DUBAI (December 3, 2023) – Today at the COP28 climate negotiations, the U.S. State Department along with The Rockefeller Foundation and Bezos Earth Fund launched a framework for the Energy Transition Accelerator (ETA), a program designed to generate funding through the voluntary carbon market to help developing countries transition to cleaner sources of energy.
Following is a statement from Ani Dasgupta, President & CEO, World Resources Institute:
“The Global Stocktake shows that we need to rapidly accelerate investments in the energy transition by scaling-up renewable energy while phasing-out fossil fuels. It specifically calls out the urgent need to get financing to developing countries in order to avoid locking-in fossil fuel infrastructure.
“It is absolutely clear that public funding alone will not be sufficient – the transition will require unprecedented amounts of private capital to flow to the Global South, which is not happening today.
“The Energy Transition Accelerator has taken an innovative approach to channel private capital to the Global South through corporate climate action. The details really matter to ensure this initiative is rigorous and impactful.
“We support the commitment of the ETA to create the highest-quality carbon credits that can complement companies’ efforts to reduce emissions in their own operations and value chains. If done right, these jurisdictional-scale credits have the potential to re-energize carbon markets and provide a new path towards real global emission reductions.
“We commit to work with the ETA and standard-setters, including VCMI, SBTi and IC-VCM toward a robust crediting methodology and a comprehensive framework to incentivize companies to invest in high-quality credits.”International Climate Action COP28 Type Statement Exclude From Blog Feed? 0
DUBAI (December 2, 2023) - Today, the Oil and Gas Decarbonization Charter was released. It calls on the oil and gas sector to achieve the goal of reaching net-zero emissions for their own operations by 2050. The charter also includes commitments to achieve near-zero methane emissions and no routine flaring by 2030.
Following is a statement from Melanie Robinson, Global Climate Program Director, World Resources Institute:
“This charter is proof that voluntary commitments from the oil and gas industry will never foster the level of ambition necessary to tackle the climate crisis. We can’t meet our climate goals unless governments set policies that rapidly and equitably transition our economy away from fossil fuels.
“The oil and gas companies that joined the charter committed to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, but this is only for their own operations. The pledge doesn’t cover a drop of the fuel they sell, which accounts for up to 95% of the oil and gas industry’s contribution to the climate crisis. Ignoring emissions from the fossil fuels that companies sell is like a cigarette maker claiming no responsibility for the impact of their product once it leaves the factory door.
“It is encouraging that some national oil companies have set methane reduction targets for the first time. However, most global oil and gas companies already have stringent requirements to cut methane emissions. Strong measures to verify progress are crucial to holding oil and gas companies accountable."International Climate Action COP28 Type Statement Exclude From Blog Feed? 0
STATEMENT: 117 Countries Pledge to Triple World's Renewable Energy Capacity and Double Energy Efficiency by 2030
DUBAI (December 2, 2023) - Today, 117 countries pledged to triple the world’s renewable energy capacity and double energy efficiency by 2030.
Following is a statement from Jennifer Layke, Global Energy Director, World Resources Institute:
“The widespread support for this declaration demonstrates that renewable energy has moved from the sidelines to center stage. Tripling annual renewable energy capacity over the next six years would be the single largest step the world can take toward achieving our global climate goals.
“Achieving this aim can reduce the need for countries to maintain old, polluting power plants and offers major knock-on benefits, including cleaner air, less use of fossil fuels and greater incentives to adopt energy-efficient electric vehicles and heat pumps.
“Wealthy countries must do much more to finance affordable renewable energy around the world. While renewables are the cheapest energy option for most people, high upfront costs and interest rates often put wind and solar out of reach for developing countries.
“Ramping up renewable energy and improving efficiency alone cannot address the climate crisis. At COP28, it is crucial for all countries to also commit to rapidly and equitably transition away from fossil fuels, and action must be taken on energy efficiency, transport, and industry.
“This declaration cannot take the pressure off reaching consensus on ambitious commitments within the climate negotiations themselves to secure a clean energy future. All countries need to be part of the energy transition – no one can opt out.”
DUBAI (December 2, 2023) - Today the Biden administration announced a $3 billion pledge to the Green Climate Fund. The GCF is the largest international fund dedicated to supporting developing countries to tackle climate change.
Following is a statement from Ani Dasgupta, President and CEO, World Resources Institute:
“The US pledge to the Green Climate Fund shows that the Biden administration is committed to helping developing countries quickly transition to net-zero carbon economies and build their resilience to climate disasters.
“The Green Climate Fund is the largest in the world dedicated to supporting sustainable development in poor and vulnerable countries. It helps farmers plant drought-resistant crops, brings solar energy to rural communities and so much more. It is also a centerpiece in the global climate negotiations. No country has greater responsibility to contribute to these efforts than the United States.
“President Obama in 2014 pledged $3 billion, out of which $2 billion has been delivered so far. During the current replenishment cycle, peer countries like Germany, France and the United Kingdom have dug even deeper relative to the size of their economies. But today’s announcement can be a step towards delivering on President Biden’s commitment to provide $11.4 billion annually to developing countries by 2024.
“The United States has good economic, diplomatic and security reasons to deliver on this pledge. It is imperative that these funds get delivered.”
DUBAI (December 2, 2023) - On the second day of COP28 in Dubai, ministers Marina Silva and Fernando Haddad, together with ambassador André Corrêa do Lago, announced the launch of the 'Tropical Forests Forever' fund, a financial instrument for payment for standing forests, with contributions from countries with sovereign wealth funds, among other investors. The fund aims to encourage conservation and strongly discourage deforestation and forest degradation.
The following is a statement from Mirela Sandrini, Director of Forests, Land Use and Agriculture], WRI Brasil:
"For this Fund to be effective, it must align with countries’ existing environmental legislation. In the case of Brazil, it is essential that the Fund benefits indigenous and other local people who are guardians of territories with the largest forest cover and depend on the products and services from the forests. The fund’s focus on protecting the forest area rather than focusing on just avoiding carbon emissions ensures that biodiversity and other ecosystem services are treated as equally important goals.
"The New Economy for the Brazilian Amazon, launched this year, shows that ending deforestation and keeping the forest standing will not restrict social and economic development in the region. Quite the opposite: preserving forests is an opportunity for all sectors - to guarantee healthy food, reduce inequality by creating new jobs and grow the economy, while also protecting nature and improving the lives of local inhabitants in a fair and inclusive way.
“This fund could be helpful in accelerating new partnerships that are taking shape with other countries in the Pan Amazon region, as well as restoration efforts in other biomes with significant forest potential, such as the Atlantic Forest.”Brazil COP28 Forests Type Statement Exclude From Blog Feed? 0
RELEASE: Expert Group Launches Report to Help Cities, States and Regions Strengthen Credibility of Net Zero Climate Commitments
DUBAI (December 2, 2023) — Today at COP28, an Expert Group convened by the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (GCoM) and WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities (WRI) launched the Integrity Matters for Cities, States, and Regions report outlining fit-for-purpose recommendations for local, state and regional governments to ensure the credibility, accountability and transparency of their climate and sustainability commitments.
“For cities, states and regions to keep leading from the front on climate action, they need stronger partnerships with their national governments,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Climate Ambition and Solutions and Founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies. “This report, which highlights the ambitious targets local leaders are setting, will give national governments more reasons to collaborate with them in fighting climate change.”
This report offers in-depth recommendations tailored for local, state and regional governments as they increasingly commit to emissions reduction pathways that are “net zero” or “net zero aligned.” The recommendations consider the distinct circumstances, scopes, resources and knowledge of subnational governments. They also spotlight instances where cities, states and regions are already surpassing the minimum standards set by the COP27 report, and the opportunity for significant progress toward net zero goals when accelerated through coordination with national government and net zero alliances and initiatives.
“City, state, and regional governments are navigating the dual reality of adapting on the frontlines of the climate crisis and being crucial to achieving net zero by 2050 – and this report charts a course for subnational leaders to accomplish both,” said Carolina Basualdo, Mayor of Despeñaderos, Argentina, and Member of the Expert Group.
Supported in part by Bloomberg Philanthropies, Integrity Matters for Cities, States, and Regions was developed by a dedicated Expert Group representing leading subnational climate initiatives and alliances including UN-Habitat, the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, the Stockholm Environment Institute and Race to Zero Expert Peer Review Group, Regions4, WWF Cities, C40 Cities, the Data Driven EnviroLab, Under2 Coalition, CDP and ICLEI World Secretariat, convened by GCoM and WRI.
“This report presents clear recommendations to help subnational governments set and achieve their net zero commitments and highlights progress already being made in these communities,” said Gregor Robertson, Chair of the Expert Group and Global Ambassador of the Global Covenant of Mayors. “These recommendations accelerate stronger multi-level governance and take us one step closer to a credible, equitable and climate-resilient future.”
The report builds upon the foundation laid by the flagship United Nations High-Level Expert Group on the Net Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities through the Integrity Matters: Net Zero Commitments By Businesses, Financial Institutions, Cities And Regions report, published at COP27.
It outlines actionable steps for national governments, businesses and financial institutions, and net zero initiatives and alliances to adopt in their pursuit of fulfilling net zero commitments. These recommendations align with the aspirations of the UN Climate Change Secretariat and the Paris Agreement, serving as a strategic roadmap for net zero alliances and initiatives engaged in capacity-building, technical support and advocacy endeavors with subnational governments.
“Credibility, fairness, and transparency are at the heart of effective and ambitious climate commitments. This report provides a common global starting point for the setting and implementation of ambitious, high integrity, transparent, credible and fair net zero commitments by subnational governments,” said Rogier van den Berg, Global Director for WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities. “Given the Global Stocktake’s assessment, it’s more important than ever that there’s a clear pathway for cities, states and regions to achieve net zero by 2050.”
About the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy (GCoM)
GCoM is the largest global alliance for city climate leadership, uniting a global coalition of over 13,000 cities and local governments and 100+ supporting partners. The cities and partners of GCoM share a long-term vision of supporting voluntary action to combat climate change and towards a resilient and low-emission society. GCoM serves cities and local governments by mobilizing and supporting ambitious, measurable, planned climate and energy action in their communities by working with city/regional networks, national governments, and other partners to achieve our vision. The coalition comprises cities across 6 continents and 144 countries, representing over 1 billion people or more than 13 percent of the global population.
About WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities (WRI)
WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities is World Resources Institute’s program dedicated to shaping a future where cities work better for everyone. It enables more connected, compact and coordinated cities. The Center expands the transport and urban development expertise of the EMBARQ network to catalyze innovative solutions in other sectors, including air quality, water, buildings, land use and energy. It combines the research excellence of WRI with two decades of on-the-ground impact through a network of more than 370 experts working from Brazil, China, Colombia, Ethiopia, India, Mexico, Turkey and the United States to make cities around the world better places to live. More information at www.wri.org/cities.Cities COP28 Urban Efficiency & Climate Cities Featured Popular Type Press Release Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects
As the climate crisis ratchets up, so, too, must global efforts to address its root causes and escalating impacts. This means rapidly shifting economies and finance flows to pathways that are consistent with low-carbon, climate-resilient development.
While critical, however, this shift is not without risk. Unless governments put proactive policies in place, a rapid economic transition could create or worsen social inequality, displacement and economic disruptions, including unemployment; the International Labour Organization estimates that around 80 million jobs could be lost due to the climate transition. Stakes are especially high for the countries and communities that still depend on fossil fuels and other emissions-intensive sectors for their livelihoods.
