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Global Climate Action Summit Strives to Stoke Ambition

By Sunny Lewis

SAN FRANCISCO, California, September 13, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – Global leaders from across the private sector, local government and civil society are in San Francisco this week to showcase progress, unveil new climate commitments and to launch new platforms to work in partnership across sectors to accelerate implementation of the Paris Climate Accord.

California Governor Jerry Brown welcomes China to the Global Climate Action Summit, September 12, 2018, San Francisco, California (Photo courtesy Office of the Governor) Public Domain

California Governor Jerry Brown welcomes China to the Global Climate Action Summit, September 12, 2018, San Francisco, California (Photo courtesy Office of the Governor) Public Domain

The Global Climate Action Summit runs from September 12 to 14 in many venues across San Francisco, under the theme Taking Ambition to the Next Level.

To keep warming well below 2°, and ideally 1.5 degrees C – temperatures that could lead to catastrophic consequences – worldwide emissions must start trending down by 2020.

The Summit will showcase climate action around the world, along with bold new commitments, to give world leaders the confidence they need to go even further by 2020 to meet the Paris Climate Agreement goals.

The Summit’s five headline challenge areas are Healthy Energy Systems; Inclusive Economic Growth; Sustainable Communities; Land and Ocean Stewardship and Transformative Climate Investments.

Many partners are supporting the Summit and the mobilization in advance including Climate Group; the Global Covenant of Mayors; Ceres; the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group; BSR; We Mean Business; CDP, formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project; WWF; and Mission 2020.

The Global Climate Action Summit – the first ever designed exclusively for businesses, sub-national governments, and local leaders – sets the stage for the greater action needed by 2020 from all actors – from national governments within their national climate action plans, and from even more cities, states, businesses, and local communities around the world.

China Gets a Warm Welcome

Helping kick off the Global Climate Action Summit, California Governor Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown led his state’s delegation at the Under2 Coalition General Assembly and welcomed new signatories to the California-led coalition, which now represents 17 percent of the global population and 43 percent of the global economy.

Governor Brown also welcomed China’s 120-plus attendees – the largest country delegation at the event. “China has taken this global summit very, very seriously and we hope to build on that in the months and years ahead as California, the U.S. and China, and Jiangsu Province in particular, work ever more closely to combat climate change,” said Brown at the opening of the China Pavilion at the Summit.

“Let’s leave this Summit more committed than ever to get to – not low-carbon, zero–carbon, and then minus carbon – a prosperous world for all,” said Brown in welcoming China’s top environmental officials and representatives from Chinese provinces, cities, business and civil society at the opening ceremony of the China Pavilion, which showcases China’s progress on its climate goals.”

Governor Brown held a bilateral meeting with Vice Governor Miao Ruilin of Jiangsu Province – California’s sister-state and one of the first provinces in China to join the Under2 Coalition – to discuss agreements signed by the Governor in Nanjing last year and in 2013 to expand cooperation on areas including climate, clean energy and technology.

Governor Brown also renewed climate agreements signed with China in 2013 and 2015 – with then-National Development and Reform Commission Vice Chairman Xie Zhenhua, currently leading the Chinese delegation at the Global Climate Action Summit as China’s Special Representative for Climate Change.

The agreement signed Wednesday seeks to enhance cooperation between California and China on programs that mitigate carbon emissions and short-lived climate forcers, implement carbon emissions trading systems, share clean energy technologies, strengthen low-carbon development and other initiatives.

Indigenous People Make Their Voices Heard

On Monday, hundreds gathered outside the site of the Governors’ Climate and Forest Task Force meeting leading up to the Global Climate Action Summit.

From the Indigenous and Frontline communities organizing this protest, “People of the world are being led astray by polluting industries and elected officials promoting climate capitalist systems like carbon trading and carbon tax shell games. These systems do nothing to stop the fossil fuel industry from continuing to cause climate disruption. They allow the fossil fuel industry to continue to harm Indigenous people and communities around the world from extraction to transport to refining.”

“Today hundreds helped us demand that our Indigenous representatives from tribes and organizations that are resisting cap and trade schemes, and instead promoting real solutions be allowed to address the Governor’s Climate and Forests Task Force at the Parc 55 Hotel. Their voices were heard and they were given a chance to speak the truth [of] the tribal groups being courted by those promoting carbon trading in the place of real solutions to climate change.”

This action was organized by Idle No More SF Bay, Indigenous Environmental Network, It Takes Roots, Diablo Rising Tide, Indigenous Bloc at RISE Days of Action, and Indigenous Rising Media.

Food and Land Use Crucial to Climate Conservation

As a member of the Summit’s Advisory Committee, the global nonprofit WWF is coordinating the 30X30 Forest, Food and Land Challenge. The initiative calls on businesses, states, city and local governments, and global citizens to take action for better forest and habitat conservation, food production and consumption, and land use, working together across all sectors of the economy to deliver up to 30 percent of the climate solutions needed by 2030.

WWF is working with partners to unveil new efforts and commitments at the high-level thematic dialogues on land stewardship on September 13, such as:

  • Science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase sequestration in land-intensive supply chains;
  • Collaborations between multinational companies and local governments and communities to eliminate deforestation in vital ecosystems;
  • Institutional and chef-led programs to halve food loss and waste by 2030;
  • Major financing to help regional and local governments to promote more sustainable land use and restoration.

WWF and its partners in We Are Still In will unveil new commitments from American businesses, mayors, universities and other U.S. actors on September 12 at the We Are Still In Forum.

Since its launch in June 2017, We Are Still In has nearly tripled in size to include over 3,500 signatories, collectively representing more than 155 million Americans and $9.5 trillion in U.S. GDP.

“For too long, land has been the overlooked piece of the climate solution. When we improve the way we manage our land and improve our food systems, we can help reverse the impact of human-caused climate change and get closer to keeping warming below 1.5°C,” said Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF’s global climate and energy program, and Summit advisory committee member.

