The first step in addressing the challenge of climate change is to define a consistent way to measure its causes. In April 2007, thirty-four U.S. states formed the Climate Registry to measure, track, verify, and publicly report GHG emissions accurately, transparently, and consistently across borders and industry sectors. The Registry will support voluntary, market-based, and regulatory GHG emissions reporting programs. The states joining represent 78% of the U.S. population, with impressive geographic, economic, and political diversity. WRI played a pivotal role in helping to convene this initiative and by providing technical consulting. Ideally, these standards and strategies will help support and provide a common template for federal climate change policies and programs.
WRI established its U.S. office in 1982. We work to improve water quality, increase awareness of local climate change impacts, and identify cost-effective emissions-reduction opportunities in the United States. Learn more about our Eutrophication and Hypoxia, Water Quality Trading, U.S. Local Climate Impacts Initiative, and U.S. Climate Action projects.
One of America’s great natural resources, the 64,000 square mile Chesapeake Bay, is in a state of decline largely as a result of nutrient pollution from farms and wastewater treatment plants. Too many nutrients in the water can lead to explosive algae growth which in turn blocks out sunlight and absorbs oxygen. Aquatic life dies out. More than 400 coastal waterways worldwide suffer from adverse effects of nutrient over-enrichment, also known as eutrophication.
Three states with an impact on the Chesapeake Bay – West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland – have been working with WRI to set up and launch a state-based regional nutrient trading market. Farmers can now go online and sell the nitrogen and phosphorous reduction credits they earn from better conservation practices to municipalities and companies that must meet mandated water pollution reduction requirements. It’s similar to the cap-and-trade approach that has reduced acid rain.
The establishment of a robust water quality trading market in the Chesapeake region will not only help reduce hard to manage nutrient pollution, but it will serve as an example for other multi-state watersheds, such as the Mississippi River Basin, as they seek cost-effective solutions for addressing eutrophication.
An increasing number of U.S. states and Canadian provinces are enacting regulations to limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. WRI has been an active contributor to this movement, providing critical technical and policy advice, and facilitating negotiations.
Arizona, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and four Canadian provinces recently agreed to collectively reduce GHG emissions by 15% of 2005 levels by 2020 and establish a cap-and-trade system. Under the plan, companies obtain permits for the emissions attributable to their operations. Cleaner, more efficient companies needing fewer permits may sell what they don’t need to those with larger emissions. This initiative is the largest effort of its kind in North America. Member states account for nearly 27% of total U.S. GHG emissions. Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, along with Manitoba, have also agreed to design an emissions reduction market.
Both efforts build off of the experiences of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a similar program among ten northeastern states targeting electric utilities that WRI helped create in 2005. Carbon trading began in September 2008.
Germany’s energy transition (or “Energiewende”) is the most ambitious current effort to put a large industrial economy onto a sustainable energy path, recognizing the 21st century reality of a climate-constrained world. If the world’s fourth largest economy demonstrates that this shift is possible without undermining economic growth, it could be a major factor in enabling a global energy transition. And with climate change intensifying – 2012 was the 36th straight year of above-average global temperature, and 2011 and 2012 each produced more extreme weather events costing over one billion dollars each than any other year in recorded history – reducing greenhouse gas emissions is imperative for any future energy system. Thus, the Energiewende is critical to the ongoing fight against global warming.
When President Barack Obama announced the country’s first national climate strategy, many people wondered what it would mean across the nation. Yet, the strategy may carry even more significant implications overseas.
The plan restricts U.S. government funding for most international coal projects. This policy could significantly affect energy producers and public and private investors around the globe.
As impacts from climate change become more visible and costly, leaders across the nation are responding. In the wake of projections from the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science showing that Maryland could face sea-level rise of more than six feet by the end of the century, Governor Martin O’Malley unveiled a state climate action plan this week. The initiative will reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also supporting job creation and economic growth.
Last month, Death Valley, California experienced the highest June temperature ever recorded (129 degrees F!). Fires have been blazing in the western United States, leading to catastrophic losses of life. We’re barely more than a month into summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and it has started off extreme.
The Case of Midwest Pulp and Paper Mills
This report highlights the critical role of energy efficiency in improving the economic and environmental performance of Midwest pulp and paper mills. WRI’s analysis finds that less efficient facilities could realize significant annual energy cost savings, and decrease their greenhouse gas...
New energy efficiency legislation has been introduced by Senators Shaheen and Portman that could come before the U.S. Senate as early as this month. This bill, formally known as the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013 (S. 761), provides goals, incentives, and support for energy efficiency efforts across the U.S. economy. Passage of this bill would be a positive step toward saving money through improved efficiency while helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions.