Inter Press ServiceTaryn Fransen – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Fri, 20 Apr 2018 20:59:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.6 The Climate Effect of the Trump Administrationhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/12/the-climate-effect-of-the-trump-administration/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-climate-effect-of-the-trump-administration http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/12/the-climate-effect-of-the-trump-administration/#respond Wed, 06 Dec 2017 20:30:46 +0000 Taryn Fransen and Kelly Levin http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=153366 Over its first year, the Trump administration has taken extreme steps to unravel progress on U.S. climate action domestically. Last month, President Trump’s administration reiterated its intention to abandon the Paris Agreement, isolating the United States internationally. Now that Syria has formally joined the Paris Agreement, the United States is the only country not on […]

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Credit: Cam McGrath/IPS

By Taryn Fransen and Kelly Levin
WASHINGTON DC, Dec 6 2017 (IPS)

Over its first year, the Trump administration has taken extreme steps to unravel progress on U.S. climate action domestically. Last month, President Trump’s administration reiterated its intention to abandon the Paris Agreement, isolating the United States internationally.

Now that Syria has formally joined the Paris Agreement, the United States is the only country not on board with the global accord. And in July at the G20 Summit President Trump indicated the United States would “immediately cease implementation of its current nationally-determined contribution.”

The administration has followed through by holding a hearing on its proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan – former President Barack Obama’s signature plan to curb climate-warming emissions in the electric sector.

The administration has also taken steps to revisit rules that would limit emissions from new fossil fuel plants, light-, medium-, and heavy-duty-) vehicles, and methane sources like new oil and natural gas equipment. At the same time, the administration has also moved forward with rules to support baseload coal generation and orders to increase oil and gas production on public and tribal lands.

Many states, cities and companies have stepped up in response to Trump’s announcement on the Paris Agreement with their own statements of “We Are Still In,” pledging to support the agreement and to take action on climate change.
If the administration continues with these plans, it could significantly compromise the United States’ ability to deliver on its Paris Agreement pledge (known as a nationally determined contribution, or NDC) to reduce emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.

Much of the trajectory for U.S. emissions depends on how quickly policies are reversed or revised, and what will replace them. In addition, many states, cities and companies have stepped up in response to Trump’s announcement on the Paris Agreement with their own statements of “We Are Still In,” pledging to support the agreement and to take action on climate change.

A recent report from America’s Pledge has documented the scope and scale of non-federal action, showing that more than 2,500 non-federal actors, representing more than half of the U.S. economy, have pledged support for the Paris Agreement goals. The report was released by Gov. Jerry Brown of California and UN Special Envoy on Climate and Cities Mike Bloomberg, with analysis by our colleagues at WRI, the Rocky Mountain Institute and CDP.

The U.S. emissions trajectory of the next several years will depend in part on what impact these subnational and corporate actions will have and how much market forces will continue to drive decarbonization. At the global level, it is also too early to tell whether other countries will step up and make up for the lack of U.S. climate action.

In the wake of these changes to federal climate policies, we have sought to explore two questions: (1) How might policy rollbacks increase emissions? and (2) To what extent might action by states, cities, and others counteract such an increase?

We reviewed recent studies from seven organizations to review and synthesize their assumptions and findings to date. The America’s Pledge initiative will also dig deeper into these issues in the months ahead by aggregating and quantifying the full range of potential U.S. non-federal action and what that means for future U.S. emissions.

On the first question, we looked at seven studies by Climate Action Tracker, Climate Advisers, Climate Interactive, National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation (NCSC), Resources for the Future, and Rhodium Group.

These studies examine different scenarios of Trump administration impacts on US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2025, and estimate what emissions levels would have been under Obama’s policies.

Besides U.S. emissions, Climate Interactive examines global emissions and global temperature under Trump administration policies. On the second question, we reviewed studies by the Carbon Brief and the Sierra Club, which evaluate the potential of states and other actors to offset Trump’s policies.

 

Potential impact of policy rollbacks

Taken together, the first seven studies suggest that if Trump’s policies are put into effect, U.S. emissions in 2025 will range from 5.6 to 6.8 Gt carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). Under Obama’s policies, estimates suggest emissions would have ranged from about 5.0 to 6.6 GtCO2e.

Scenarios that consider Obama’s policies without the Clean Power Plan find a range of 5.1 to 6.8 GtCO2e. All these scenarios show emissions in 2025 higher than the U.S. target of 4.8 to 4.9 GtCO2e. Most are also higher than 2015 emissions of 5.8 GtCO2e, which reflects that additional actions would have been necessary between now and 2025 to achieve the U.S. NDC even if the full suite of Obama’s policies had been enacted. Unsurprisingly, the studies find that the United States would have come closer to hitting its NDC target under Obama’s policies than under Trump administration proposals.