To ensure that these vulnerable people are not left behind, all climate action must be underpinned by principles of a just transition. Broadly, this means moving toward a green global economy in a way that won’t create or exacerbate inequalities or cause other unintended economic and social harms. It also means creating opportunities in the green economy that benefit all people and communities and promoting sustainable development.Driving Equitable Green Development Through the Just Transitions Work Programme
While the number of nationally determined contributions (NDCs) that capture just transition is low, it continues to increase yearly with 2021 data showing 16% and 2022 data showing 38%. It is worth noting that 56% of long-term strategies (LTS) include references to “just transition” — a number which must increase to ensure progress in all nations and sectors. At the same time, key questions remain around what a truly “just” transition should look like; what values it should embody, particularly from the perspective of affected workers, communities and countries; and how discussions on just transitions at the multilateral level can be broad enough to support rapid decarbonization and climate-resilient development at a global scale, while still allowing each country to define its unique needs and priorities.
The work programme on just transition pathways (JTWP) was created to boost global understanding of just transition pathways. It aims to facilitate countries’ just transitions to a low-emissions and climate-resilient future through actions that also contribute to reducing inequalities, both within and between countries. The JTWP will facilitate knowledge-sharing and development of best climate action practices in line with a just transition and encourage conversations between countries and other stakeholders — such as policymakers, NGOs and local communities — to devise more effective ways of realizing just transitions in the socioeconomic and environmental spheres. At COP28, the first high-level ministerial round table will be held in order to prepare the work programme’s activities for the next five years.
The JTWP was established at COP27 in 2022 with the hope that it would be operationalized the following year. Since then, countries and other stakeholders from around the world have been considering the elements and modalities of the proposed work programme. Their recommendations will be considered and adopted at this year’s UN Climate Change Conference, COP28, in December.
Here, the ACT2025 consortium — a group of think tanks from vulnerable developing countries working to drive greater climate ambition at COP28 — explores key elements that the JTWP should consider and their implication from the perspective of vulnerable developing countries.1. Ensuring People-centered Climate Action
The JTWP must first and foremost champion “people-centered” transition pathways that put people’s needs at the heart of climate action. Pathways must be founded on meaningful and effective social dialogue and participatory decision-making processes, and should include social, economic, workforce and other dimensions, ensuring that equity is a key aspect throughout.
Effective people-centered climate action does three things:
- It ensures a just and well-managed transition away from a high-carbon economy, avoiding and/or addressing unintentional negative effects of mitigation interventions or maladaptation.
- Through an inclusive process, it purposefully identifies and unlocks social and economic benefits; for example, by creating quality jobs with decent pay.
- It targets these benefits to further equity; for example, by employing innovative financing to boost energy access through distributed solar power and restoring ecosystems in ways that also raise rural incomes.
Protecting and advancing human rights, especially for those who are particularly marginalized and vulnerable, must be a central consideration in developing climate actions. This can involve putting social protection instruments in place — such as social safety nets, unemployment support and maternity protection — to support communities both socially and economically and minimize risks. Furthermore, local populations need to be actively and deliberately engaged in shaping development agendas to ensure an equitable process that addresses their needs.
The JTWP should ensure that decisions are carefully considered so that inequities are avoided. The Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) is an example of an initiative proposed by the European Union that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but unfortunately has negative impacts on vulnerable communities. Seemingly important to the climate crisis, studies have shown that CBAM will reduce African exports and diminish the continent's GDP by at least 1.12%. These inequities must be avoided at all costs and the transition must not harm those who are already most vulnerable.
One example of an initiative that has aimed to avoid these inequities and promote certain principles can be seen in action is South Africa’s Presidential Climate Coalition (PCC), an independent body created in 2020 that aims to lead the government’s work towards a just transition across sectors such as energy, agriculture and tourism, and has ensured a wide range of stakeholder engagement in building a shared vision across constituent groups. The PCC held public workshops for people in coal communities to attend with the aim of creating space for them to share their opinions, enabling local communities to try and shape the PCC’s just transition framework in a way that would better benefit all involved stakeholders.
These workshops aimed to highlight key areas to focus on when implementing a just transition — for example, addressing community health impacts from coal mining; clarifying misconceptions concerning renewable energy; and making sure communities can engage in just transition dialogues through use of accessible language and methods of communication and effective knowledge sharing. The work of the PCC is not over, and there is still more work to do to ensure that this process is equitable and truly includes those impacted. However, taking forward lessons from these processes, such as the importance of involving a wide range of stakeholders, can help in developing the JTWP.2. Rejecting Oppressive Global Systems and Addressing Global Inequity
Climate change impedes economic development, employment, agriculture and industry while destroying transport and communication systems and other important infrastructure. But despite being a global phenomenon, the impacts of climate change are disproportionately felt by the world’s poorest countries and communities. This exacerbates existing inequality and poverty, with vulnerable countries on the frontline of these disruptions.
Given these disparities, countries should view the JTWP as an avenue to discuss and provide climate solutions which enhance social, economic and environmental equality. A transition that oppresses those living in poverty, climate-vulnerable communities and other marginalized communities cannot be just; nor can a transition which further undermines the development of vulnerable countries (for example, by exacerbating their debt burdens through loan-based climate finance). This work programme must identify and reject climate actions which could extend or potentially result in a repetition of such systems, from historical and structural inequalities to trade protectionism, distortions and unilateral taxation systems for developing countries.
Rather, the JTWP should share guidance on supportive actions. For example, it can draw on elements from the Bridgetown Initiative such restructuring unsustainable debt; promoting inclusive international tax systems and reducing barriers that uphold socioeconomic and structural inequalities.
Addressing climate change is a multilateral process, and all countries have a role to play as guided by the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR-RC). As such, the work programme should provide a multilateral platform that centers on inclusion and international cooperation. This could be a platform to share and submit learnings, to increase transparency and to allow countries to build on one another’s learnings. While this platform should be collaborative in nature, rich nations in particular must commit to correcting historical inequalities — both by leading the way on decarbonization and by supporting developing countries to do the same — given that the world’s poorest and most climate-vulnerable countries and communities have generally contributed the least to the climate crisis.
In terms of how this translates to UN climate negotiations, it is essential for discussions on just transitions to happen at both technical and political levels. This could potentially include convening an annual high-level event — such as at the COP and G20 summits, where the just energy transition, just resilience, just transition financing and other related topics are discussed by world leaders. These events could inform annual reports and decisions made at COPs and help drive political declarations to enhance international cooperation in climate action.3. Channeling Unconditional Support from Developed Countries
Developing countries urgently need increased support to facilitate climate action and achieve just transitions. This support must flow in the form of international climate finance, technology development and transfer and capacity building. It must also be conducted within the guidelines of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Paris Agreement — articles 9.1 and 9.4 of which state that developed country Parties will provide financial resources to developing county Parties with respect to both mitigation and adaptation.
Specifically, this work programme should stress the importance and urgency of public finance from developed countries as an essential enabler for just transitions in developing countries. Rich nations must demonstrate their accountability by fully delivering on agreements in a timely and just manner, and finance and resources should be focused into areas such as reskilling, economic diversification, employment access and social protection to ensure that workers are retrained to be able to adapt to the transition. Countries providing targeted finance must also consider broader socioeconomic factors, as new green jobs not only require new skillsets but may be in a different location and completely shift how people and communities have functioned in the past.
The work programme should caution Parties against financial instruments that deepen the indebtedness of vulnerable countries. Instead, it should support the development of a financial and support architecture that promotes shared economic growth and sustainability for a fair transition. New systems should make it easier for poor countries to access climate finance without increasing their debt burdens or discouraging access due to complicated financing structures and requirements.4. Creating Comprehensive and Flexible Just Transition Pathways
The JTWP is an indefinite, collaborative and facilitative platform that should promote an equitable and sustainable future for all world countries. Recognizing that every country is experiencing different levels of climate change impacts, as well as different priorities and challenges in addressing them, the work programme should refrain from prescribing solutions. Instead, it needs to allow countries to determine their own solutions as per the Convention and its guiding principles.
The new work programme must cover the full scope of just transitions by considering all the socioeconomic and environmental repercussions of climate change action, such as labor migration, unemployment and inequitable loss of ecosystem resources. Under this programme, climate interventions should be designed in a manner that supports nationally determined transition pathways, including national adaptation plans (NAPs) and nationally determined contributions (NDCs). This can be done without prescribing practices to countries or managing their transitions by supporting locally driven approaches to the transitions.
The work programme should pay particular attention to poor countries that are more vulnerable to the devastation of climate change and seek to elevate their needs in a manner that allows them to attain their national priorities and to develop in a climate-compatible fashion. It must also recognize that in this transition, factors such as gender and age can create disproportionate impacts on certain groups. Working to ensure that the JTWP framework acknowledges these disparities and includes all people is what will truly make it just.5. Building Synergies with Other Global Climate-related Workstreams
The JTWP is intended to complement and build on the contributions of other relevant work streams, including those on mitigation, response measures, adaptation and climate finance. To this end, it should actively collaborate with other workstreams under the Paris Agreement and more broadly, such as:
- The Global Stocktake (GST): The JTWP should feed into the GST process so its progress can be tracked and implemented across multiple sectors.
- The Mitigation Ambition and Implementation Work Programme (MWP): Integration with the MWP can help ensure that elements of equity and justice are built into all mitigation actions towards the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degrees C temperature goal.
- The Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA): The work programme on the GGA can provide inputs into the just resilience component of the work programme as it relates to adaptation.
- The Katowice Committee of Experts on the Impacts of the Implementation of Response Measures (KCI): Since there is a strong connection between JTWP and KCI workstreams, the KCI should provide expert input into the just transitions work programme.
- National just transition approaches: The work programme can inform ongoing national, regional and international work on just transitions. This includes supporting and guiding country-level policy processes such as the Just Energy Transition Investment Plans (JET IPs) and Just Energy Transition Partnerships (JETPs).
- Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs): Workshops and other exchanges relating to country NDCs can help promote a fair and equitable transition as well as ensuring that many national sectors include plans toward a just transition.
- Relation to finance: Securing finance for just transition pathways is a core goal of the JTWP, and collaboration with other finance workstreams will be critical to mobilizing and transforming financial systems to meet priorities of a just transition. This can include, for example, integrating into discussions on the new collective quantified goal on climate finance (NCQG), international financial institution reform and mobilizing private sector finance.
The work programme should also invite international organizations and civil society to submit recommendations that can enrich the discussions about just transitions.Operationalizing the JTWP at COP28 and Beyond
This work programme must recognize that to fight climate change is to fight inequality in the world. At COP28, discussions on the JTWP will continue from its creation in Egypt last year, and the first annual high level ministerial round table dialogue will take place during the first week of COP.
With the timeline to reach net zero quickly closing in, the topic of energy transitions is critical and unavoidable. This year at COP, the world needs to see ambitious targets on emissions reduction and a specific focus on a just and equitable transition in Parties’ mitigation, adaptation and finance plans. Ultimately, countries must recognize that any successful transition will prioritize people and planet together.HoiAn-flooding.jpg Climate Equity Climate Equity environmental justice COP28 Equity & Governance Type Technical Perspective Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Authors Mohamed Adow Mark Bynoe Fatuma Hussein Keith Nichols Chikondi Thangata
Multilateral development banks (MDBs) are major providers of public climate finance. This funding helps countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Every year since 2012 MDBs have published a Joint Report on Climate Finance detailing the scale and composition of their climate finance for the previous year. This year’s report (covering 2022) notes an increase in the volume of climate finance. This is welcome news, given calls from COP27 in 2022 for the MDBs to scale up their climate activities.
However, the report’s usefulness is impacted by a late publishing date, changes in methodology and a limited scope. It would benefit from more details about how financing results in improving climate outcomes in countries.
Furthermore, the quality of MDBs’ climate finance reporting has deteriorated, even as the reports have become a lot longer. A data dump is not high-quality reporting. Simple statistics, which used to be included, such as each MDB’s total financing (not simply their climate financing), have been omitted for the last two years.
Here’s a look at the good, the bad and the urgent findings from MDBs’ 2022 Joint Report on Climate Finance. Before getting into the details, here is the historical trend of MDBs’ financing for developing countries by institution:About the Data
Since their 2019 joint report, MDBs have also changed the way they classify countries, making it more difficult to assess how their climate finance contributes to the $100-billion-a-year goal set under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Where possible, we adjusted figures to align with the previous categorization of developing countries.
Bank abbreviations used throughout the graphics in this article are defined as follows: African Development Bank (AfDB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), European Investment Bank (EIB), Inter-American Development Bank Group (IDBG), Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), New Development Bank (NDB), World Bank Group (WBG)The Good: 1) Climate finance to developing countries hit a record high for the second consecutive year.
Climate finance from MDBs to developing countries rose from $53.1 billion in 2021 to $66.1 billion in 2022 — a 24% uptick that marks a record nominal high for the second year in a row. Every MDB but Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) hit a new record high for the year in terms of total volume of climate finance. Except for European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), each MDB also achieved the highest share of climate finance to developing countries out of their total operations.
Climate finance from MDBs to low- and middle-income economies under the World Bank definition also increased by 20%, from $50.7 billion in 2021 to $60.7 billion in 2022.
However, the rise in inflation makes it challenging to assess whether these record highs apply in real value terms. Consumer prices in emerging market and developing economies grew by 9.8% in 2022 and 5.9% in 2021. Inflation rates have slowed down in 2023, but these countries will still experience a significant price increase of around 8.5%.2) Adaptation finance increased in volume, and as an overall share of climate finance.
The Paris Agreement calls for a balance between mitigation and adaptation. As climate risks persistently outpace adaptation finance to developing countries, MDBs must accelerate their support for resilience.
MDBs took a step in that direction last year: Total MDB adaptation finance for low- and middle-income countries grew by 29% ($5.1 billion) from 2021 to $22.7 billion in 2022, and from 34% of overall climate finance to 37%. (In comparison, MDB mitigation finance to low- and middle-income countries was $38 billion in 2022, an increase of $3.5 billion or 10% from the previous year.)
The World Bank provides the most overall climate finance to low- and middle-income countries in absolute terms and it also leads in adaptation financing, providing $13.6 billion in 2022, a 19% ($2.2 billion) increase on 2021. Out of total climate finance from the World Bank, 43% supported adaptation in 2022. However, other MDBs are providing a greater share of their climate finance for adaptation.
For example, the African Development Bank (AfDB) provided 62% ($2.3 billion) of their total climate finance in 2022 for adaptation, increasing its overall finance for adaptation by 47% ($0.7 billion) from 2021. The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) provided 54% ($0.6 billion) of its climate finance to adaptation in 2022, a 127% ($0.3 billion) increase from the amount it reported in 2021.3) All major MDBs are now fully reporting under the joint climate finance tracking methodology.
The New Development Bank (NDB) started reporting certain climate finance figures in the 2020 joint report but, in an important step toward transparency, reported its full climate finance for 2022. The Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) provided certain figures for 2021 and is also fully reporting figures for 2022.
NDB set its first climate finance target last year, but CEB has yet to announce such a goal. It’s thus unclear what benchmark the CEB’s enhanced transparency in climate finance reporting should be measured against.The Bad: 1) MDBs need to review and increase the ambition of their climate finance targets.
In late 2019, MDBs set a collective goal to reach $50 billion in climate finance for low- and middle-income economies by 2025. MDBs hit this target as of 2021 — four years ahead of schedule — and surpassed it by over 20% in 2022.
While it is good that MDBs are comfortably sustaining this increase, it also suggests a potential lack of ambition. Current discussions on MDB reform present an opportune moment for these institutions to strategize together — and hopefully increase their collective ambition.
Individually, the picture is similar: some MDBs already met their post-2020 target for climate finance last year. The majority are now on track to meet, or have already met, these targets in 2022.
For example, Asian Development Bank (ADB) is on a comfortable trajectory toward their interim target of $35 billion in climate finance for 2019 through 2024. While the bank also has a longer-term cumulative target of $80 billion for 2019 through 2030, it would only need to maintain the $7.1 billion in climate finance it committed to developing countries in 2022 (the same amount pledged pre-pandemic in 2019) every year through 2030 to achieve this objective. ADB communicated an aspiration to raise its long-term goal to $100 billion last year, but this should also be reviewed in light of the recent approval for the bank to undertake capital management reforms that will unlock $100 billion in new funding capacity over the next decade. In short, it — and other MDBs — can do more.MDBs' climate finance targets MDB Post-2020 Target On Track? AfDB At least $25 billion cumulatively for 2020-2025, prioritizing adaptation finance. No; $8.2 billion in 2020-2022. ADB $80 billion cumulatively for 2019-2030 with interim target of $35 billion for 2019-24, and 65% of projects (by number of projects rather than amount of financing) on a three-year rolling average; $100 billion cumulatively by 2030, and 75% of projects supporting mitigation and adaptation. Yes; $23.4 billion in 2019-2022. AIIB 50% of annual loan volume by 2025; expects to reach $50 billion cumulatively by 2030. No; 35% in 2022. EBRD More than 50% of commitments support green finance by 2025; no developing country specific target. Partially; 43% in 2022; 50% in 2021. EIB More than 50% of operations support climate action and environmental sustainability by 2025 globally; 15% of climate finance to support adaptation; no developing country specific target. Yes; 58% in 2022; 18% in 2021. IDBG At least 30% of finance for 2020-2023. Yes; 27% in 2020-2022. IsDB 35% of overall annual lending by 2025. Yes; 33% in 2022; 31% in 2021. NDB 40% of overall financing from 2022-2026. No; 28% in 2022. WBG Average 35% of overall financing from 2021-25; 50% of IDA and IBRD climate finance to support adaptation and resilience. Yes; average 35% in 2021-2022.
Notes: Figures in “On Track?” column are for developing countries. Source: 2021 and 2022 Joint Reports on Multilateral Development Banks’ Climate Finance; calculations by NRDC and WRI.2) Private co-finance is not increasing rapidly.
MDBs are under pressure from their government shareholders to mobilize more private finance and have made this a central aim of their work. The World Bank Group recently reiterated the need to strengthen partnerships to fulfil its new mission, which includes addressing global challenges together with the private sector.
But so far, the joint report has shown that this is not happening on a large enough scale. In 2022, for every dollar of climate finance MDBs provided, they mobilized $0.28 in private finance, an increase of just three cents from last year.
Most MDBs are far more effective at mobilizing other sources of public finance than they are private finance. Inter-American Development Bank Group (IDBG), EIB and EBRD are the only MDBs to mobilize more private than public co-financing. MDBs need to better engage the private sector to shift away from climate-harmful activities and toward clean, resilient investments. But there is substantial debate about how the MDBs can best achieve these goals.
Private sector actors frequently highlight that guarantees — where MDBs agree to repay a loan if the borrower becomes unable — are particularly useful for making their investments viable because the guarantees lower risk and thus debt costs, yet MDBs’ use of guarantees was just 3% of their total climate finance in 2022.3) A profound lack of transparency for fossil fuel financing
Most MDBs pledged to align their activities with the international Paris Agreement on climate change. There is broad expert consensus that new coal, oil and gas development is incompatible with the agreement’s target to limit warming to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F). MDBs try to justify continued fossil fuel financing as necessary for development and energy access. Yet, they don’t report on their fossil fuel finance as they do their climate finance. If fossil fuel financing is justifiable, if the benefits are so strong, shouldn’t MDBs report it clearly?
Oil Change International (OCI) analysis found that MDBs collectively provided $4.6 billion in financing for fossil fuel projects in 2021 (comprehensive 2022 data is not yet available). According to OCI, none of MDBs’ 2021 fossil fuel finance targeted energy access. MDBs’ direct project financing for fossil fuels has been falling in recent years, but their indirect fossil fuel financing (such as policy-based lending, trade finance and intermediated finance) continues to be substantial — and even less transparent. For example, the World Bank’s private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), is estimated to have greenlit $3.7 billion in trade finance for oil and gas in 2022. This is just an estimate because 70% of IFC’s trade finance is approved in secrecy. Not even the World Bank’s own government shareholders — many of which (both developed and developing) are calling for an end to international public finance for fossil fuels — are notified of the companies involved. This is questionable conduct for a publicly owned institution.
Even if MDBs stop short of ending all fossil fuel financing, the very least they can do is transparently report fossil finance side by side with their climate finance to give a sense of their net climate finance and progress toward aligning with the Paris Agreement. This must include reporting for indirect financing in a transparent way.The Urgent: 1) MDBs should support debt sustainability by softening loan terms for climate finance.
While debt can play a role in enabling countries’ development, at a certain level — known as “debt distress” — a country is not able to repay its creditors in a given period. Right now, a worrying 53% of low-income countries are in, or at risk of, debt distress. Given this context, MDBs should further soften the terms – also known as “concessionality” — of their climate finance to prevent at-risk countries from falling into compounding climate and economic crises.
The joint report does not specify how concessional climate finance from MDBs is, but the range runs from pure grants to loans with costs that are close to, or at, market rate. Between 2019 and 2022, debt-related instruments (which include guarantees, investment loans, lines of credit and policy-based financing which is overwhelmingly provided through loans) averaged 84% of total climate finance from MDBs to low- and middle-income economies. And figures from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for 2016 through 2020 show that over 90% of MDBs’ climate finance was raised through debt, and three-quarters was not concessional (though under OECD and MDB definitions of concessionality, even “non-concessional” loans can have more preferential terms than market borrowing).
It is promising to note that grants from MDBs to low- and middle-income economies grew from 8% of total climate finance at $4.3 billion in 2021, to 10% of the total at $6.1 billion in 2022. However, debt-related instruments also grew by $8 billion (19%) from 2021, reaching a record high $49.9 billion in 2022.2) MDBs need to increase the share and amount of climate finance to most vulnerable countries.
Recently, leaders from least developed countries requested MDBs scale up their finance for sustainable development in their nations. Despite being recognized as some of the most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change, from 2015 through 2022 climate finance from MDBs to small island states and least developed economies accounted for 19% of their total climate finance.
MDBs’ share of support to least developed countries and small island states decreased in 2021, but roughly bounced back in 2022 to 2020 levels. While this increase is positive, it fails to scale at the needed pace for these countries.3) Reporting on the quality of climate finance.
Climate finance should be contributing to country goals and global goals, in a way that transforms the trajectories of countries towards low-carbon and resilient economies, the benefits of which are shared by all. To get a full picture of the quality of climate finance flowing to countries, much more detail and information are needed than those currently provided in the joint report.
There is a tendency to define ‘quality of climate finance’ by focusing on the volumes of finance committed, disbursed or targeted, and the type of finance instruments used. But quality is a multi-layered notion, which cannot solely be measured in terms of dollar inputs or by types of instruments. Quality of climate finance would ideally include analysis of outcomes from spending, such as total emissions reduced or number of people with increased resilience. Individual banks’ corporate scorecards include many more indicators that could be incorporated into the joint climate finance report, such as installed solar capacity or increase in percentage of electricity provided by renewable sources.women-farmers-heat-india.jpg Finance Finance climate finance multilateral development banks Type Commentary Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Authors Carolyn Neunuebel Joe Thwaites Valerie Laxton Natalia Alayza
STATEMENT: 62 Countries Commit to Elevate Cities in Climate Plans at first-ever COP Local Climate Action Summit
DUBAI (December 1, 2023) — Today, more than 200 mayors, governors and other subnational leaders gathered to kick off the first-ever “Local Climate Action Summit,” hosted by the COP28 Presidency and Bloomberg Philanthropies, and focused on elevating the role of cities in climate planning.
At the Summit, the UAE COP28 Presidency announced the launch of the Coalition for High Ambition Multi-level Partnerships (CHAMP) initiative, endorsed by 62 countries that have committed to enhanced cooperation between national, regional and local governments on planning, financing and implementing national climate goals.
CHAMP was developed in consultation with subnational leaders and stakeholders, including America Is All In, Bloomberg Philanthropies, C40 Cities, CDP, European Climate Foundation, the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, ICLEI -Local Governments for Sustainability, NDC Partnership, UN Climate Change High-Level Champions, Under2 Coalition, UN-Habitat, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities and others.
Following is a statement from Rogier van den Berg, Global Director, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities:
“This historic gathering is the largest assembly of mayors, governors and other local leaders at the UN climate talks since the Paris Agreement was struck and marks a critical opportunity to forge new partnerships between countries and cities to tackle the climate crisis.
“Cities and subnational actors have long been left on the sidelines at UN climate summits, even though cities account for 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. It is a huge sign of progress that it’s changing at this summit.
“The CHAMP initiative puts cities at the center of countries’ next national climate plans, due by 2025, and will encourage national governments to actively work on climate action planning with cities. This is a big deal given that less than one-quarter of countries’ current climate plans adequately prioritize cities.
“The Global Stocktake showed just how far we are from meeting the Paris Agreement climate goals. Only when national, regional and local governments actively work together can countries make faster progress on slashing emissions. Accelerating climate action in cities is not only vital to cutting emissions, but also to improving the lives of urban residents, too many of whom suffer from air pollution and inadequate access to services.”Cities COP28 Cities Type Statement Exclude From Blog Feed? 0
STATEMENT: 134 Countries Sign the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture and Put Food High on the Climate Agenda at COP28
DUBAI (December 1, 2023) — Today at COP28, the UAE announced that 134 countries, covering 70% of the world’s land, have signed the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action, committing to integrate food into their climate plans by 2025. The declaration was signed by many countries with the highest food-related greenhouse gas emissions, including Brazil, China, the European Union, and the United States.
Following is a statement from Ani Dasgupta, President & CEO of World Resources Institute:
“There’s perhaps no bigger area where the world’s injustices play out than in our food. While many in richer countries eat an excess of food, hundreds of millions of others are starving. And through this injustice we’re burning the planet: our food system causes at least one third of global emissions, which drives further droughts and floods that destroy farmers’ crops. The cycle is vicious.
“It’s a big deal that 134 countries today agreed to put food at the heart of their climate plans at the annual UN climate summit. The launch of this declaration is the moment when food truly comes of age in the climate process, sending a powerful signal to the nations of the world that we can only keep the 1.5 degree goal in sight if we act fast to shift the global food system in the direction of greater sustainability and resilience.
“This is an opportunity for countries to increase their ambition to protect and nurture fresh water when the linkages between water and food have never been more urgent. These plans must also ensure that everyone can access nutritious food, bolster people’s livelihoods, especially for smallholder farmers whom we depend on so much, and actively contribute to protecting and restoring nature.
“All countries must leave COP28 with a commitment to incorporate food and food systems fully into their next round of NDCs and arrive at COP29 and COP30 with real progress in hand. In the end, the Declaration’s success will be determined by whether countries follow through on these commitments with substantial policy reforms.”Food COP28 Food Type Statement Exclude From Blog Feed? 0
Phasing out coal power is the most important step the world can take to curb climate change.
Coal, the most polluting fossil fuel, supplied 36% of electricity generation in 2022. This must drop to 4% by 2030 and then 0% by 2040 if the world is to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) and prevent the most catastrophic impacts of the climate crisis. (That's according to a high-ambition scenario from Climate Action Tracker.)
Removing coal from power generation is also critical to decarbonizing other sectors of the economy. It will help ensure that green technologies that run on electricity, like electric vehicles and heat pumps, are powered by cleaner energy sources.
While the share of coal used in the global power sector has been gradually ticking down in recent years, it needs to start declining much faster. Developed countries should reach zero coal the soonest, as they’re in a stronger financial position than developing nations and are already, for the most part, less reliant on coal. But all countries will require an incredibly swift transition.
Phasing out coal at the speed needed will be extremely challenging, but a handful of countries are already proving that a rapid, sustained shift is possible. While each one must chart its own path forward, other coal power-reliant countries can learn from these leaders.Which Countries Have Reduced Coal Power the Fastest?
The world has eight years to scale down its use of coal power from 36% of electricity generation in 2022 to less than 4% in 2030. To explore how such a quick phase-down might be achieved, we analyzed the 10 countries that have reduced coal power the fastest over any eight-year period since 2000. Greece and the U.K. achieved the fastest coal power reductions — moving at a quicker pace than what’s needed globally — followed by Denmark, Spain, Portugal, Israel, Romania, Germany, the United States and Chile.
Of the top 10 countries, only Portugal has reached zero coal power already. Some other countries, such as Austria and Belgium, have also eliminated coal power entirely, but did not make the top 10 as they either used very little coal to begin with or phased it out over a longer time span.*/ /*-->*/
Greece reduced coal power faster than any other country in the world over an eight-year span, from 51% in 2014 to 10% in 2022, replacing it with a combination of gas and renewables. At number two, the United Kingdom reduced coal power from 39% in 2012 to 2% in 2020, replacing it mostly with wind and bioenergy but also some gas. Denmark was third fastest and is notable as the only country on the list where the reduction in coal power was replaced by 100% zero-carbon power sources.
While many of these leading countries are European, there are positive examples from other areas of the world as well. The United States cut its coal power use in half between 2014 and 2022, replacing it with a combination of gas, solar and wind. In Chile, coal plants were booming as recently as a decade ago, but the country has quickly reversed course; it is now supporting early retirement of coal plants and replacing them mainly with solar and wind power.Similarities and Differences Among the Top 10 Countries
On the whole, the countries with the fastest coal phase-outs are high income, with relatively small populations, less growth in electricity demand than average, and coal plants already nearing the age of retirement. Nine of the 10 countries have announced coal phase-out targets and eight have implemented some form of national carbon pricing. All of these factors can work in favor of a clean energy transition.
However, key differences among the top 10 countries demonstrate that phasing out coal is possible in a variety of circumstances.
While all 10 countries are currently high income by the World Bank’s definition, Chile and Romania have only recently reached that level. At the time these countries started their steepest coal reductions, GDP per capita ranged from $9,000 per year in Romania (2012) and $15,000 in Chile (2014) to $55,000 per year in the United States (2014).
Seven out of the top 10 countries have populations below 50 million people and thus have lower electricity demand, making for an easier energy transition — although the United States (with 330 million people) and Germany and the United Kingdom (with 84 million and 66 million people, respectively) have proved that a rapid transition can be feasible even with a bigger energy grid.
Electricity demand in most of these countries was either falling or growing slower than the global average during their fastest transition periods, making it easier to retire coal plants. By contrast, electricity demand in Chile, Israel and Spain was growing at a rate near or slightly above the world average, showing that coal phase-out is possible even in places with rising electricity needs. But Israel’s case also illustrates a major challenge in these scenarios: The country’s demand grew so much that even though coal fell as a share of all power, total coal power use remained fairly steady.
The nature of each country’s coal industry matters, too. Six of the 10 countries relied mainly on coal imports, so shifting to other power sources like renewables or domestically available gas could benefit their energy security without causing major economic impacts. However, the U.S., Germany, Romania and Greece were able to reduce coal power dramatically despite having large coal mining sectors and relying on mostly domestic coal production.
Finally, nearly all of these countries have retired older coal plants which were already close to or above the typical retirement age of 37 years. The decision will be more difficult for nations with younger coal plants, which investors expected to operate and generate revenue for decades to come. The biggest exception is Chile, which has so far retired coal plants that were 29 years old on average and plans to close many that are younger still.2 Countries Achieving Success in Coal Phase-out
Let’s dive deeper into the United Kingdom and Chile, two countries that have been successful in phasing down coal in very different contexts, to learn from their experiences. (We profiled Denmark’s energy transition in another recent article.)The United Kingdom has had two periods of rapid coal phase-down
Coal fueled the industrial revolution in the United Kingdom, but two separate periods of rapid phase-down in recent decades have pushed its coal power use to near zero. Today the country has only one coal power station left which is scheduled to close in September 2024.
The U.K.’s first period of coal power decline, in the 1990s, was driven by market forces. New EU regulations in 1991 allowed gas to be used for electricity; when coupled with the high cost of mining in the U.K. and the development of cheap, abundant gas in the North Sea, this led to a rapid shift from coal- to gas-fired power plants. Coal tumbled from about 65% of the power mix in 1991 to around 30% in 1999.
After remaining relatively steady in the early 2000s, the U.K.’s coal power use plummeted again in the 2010s. And this time the reduction in coal was replaced not by gas but by renewables.
Around this time, the EU and U.K. enacted a series of policies aimed at phasing out coal. The EU introduced tighter limits on local coal plant pollution in 2008 which would require expensive upgrades for old coal plants. With the average coal plant in the U.K. already nearing retirement age, many chose to close rather than comply.
In 2013, the U.K. introduced a carbon price floor which went above and beyond the EU’s existing carbon price, then raised it multiple times in subsequent years. This drove up the cost of coal power so that it was more expensive than gas and much more expensive than renewables. By 2015, coal plants were no longer profitable and were being shut down in droves.
The government set a target in 2015 to fully phase out coal by 2025; this has since been moved up to 2024. With tightening regulations, clear policy signals from the government and unfavorable economics — as well as strong public support for climate action — the country’s remaining coal plants quickly closed. Meanwhile, falling costs and supportive policies helped trigger a boom in renewable power, especially wind energy, which made up for most of the reduction in coal.
The U.K. also benefitted from having electricity interconnections with neighboring countries like France, which can help balance supply and demand as renewable power fluctuates. And its overall electricity demand was going down at the time, thanks to increasing energy efficiency standards, technological improvements and deindustrialization.Chile has reversed course on coal, even as electricity demand continues to rise
Unlike in the U.K., Chile’s electricity demand has been rising. From 2009 to 2019 the country built 14 new coal power plants with the goal to meet electricity demand and increase energy security. But the tide began to turn against coal even before these had finished construction. In recent years, Chile’s solar and wind production have so far outpaced demand growth that it's been able to shut down coal plants. Coal fell from a high of 46% of the electricity mix in 2013 to only 23% in 2022.
Chile has benefitted from some of the best solar and wind availability in the world. To leverage this advantage, the government passed a renewable energy quota in 2008 and enacted other supportive laws which made it easier for new companies to enter the renewable energy industry. Falling costs have made solar and wind competitive without any subsidies needed, and Chile’s copper mining companies (a mainstay of the economy) are increasingly demanding and funding renewable energy. The country is also planning to become a major exporter of green hydrogen produced with renewable power. Thanks to these developments, it’s ranked as the most attractive emerging economy for clean energy investments.
At the same time, Chile has taken active steps to phase out coal. The government implemented several policies that made coal power less competitive, like pollution and efficiency standards on power plants and a small carbon tax. And in 2018, on the back of a new government decarbonization strategy, Chile’s Ministry of Energy convened a working group to decide how to phase out coal power. This included governmental agencies, coal companies, the national electricity coordinator, environmental NGOs and the coal workers union. The following year, its members announced a voluntary plan to close several coal plants in the near term and all units by 2040.
Since then, Chile has accelerated its near-term timetable and companies have often closed plants ahead of schedule. Of the country’s 28 coal power plants, 8 have already retired and another 12 are set to retire by 2025. Seven of the coal plants scheduled to shutter will be 15 years old or less when they are decommissioned, setting an example for other countries facing retirement of younger coal fleets.
Looking ahead, Chile must work to retire the final eight coal plants that will remain after 2025 — which experts say needs to happen by 2030 rather than by 2040 as originally planned to stay in line with global climate goals. This will require integrating increasingly high levels of renewable power on the grid as well as upgrading transmission lines, building out energy storage, and developing a smart grid to maximize grid flexibility and reliability.Coal-reliant Countries Can Learn from These Examples
Other countries reliant on coal power can learn from the success of these leaders and adapt the lessons for their national circumstances.
The United Kingdom’s example is especially relevant for some developed countries. For example, Poland and Russia’s coal plants are nearing retirement age like the U.K.’s were. Japan and South Korea’s coal plants are generally younger, but they have even less domestic coal mining that the U.K. did — relying essentially 100% on imports — which will lessen the domestic economic impacts of the transition.
Meanwhile, Chile’s example is most relevant for developing countries with relatively young coal plants and growing electricity demand. Turkey, Malysia and Vietnam, for example, are in a similar position today to where Chile was in 2014, with rising demand and coal at around 40% of their electricity mix.
However, countries that rely more heavily on coal will face much steeper challenges — like China (61% coal power share), Indonesia (62%), India (74%), and South Africa (85%). To meet global climate targets, these countries will need to decrease their coal power use far faster than has ever been achieved before.Some, Like China and India, Will Face Steeper Challenges
China and India together are responsible for two-thirds of the world’s coal power generation today, so much of the success of global coal phase-out hinges on them.
These countries’ sheer amount of coal capacity — around 1,100 GW for China and 240 GW for India — will make the transition difficult. Electricity demand in both countries also increased by roughly 50% from 2014-2022, more than twice as fast as the world average. While the share of coal power has been falling slightly in China and remained fairly flat in India, both countries continue to approve and build new coal plants to meet growing demand, so coal power use is still rising overall. Renewable power has been growing exponentially in both countries, breaking records, but it will need to accelerate ever faster to meet demand growth.
China and India also have far larger domestic coal mining industries than any of the top 10 countries. China is currently home to 3.4 million coal miners and 740,000 coal power plant workers (more people than the entire population of Croatia), while India has 1.4 million coal miners and 600,000 coal power plant workers. This will increase both the cost and the difficulty of ensuring a just transition for all coal-dependent communities.Coal workers in the village of Fengjie, China. As China, India and other coal-reliant countries work to retire coal power by 2040, they must also put support measures in place for the millions of workers whose livelihoods will be affected by this transition. Photo by Zoonar GmbH/Alamy Stock Photo
While challenging, however, transitions of this magnitude have happened before. China already lost more than 2 million coal jobs from 2012-2018 as production slowed and became more efficient, leading the government to create a transition fund. China and India can also draw learnings from other countries and communities that have successfully transitioned away from fossil fuels.
China is predicted to reach peak coal in 2025 and its government has pledged to reduce coal over the 2026-2030 period, but it has not yet committed to a full phase-out. India has no plans to retire any coal plants before 2030 and has indicated that coal will play a substantial role for decades to come. Both governments will need to step up their efforts — but they shouldn’t have to do it alone.Ending Coal Power Globally Will Require More International Support
Asking developing countries to phase down coal power at a faster rate than developed countries have ever achieved raises important ethical questions. In order to give more time for developing countries, developed countries should take the lead and completely phase out coal power by 2030 or earlier. But, while critical, this would not provide much leeway for developing countries that are large emitters. Developing countries will still need to phase out the vast majority of their coal power by 2030 and reach zero by 2040, replacing it with clean energy.
For this to be possible, developed countries must seriously step up international finance and support for developing countries’ transitions.
The G7 group of countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S.) have already launched Just Energy Transition Partnerships (JETPs) with countries like South Africa, Indonesia and Vietnam to support their coal phase-out efforts. So far $47 billion has been pledged, but that is not nearly enough. The G7 and other developed countries should expand these partnerships and increase finance, preferably in the form of grants instead of loans. They should also supply technical assistance to help countries develop policies that are conducive to clean energy investment; develop public-private partnerships to leverage private capital; and explore innovative financial mechanisms to de-risk private investments. Multilateral Development Banks like the World Bank should also stand true to their commitments to stop funding coal and shift fully to funding renewables.
Governments, development banks, and companies must also plan ahead to support the workers and communities that will be most affected by the energy transition. This could include shifting coal workers to other careers in energy or industry, offering unemployment or relocation compensation, and providing financial support to regions that have lost coal revenue. Just transition policies cannot be implemented overnight and are not one-size-fits-all, so planning needs to begin now.Keeping the End of Coal Power in Sight
Just because a transition this rapid and far-reaching has never happened before doesn’t mean it’s not possible. Unlike most previous energy transitions, which happened gradually over time, there is a clear deadline for coal phase-out that countries are deliberately trying to meet. What’s more, renewable power is now more cost effective than fossil fuels in the majority of countries. And it is a positive trend that many countries which had planned to expand coal — like Turkey, Vietnam and Bangladesh — have cancelled most of those plans. The number of coal plants in construction or planned for construction is half what it was in 2017 and less than a quarter of what it was ten years ago.
The world will need urgent efforts and close cooperation to achieve this shift, but the end of coal is nearer than it’s ever been. It has to be.
Unless otherwise noted, national electricity data used in this article is from Ember’s yearly electricity data as of November 9, 2023.
This article is the third in a series of deep-dive analyses from Systems Change Lab examining countries that are leaders in transformational change. The first two articles analyzed countries rapidly scaling up renewable power and electric vehicles. Systems Change Lab is a collaborative initiative — which includes an open-sourced data platform — designed to spur action at the pace and scale needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, halt biodiversity loss and build a just and equitable economy.steag-coal-plant-germany.jpg Energy Climate Energy Clean Energy National Climate Action COP28 Type Finding Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Joel Jaeger
DUBAI (November 30, 2023) - During the opening plenary on the first day of the COP28 climate talks, negotiators agreed to set the loss and damage fund in motion. The decision adopts recommendations from the Loss and Damage Transitional Committee which assembled earlier this month for a fifth time after failing to reach consensus at earlier sessions.
Following is a statement from Ani Dasgupta, President & CEO, World Resources Institute:
“Right at the start of the UN climate talks, developing and developed nations joined hands to set the loss and damage fund in motion.
“The loss and damage fund will be a lifeline to people in their darkest hour, enabling families to rebuild their homes after disaster strikes, support farmers when their crops are wiped out and relocate those that become permanently displaced by rising seas.
“This outcome was hard-fought but is a clear step forward.
“The success of this fund will depend on the speed and scale at which funds start flowing to people in need. People in vulnerable countries will face up to $580 billion in climate-related damages in 2030 and this number will only continue to grow.
“To that end, it is very encouraging that a number of countries stepped forward today with pledges to get the loss and damage fund off the ground. These pledges represent a dramatic turn of events compared to just two years ago when it wasn’t certain if developed countries could ever be convinced to back a loss and damage fund.
“While inadequate to the scale of what is needed, these early contributions will play a critical role in restoring trust between developed and developing countries as the UN climate talks get underway. This progress on loss and damage today is one of many puzzles pieces that need to fall into place for the climate summit to be a success.
“It is particularly notable that the United Arab Emirates matched Germany with a pledge of $100 million each. UAE’s contribution broadens the nations providing climate finance.
“While the overall signal from today’s pledges is positive, it is disappointing that the United States and the Japan chipped in so little. Given the size of their economies, there is simply no excuse for their contributions to be far eclipsed by others.
“The funding announced at COP28 will be just a down payment to the far greater resources to help people reeling from losses and damage from climate change. Over the coming year, countries need to step forward with much larger pledges as well as mobilize innovative sources of funding such as taxes on fossil fuels and shipping.”typhoon-odette-small.jpg International Climate Action COP28 Type Statement Exclude From Blog Feed? 0
The past year registered record-shattering global temperatures. People around the world are already witnessing epic heat waves, wildfires and drought at 1.1 degrees C (2 degrees F) of global warming, compared to pre-industrial averages. With current policies putting the world on a trajectory for 2.5 degrees C to 2.9 degrees C (up to 5 degrees F) of warming by 2100, this year’s sweltering heat is just a glimpse of the future ahead.
In a warming world, cities face an even greater burden of higher temperatures than rural areas. For one, they hold most of the world’s population. Their exposure to high temperatures is amplified by the urban heat island effect, where buildings, concrete and other infrastructure trap heat. Density, air pollution, poverty and geography further increase the vulnerability of many people in cities.
So what exactly will warmer global temperatures mean for city residents’ exposure to excessive heat? We need better data to say with precision, but global-scale models from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) start to paint a picture.Big Differences in Urban Heat Effects from 1.5 Degrees C vs. 3 Degrees C of Warming
According to the IPCC, life-threatening heat and humidity are expected to impact between half to three-fourths of the global population by 2100. Cities, which currently hold more than half the world’s population and will add another 2.5 billion people by 2050, will be exposed to double the level of heat stress compared to rural surroundings.
By layering city locations on top of IPCC models to provide more tailored data, we begin to get a clearer picture of why limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F), the target set in the international Paris Agreement on climate change, is so important.
We looked at one indicator related to extreme heat: annual days where maximum temperatures exceed 35 degrees C (95 degrees F). This level of heat is associated with severe health impacts and stress to economies and infrastructure. The IPCC says extreme heat in urban areas will increase levels of mortality and heat-related illnesses, especially among the elderly and young children; impair concentration and cognition, affecting learning and educational outcomes for children, particularly in South Asia and Africa; and reduce labor capacity during hot periods by 20% or more by 2050, up from 10% currently. In the United States alone, extreme heat already costs the economy $100 billion annually and is projected to increase to $500 billion by 2050.
These kinds of risks increase with every increment of warming, however small. The number of urban residents exposed to at least 8 days a year of temperatures exceeding 35 degrees C increases from 66% under 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) of warming to 85% under 3 degrees C (5.4 degrees F) of warming.
Many cities will become places where extreme temperatures persist for nearly half the year. At 1.5 degrees C of warming, only 67 cities will experience 150 or more days a year of temperatures exceeding 35 degrees C. Under 3 degrees C of warming, it rises to 197 cities. More than half of those cities (103) are located in India. And the increases in temperatures are likely to be even greater in many cities, because this modeling does not consider the urban heat island effect.Excessive Heat Will Hit Resource-strapped Cities and the Urban Poor the Hardest
Cities with the least resources to adapt will be among the hardest hit by higher levels of warming.
While cities on average will experience 29 more extremely hot days under 3 degrees C of warming vs. 1.5 degrees C, the difference is greater for cities in less developed and lower-income regions. In South Asia, it’s 40 days; Sub-Saharan Africa, 38 days; Latin America and Caribbean, 34 days. For cities in lower-middle-income countries, 38 days; low-income countries, 34 days. These are often cities that are also growing rapidly and lack the fiscal and institutional capacity to adapt.*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/
Within cities, IPCC research shows that economically and socially marginalized groups will be most affected. It’s the urban poor — including a billion or so people living in slums and informal settlements — who often live in more densely populated and hotter parts of cities, frequently in areas suffering from poor air quality, or in buildings with metal roofs and without insulation or cooling systems. For example, a WRI India analysis found temperatures in one of Mumbai’s slums averaged 6 degrees C (11 degrees F) warmer than neighboring areas.