“National governments need to follow the pace set by private sector and local leaders this week, looking for opportunities to enhance the ambition of their national climate plans through improved land stewardship,” he said.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change projects that current commitments made by the private sector and local government have the potential to halve the emissions gap between current trajectories and what is needed to stay below 2°C of planetary warming.

In the United States, for example, bottom-up progress can deliver half of what’s needed to achieve the country’s commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 percent below the 2005 level in 2025.

“New targets from business and local leaders are a critical first step but alone they are not enough to transform our transportation, food and energy systems,” said Lou Leonard, senior vice president of climate change and energy, WWF-US.

“To change our trajectory, this Summit must generate new partnerships and new ways of working. In the U.S., this model of radical collaboration is working through efforts like the We Are Still In coalition. Together, unusual partners across American society are coming together to implement their goals,” enthused Leonard. “We can go further and reach higher by partnering across sectors of the economy to drive change.”

Featured Image: People demonstrate their support for action to control climate change, September 10, 2018 San Francisco, California (Photo by Peg Hunter) Creative Commons license via Flickr


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Lively Carbon Markets Promise Cooler Earth

One of the largest coal-fired power plants in Europe is owned by Uniper SE in the Scholven district of the city of Gelsenkirchen, Germany. (Photo by Guy Gorek) Creative Commons license via Flickr

One of the largest coal-fired power plants in Europe is owned by Uniper SE in the Scholven district of the city of Gelsenkirchen, Germany. (Photo by Guy Gorek) Creative Commons license via Flickr

 

 

By Sunny Lewis

BERLIN, Germany, March 1, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – Carbon emissions trading is gaining popularity in established markets and also in emerging economies; in fact trading now covers 15 percent of all emissions globally, finds a new report from the International Carbon Action Partnership (ICAP)  on activity in 2017.

Just one year since the entry into force of the Paris Agreement on climate, 21 Emissions Trading Systems (ETS) are operating around the world at various levels of government.

The past year has seen major developments, with a new system emerging in China and the linking of Ontario’s system with that of California and Quebec.

“While the challenge of climate change grows with every year, so does the competency and determination of the policy response,” said International Carbon Action Partnership (ICAP) Co-Chair Marc Allessie, director of the Dutch Emissions Authority, while releasing the report on Tuesday.

“We are confident that ETS is bound to its promise of delivering a cost-effective tool for implementing national pledges under the Paris Agreement,” Allessie said.

How Emissions Trading Systems Work

Carbon emissions trading works on a cap-and-trade market-based system. A cap is set on the total amount of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) that can be emitted by facilities covered by the system. The cap is reduced over time so that total emissions drop.

Within the cap, companies receive or buy emission allowances which they can trade with one another as needed. They can buy limited amounts of international credits from emission-saving projects around the world. The limit on the total number of allowances available ensures that they have a value.

Each year a company must surrender enough allowances to cover all its emissions or pay steep fines. If a company reduces its emissions, it can keep the spare allowances to cover its future needs or sell them to another company that is short of allowances.

Trading brings flexibility that ensures emissions are cut where it costs least to do so. A robust carbon price promotes investment in clean, low-carbon technologies.

Since 2005, the share of global carbon emissions capped by an emissions trading system has tripled from five percent to roughly 15 percent, now covering some seven gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), according to the report.

The Network Expands Its Reach

In November 2017, the EU and Switzerland signed an agreement to link their emissions trading systems, the first agreement of this kind for the EU and the first between two parties to the Paris Agreement.

The world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, China now has overtaken the European Union as the world’s largest carbon market, covering more than three gigatons of CO2e.

The initial launch of China’s national emissions trading system for the power sector in December 2017 is what the ICAP report calls “a remarkable and rapid first step for an emerging economy that is powered by the world’s largest coal fleet.”

This development sends a strong signal to the international community as Chinese coal consumption has recently been one of the key drivers of global emissions.

In November, at the UN climate conference (COP23) in Bonn, the EU and China decided to step up their joint cooperation on carbon markets, ahead of the launch of China’s nationwide emissions trading system.

Hosted by China’s Special Representative on Climate Change Affairs Xie Zhenhua, the high-level event took place at the China Pavilion at COP23.

Speaking after the meeting, European Climate and Energy Commissioner Arias Cañete said, “China is ready to launch its nationwide emissions trading system, which is set to cover more than twice as much CO2 as the EU ETS, once it reaches its full scope. This will undoubtedly send a strong signal to the rest of the world in support of carbon markets. The EU is therefore pleased to engage in even closer bilateral cooperation with our Chinese counterparts.”

In September, the European Parliament and Council reached an agreement to revise the EU Emissions Trading System for the period after 2020. This revision is expected to help put the EU on track to achieve a significant part of its commitment under the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030.

To achieve the 40 percent EU target, the sectors covered by the ETS have to reduce their emissions by 43 percent compared to 2005.

The changes to the EU system will speed up emissions reductions and strengthen the Market Stability Reserve to reduce the current oversupply of allowances on the carbon market.

To this end, the overall number of emission allowances will decline at an annual rate of 2.2 percent from 2021 onwards, compared to the current rate of 1.74 percent.

New Zealand Needs to Plant More Trees

New Zealand is the first, and still the only, country to fully include forest landowners in a greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme, according to a report released in 2017 by Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, New Zealand’s leading non-profit economic and public policy research institute.

The NZ ETS is a partial-coverage all-free allocation, uncapped, internationally linked emissions trading scheme first legislated in 2008 and amended twice, in 2009 and 2012.

Has it been effective?

On February 28, New Zealand’s first environmental accounts show greenhouse gas emissions rose more slowly than economic growth in the last 25 years, but the planting of forests to absorb carbon dioxide has slowed since 2013.

Latin America Prepares for Carbon Markets

Efforts to price carbon are also progressing in Latin America and in subnational governments in North America.