Climate Interactive also assesses what global emissions would rise to if the U.S. does not make any efforts to meet its NDC and finds that emissions in 2025 would be 57.3 GtCO2e, in contrast to 55.8 had the NDC been achieved.

The same study finds that the US NDC alone would have resulted in 0.3 degrees C (0.5 degrees F) less warming (3.3 degrees C (5.9 degrees F) versus 3.6 degrees C (6.5 degrees F)) without it, not accounting for Paris Agreement mechanisms to ramp up ambition over time – a significant contribution towards the Paris goal of limiting warming to 1.5 to 2 degrees C (2.7 to 3.6 degrees F).

 

The Climate Effect of the Trump Administration
 

 

Each organization approached the analysis differently. Three main factors were largely responsible for the differences among the studies:

 

1. Which policy rollbacks were included in the analyses

There is considerable uncertainty regarding which policies Trump might ultimately roll back (court decisions will have a significant role). Studies examine different combinations of policies that the Trump administration might diminish.

All the Trump scenarios envision eliminating the Clean Power Plan, which accounts for the majority of emissions reductions under Obama’s Climate Action Plan. However, scenarios examine a range of possibilities for policies such as those affecting methane, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and vehicle standards:

 

The Climate Effect of the Trump Administration

 

2. Treatment of market forces

Only some of the analyses explicitly consider the extent to which market forces will influence US emissions. Resources for the Future uses the Biennial Report (BR), updated to reflect the 2017 GHG inventory, as its basis for projections, with no consideration of reductions resulting from market forces beyond those captured in the biennial report and updated inventory.

The Rhodium Group’s Trump’s Regulatory Rollback Begins analysis held macroeconomic and energy price assumptions constant and aligned them with EIA’s 2017 Annual Energy Outlook forecast. The Rhodium Group’s Taking Stock report includes an examination of uncertainties based on the interactive effects of multiple market forces and quantifies the impacts of a variety of related assumptions.

 

3. Treatment of land sector emissions

Groups differed in how they estimated land sector removals and specifically how significant a carbon sink the U.S. would have in the future. For example, the Rhodium Group’s Trump’s Regulatory Rollback Begins analysis considers a range of projections for land sector sequestration. In contrast, Climate Interactive’s analysis excluded land sector emissions altogether.

 

Can States, Companies and Market Forces Counteract the Trump Effect?

As already noted, Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement has been met by a loud backlash among states, cities, businesses and others. Over 2,500 governors, mayors and others have joined the We Are Still In campaign.

While future America’s Pledge analysis will examine how these actions can affect future emissions, we reviewed two existing studies that explored how states and other sub-national actors can close the emissions gap left by Trump administration rollbacks to achieve the U.S. Paris Agreement target.

First, a Sierra Club analysis quantifies the potential for three categories of action to achieve the US target: accelerated replacement of coal with clean energy resources like wind and solar; defense of existing policies including the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard, vehicle standards and HCFC rules; and local action by businesses and local elected officials to embrace clean energy and transition away from fossil fuels. Collectively, Sierra Club’s research finds that if these actions are achieved they could reduce emissions by almost 4.5 GtCO2e in 2025.

Second, an analysis by Carbon Brief identifies the share of US carbon dioxide emissions from states that are members of the U.S. Climate Alliance, other states that have GHG emission reduction targets and states that lack such controls on GHG emissions. It explores the levers states can use to control emissions from electricity, transport and on-site sources. The Carbon Brief concludes that if states find the political will to use these levers, they could meet the U.S. climate commitment.

 

Maintaining International Momentum

The Trump administration’s actions to reverse actions to reduce GHG emissions isolates the United States and will likely slow this country’s progress on tackling climate change and advancing clean energy.

How much emissions and global temperatures will rise as a result has yet to be fully determined, and will depend in large measure how subnational action in the United States, such as the We Are Still In campaign, market forces and international efforts can sustain momentum in the coming years.

The recommitment to the Paris Agreement by world leaders other than Trump at the G20 summit, and progress at COP23, shows their intent to demonstrate the opportunities offered in working toward a low-carbon future. Many U.S. cities, states, regions and companies are already joining other countries in taking the helm on climate and clean energy action and pointing the way toward a low-carbon future.

 

This story was originally published by the World Resources Institute (WRI)

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4 Reasons for Countries to Enhance Climate Commitments by 2020http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/11/4-reasons-countries-enhance-climate-commitments-2020/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=4-reasons-countries-enhance-climate-commitments-2020 http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/11/4-reasons-countries-enhance-climate-commitments-2020/#respond Tue, 07 Nov 2017 13:32:07 +0000 Taryn Fransen and Eliza Northrop http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152928 The Paris Agreement was widely hailed for drawing all nations together to tackle climate change, based on bottom-up contributions that will be reviewed and strengthened over time. These contributions are aimed at achieving the ambitious but necessary long-term goals of limiting global temperature increase and building resilience to climate impacts. This process is known as […]

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Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Death Valley, California, one of the hottest places on Earth. Credit: Tom_Stromer/Flickr

By Taryn Fransen and Eliza Northrop
WASHINGTON DC, Nov 7 2017 (IPS)

The Paris Agreement was widely hailed for drawing all nations together to tackle climate change, based on bottom-up contributions that will be reviewed and strengthened over time. These contributions are aimed at achieving the ambitious but necessary long-term goals of limiting global temperature increase and building resilience to climate impacts.

