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Business and Government Must Come Together for Strong Climate Action

It’s time for businesses and governments to step up to the climate challenge and match words to actions.

This week at the annual international climate talks in Warsaw, companies, policymakers, and civil society participated in an event to deepen business engagement on climate policy. Such interaction could not have come at a more critical time.

Global emissions are on the rise. And last year, climate and extreme weather events alone cost $200 billion.

The world clearly needs to accelerate its response to the climate challenge. Businesses and governments need to work together constructively to raise the level of action and ambition. That means policymakers step up to provide a strong market signal and support, while companies come to the table with clear, public, constructive input.

Greater Expectations: 3 Actions for Companies to Take on Climate Policy

As the risks that climate change poses to business becoming ever clearer, corporate executives are increasingly recognizing that policy action is essential. The Guide to Responsible Corporate Engagement in Climate Policy—from the U.N. Global Compact, U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, U.N. Environment Programme, World Resources Institute, CDP, WWF, Ceres, and The Climate Group—for the first time establishes a shared, practical definition of responsible corporate engagement. The new guide details three essential steps businesses can take to effectively engage in climate policy.

5 Ways Illinois Can Reduce Power Plant Emissions

Like all U.S. states, Illinois will need to reduce its power sector carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in order to alleviate climate change impacts and comply with future EPA standards. The good news is that the state has already taken steps to reduce its emissions, including saving energy and increasing its use of renewable energy sources. And, Illinois has the potential to go even further. New WRI analysis finds that Illinois can reduce its CO2 emissions 35 percent below 2011 levels by 2020 just by complying with current policies and taking advantage of existing infrastructure. Achieving these reductions will allow Illinois to meet or exceed moderately ambitious EPA power plant emissions standards, which are due to be finalized in 2015.

WRI analysis finds that Illinois can reduce its CO2 emissions 35 percent below 2011 levels by 2020. These reductions would meet or exceed moderately ambitious EPA power plant emissions standards.

Although EPA has not yet announced what its power plant emissions standards will look like, WRI based its analysis on two hypothetical standards. Under these scenarios, Illinois would be required to reduce its CO2 emissions in the range of 32 to 37 percent below 2011 levels by 2020.

Recent Progress Shows China’s Leadership on Carbon Capture and Storage

It is common knowledge that China burns a large amount of coal, with the fuel accounting for nearly 70% of China’s primary energy consumption in recent years. What is less commonly known is that China is also working on ways to reduce the impact of its coal use, including aggressively pursuing research and demonstration of carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technology.

Power Sector Opportunities for Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emissions: Pennsylvania

President Obama announced the first-ever National Climate Plan for the United States in June 2013. Under the plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will set carbon pollution standards for power plants. In September 2013, EPA introduced emissions standards for new power plants and...

New Climate Action Report: U.S. Can Reach its Emissions-Reduction Goal, but Only With Ambitious Action

Yesterday, the Obama Administration released the sixth U.S. Climate Action Report (CAR6) for public review, to be submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in January 2014. The report, which all developed countries are required to complete, outlines U.S. historical and future greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, actions the country is taking to address climate change, and its vulnerability to climate change impacts. This report follows the President’s recently announced Climate Action Plan, which, as the CAR6 report shows, could enable the United States to meet its international commitment of reducing emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020—if it acts ambitiously, that is.

However, as the report acknowledges, U.S. government agencies will need to propose new rules and take other steps to implement the Climate Action Plan. CAR6 factors in this uncertainty and shows that implementation of the Climate Action Plan will result in reductions in the range of 14 to 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 (not taking into account land use). As WRI found in our report, Can The U.S. Get There From Here?, the Obama Administration can achieve a 17 percent emissions-reduction target only by taking ambitious “go-getter” action.

Now is a good time to reflect on what the United States has done over the past four years and what still needs to happen across the major emissions sources in order meet the national emissions-reduction goal and curb the effects of climate change.

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