Mexico, Latin America’s second largest economy, will start piloting a mandatory emissions trading system later this year.

In addition, Chile, Colombia and Mexico are jointly exploring regionally consistent carbon market design elements such as monitoring, reporting and verification.

In North America, Subnational Governments Lead the Way

The largest Canadian province, Ontario, linked its system to the joint carbon market of California and Quebec  beginning this year.

As part of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, all Canadian provinces and territories will have a price on carbon by the end of 2018.

“A wide range of actions are taking shape across all levels of government, from the municipal level all the way up to the international level. Sub-national governments in particular have played and will continue to play a vital role,” said Jean-Yves Benoit, ICAP Co-Chair, and Director of the Carbon Market, Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Fight Against Climate Change of Quebec.

Established in 2009, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is the first mandatory market-based program in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

RGGI is a cooperative effort among the nine states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont to cap and reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector.

States sell nearly all emission allowances through auctions and invest proceeds in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other consumer benefit programs. These programs are spurring innovation in the clean energy economy and creating green jobs in the RGGI states.

Interest in several U.S. States, like Virginia and New Jersey, could see an expansion of cap-and-trade despite inaction on the federal level under the Trump administration.

In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, withdrew from the RGGI in 2012. On January 29, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat, signed an executive order directing New Jersey to re-enter the regional compact.

Governor Murphy said. “Pulling out of RGGI slowed down progress on lowering emissions and has cost New Jerseyans millions of dollars that could have been used to increase energy efficiency and improve air quality in our communities.”

By withdrawing from RGGI, New Jersey lost an estimated $279 million in revenue that could have been realized by the state’s participation in RGGI’s carbon emission trading program.

As part of the public comment period on Virginia’s proposed carbon trading rule, the Department of Environmental Quality is holding public hearings throughout the state during the month of March.

After a tough political battle in the California legislature, the state extended its cap-and-trade program until 2030. This will build confidence in an increasingly stringent long-term carbon price signal in the linked Western Climate Initiative carbon market, which includes the provinces of Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario, and the state of California.

The recent legislative changes and regulatory reforms in California have set the cap to decline by about four percent annually from 2021-2030, yielding a 40 percent reduction by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

These renewed commitments to emissions trading give low carbon investors certainty and have resulted in rising carbon prices, with the EU allowance price passing €10 for the first time since 2011.

The reforms have some common elements: steeper cap trajectories aligning with 2030 climate targets; market stability measures becoming standard practice with continuing design innovation; offset policies with focus on domestic abatement with direct local environmental benefits.

The ICAP report concludes that, “Together, these two trends – the continual spread of ETSs and reforms of major systems – will continue to change the landscape of emissions trading – widening and deepening its role in the low-carbon transformation process worldwide.”

The ICAP Status Report is published annually and features in-depth articles from policymakers and carbon market experts with insights into the latest ideas across the globe. To download the full report, executive summaries in Chinese, English, and Spanish, infographics, and a short video, please visit ICAP Status Report.


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COP23 Fertilizes Climate-Smart Agriculture

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COP23 leaders, from left: UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa of Brazil; President Emmanuel Macron, France; Frank Bainimarama, prime minister of Fiji and COP 23 president; Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany; and UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the opening of the High-Level Segment of the conference, November 15, 2017 (Photo courtesy Earth Negotiations Bulletin) Posted for media use

By Sunny Lewis

BONN, Germany, November 21, 2017 (Maximpact.com News) – New commitments and initiatives in the agriculture and water sectors were announced as nearly 200 countries gathered at the United Nations Climate Conference (COP23) hosted by the government of Fiji in Bonn, November 6-17.

Delegates made concrete progress on turning the historic 2015 Paris Agreement into action on the ground across the world, ahead of next year’s UN climate conference in Katowice, Poland.

COP23 delegates aimed at motivating greater climate action by public and private stakeholders as the Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015, enables countries to combat climate change by limiting the rise of global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius and strive not to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial levels.

About one degree of that rise has already happened, increasing the pressure on governments and the private sector to progress further and faster to cut the greenhouse gases responsible for global warming.

For the first time in the history of UN climate negotiations, governments reached an agreement on agriculture that will help countries develop and implement new strategies to both reduce emissions from agriculture and build resilience to the effects of climate change.

“Agriculture is a key factor for the sustainability of rural areas, the responsibility for food security and its potential to offer climate change solutions is enormous,” said Christian Schmidt, Germany’s federal minister of food and agriculture.

Investing more quickly and broadly in agricultural climate action and to support the sustainable livelihoods of small-scale farmers will unlock much greater potential to curb emissions and protect people against climate change, sector leaders and experts said.

New COP23 initiatives include a US$400 million fund established by the Government of Norway and the corporation Unilever for public and private investment in business models that combine investments in high productivity agriculture, smallholder inclusion and forest protection.

The European Investment Bank will provide US$75 million for a new US$405 million investment program by the Water Authority of Fiji. The plan will strengthen resilience of water distribution and wastewater treatment following Cyclone Winston, the world’s second strongest storm ever recorded, which hit Fiji in February 2016.

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development signed up to free US$37.6 million of GCF grant financing in the US$243.1 million Saïss Water Conservation Project to make Moroccan agriculture more resilient.

The nonprofit World Resources Institute announced a landmark US$2.1 billion of private investment to restore degraded lands in Latin America and the Caribbean through Initiative 20×20.

“Climate change is a fundamental threat to the Sustainable Development Goal 2 that aims to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition,” said José Graziano da Silva, director-general of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)  at a high-level event on hunger at the conference.

“To achieve SDG2 and effectively respond to climate change, we require a transformation of our agriculture sectors and food systems,” he said.

According to FAO’s “State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017” report, hunger has grown for the first time in over a decade, mainly due to conflicts and climate change. An estimated 815 million people are now hungry.