This process is known as the ambition mechanism, and the first test of whether and how it will work is fast approaching. In 2018, Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will come together to take stock of progress and identify where they can go further, faster to put the goals of the Paris Agreement within reach.

Following this process, known as the Talanoa Dialogue, Parties will have the opportunity to communicate new or updated climate commitments, known as Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs, by 2020.

So why should countries communicate new or updated NDCs by 2020?

1) Current NDCs Need to Be Strengthened to Achieve the Goals of the Paris Agreement

At the 2015 climate summit in Paris, countries agreed to limit warming to well below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F).

The current NDCs, by contrast, would lead to warming in the range of 2.7 to 3.7 degrees C; there remains a significant gap between emissions expected in 2030 and emissions compatible with the Paris goals. The longer countries wait to bring their commitments into line with the Paris goals, the more difficult it will be and the steeper the rate at which emissions will need to decline.

Because fossil-fueled power plants and inefficient buildings have long life spans, achieving an ever-steeper reduction rate can become expensive and technically difficult. The sooner NDCs reflect the necessary ambition to achieve the Paris goals, the sooner they can signal to redirect investments away from high-emitting technologies.

2) Parties Can Seize Economic and Social Benefits of Updating their NDCs

The current NDCs were developed by Parties ahead of Paris, quickly and with no certainty of the final outcome. With the Paris Agreement now in force and with implementation guidelines to be finalized at the end of 2018, Parties can factor in recent innovations and declining costs of renewable energy to take advantage of opportunities in key sectors to send accurate signals to investors.

Many countries have long-term plans and strategies related to climate, development, and economic objectives. Taking the opportunity now to align NDCs with these long-term goals and strategies will avoid locking in high emissions that will exacerbate climate vulnerabilities.

For example, analysis has revealed the high potential for synergies between achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the NDCs.

The next years could offer new areas of cost-effective climate action. Lastly, many countries have already made substantial progress and some appear to be on track to exceed the targets in their current NDCs.

3) It Provides an Opportunity to Engage Stakeholders and Create Support for Climate Action

Enhancing NDCs provides an opportunity to rally support for climate action, strengthen public participation and ensure that relevant stakeholders help to create a strategic vision.

The opportunity to review and update the NDCs by 2020 enables Parties to learn from their initial experience and identify ways to engage a broader range of stakeholders to access new information and enhance ownership of the NDC, within and outside government. Enhancing engagement with businesses and other non-state actors, as well as subnational governments, could also reveal additional mitigation potential or innovations that help drive enhanced ambition.

4) This Can Send Powerful Signals to Decision-Makers

NDCs send powerful signals to inform decision-making by a wide range of actors, not only to the international community, but also domestically. Ensuring the targets, actions and measures in an NDC reflect the latest thinking, sectoral opportunities and potential of a country is important to spur policy development, innovation in research and development, and ensure public and private investment is channeled appropriately and in line with national objectives.

Updating NDCs by 2020 will also kick-start the virtuous cycle of ambition at the heart of the Paris Agreement, inducing greater ambition from other Parties thereby leveling the playing field in a globalized economy.

To help countries identify promising avenues to bring their NDCs into line with the Paris Agreement by 2020, we have developed a menu of options for NDC enhancement.

The options cover ways to enhance mitigation ambition and strengthen NDC content on adaptation and implementation and to improve the clarity and transparency with which NDCs are communicated. These options are not mutually exclusive. In many cases, it will be feasible and desirable for a country to strengthen mitigation ambition as well as other facets of their NDC by pursuing multiple options at once.

The year 2020 will serve as a critical test of the ability of the Paris Agreement to deliver enhanced ambition over time until our collective goals are reached. Countries can do their part by exploring and enacting meaningful options to enhance their NDCs as soon as possible.

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Opinion: Indonesia’s Climate Commitment Ahead of Paris Talkshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/09/opinion-indonesias-climate-commitment-ahead-of-paris-talks/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=opinion-indonesias-climate-commitment-ahead-of-paris-talks http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/09/opinion-indonesias-climate-commitment-ahead-of-paris-talks/#respond Fri, 18 Sep 2015 08:52:38 +0000 Taryn Fransen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=142413 Taryn Fransen is the Project Director for Open Climate Network at World Resources Institute

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Taryn Fransen

By Taryn Fransen
WASHINGTON DC, Sep 18 2015 (IPS)

Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry took a step forward on the road to Paris when it published a draft of its new climate plan, or Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), for public consultation on Sep. 1, 2015. As the world’s sixth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, Indonesia’s climate commitment is an important piece of the global response to climate change.