The urban poor are also more likely to work in occupations requiring outdoor and physical labor, and they often aren’t provided labor and social protections. One in three urban dwellers lacks access to at least one core service, like adequate housing, clean drinking water, sanitation or reliable electricity. And this “urban services divide” is widening. If business continues as usual, slums are expected to continue growing across the developing world.Adaptation Could Be Difficult Even in Prepared Cities
Modeling urban futures is not just a hypothetical exercise; cities are already experiencing significant changes. Ahmedabad, India has always been a hot city. But in 2013, unbearable conditions prompted the city to launch South Asia’s first citywide Heat Action Plan.
The plan focuses on raising public awareness, implementing an early warning system, building health care capacity, reducing exposure and promoting adaptive measures, such as women-led, community-based adaptation. The city is working to increase tree cover due to a lack of green space. Local authorities and civil society groups collected data showing that these measures help avoid 1,100 or more heat-related deaths annually.
Our analysis shows extreme heat in Ahmedabad will get much worse. Recently averaging 164 days annually over 35 degrees C, under 3 degrees C of warming, this could increase to 225 days annually. That’s similar to what’s currently seen in near-Saharan cities like Maiduguri, Nigeria.
A host of challenges hold the city back from making further progress, despite its forerunner status. Policymakers haven’t fully integrated heat considerations into the city’s overall development policies, such as land use planning. The plan’s implementation has been relegated to mostly emergency response, and the city struggles to reach its most vulnerable populations. Raising political will and increasing finance to scale solutions more quickly are also challenges.Ahmedabad, India launched South Asia's first citywide heat action plan in 2013, but faces steadily increasing temperatures and little localized data to guide and gauge policy changes. Photo by WRIBridging the Local Climate Data Gap
What could help Ahmedabad and other cities like it is more easily accessible and useful data on the impacts their specific city will face. Information on extreme temperature changes and other climate hazards is currently difficult to access or not available at all at the city level.What Should City-level Climate Models Look Like?
More useful city-level climate models like those being developed by WRI can offer:
Higher spatial resolution: Downscaled models exist for some climate scenarios, but information from them can be harder to access. Their resolution does not allow users to understand neighborhood-scale impacts and inequities at the city-level.
More relevant indicators fit to purpose and audience: City indicators should focus on managing threats to people, livelihoods, services and assets. Different municipal departments have different needs. Public health departments might be interested in nighttime heat waves, while transportation departments might be more concerned with extremely high daytime temperatures.
More information on probabilities and uncertainty: For effective risk planning, cities need to know the likelihood of specific impacts. Prioritizing according to potential pathways and increasing preparedness can avoid the worst outcomes.
Easy access to insights, with the option to go deeper: Cities need tailored, actionable information— from broad default indicators to guide policymaking, to customizable indicators that include parameters and thresholds to meet local needs.
Integration of hazard, exposure and vulnerability data: Higher-resolution hazard data enables new insights that can support action for vulnerable communities through combining climate data with local population and socioeconomic data.
WRI, Bloomberg Philanthropies and other partners are building data solutions to meet these needs. More precise and actionable city climate data could inform local decision-making by providing information on extreme-weather events and their frequencies, as well as insights on which sectors will be most impacted.
Better models can help direct more resources for city-level climate action, such as through the Cities Climate Finance Leadership Alliance. Actionable information can strengthen civil society engagement and vulnerable communities’ awareness, agency and participation in climate action. Better data can also help improve collaboration between local and national authorities, as the implications of exposures – and potential policy pathways – would be clearer. More precise climate models can and should be used to set, revise and achieve goals for urban planning and climate finance.Making Cities Livable Requires Holding Warming to 1.5 Degrees C
As even global-scale modeling of city climate hazard exposures shows — not to mention the lived experience of millions of people during the hottest year on record — the world must recommit to maintaining the 1.5 degrees C goal to keep cities livable. Increasing the ambition of both national and local mitigation commitments and investments is a must. These plans must go hand-in-hand with adaptation, so cities can deal with the climate risks communities are already facing.
But we shouldn’t underestimate the scale of the challenge. Cities are humanity’s most complex systems. We need to plan, build and live in them differently to prepare for the impacts of climate change and help turn cities into climate solutions. This kind of transformational change can’t happen without multi-level interventions and more actionable local information — to justify trillions in investments, make informed policy choices, and protect and empower those most at risk.
This article's interactive visualizations were designed by Sara Staedicke.
This work is supported in part by Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Methods Footnote: Annual days with maximum temperature above 35C is measured using Bias Adjusted TX35 from CMIP6, accessed from IPCC WGI Interactive Atlas, calculated using bilinear interpolation for each city over 500,000 population in 2015 from the GHS Urban Centre Database. City populations are also from GHS-UCD. Region and country income categories are from the World Bank. For more information on WRI's ongoing work modelling future local climate hazards, please see this technical note.RTS7IRQ7-2000.jpg Cities Asia Africa Latin America Oceania North America Europe Urban Efficiency & Climate Urban Development Climate Climate Resilience climate impacts climate science COP28 Type Finding Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Eric Mackres Ted Wong Schuyler Null Rocío Campos Shagun Mehrotra
STATEMENT: Michigan Enacts New Climate Laws and Creates a Just Transition Office for Fossil Fuel Workers and Communities
LANSING, MICHIGAN (November 28, 2023) – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a package of climate bills into law that will boost clean energy adoption and reduce emissions in the state.
The new laws include a standard to transition the state to 100% clean electricity by 2040 and new requirements to increase energy storage and accessibility to rooftop solar. The state will also create a new office to support workers and communities impacted by the transition away from fossil fuels in the energy and transportation sectors.
WRI research shows that, with the right policies in place, electric vehicle manufacturing investments in Michigan can create thousands of new jobs and boost local economies, but the state must also support long-time auto workers and communities during the transition.
Climate action at the state and local level is essential for the United States to achieve its goal of cutting emissions by at least 50% by 2030.
Following is a statement from Devashree Saha, Director of US Clean Energy Economy Program, World Resources Institute:
“Michigan is a prime example of a state taking ambitious climate action while prioritizing a just transition for workers and communities as they navigate the shift to a clean energy economy.
“The state’s new just transition office can serve as a template for other states as they develop policies to promote clean energy adoption and transition away from fossil fuels. Whether it's auto workers assembling gas-powered vehicles or coal-fired power plant operators, it is critical no person – or community – is left behind.
“By transitioning to carbon-free electricity by 2040 and equitably advancing clean energy across the state, Michigan can deliver thousands of good-paying jobs, lower energy bills and cleaner air. Michigan is rapidly heading towards the clean energy future.”U.S. Climate United States U.S. Climate Policy-Electric Vehicles Type Statement Exclude From Blog Feed? 0
Washington, DC (November 28, 2023) — Ahead of COP28, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities joined partners to launch a new initiative linking climate action to sustainable development by addressing inequities in access to housing and other core services in urban areas.
REHOUSE (Resilient, Equitable Housing, Opportunities and Urban Services), a diverse coalition of community groups, advocates and researchers, aims to accelerate progress towards more equitable and climate-ready cities through resilient and affordable housing — integrated with basic services in informal settlements. Other REHOUSE partners include BRAC, Build Change, Habitat for Humanity International, Mahila Housing SEWA Trust, and Slum Dwellers International.
“The REHOUSE partnership shows how the world’s cities can deliver climate-resilient housing and urban services equitably to meet the needs of growing urban populations,” said Ani Dasgupta, President & CEO, World Resources Institute. “By working together at the global, national and local level, we can ensure cities provide sustainable housing and urban services that reduce polluting emissions, create prosperity, and build resilience for the most vulnerable residents.”
Most people now live in cities and the world’s urban population is projected to increase by another 2.5 billion people by 2050. Yet about one in three urban dwellers globally – over 1 billion people – do not have reliable, safe or affordable access to basic everyday services and infrastructure like decent housing, running water and sanitation, electricity, or transport to access work, school and healthcare. Meanwhile, climate impacts escalate every day, and research tells us we need transformative change to urban systems to keep global warming below the most dangerous levels. Access to housing integrated with other services in cities is a critical pathway to meeting climate and development goals that is rarely discussed in international climate forums.
“Instead of piecemeal solutions, we need an integrated approach to housing, urban services and climate action, one that supports the world's most vulnerable families as they improve their communities,” said Patrick Canagasingham, Chief Operating Officer of Habitat for Humanity International. “When people living in informal settlements have adequate housing and services, everyone benefits.”
Action is most urgently needed in today’s fastest growing cities, where urban slums and informal settlements often house the majority of the population. Gaps in access to decent, secure housing, integrated with urban services are acute, creating daily burdens for the most vulnerable urban communities and limiting their lifelong opportunities, while putting millions at risk from extreme weather, and short-circuiting economic growth. “In Bangladesh, 2,000 new residents arrive every day to the already precarious slums of Dhaka city, most driven by natural disasters and climate change,” said Asif Saleh, Executive Director of BRAC. “We need to take urgent action, through a systems approach, to reduce climate risks and prepare cities for these climate migrants.”
Together, REHOUSE partners have established a three-track program focused on 1) data, financing, and knowledge sharing; 2) influencing national policies and programs; and 3) implementing projects on the ground locally, based on analytical but also grassroots lessons.
“Because of climate change, people living in self-built informal settlements in the global south now have to cope with more extreme weather events,” said Sheela Patel, Director of SPARC and former Chair of Slum Dwellers International. “We have an obligation to co-produce solutions for climate-resilient housing and urban services for all, using new materials and construction systems that are designed with climate risks and affordability of the urban poor in mind.”
Based on their extensive experience working on housing and inequality in cities, the REHOUSE partners have crafted eight Shared Principles designed to guide urban decision-makers and stakeholders in advancing the climate and Sustainable Development Goal agendas together with an emphasis on the intersection of equity and resilience through housing integrated with basic services.
“We are advocating for responsible urban development,” said Bijal Brahmbhatt, Director of Mahila Housing SEWA Trust. “As we have seen through community, women-led solutions in South Asia, we can improve habitats and urban services while making progress on global climate and sustainable development goals.”
REHOUSE partners are dedicated to leading by example and developing the data and knowledge base needed to advocate for the adoption of the Shared Principles through practice. These principles are intended to be the foundation for policies, programs and peer learning across cities and countries.
“Addressing climate change requires a systemic and equitable approach to housing,” said Elizabeth Hausler, Founder & CEO of Build Change. “By addressing the key barriers affecting access to safe, affordable and sustainable housing – policy, money and technology – we can strengthen the resiliency of cities and reduce the losses and damages impacting the world's most climate-vulnerable populations.”
REHOUSE builds on analytical and collaborative work begun as part of the World Resources Report: Towards a More Equal City, a flagship research series by WRI that explored transformative solutions to the urban services divide and highlighted many of the REHOUSE partners’ innovations in housing and other urban service provision.
For more information about the principles and how to get involved, visit REHOUSE.org.
About WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities
WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities is World Resources Institute’s program dedicated to shaping a future where cities work better for everyone. It enables more connected, compact and coordinated cities. The Center expands the transport and urban development expertise and on-the-ground impact of the EMBARQ network to catalyze innovative solutions in other sectors, including air quality, water, buildings, land use and energy. Our network of more than 450 experts working from Brazil, China, Colombia, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, the Netherlands, Mexico, Turkey and the United States combine research excellence with on-the-ground impact to make cities around the world better places to live. More information at wri.org/cities or on X @WRIRossCities.
About World Resources Institute
World Resources Institute (WRI) is a global research organization with offices in Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States, and regional offices for Africa and Europe. Our 1,700 staff work with partners to develop practical solutions that improve people’s lives and ensure nature can thrive. Learn more: WRI.org and on Twitter @WorldResources.
Residents of Jakarta, Indonesia woke up on August 31, 2023 to a thick blanket of haze and news that their city was again ranked the most polluted in the world — one of many times during the last several months when air quality became so poor it threatened citizens’ health. Singapore recently called for citizens to get out their face masks and prepare for smoke from wildfires and agricultural burning in nearby Indonesia and Malaysia. And in Thailand, where the dry season begins in November, air pollution is expected to disrupt air travel and other forms of transportation through April 2024.
Air pollution spikes like these are a regular feature of life in Jakarta, Bangkok and other cities across Southeast Asia. They typically occur annually during dry months, when lack of moisture in the atmosphere and other meteorological conditions combine with pollutants from fossil fuels and other sources to worsen air quality. This year, the El Niño weather pattern is prolonging and intensifying high-pollution events in the region.Passengers leave a Jakarta metro station wearing masks to reduce their exposure to air pollution. Photo by Clean Air CatalystAir Pollution Is Already Severe in Southeast Asian Cities
Air pollution creates short-term, acute side effects in the form of cardiovascular and respiratory ailments, headaches and eye irritation. The long-term and chronic effects are even more concerning. Air pollution exposure is associated with oxidative stress and inflammation in human cells. It can lead to chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases, diabetes, obesity and more.
In Southeast Asia, virtually the entire population (99%) lives in areas where air pollution exceeds the World Health Organization’s (WHO) safe air standards. In fact, 37 out of the 40 most polluted cities in the world are located in Southeast Asia, cutting average life expectancy in the region by 1.5 years and resulting in 352,000 premature deaths in 2017.
Some of the reasons for Southeast Asia’s bad air are natural, while others are human-caused. Here’s a look at why the region experiences some of the worst air pollution in the world — and what cities can do to fix the problem.Air pollution creates a visible haze in Manila, the Philippines. Photo by Sleeping cat/Shutterstock1) Weather Conditions Worsen Pollution
Warmer temperatures, lack of rainfall, increased sunshine, and changes in windspeed and direction are all factors that can degrade air quality in tropical monsoon climates. Southeast Asian cities are located near the equator where air pollution intensifies during hotter, drier months. This is because fine particles like PM2.5, PM10 and Black Carbon — associated with vehicle exhaust, coal plants, industrial processes and open waste burning — build up in the surrounding air.
WRI Indonesia’s analysis of air quality monitoring data from 2019-2023 confirms that the monthly average concentration of PM2.5 in Jakarta follows a seasonal pattern: peak pollution in June, July and August (the dry season), followed by a decline during September to April (wet season).
El Niño often extends the dry period into October or November, a pattern observed this year.
While dry months differ by city, pollution worsening during dry seasons is a trend throughout Southeast Asia.
Sunlight and heat also play a role in exacerbating ground-level ozone (O3), a pollutant commonly experienced as haze and which can impact lung and heart function. It is formed through chemical reactions of pollutants emitted by transport, industry and other sources in the presence of sunlight.2) El Niño Intensifies Weather’s Impact on Air Pollution
Studies show that El Niño can impact the regional climate across Asia, oftentimes creating drier conditions and influencing air quality in the globe’s tropic and sub-tropic regions by varying PM2.5 concentrations. Indonesia’s Meteorological, Climatological, and Geophysical Agency (BMKG) warned that the 2023 dry season will be the most severe since 2019, delaying the onset of the rainy season until November in more than 60% of the country and increasing the risk of failed harvests and fires.
The figure below shows the relationship between rainfall and PM2.5 levels at the Central Jakarta monitoring station in 2019 during the last El Niño cycle, when recorded rainfall reached almost negligible levels. Air pollutants reached highs when precipitation hit lows.
Lack of rainfall due to El Niño also spurred more forest fires, which were a contributing factor to air pollution in Jakarta in 2019 and the main contributor to pollution in other parts of Indonesia. This year, more than 300 forest and peatland fires have been reported on the island of Sumatra alone since August.3) Transport, Energy and Industry are Major Sources of Air Pollution
Research consistently points toward the same major sources of air pollution inside Southeast Asia’s cities: vehicles, power plants and industrial emissions.
Take Jakarta: The city experiences an influx of 10 million commuters from satellite cities every day, doubling its population and the number of cars traveling on its roads. As of 2018, there were 20 million motorized vehicles in the city, including 13 million motorcycles — numbers that have continued to grow at a rate of nearly 5% per year. The most recent emissions inventory published in 2020 confirms that transport contributed 67% of PM2.5 emissions, 58% of PM10 emissions and 84% of Black Carbon emissions in Jakarta in 2019.
Similarly, 72% of Bangkok’s pollution was attributed to combustion engines in 2022.
The manufacturing and energy sectors are the biggest contributors of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in Jakarta and other cities. These pollutants combine with other emissions and volatile organic compounds to form acid rain, PM2.5 and ground-level O3. Fossil fuel use in shipping and aviation, as well as in the commercial and residential sectors, are additional contributors to PM2.5 and other pollutants.Power plant in North Jakarta, Indonesia. Power plants are consistently a top source of air pollution in Southeast Asian cities. Photo by Muhammad Fadhli/Clean Air Catalyst
And it’s not just these local sources that affect a city’s air pollution. Sources of pollution outside cities' boundaries often diminish air quality within the city itself. Coal-fired power plants and processing plants are a major source of air pollution coming from outside Jakarta’s borders. Crop burning in Myanmar, Laos and other neighboring countries are sometimes the cause of air pollution in Bangkok. Haze from Indonesia’s forest fires affects Malaysia and Singapore, prompting the countries to call for coordinated efforts to tackle “transboundary haze.”4) Many Cities Lack Pollution Forecasting Tools to Identify Emissions Sources and Provide Public Health Warnings
Like many cities in low- and middle-income countries, cities like Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Manila do not have enough air quality monitoring stations to measure pollution in all parts of the city. They also don’t use satellite images and air quality forecasting models to provide warnings to the public in advance of unhealthy air days, the way cities like Bogota, Bangkok or Paris do.
Clean Air Catalyst, a global initiative supported by USAID and WRI Indonesia, partnered with MAPAQ to use the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) Global Near-Real-Time forecasting system to examine pollution patterns in Jakarta during the first two weeks of August 2023. It showed there was an almost daily build-up of PM2.5 over the metropolitan area and on the eastern side of Java in Surabaya, with pollution concentrations occasionally reaching unhealthy levels. Low wind speeds moving eastward and other dry season conditions likely caused emissions to be trapped near the surface. This indicates that most of the dirty air people breathed in during this time period came from tailpipe exhaust and power generation sources within the city.
If officials in Jakarta and other Southeast Asian cities had regular and consistent access to data like this, they could locate sources, anticipate pollution hotspots, and plan more strategic and effective interventions, such as limiting power generation, testing vehicle emissions, reducing the number of personal and heavy-duty vehicles on the streets, or informing citizens of poor air quality days so they can plan their days and reduce exposure.Southeast Asian Cities Can Pursue Air Pollution Solutions Now
During high pollution periods, local governments can take emergency steps.
Jakarta recently shut down a factory thought to be a main source of pollution in East Jakarta. In August 2023, city officials instituted a work-from-home order for civil servants to improve air quality. Similarly, in September 2023, several mayors in Manila, Philippines suspended classes and closed government offices on a day with particularly poor air quality. (While authorities first attributed the pollution to a nearby volcano, it was later identified as the product of traffic emissions.) Warning the public to wear masks and stay indoors during high-pollution days — particularly people with respiratory and auto-immune diseases — is also prudent. Health agencies in Bangkok and Jakarta engage medical clinics to treat individuals with pollution-related illnesses, as well as offer education and preventative care.
In the medium-term, officials must prioritize action in the most polluting sectors, including transport, industry, energy and waste. In Indonesia, the government is focused on reducing vehicle exhaust emissions through mandatory emissions testing and random emissions checks. The Manila government is upgrading its fossil fuel emission standards from Euro II to Euro IV to help reduce vehicle emissions since 2016. The government has also started to issue permits online and established self-monitoring systems to track industrial permit operations and emissions compliance.
In the long-term, cities need comprehensive strategies to accelerate the transition to clean and renewable energy and transport — a transition that will also deliver better air, improve human health and slow climate change.
And it’s not just city governments that can take action. Provincial, national and regional action must also scale up — particularly in the case of transboundary air pollution — to tighten and enforce emissions standards on industries and power plants outside city limits, modify agricultural burning practices, and develop rapid response plans for fire seasons. Finally, the public can opt for public transportation, demand better infrastructure for walking and biking, or switch to electric vehicles, to name just a few solutions.
Healthy, clean cities can be built on effective policy, collaboration and community-driven initiatives. Individual choices matter, but coalitions and combined actions — as well as the voice of the city's population — hold the potential to bring about significant change.
Contributors and Reviewers: Azka Ghaida, Puji Lestari, Beatriz Cardenas, Khalisha Meliana, Idir Bouarar, Dimas Fadhil, Paulista Surjadijakarta-indonesia-air-pollution.jpeg Air Quality Cities Air Quality pollution Energy fossil fuels Type Explainer Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Fadhil Muhammad Firdaus Beth Elliott Daniel Ibanez
LONDON (November 22, 2023) — On Monday 20th November, the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak launched a new White Paper on ‘International development in a contested world: ending extreme poverty and tackling climate change,’ at a Global Food Security Summit convened by the UK government at Lancaster House.
Following is a statement by Edward Davey, Head, UK Office, World Resources Institute Europe:
"There is a lot to celebrate in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s new White Paper. The strong focus on the triple challenge of driving impact in the world that is positive for people, climate, and nature alike is a major step forward.
"The commitment to reforming multilateral financial institutions and the international system is also well-made, as is the focus on mobilising more, better targeted, easier-to-access climate and nature finance to enable just, sustainable and clean transitions. The paper’s emphasis on the need to give greater voice and rights to poorer countries, as well as on building reciprocal and equal partnerships with others, is very welcome. We also valued the focus on locally-led development, including in the field of adaptation.
"The litmus test will of course lie in its implementation: meeting all of the goals set out in the White Paper will stretch the finance available, while implementing all the commitments therein will be crucial to restoring international trust in the UK’s global role, particularly in nations in the global south. The White Paper’s success therefore rests on how the ideas are carried forward consistently over the years to come.
"Finally, and no less importantly, the credibility of these commitments will also rely on how the UK honours its domestic promises on net zero and climate action, at a time when they have been severely called into question."Climate Food Type Statement Exclude From Blog Feed? 0
What Is the Paris Agreement’s Article 2.1(c) on Climate Finance, and Why Does it Matter? Key Questions, Answered
Recent studies indicate that the world will need $10 trillion annually between 2030 and 2050 to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. That’s a lot — but the world has the money.
As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) explains, ”there is sufficient global capital to close the global investment gaps… but there are barriers to redirecting capital to climate action.” The challenge, then, is not necessarily raising additional finance for climate change mitigation and adaptation, but how to align all the world’s capital towards climate action.
Article 2.1(c) of the international Paris Agreement on climate change aims to do just that by “making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate-resilient development.” However, the language of Article 2.1(c) is vague on what exactly it entails. Eight years after virtually all countries signed the Paris Agreement, they’re still at odds over the scope of Article 2.1(c) and how it should be implemented.
This year’s UN climate summit (COP28) will provide an opportunity for countries to better define Article 2.1(c), as well as how to operationalize and monitor it. Here, we explain what Article 2.1(c) is, how it interacts with other finance mandates, and what’s needed to put it into action.What Does Article 2.1(c) Do?
The heart of the Paris Agreement on climate change is Article 2, which sets the objectives of the agreement. Article 2.1(a) urges a global response to hold the increase in global average temperature to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) to reduce the risks and impacts of climate change. Article 2.1(b) outlines the need to adapt to adverse impacts of climate change, build resilience and pursue low-greenhouse gas development. Article 2.1(c) points out that we need to make finance flows consistent with these objectives if we’re ever going to attain them. Finally, Article 2.2 outlines the context these articles should be pursued under, including the principles of equity, common-but-differentiated responsibility, and respective capabilities and national circumstances.
