controls as Infrastructure Investment

Pollution Controls as Infrastructure Investment. YaleGlobal. Euston Quah and Joergen Oerstroem Moeller. October 6, 2016.

Indonesia and the surrounding region produces 80 percent of the world’s palm oil. In the short term, slashing and burning brush is a low-cost way for farmers to clear land for palm-oil production. But a murky haze chokes the region, contributing to illnesses and deaths, not to mention lost production with business and school cancellations. The solution is to make slash-and-burn clearing less profitable for farmers, but that requires others to finance new methods and enforcement. “Market forces won’t work” and “Slash-and-burn is less costly than environmentally friendly methods relying on manpower, heavy machinery or new technologies,” explain professors Euston Quah and Joergen Oerstroem Moeller. The world must find new tools to battle pollution and promote practices to stem climate change. The writers urge governments and international groups to borrow from game theory: classify haze as an element in development, regard pollution controls as infrastructure investment and pay a nominal fee to prevent larger costs associated with pollution that lingers for months. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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