Extreme climate impacts come down hard on small-scale farmers and pastoralists as well as fishing and forest communities, who still provide the bulk of the planet’s food.

Supporting these communities with innovative solutions to reduce their emissions and protect their communities meets many of the objectives of every one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Over 70 percent of the world’s extreme poor live in rural areas. They are also the most vulnerable to hunger and malnutrition, natural resource scarcity, conflict, and climate impacts.

“The rural poor are part of a comprehensive response to climate change,” said da Silva. “They are key agents of change who need to be strengthened in their roles as stewards of biodiversity, natural resources and vital ecosystem services.”

Requests to direct more resources to the agriculture sector as a key strategy to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development were made during Agriculture Action Day November 10.

“Countries now have the opportunity to transform their agricultural sectors to achieve food security for all through sustainable agriculture and strategies that boost resource-use efficiency, conserve and restore biodiversity and natural resources, and combat the impacts of climate change,” said René Castro, FAO assistant-director general.

In the livestock sector, for example, FAO estimates that emissions could be readily reduced by about 30 percent with the adoption of best practices.

At COP23, the FAO released a new “Sourcebook on Climate-Smart Agriculture,” which recommends scaling up public and private climate finance flows to agriculture, spurring public-private partnerships, strengthening a multi-sector and multi-stakeholder dialogue, investing in knowledge and information, and building capacity to address barriers to climate action.

The book features knowledge and stories about on-the-ground projects to guide policymakers and program managers to make the agricultural sectors more sustainable and productive, while contributing to food security and lower carbon intensity.

The COP23 meeting agreed that land needs to be managed in ways to increase soil carbon, particularly in grasslands, and that robust protocols for assessing and monitoring carbon stocks need to be developed with stakeholders.

Rehabilitating agricultural and degraded soils can remove up to 51 billion tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere, according to some estimates.

For the livestock sector, FAO estimates that emissions could be readily reduced by about 30 percent with the adoption of best practices.

Tom Driscoll, director of conservation policy with the U.S. National Farmers Union, says, “Farming is one of the few professions with the ability to not only reduce ongoing greenhouse gas emissions, but to also remove existing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. National Farmers Union supports policies and programs that maximize agriculture’s GHG elimination potential by offering value to farmers for either climate-smart or emissions-reducing and carbon-sinking production and conservation practices.”

Cap-and-trade programs, which limit ongoing emissions from major sources of greenhouse gas emissions, are one means of offering farmers value for climate-smart practices.

Cap-and-trade programs can drive emissions reductions where they can happen in the most cost-effective manner, and farmers can often achieve emissions reductions and sequester atmospheric greenhouse gases for less money than the emitters these programs primarily regulate, says Driscoll on the NFU website.

The state of California has implemented a cap-and-trade program that allows for the creation and transfer-for-value of offset credits that meet regulatory criteria. Regulated entities may meet up to eight percent of their triennial compliance requirements by purchasing these credits.

In California, each credit must be quantified using a compliance offset protocol approved by the California Air Resources Board. Currently, ARB will approve credits some U.S. farmers create by capturing and destroying methane from manure management systems.

The Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), an organizer of COP23’s Agriculture Action day, announced that the Coalition will work in the next few years to create the conditions for greater agricultural climate action.

The voluntary partnership of more than 100 governments, intergovernmental organizations, businesses, scientific institutions and civil society organizations aims to help give countries the confidence to set realistic yet ambitious targets through the next revision of their national climate plans – the Nationally Determined Contributions.

“Agriculture is a large source of powerful greenhouse gases like methane and other short-lived climate pollutants but has great potential to store carbon and reduce greenhouse gases in our lifetime, that’s why we support and advocate for countries to improve their livestock emissions inventories,” said Helena Molin Valdes, head of the CCAC Secretariat.

CCAC partners signed onto the Coalition’s Bonn Communiqué which prioritizes initiatives to reduce methane and black carbon emissions from agriculture and municipal solid waste.

These initiatives support broader efforts to reduce air pollution, end hunger, and build sustainable cities and communities, while helping to limit global warming.

James Shaw, New Zealand Minister for Climate Change, said he was pleased with the Communiqué’s focus on agriculture as it was a large source of his country’s greenhouse gases.

“We hope this encourages partners to develop policies to reduce emissions from agriculture, while at the same time improving the productivity, resilience and profitability of farmers,” said Shaw.

Other agriculture-based solutions for addressing climate change were also presented at COP23. Discussions involved people from governments, civil society, the private sector, small scale and young farmers centered on livestock, traditional agriculture systems, water, soil, food loss and waste, and integrated landscape management.

Among the recommended actions and initiatives were to:

  • Scale up public and private climate finance flows to agriculture, and use them in a catalytic manner. Climate finance flows continue to favor mitigation over adaptation, and focus overwhelmingly on energy systems and infrastructure. These imbalances should be addressed.
  • Incentivize public-private partnerships. Strong dialogue and collaboration between the public and private sectors is key to ensure alignment between public policy and private sector investment decisions in agriculture and throughout the entire food system.
  • Strengthen a multi-sector and multi-stakeholder dialogue towards more integrated approaches to landscape management. This will require enhanced coordination of policy and climate action across multiple public and private entities.
  • Invest in knowledge and information. Additional analyses are needed to better identify the institutional barriers and market failures that are inhibiting broader adoption of climate-resilient and low-emissions agricultural practices in individual countries, regions and communities.
  • Build capacity to address barriers to implement climate action. Agricultural producers require additional capacities to understand the climate risks and vulnerabilities they face, and respond accordingly.

In the water sector, most national climate plans with an adaptation component prioritize action on water, yet financing would need to triple to US$295 billion per year to meet such targets, said experts at COP23.

“Sustainable use of water for multiple purposes must remain a way of life and needs to be at the center of building resilient cities and human settlements and ensuring food security in a climate change context,” said Mariet Verhoef-Cohen, president of the Women for Water Partnership.