The draft INDC builds on Indonesia’s 2009 commitment to reduce emissions 26 percent relative to a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario by 2020, as well as its significant efforts to stem deforestation, by calling for an unconditional 29 percent emissions reduction by 2030 and a conditional reduction of 41 percent with international assistance and cooperation.

Over the past several months, Indonesia has analyzed its emissions-mitigation opportunities. As a result of these efforts, the draft INDC includes a quantitative, post-2020 mitigation target, as well as general information on how it will approach mitigation in the land use, energy, and waste sectors; its planning processes; and its resilience strategy.

Nevertheless, the current draft contribution still displays several important gaps in transparency and ambition, which must be addressed before submitting a final INDC to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). By eliminating these gaps, the Indonesian government could bring its contribution into line with international best practices on transparency, demonstrate leadership internationally by enhancing ambition, and help ensure success at COP 21.

Here are our top recommendations for Indonesia’s final INDC:

1) Enhance the ambition of unconditional emissions reduction target beyond 29 percent by 2030.

Without further details on modeling undertaken by the Indonesian government, a full ambition assessment of its 29 percent target is impossible. However, Indonesia’s Planning Ministry (BAPPENAS) has analyzed scenarios for achieving a 29 percent reduction and for achieving—under an “optimistic” scenario—a somewhat larger (though unspecified) reduction (see graphic below). The assumed policy actions under both scenarios are similar; much of the difference stems from assumptions regarding the effectiveness of these measures.

The more optimistic scenario should also be reflected in Indonesia’s commitment, and could be included as part of a range together with the “fair” scenario. A number of other countries, including China and the United States, have included ranges in their INDC commitments.

2) Clarify emission-reduction targets by publishing the BAU scenario against that which emissions will be reduced.

Defining the baseline level of emissions against which Indonesia’s reductions will be achieved (i.e., emissions associated with the BAU scenario) is imperative for transparency and accountability. Absent this information, tracking progress towards INDC goals is impossible for Indonesia, and uncertainty regarding future global emissions – as well as associated temperature change – is compounded.

Because Indonesia establishes a target relative to the BAU scenario without published BAU scenario emissions, the draft INDC is out of step with most of the 11 INDCs submitted by other countries with emissions-reduction goals relative to BAU. Of these, eight countries have quantified their BAU, including fellow major emerging economies Mexico and South Korea, as well as Andorra, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Kenya, Macedonia and Morocco. The only three countries not to quantify their BAU are very small developing countries: Benin, Gabon, and Trinidad and Tobago.

While the Indonesian government has analyzed its BAU scenario in considerable detail, it has unfortunately not published this information in the draft INDC. Indonesia can correct this omission by publishing 2030 BAU emissions in the final INDC.

3) Ensure land-sector goals maximize climate benefits by adding a carbon stock target and/or committing to prioritize restoration of degraded lands.

The mitigation section of Indonesia’s draft INDC mentions 12.7 million hectares (31.4 million acres) of forest area designated for social forestry, ecosystem restoration, and conservation and sustainable use. While the specific mitigation impacts of this commitment are unclear, restoration on this scale could result in significant emissions reductions if implemented with a view towards maximizing mitigation potential – nearly 55 percent of Indonesia’s emissions come from deforestation, forest degradation and peatland destruction.

Indonesia could ensure its goal maximizes mitigation benefits by including an ambitious and quantitative carbon stock target in its INDC, and/or including a qualitative commitment to prioritize restoration of degraded lands, which would maximize carbon sequestration.

4) Ensure Indonesia’s INDC matches its significance in COP 21’s success.
In addition to these key improvements, Indonesia should also ensure its final INDC follows the full suite of international best practices on transparency, including:

• Clarifying the assumptions underlying the baseline, unconditional and conditional GHG reduction-target scenarios;
• Establishing a policy regarding potential future adjustment of the baseline scenario;
• Modifying the target to address unpredictable fluctuations in peat fire emissions—for example, by creating a multi-year target period;
• Clarifying the target year or period to which the conditional 41 percent reduction applies;
• Clearly stating the land-use accounting approach and method; and
• Further clarifying how international market mechanisms will be applied towards the target.

Indonesia plays an important role in the COP 21 process. Beyond being one of the largest global emitters and one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, it can be a model for other developing nations to follow. With a few improvements, Indonesia can submit a robust and actionable INDC in the lead-up to negotiations in Paris later this year.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, IPS – Inter Press Service.

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Taryn Fransen is the Project Director for Open Climate Network at World Resources Institute

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