The Obama Administration committed in 2009 to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. While the Administration is not currently on track to meet this goal, it can pursue a suite of policies even without new legislation.
Climate, Energy & Transport
WRI analysis finds that Ohio can reduce its CO2 emissions 27 percent below 2011 levels by 2020 using existing state policies and infrastructure opportunities. These reductions would meet or exceed potentially stringent federal standards by the EPA for existing power plants.
Transportation is quite literally the engine of economic growth in large congested cities throughout the developing world. EMBARQ – the WRI Center for Sustainable Transport – is working to bring cleaner, more efficient transportation systems to these cities. With assistance from EMBARQ and other national and international organizations, India’s Ministry of Urban Development is implementing the country’s first-ever national urban transportation policies. Cities and states that adopt the policies become eligible for financial assistance from a new $11 billion government program, Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission, to support sustainable transport projects. The policies are a significant step toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions and achieving India’s vision of making its cities the most productive and livable in the world.
Mexico currently ranks twelfth in the world in terms of GHG emissions. Although not bound by Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions limits, the country is committed to fighting global warming. Mexico’s new climate change strategy proposes a graduated process that begins with GHG accounting and reporting, progresses to energy sector GHG caps, and culminates in a national cap-and-trade system linked to international GHG markets. WRI provided the GHG Protocol accounting tools that undergird the policy and provided technical consultation to the Mexican government. WRI also helped launch a Mexican industry-led voluntary GHG accounting program in 2004. WRI is working with partner organizations to replicate the model in Brazil, China, India, and the Philippines.
Four years ago, few financial firms factored climate change impacts into their operations. Now, due in large part to WRI’s work to examine the risks and opportunities that climate change is creating for business, industry leaders such as ABN AMRO, Bank of America, Citi, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, and Lehman Brothers are committing significant resources and billions of dollars toward cleaner technologies and climate change solutions. What started as “boutique research” is now a mainstream issue. WRI believes that financial markets attuned to environmental issues will create powerful incentives for companies to improve their environmental performance, while also ensuring better returns for investors.
In early 2007, the politics of climate change experienced a tectonic shift when the CEOs of ten major corporations and four national environmental groups – including WRI – joined together in calling on the U.S. government to quickly enact strong national legislation requiring significant reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) and its bold proposals have advanced the policy debate in Congress. As USCAP membership grows (now at thirty one participating organizations representing over 2 million people in membership and over $2 trillion in market capitalization) so does the number of climate bills introduced. WRI was instrumental in the formation of USCAP, which is the result of a ten-year effort to engage the private sector in the design of business strategies and market-based policies to achieve strong national GHG reduction goals.
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.
Brazil currently ranks fifth in the world in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The country’s energy mix, long dominated by hydro power, is trending towards fossil fuels, and the Brazilian general public is increasingly concerned with climate change.
Although not bound by Kyoto Protocol GHG emissions limits, Brazil is committed to fighting global warming. In partnership with WRI and other organizations, the Brazilian government launched the Brazil GHG ProtocolProgram, a voluntary public registry of corporate greenhouse gas emissions. Participants will log annual inventories of emissions and will receive training on accounting practices and management reduction strategies. Sixteen major corporations joined the effort, the first program of its kind in South America.
Standardizing how greenhouse gases are measured and reported lays the foundation for future mitigation efforts. Our goal is to expand the program and bring GHG accounting tools and training to the agricultural, biofuel, and forestry sector, which are major sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Brazil.
The Bali Action Plan, agreed to by 187 nations (including the U.S.) in December 2007, is a critical step forward in shaping an international climate agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. It contains no binding commitments, but calls for deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions and provides a timetable of two years to shape the agreement.
It also introduced the notion of “nationally appropriate actions” whereby developing countries in a new international agreement meet CO2 reduction targets in ways that don’t constrain their ability to reach their sustainable development goals. It’s a concept WRI’s climate experts have been instrumental in shaping and expanding over the last few years in the international climate arena. WRI worked closely with South African negotiators and others to draft the language agreed to in the Bali Action Plan.
China makes and uses almost half of the cement in the world. Between now and 2030, some estimates are that China will erect half of all buildings expected to be constructed in the world. Cement is an energy intensive and polluting business currently responsible for 15% of China’s emissions of carbon dioxide.
Working with China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC)
and the China Building Materials Academy, WRI is providing greenhouse
gas (GHG) accounting tools and training to help cement companies
measure GHG emissions and better understand their energy needs. It’s a critical step in helping a booming industry meet government
mandated energy reduction goals.
The GHG Protocol (developed by WRI and the World Business
Council on Sustainable Development) is the basis for the
program. It has been adopted by China’s NDRC as a standard in its efforts to lead national programs to address global
warming. Our aim is to work with the NDRC to expand use
of the GHG Protocol into other energy- and GHG-intensive
industries (oil and gas, petrochemical, chemical, power
generation, and iron and steel).