The international water community co-signed what it called a “nature based solution declaration” to encourage the use of natural systems in managing healthy water supplies.

Around 40 percent of the world’s population will face water shortages by 2050, accelerating migration and triggering onflict, while some regions could lose up to six percent of their economic output, unless water is better managed, warned Verhoef-Cohen.

She said, “Involving both women and men in decision making and integrated water resources initiatives leads to better sustainability, governance and efficiency.”


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Featured Image: G.H. MUMM champagne 2017 harvest in champagne vineyard near Verzenay, France, September 7, 2017 (Photo by Intercontinental Hong Kong) Creative Commons license via Flickr

High-Powered California Governor Leads on Climate

California Governor Jerry Brown, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne (left) and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard (center) sign agreement to expand cap-and-trade partnership, September 22, 2017. (Photo by Sonia Cacoilo, Office of the Premier of Ontario.) Public domain

California Governor Jerry Brown, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne (left) and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard (center) sign agreement to expand cap-and-trade partnership, September 22, 2017. (Photo by Sonia Cacoilo, Office of the Premier of Ontario.) Public domain.

By Sunny Lewis

SACRAMENTO, California, September 28, 2017 (Maximpact.com News) – As President Donald Trump has abdicated his leadership on climate change by denying the legitimacy of the results produced by 99 percent of the world’s climate scientists, by defunding low-carbon efforts and embracing fossil fuels, and by declaring he will pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement, someone else has stepped in to lead on this crucial issue – California Governor Jerry Brown.

California and Quebec Friday expanded their three-year carbon cap-and-trade partnership to include Ontario, Canada’s most populous province and leading industrial region. The agreement (Linkage) to officially integrate their carbon markets takes effect January 1, 2018.

The agreement was signed in Quebec City during the 7th joint meeting of Cabinet Ministers of the governments of Ontario and Quebec.

“Climate change, if left unchecked, will profoundly disrupt the economies of the world and cause untold human suffering,” said California Governor Jerry Brown. “That’s the reason why California and Quebec are joining with Ontario to create an expanded and dynamic carbon market, which will drive down greenhouse gas emissions.”

California’s cap-and-trade program, which launched in 2012 and linked with Quebec’s program in 2014, sets a declining limit on carbon pollution and creates a market to achieve the emission reduction targets in the most cost effective manner.

Expanding the partnership to include Ontario will further strengthen this market-based system and drive additional investment in clean energy and innovation, says Brown.

A strong cap-and-trade program, together with California’s full suite of climate programs and actions, will help ensure the state can cut carbon within its borders to meet its ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

While California, Quebec and Ontario developed their cap-and-trade programs through separate legislative and regulatory processes, the three jurisdictions have worked together to ensure that their programs complement each other and provide participants in all three jurisdictions with the benefits of an expanded program.

Under the linked program, carbon allowances and offset credits can be exchanged among participants in all three jurisdictions’ cap-and-trade programs.

The expanded market leverages additional greenhouse gas reductions at reduced cost and enhances the ability of jurisdictions to effectively work together to develop and implement cost-effective regional greenhouse gas emission reduction programs.

The linkage agreement reflects California, Quebec and Ontario’s shared commitment to operate an efficient, linked market and supports coordinated information sharing and continued consultation.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said, “Climate change is a global problem that requires global solutions. Now more than ever, we need to work together with our partners around the world and at home to show how our collaboration can lead to results in this international fight.”

“Today’s carbon market linking agreement will add to the success we have already seen in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Ontario, California and Quebec. We are stronger together and by linking our three carbon markets we will achieve even greater reductions at the lowest cost.

The agreement sets forth a process for other jurisdictions to join the linked program and establishes a working model for other states and provinces that are seeking cost-effective approaches to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.

“I look forward to continuing to work with Governor Brown and Premier Couillard on our common goals, including advocating for the adoption of carbon markets and emissions cap programs across North America and around the world,” said Wynne.

“Quebec has been active for many years in the fight against climate change,” said Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard. “We believe in concerted and coherent actions with our partners as well as in cooperation to face the challenges posed by this global challenge.”

Assuring Ontario and California of Quebec’s full cooperation, Couillard said, “We should rejoice in the progress made so far and the new milestones made today in strengthening our relations, which contribute to a more prosperous, more responsible and low carbon society.”

Known universally as Jerry Brown, Edmund G. Brown Jr. is approaching 80 years old. He was born in San Francisco on April 7, 1938. He graduated from St. Ignatius High School in 1955 and entered Sacred Heart Novitiate, a Jesuit seminary. He later attended the University of California, Berkeley, graduating in 1961 before earning a J.D. at Yale Law School in 1964.

California elected Brown Governor in 1974 and again in 1978. As Governor, he strengthened environmental protections and promoted renewable energy.

After his governorship, Brown lectured and traveled widely, practiced law, served as chairman of the state Democratic Party and ran for president.

Brown was elected to a third gubernatorial term in 2010 and to a historic fourth term in 2014. During his latest stint as governor, California has established nation-leading targets to protect the environment and fight climate change.

By 2030 the state will: reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels, generate half of its electricity from renewable sources, double the rate of energy efficiency savings in its buildings and reduce today’s petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent.

Governor Brown Advances Climate Efforts

California Governor Jerry Brown 2017 (Photo courtesy Office of the Governor) Public domain

California Governor Jerry Brown 2017 (Photo courtesy Office of the Governor) Public domain

Last week Governor Brown advanced his leadership of the fight against climate change at the subnational level at events and meetings tied to Climate Week NYC, the Yale Climate Conference and the UN General Assembly.

Over the course of the week, Governor Brown met with the UN Secretary-General, opened Climate Week NYC 2017 and discussed subnational climate action from governments and the business community at events with other global leaders.

At Climate Week NYC, the Climate Group launched a groundbreaking new campaign on electric vehicles. EV100 aims to fast track the drive towards electric vehicles. By signing up, companies can use their collective buying power and influence to build demand, cut costs and remove barriers to adoption.

Governor Brown announced co-chairs for the Global Climate Action Summit , which will be held September 12-14, 2018 in San Francisco.

He highlighted state, city and business-led climate initiatives at the Yale Climate Conference and joined fellow U.S. Climate Alliance co-chairs to release a report on the progress by member states to meet their portion of the U.S. commitment under the Paris Agreement.

In response to President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change, Governors Andrew Cuomo of New York, Jay Inslee of Washington State, and Jerry Brown created the United States Climate Alliance. This bi-partisan coalition of states is committed to the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

In addition, the Governor participated in a wide-ranging discussion organized by the Skoll Foundation and the UN Foundation on the need to mobilize all levels of society to decarbonize the economy, signed an agreement with Denmark on water and climate issues and welcomed the Republic of the Marshall Islands and other new members to the Under2 Coalition .

A total of 187 jurisdictions representing 38 countries and six continents have signed or endorsed the Under2 Memorandum of Understanding. Collectively, they form the Under2 Coalition, which represents more than 1.2 billion people and $28.8 trillion in GDP – equivalent to 16 percent of the global population and 39 percent of the global economy as of August 2017.

California’s Climate Leadership

Governor Brown continues to build strong coalitions of partners committed to curbing carbon pollution in both the United States through the U.S. Climate Alliance and around the globe with the Under2 Coalition.

The Governor has also launched America’s Pledge on climate change with Michael Bloomberg to help compile and quantify the actions of states, cities and businesses in the U.S. to drive down emissions.

In September 2018, the State of California will convene the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, where representatives from subnational governments, businesses and civil society will gather with the direct goal of supporting the Paris Agreement.

This November, Governor Brown is expected to take part in a climate symposium organized by the Vatican and in this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, ahead of which he was named Special Advisor for States and Regions.

Earlier this month, Governor Brown called for deeper Trans-Pacific collaboration on climate change at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia.

This followed meetings in June with China’s President Xi Jinping during the Governor’s week-long trip to China and with Germany’s top environmental official, Barbara Hendricks, in San Francisco.

The Governor’s efforts to broaden subnational collaboration on climate in recent years also include international agreements signed with leaders from the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Mexico, China, North America, Japan, Israel, Peru, Chile, Australia, Scotland, Sweden, Germany, Fiji, Norway and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

Reaffirming California’s pioneering climate leadership, Governor Brown signed landmark legislation in July that extends and improves the state’s world-leading cap-and-trade program and establishes a groundbreaking program to measure and combat air pollution at the neighborhood level.

In recent years, Governor Brown has signed legislation establishing the most ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets in North America; setting the nation’s toughest restrictions on destructive super pollutants; directing cap-and-trade funds to greenhouse gas reducing programs which benefit disadvantaged communities, support clean transportation and protect natural ecosystems; and requiring the state to generate half of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and double the rate of energy efficiency savings in buildings.


CapacityBuilding

Top 10 U.S. Carbon Market Trends of 2017

LouisianaTribalLand

Sea level rise caused by climate warming has inundated Louisiana’s Isle de Jean Charles, displacing the Biloxi-Chitimacha Tribe, the first official U.S. climate refugees. (Photo by Karen Apricot) Creative commons license via Flickr.

By Sunny Lewis

PORTLAND, Oregon, January 24, 2017 (Maximpact.com News) – The Climate Trust, a nonprofit that specializes in mobilizing conservation finance for climate benefit, announced its fourth annual prediction list of 10 carbon market trends to watch in the coming year.

Trends range from U.S. citizens becoming climate refugees in one of the hottest years on record, to more native tribes joining carbon markets, to China taking the global climate leadership role, to environmental justice concerns playing an increased role in climate policy decisions.

These trends were identified by The Climate Trust based on interactions with their group of working partners: governments, investors, project developers, large businesses, and the philanthropic community.

Our team has identified areas of potential advancement, despite the anticipated inaction around climate at the federal level,” said Sean Penrith, executive director for The Climate Trust.

This year, more than ever, we felt there was a need for positivity, and have primarily chosen to share industry insights that are positive in nature, yet still strongly based in reality,” said Penrith. “We expect that the New Year will bring together unlikely, yet strong, domestic partnerships with corresponding resolve to address climate change, and we look forward to seeing what we can accomplish by banding together.

The Top 10 U.S. Carbon Market Trends

1. As our nation heads into uncertain times with respect to climate change policy and action, states, cities, and regional collaborative groups are going to lead the fight against climate change.

In New York City, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned that if the Trump Administration withdraws from the Paris Accord, mayors from 128 cities will pick up the cause.

In the Midwest, wind turbines continue to rise out of the cornfields.

In Oregon, U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken recently issued an opinion and order  denying the U.S. government and fossil fuel industry’s motions to dismiss a climate change lawsuit filed by 21 young people.

In Oregon, the Department of Environmental Quality is wrapping up the draft considerations for a cap-and-trade program for the state. In the vacuum created by a Scott Pruitt-led EPA, and a Rex Tillerson-led State Department, rulings like the one issued by Judge Aiken, and statements like the one from California Governor Jerry Brown challenging Trump on climate change, indicate where the action on climate change is going to be for the next four years.

2. Progressive states and foundations will pick up support for domestic climate finance in the absence of federal action. We expect that climate denial from federal leaders will alarm foundations and progressive states. Many foundations previously had an international climate focus, and The Climate Trust anticipates that these institutions will refocus on their U.S. agenda.

The political will for carbon pricing will grow in progressive states, demanding more immediate state action.

Increasingly, public entities are aware that their dollars are most effectively used when they leverage private capital. In 2017, states and foundations will look for opportunities to mitigate risks to private climate finance providers investing in the United States through new financial mechanisms like first loss capital contributions, loan guarantees, credit enhancements, and other new structures.

YouthPlaintiffs

The 21 young plaintiffs in Our Childrens’ Trust’s landmark lawsuit against the federal government celebrate the judge’s order backing their right to sue. November 2016 (Photo courtesy Our Childrens’ Trust) Post for media use.

3. Global climate litigation campaigns will gain momentum during 2017, legitimizing our children’s right to a healthy planet.

This is no ordinary lawsuit,” U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken wrote in her ruling on November 10, 2016 on a landmark case filed in Oregon by 21 young people and Our Children’s Trust. The plaintiffs allege that over the last 50 years, the government, including President Barack Obama, violated their constitutional rights and imperiled their future by failing to adequately reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Also acting as a plaintiff is world-renowned climate scientist Dr. James Hansen, serving as guardian for future generations and his granddaughter, who is a youth plaintiff in the case.

Whether the case is heard in federal court or settled, it provides a solid legal foundation for future climate litigation, and gives hope to the growing ranks of youth climate activists and their supporters.

We believe that more judges will acknowledge that the climate change crisis is within their purview, and that the constitutional rights of youth plaintiffs will be upheld against other governmental branches.

The world is watching this historic precedent set in Oregon. We predict the optimism gained from this victory will encourage judges and activists to look to the courts to validate the science behind climate change and allow judicial systems to require governments to take tangible action.

4. Private industry picks up U.S. government slack, making progress towards Paris commitments. During his campaign, President-elect Trump referred to climate change as a Chinese hoax and asserted that he will cancel the Paris Agreement. While he has walked back these statements, most recently saying that “nobody really knows” if climate change is real, his choice of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency suggests that Trump is going to try and make his campaign promises.

In the days after the November 2016 election, business leaders called on Trump to honor America’s agreement to the Paris Accord. Savvy business leaders and people like Bill Gates who recently drew attention to his $1 billion clean-technology fund, not only understand that climate change is real, but understand that taking no action will have a negative impact on their bottom line.

Progress will be made toward our U.S. Paris commitments due to the efforts of private industry. The Climate Trust anticipates that the Trump Administration will be left on the sidelines while the rest of the world rallies to meet the commitments made in Paris to keep greenhouse gas emissions at levels that will prevent global climate change increasing more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

5. Environmental justice community concerns are increasingly built into climate policy discussions throughout the United States. The environmental justice community in California has brought into sharp focus the need to balance the impact on disadvantaged communities with climate policy and programs.

Meeting the ambitious greenhouse gas goals now required by law in California in the cheapest manner possible is a central equity issue.

There will be continued attention given to these environmental justice concerns both in California and across the country as state climate policy evolves.

6. U.S. citizens become climate refugees in one of the hottest years on record. The top 10 hottest years in human history have all occurred since 1998, and 2016 is among them. It is anticipated that this continued trend will give rise to an increasing number of climate refugees within U.S. borders.

The Biloxi-Chitimacha Tribe in Louisiana is considered the first official community of climate refugees in this country. Whether it’s a 1,000-year flooding event in Louisiana, or wildfires on the west coast, global warming is altering the country in ways that will displace thousands of Americans.

This changing geography will necessitate the development of new solutions that not only sequester carbon, but also focus on adaptation. Some of these solutions are already under development, such as the Blue Carbon Initiative, which seeks to restore coastal wetlands to sequester carbon in plants and soils and protect against dangerous storm surges.

7. More native tribes will join carbon markets. The California Compliance Offset Protocol, U.S. Forest Projects, now has more than 34 million offset credits issued, including over 7.7 million tons from properties owned by Native American Tribes; nine projects located in six different states. The second largest individual issuance to date in the California carbon market is from the White Mountain Apache tribe project in Arizona.

Tribes that have taken part in carbon transactions have indicated that credit sales provide a new way to make money while improving wildlife habitat, expanding the tribe’s natural resource program, and acquiring and protecting land in its ancestral territory.

Last year, the protocol rules for the California market were expanded beyond the lower 48 U.S. states to include Alaska, opening the door for even more tribes to engage.

8. China takes the lead in carbon markets, encouraging linkages. The year of the rooster in the Chinese calendar is also the year China will take a leading role in using markets to fight global climate change.

After several years of piloting regional emissions trading programs, China will launch a national system that will cover over four billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions, making it twice as large as the next biggest market in Europe.

As a developing nation and large emitter, China’s bold commitment to carbon markets will send a signal that will be felt in America and beyond,” says Erika Anderson, a climate change attorney doing business in China.  

9. U.S.-based institutional investors will increase commitments to investments that hedge out carbon risk. Following the example of Norway’s sovereign fund, and other large European institutional investors, U.S.-based pensions and family offices will continue to de-risk their portfolios from the negative impacts of climate change, and take advantage of opportunities in the sustainable real assets space.

Lindsey Brace Martinez, founder of StarPoint Advisors, LLC and advisor to institutional investors and asset managers, says, “Given the prevailing sentiment for a low return environment, U.S. institutional investors are looking for investment managers who have a competitive edge and can deliver value over the long-term. Investment managers who systematically review and update their risk management approaches and apply their expertise through focused strategies will have a competitive edge.”

10. California Air Resources Board prevails in CalChamber lawsuit and commits to cap and trade. A long-standing lawsuit filed by the California Chamber of Commerce, Morning Star Packing Co.,and the National Association of Manufacturers has hung over the cap and trade market. The lawsuit argues that the auctioning of the cap and trade allowances constitutes an illegal tax since it does not have the approval of two-thirds of the Legislature.

Oral arguments are scheduled in Sacramento for January 24, 2017.

There are three possible outcomes for the lawsuit. It may be deemed a tax, and cause California to have a cap and trade system without the auction element unless the Legislature approves with a two-thirds vote.

It could be deemed a regulatory fee, and thus uphold the validity of the allowance auctions. Or, the third possibility is that the court finds that the auction is neither a tax nor a fee but something else not subject to the strictures of tax voting requirements under the state constitution.

The Climate Trust believes that this third option will be the outcome of the suit and be a complete victory for the cap and trade program.

In 2016, a number of our predictions came to fruition, including an increased number of institutions committing to divest from fossil fuel companies as part of the transition to a clean energy future,” said Kristen Kleiman, director of investments for The Climate Trust.

The divest movement has provided a valuable market signal to support the needed flows of conservation finance,” Kleiman said. “Riding this wave of interest from large institutions, late last year, The Trust executed a milestone contract with the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, securing a $5.5M Program-Related Investment to seed our first-of-its-kind carbon investment fund.


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Carbon Pricing Gathers Momentum

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@Maximpactdotcom

By Sunny Lewis

WASHINGTON, DC, April 26, 2016 (Maximpact.com News) – “There is a growing sense of inevitability about putting a price on carbon pollution,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim on the eve of the April 22 signing ceremony at UN Headquarters of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Kim joined government and corporate leaders in issuing a set of fast-moving goals – to expand carbon pricing to cover 25 percent of global emissions by 2020, and achieve 50 percent coverage within the next decade.

“In order to deliver on the promises of the historic Paris Climate Agreement, a price on carbon pollution will be essential to help cut emissions and drive investments into innovation and cleaner technologies,” said Kim.

“Prices for producing renewable energy are falling fast, and putting a price on carbon has the potential to make them even cheaper than fuels that pollute our planet,” he said.

Currently, some 40 governments and 23 cities, states and regions put a price on carbon emissions, accounting for 12 percent of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. This is a three-fold increase over the past decade.

The latest call for action comes from members of the Carbon Pricing Panel, including: Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn, French President François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, together with World Bank Group President Kim, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, California Governor Jerry Brown, Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes and OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría.

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World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, left, and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde at the Spring Meeting, Washington, DC, April 16, 2016. (Photo courtesy World Bank Group) Creative Commons via Flickr

The Vision Statement accompanying their announcement defines three steps to widen, deepen and promote global cooperation on carbon pricing.

First, the number of countries and businesses that participate in a carbon pricing system needs to increase.

Second, prices need to be significant enough to account for pollution as an operating cost, and incentives for investments in low carbon solutions need to be established.

And third, better links between the various regional and national pricing systems already in place need to be set up.

There are two main types of carbon pricing – emissions trading systems and carbon taxes.

An emissions trading system, such as the EU’s pioneering system established in 2005, is sometimes called a cap-and-trade system. It caps the total level of greenhouse gas emissions and allows those industries with low emissions to sell their extra allowances to larger emitters, establishing a market price for greenhouse gas emissions.

The cap helps ensure that the required emission reductions will take place to keep all emitters within their pre-allocated carbon budget.

A carbon tax directly sets a price on carbon by defining a tax rate on greenhouse gas emissions or on the carbon content of fossil fuels. It is different from an ETS – the emission reduction outcome of a carbon tax is not pre-defined but the carbon price is.

Other forms of pricing carbon emissions can occur through fuel taxes, the removal of fossil fuel subsidies and regulations that incorporate a “social cost of carbon.”

Greenhouse gas emissions also can be priced through payments for emission reductions. Private entities or sovereigns can purchase emission reductions to compensate for their own emissions (so-called offsets) or to support mitigation activities through results-based finance.

In any case, say the carbon pricing leaders, carbon emissions must be priced so that pollution becomes an operating cost.

Speaking at this month’s high level meeting of the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, the IMF’s Lagarde emphasized the value of cutting emissions.

“If the top 20 emitters in the world were to impose carbon charges that reflect only their domestic and environmental benefits, this would already reduce global emissions by over 10 percent,” she explained.

The Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition is a global initiative that includes more than 20 national and state governments, more than 90 businesses, and civil society organizations and international agencies, aims at garnering public-private support for carbon pricing around the world.

As 175 world leaders signed the Paris Agreement at United Nations Headquarters on April 22, Earth Day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the next critical step is to ensure that the landmark accord for global action on climate change enters into force as soon as possible.

“Today is an historic day,” Ban told reporters after the signing event. “This is by far the largest number of countries ever to sign an international agreement on a single day.”

Ban said the participation by so many countries and the attendance by so many world leaders leaves “no doubt” that the international community is determined to take climate action. He also welcomed the strong presence of the private sector and civil society, saying they are “crucial to realizing the great promise of the Paris Agreement.”

Adopted in Paris by the 196 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change at a conference known as COP21 last December, the Agreement’s objective is to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and to strive for 1.5 degrees Celsius.

It will enter into force 30 days after at least 55 countries, accounting for 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, deposit their instruments of ratification.

“If all the countries that have signed today take the next step at the national level and join the Agreement, the world will have met the requirement needed for the Paris Agreement to enter into force,” Ban said, congratulating the 15 governments that have already deposited their instruments for ratification.

Ban has said, “We must put a price on pollution and provide incentives to accelerate low carbon pathways. Market prices, market indices, and investment portfolios can no longer continue to ignore the growing cost of unsustainable production and consumption behaviors on the health of our planet.”

At the Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group earlier this month in Washington, DC, Kim said more action is needed on carbon pricing to help halt global warming and spur more investments into clean technologies.

“The current situation won’t put us on a pathway to limiting global warning. We need greater ambition, and greater leadership,” he said.

Globally, momentum for putting a price on carbon emissions is growing. At least 90 countries included mention of carbon pricing in their national plans, called the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), prepared for the Paris climate conference.

In addition, more than 450 companies around the world report using a voluntary, internal price on carbon in their business plans and more plan to follow suit in the next two years.

The number of implemented or scheduled carbon pricing plans has nearly doubled since 2012, amounting to a total value of US$50 billion.


 

Main image:  A steel works emits carbon dioxide at Teesside, England. (Photo by Ian Britton) Creative Commons license at Freefoto.com