The global economy must triple its annual investment in low-emissions technology, from $750 billion per year between 2010 and 2015 to $2.3 trillion per year going forward until 2040, to keep the planet under 2 degrees Celsius warmer compared to pre-industrial levels according to analysis from the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University. The report, Derisking Decarbonization: Making Green Energy Investments Blue Chip, served as the framing paper for the Clean Energy Finance Forum that the Precourt Institute hosted on November 1st.
On August 23, Massachusetts joined the eight other states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in announcing a plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by an additional 30 percent by 2030 relative to 2020 levels. The nation’s first market-based regulatory program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the RGGI counts Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Massachusetts as members. Since 2009, the initiative has employed a cap-and-trade program to lower emissions, and the proceeds from the pollution permit auctions are used to support energy efficiency programs in the member states. This most recent plan would lower emissions by more than 65 percent since the initiative’s inception.
On June 1st, 2017, President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the landmark Paris climate accord, sparking serious concern about the future of global efforts to mitigate climate change. In response, cities, states, and corporations across the United States are collaborating to submit a plan to the United Nations ensuring that the U.S. fulfills its emissions targets under the Paris accord – with or without support from the United States federal government.
A new trend is emerging among the country’s most influential fossil fuel investors: a demand for climate change accountability and progress towards a low-carbon economy. On May 31, 2017, a vote among Exxon Mobil’s shareholders approved a resolution mandating that the company begin offering detailed reports analyzing the impact of compliance with climate change policy on its core business. With this resolution, Exxon’s major shareholders are pushing directly against company leadership, which has historically resisted such disclosure.
One of President Trump’s early campaign promises was to dismantle the 2015 Clean Water Rule, the Obama administration’s regulation asserting federal power over navigable bodies of water and aiming to replace polluting coal-fired power plants with clean energy facilities. Now, thanks to a district court ruling in D.C., Trump may be one step closer to actualizing that promise. To learn more about this ruling and its impact, read on!
On Tuesday May 5th, members of state government, clean energy advocates, and business representatives assembled at the Massachusetts State House for the New England Clean Energy Council’s (NECEC’s) fourth annual Clean Energy Day. According to Peter Rothstein, President of the NECEC, the day was “an opportunity to get the word out about the importance of clean energy in Massachusetts,” a valuable chance for stakeholders to engage with their elected officials about ensuring continued growth in the clean energy sector.
The day began with a lunchtime speaking program with clean energy award honorees and remarks from legislative and executive officials. Visitors listened with rapt attention as Senator Ben Downing, Senator Mark Pacheco, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Matthew Beaton, and others offered their thoughts on the state of the clean energy sector as Massachusetts finds itself at a crossroads on a number of important issues.
ENERGY AND CLIMATE DEBATE
Republicans gained control of the Senate last Tuesday, and, with Republicans picking up several House seats as well, Congress rests in their hands. The question now becomes: can D.C. govern?
Republican gains in the midterm elections bode well for increased oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency, due in large part to Senator James Inhofe’s (R-OK) imminent ascension to chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) will move to the Ranking Member slot. Senator Inhofe, self-proclaimed climate skeptic, has indicated that he will use the committee to investigate the agency’s regulations and authority. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will replace Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) as majority leader, and, he is likely to lead the party’s efforts to roll back Environmental Protection Agency rules, including CO2 standards for power plants, ozone air quality standards, and expanded Clean Water Act jurisdiction over U.S. waterways. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) faces a runoff December 6, and she is likely to lose, meaning that Senator Maria Cantwell (D-CA) will join Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) as ranking member and chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, respectively. With a 54-member majority, it is likely that Senate Republicans will be able to find the 60 votes necessary to move legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. The White House is declining to say whether President Obama would veto legislation approving the Keystone pipeline. To reach the 67 votes needed to overcome a presidential veto, Senate Republicans will still have to work closely with their Democratic counterparts, and they will need to employ creative approaches, such as using authorization bills, appropriations riders, oversight hearings, and the Congressional Review Act, to advance their energy agenda. Other agenda items may include altering the Renewable Fuel Standard; expediting liquefied natural gas exports; streamlining transmission project decisions; expanding oil and gas drilling; and funding the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.
ENERGY AND CLIMATE DEBATE
With election day looming, our attention turns to the outcomes of the close races, potential lame duck issues, and what the election means for the new 115th Congress.
While Republicans may reclaim control of the Senate, they will need to employ creative approaches to advance their energy agenda, which may include approving the Keystone XL pipeline; restricting Environmental Protection Agency regulatory authority; altering the Renewable Fuel Standard; expediting liquefied natural gas exports; streamlining transmission project decisions; and expanding oil and gas drilling. Unlike in the House, the Senate’s close majority will necessitate the use of tools such as authorization bills, appropriations riders, oversight hearings, and the Congressional Review Act in order to move any of the contentious issues forward.
ENERGY AND CLIMATE DEBATE
With a little over three weeks to go before the elections, and just a bit more than that until the next round of international climate negotiations, the United States is trying to determine how, and how much, to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade.
Whether and how Congress addresses climate and energy legislation in the coming two, four, or more years will become slightly clearer three weeks from now, when either Democrats retain control of the Senate, or the balance of power flips in favor of Republican leadership. Though the majority will be slim, the focus issues could be different, particularly if Senator Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) campaign prevails, Republicans take control of the upper chamber, and he becomes Majority Leader. Whether or not he becomes Majority Leader, Senator McConnell has promised to continue his battle against Environmental Protection Agency greenhouse gas regulations. Should Democrats retain control of the Senate, Congress is likely to continue in much the same vein for the next several years: unable to pass comprehensive climate or energy legislation, and facing difficult battles even on much smaller measures.
ENERGY AND CLIMATE DEBATE
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, more than 162 government representatives, including 126 heads of state and government, and leaders in the business and finance sectors convened a Climate Summit in New York City September 23. Though not an official international negotiation conference, the summit was the largest international climate change meeting since the 2009 Copenhagen Summit, and it aimed to advance the development of an international agreement to address climate change before the United Nations Climate Change Conference of 2015 in Paris, France.