Editor’s note: This article, part of a larger report, comes from ML Strategies Update and is authored by David Leiter, DJLeiter@mlstrategies.com , Sarah Litke, SLitke@mlstrategies.com , and Neal Martin, RNMartin@mlstrategies.com.
The 21st Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change concluded its international climate negotiations in Paris with a global accord. Facing a December 11 continuing resolution expiration, Congress passed shortly thereafter, a five-day funding extension in the hope that they would be able to come to a final agreement on the Fiscal Year 2016 Omnibus Appropriations measure.
The House will return January 5 for 28 weeks of the second session of the 114th Congress, truncated by the
presidential election. The Senate will return January 11 for 31 weeks. On the international front, COP21 concluded its two-week talks December 12 with the announcement of a 31-page international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change beginning in 2020. The accord calls for
- Keeping global warming to below two degrees above pre-industrial levels and to pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 Celsius degrees;
- Achieving carbon neutrality by the second half of the century;
- Adapting to adverse climate impacts and fostering climate resilience and low GHG development in a way that does not threaten food production;
- Making consistent financing flows with a pathway toward low GHG emissions and climate resilient development.
A legally binding portion of the accord requires countries to reconvene and increase their GHG reduction commitments every five years beginning in 2020, and how well countries are meeting their commitments will be examined every five years beginning in 2023. The agreement addresses loss and damage and calls on developed nations to increase their financial support before 2020 to achieve the $100 billion annual global climate fund goal for mitigation and adaptation efforts. The text sets up land use rules, REDD; and transparency frameworks, including independently monitoring, reporting, and verifying national emissions.
With a unanimous vote, the pact now requires ratification beginning in April by legislatures from at least 55 countries representing 55% of the world’s emissions for it to enter into force, which must happen by 2020. Climate Action Tracker released a report concluding that if nations follow through on their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, the globe would warm by about 2.7 Celsius degrees, so increasing ambition is necessary to reach the two Celsius degrees and below goals.
Of the 195 nations represented at the negotiations, 185 submitted Intended Nationally Determined Contributions. The ten nations, including Venezuela, Uzbekistan, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Nicaragua, Nepal, Panama, East Timor, and Saint Kitts and Nevis, who have not submitted pledges account for just over 2% of global emissions. Secretary of State John Kerry pledged December 9 that the United States would double its grant-based climate adaptation funding to $800 million a year by 2020 to help climate vulnerable nations adapt to rising sea levels and other climate impacts.
The President praised the accord December 12, as did Senators Sheldon Whitehouse, Chris Murphy, Jeanne Shaheen, and others on Capitol Hill and in the environmental and public health communities, though Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair James Inhofe opposed it, and Senate leadership continues to reiterate that the United States is not legally bound to any international climate agreement without Congressional approval.
Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced legislation (S. 2378) December 9 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide for an energy equivalent of a gallon of diesel in the case of liquefied natural gas for purposes of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund financing rate. Representative John Sarbanes (D-MD) introduced the 21st Century Power Grid Act (H.R. 4206) December 9 to provide for a technology demonstration program related to the modernization of the electric grid.
Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) introduced the Ratepayer Fairness Act (S. 2384) December 10 to amend the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 to provide for the consideration by State regulatory authorities and nonregulated electric utilities of whether subsidies should be provided for the deployment, construction, maintenance, or operation of a customer-side technology.
Senators Bernie Sanders, Jeff Merkley, and Ed Markey introduced legislation (S.2391) December 10 to permanently extend certain energy tax provisions. Sanders introduced legislation (S. 2398) December 10 to provide benefits and services to workers who have lost their jobs or have experienced a reduction in wages or hours due to the transition to clean energy and to amend the National Labor Relations Act to establish an efficient system to enable employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations. Sanders introduced legislation (S. 2399) December 10 to provide for emissions reductions. He released earlier in the week an overview of his climate action plan in the case that he is elected president. The plan would reduce CO2 emissions by 40% from 1990 levels by 2030 and 80% by 2050 by:
- Eliminating fossil-fuel subsidies
- Blocking liquefied natural gas and oil exports
- Banning Arctic and offshore drilling; banning mountaintop removal coal mining;
- Increasing fuel economy standards up to 65 miles per gallon by 2025
- Establishing a carbon tax
- Establishing a nuclear-free clean energy system, and
- Investing significantly in energy efficiency.
Representative Matt Cartwright (D-PA) introduced legislation (H.R. 4215) December 10 to require regulation of wastes associated with the exploration, development, or production of crude oil, natural gas, or geothermal energy under the Solid Waste Disposal Act.
Energy Consumption Down – The Energy Information Administration released data December 7 finding that fiscal year 2014 federal energy consumption was at its lowest level since 1975. Most of the decreased energy use was due to the Department of Defense reducing its jet fuel consumption, though even with that reduction, the agency made up 78% of total federal energy consumption. Federal agencies account for 1% of total domestic energy consumption, and have reduced energy use 15% since 2010. Second QER Department of Energy Deputy Director for State and Local Cooperation Karen Wayland said December 8 that the agency plans to complete the second Quadrennial Energy Review by late next year. The second review will address United States’ electricity from generation to end use. Stakeholders will start meeting early 2016, with an interagency review expected by late summer; 13 teams will consider electricity sector topics, including markets, finance, and grid operations.
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Filed Under: News, Policy