2.1(c) is a holistic goal. That means it covers both mitigation and adaptation, potentially encompassing domestic and international finance flows. It requires not just scaling up the good finance — for example, climate resilience bonds and financing for new renewable energy projects — but also scaling down funding to carbon-intensive activities, like new coal plants or diesel truck fleets. And it doesn’t stop with government spending. Depending on how it’s interpreted, it could also encompass the private sector, including financial institutions, businesses, corporations and investors.
In short, financial systems broadly must align with the pursuit of sustainable development and international climate goals. This means that all types of investments and financing activities — all investors and actors in the real economy, stock as well as flows — should be “consistent” with achieving the world’s climate goals.
2.1(c) will require economic and financial reform. The tools (e.g., policies and economic and financial instruments) for getting there will be many and varied. Innovative policies and financial instruments will surely play a role, such as green procurement (where companies and governments would be required to decarbonize supply chains) and climate-related bonds to integrate climate priorities into economic development plans.
And in order to ensure equity, alignment of financial flows will have to be customized to each country’s economic, financial and social contexts. This especially includes developing countries’ pursuit of sustainable development, poverty eradication and a just transition.What Progress Has Been Made Toward Achieving Article 2.1(c)?
Though a common understanding of 2.1(c) has yet to be agreed upon by Paris Agreement signatories, efforts inside and outside the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are providing glimpses of what alignment could look like.
Efforts within UNFCCC
The UN’s Global Stocktake, which will conclude at COP28, will assess progress towards the goals of the Paris Agreement for the first time, including Article 2.1(c). In its key findings released in a Synthesis Report in September 2023, it recognized that financial flows include “international and domestic, public and private.”
Negotiators established the Sharm el-Sheikh dialogue on Article 2.1(c) at COP27 in 2022, where countries, organizations and other stakeholders can exchange views and enhance understanding of the scope of 2.1(c) and its complementarity with Article 9 of the Paris Agreement, which focuses on developed countries’ financial responsibilities). As a result of the dialogue, the secretariat prepared a report about their deliberations.
The Standing Committee on Finance (SCF), established during COP16, has two tasks related to Article 2.1(c): mapping information that contributes to the implementation of Article 2.1(c) and preparing a synthesis report (published in November 2023) analyzing how to operationalize it. The SCF provided a first report at COP27 and will present an updated report at COP28 for countries’ consideration.
Efforts outside UNFCCC
Stakeholders like investors and corporations have developed frameworks to identify progress in aligning financing per Article 2.1(c). For example, WRI developed a framework and identified tools governments already have at their disposal to shift and mobilize finance. Tools are available in four categories: financial policies and regulations, fiscal policy levers, public finance and information instruments.
Investors, corporations and financial institutions have also shown some progress on Article 2.1(c) alignment.Paying for the Paris Agreement Resource Hub
WRI recently launched a resource hub highlighting different tools to make progress towards 2.1 (c). This platform includes multimedia modules on 16 tools for aligning and increasing public and private finance for climate goals, including public-private partnerships, green procurement standards, mandatory climate risk disclosure and more.
Some are mainstreaming climate risk in their operations by applying risk management approaches, including disclosure frameworks to assess physical (e.g., fires and floods) and transitional (e.g., regulatory and technologies) risks. The theory of change is that disclosing information on climate-related risks may lead to investors deciding to shift their investments, contributing to alignment. To this end, corporations are applying the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) frameworks to their own risk disclosures. Some central banks have incorporated climate-related risks into their operations.
Additionally, investors with the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) have developed guidelines for financial institutions to align their business and operations with the goal of achieving net-zero emissions. Financial institutions including asset owners and managers, commercial banks and insurers have made commitments to back sustainable finance and phase out coal. Multilateral development banks have rolled out principles and a joint methodology to align their operations — including both direct investment and policy-based lending — to the goals of the Paris Agreement.What Challenges Remain to Operationalize Article 2.1(c)?
Despite incremental progress, understanding the place of 2.1(c) in the overall climate negotiations, defining key terms like “financial flows” and “consistent,” and addressing concerns about countries’ sovereignty all pose challenges for the international finance community to move forward.
Defining ‘consistency of financial flows’
One of the key challenges to operationalizing Article 2.1(c) is that countries are using different terms and concepts to interpret the word “consistency.” These include directing, orienting, aligning, shifting, steering, scaling up, scaling down and more. Some countries argue that “consistency of financial flows” is about directing finance to green, sustainable and/or climate-related activities, regardless of the financial instruments through which such flows are channeled. The IPCC has defined it more broadly as looking at all investments, whether or not they contribute to climate objectives, including those investments that play a transition role.
However, “consistency” will require some conversation about what not to do, as well. At the very least, countries need to come to a common understanding on how to scale down misaligned investments (like financing fossil fuels) and the impact this may have on countries’ domestic policies and national development.
Concerns about unintended consequences
Countries have different development pathways, needs and priorities. Policies and instruments to align their financial flows will need to account for this diversity. However, because 2.1(c) is a global effort, questions will arise about standards for action and whether similar policies and regulations need to be applied in all countries. For example, if one developing country does not reform a specific set of policies, will it no longer be eligible to access climate finance? Will there be trade restrictions imposed on specific products?
The relationship of Article 2.1 (c) to other global finance goals
Article 2.1(c) is just one goal within the Paris Agreement for addressing climate change. To effectively operationalize it, it must be considered within the context of the whole agreement — especially its other finance goals.
For example, negotiators and other stakeholders like research organizations and academia are examining the complementarity of Article 2.1(c) and the new collective quantified goal (NCQG) that must be established by COP29 in 2024. NCQG will set a new finance objective that goes beyond developed nations’ current goal of providing a collective $100 billion in climate finance annually. However, while Article 2.1(c) refers to allfinancial flows for countries that signed the Paris Agreement, the NCQG is specific to finance support to developing countries
Importantly, the mandate to adopt NCQG states that the new goal must take into account developing countries’ needs and priorities. Developing countries have reiterated their concern that Article 2.1(c) discussions could draw the NCQG conversations away from this focus and instead towards domestic policy and finance flow shifts, or include conditionalities or barriers to access financial support.
It's important that negotiators take these concerns seriously as they consider how to move forward, particularly in the context of who contributes to the NCQG and efforts to maintain access to climate finance.What to Watch for at COP28
Article 2.1(c) will likely be addressed on several fronts at COP28 in Dubai, including as part of the Global Stocktake, in reports prepared by the SCF, and in outcomes of the Sharm el-Sheikh dialogue.
In addition, developed countries have suggested an agenda item focused on Article 2.1 (c), as well as a dedicated work programme within the UNFCCC. Developing countries, however, have expressed skepticism about this approach, on the basis that a focus on 2.1(c) could “lead to developed countries shying away from their commitments and obligations” to provide financial support to vulnerable nations. This concern was also expressed last year at COP27.
The provisional agenda of the CMA (the group of countries that have signed and ratified the Paris Agreement) currently includes an item on the scope of Article 2.1(c) and its relationship to Article 9. However, it’s unclear if it will proceed since agenda items must first be accepted by all Parties to the Paris Agreement.
There will be no way to meet global climate goals if countries can’t agree on how to steer finance toward a low-carbon, climate-resilient world. Investment is both the fuel and the steering wheel for arriving where we need to go. Article 2.1(c) will be complicated to operationalize, but in its very ambition, it provides a vision for the road forward.restoring_mangroves_east_africa (1).jpg Finance climate finance Paris Agreement Paying for Paris COP28 Climate International Climate Action Type Explainer Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Natalia Alayza
Transportation is the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in the United States. Freight emissions are an increasing share of total sector emissions, rising from 24% in 1990 to 32% in 2021. They were 60% greater than they were in 1990 in absolute terms.
Moving freight requires heavy duty trucks, trains, ships and planes that present greater challenges for shifting to low- and no-carbon options than for passenger transport, but progress is being made. This article provides an overview of the history of federal and state policies designed to decarbonize freight transport as well as recent U.S. and, in the case of maritime freight and aviation, international developments that are speeding that transition. A companion article examines technical approaches for decarbonizing freight, such as electrification, sustainable liquid fuels, and hydrogen and hydrogen-derived fuels.Road Freight
Vehicle fuel efficiency standards date back to the oil crises of the 1970s, but the first policies aimed specifically at reducing vehicle GHG emissions date from the 2000s, when California pioneered such standards for vehicles. Congress then established the Renewable Fuel Standard program and California initiated work on its Low Carbon Fuel Standard.Vehicle Standards
In 2002, California adopted legislation calling for GHG emission standards for passenger vehicles. The law pioneered use of the Clean Air Act to regulate GHG emissions, making use of the state’s unique status under the act to enact stricter vehicle standards than the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Enforcement of such standards requires a waiver from the EPA, which was granted in 2009.
EPA initiated GHG standards for medium- and heavy-duty (M/HDV) trucks for model years 2014–18 alongside companion fuel economy standards adopted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2011; it adopted Phase 2 standards for model years through 2027, in 2016. These standards have significantly improved the efficiency of and reduced GHG emissions from the nation’s truck fleet.
EPA’s 2021 Clean Trucks Plan aims to reduce the emission of GHGs and pollutants responsible for smog and soot. The initial rule, finalized in December 2022, requires heavy-duty engines and vehicles to reduce their emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and air toxics starting with the 2027 model year. This rule will significantly improve local air quality, particularly in low-income and minority communities near transportation hubs and highways, which have long been affected by truck pollution.
In April 2023, EPA proposed two additional rules under the Clean Trucks Plan. Starting with the 2027 model year, these rules will limit GHG and other harmful pollutants from light- and medium-duty vehicles and apply GHG emission standards to heavy-duty vocational trucks, such as buses and dump trucks.
California is establishing requirements for M/HDVs to shift to zero-emission technologies, such as battery and fuel cell electric. Its Advanced Clean Trucks regulation requires manufacturers selling trucks in California to sell an increasing portion of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), with percentages based on size class. Seven other states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington — have now adopted the rule, and other states are considering it. California recently adopted the complementary Advanced Clean Fleets rule to accelerate adoption of ZEVs by M/HDV fleet owners in California. Other states will likely follow California’s lead.
California reached an agreement with truck and engine manufacturers that should smooth implementation of the Advanced Clean Trucks and Advanced Clean Fleets regulations. Manufacturers agreed to meet California’s ZEV and pollutant standards even if these standards are challenged in court, and the state agreed to align its NOx standards with federal standards and to provide three years of regulatory stability and four years of lead time on any new requirements.
Federal funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will also ease implementation of M/HDV regulations by investing in electric vehicle (EV) charging and alternative fuel infrastructure. The law includes $5 billion to help states deploy EV charging infrastructure and $2.5 billion in discretionary grants for charging and fueling infrastructure, including funds dedicated to creating fuel corridors to provide alternative fuels along major highways.Fuel Standards
Renewable and alternative fuel standards are another approach for reducing GHG emissions and dependence on fossil fuels. The federal Renewable Fuel Standard was created in 2005 to reduce dependence on petroleum fuels by increasing the use of renewable fuels. In 2007, amendments to the standard established targets for renewable fuel use through 2022, set criteria for which fuels qualify, and granted EPA the ability to issue waivers. These targets prioritized advanced biofuels made from waste, which cause significantly less environmental damage than biofuels made from specially grown fuel crops.
Despite these efforts, advanced biofuel production has fallen short. The target for 2021 established in 2007 was 17.5 billion gallons of advanced biofuels, of which 13.5 billion gallons were to be cellulosic (although EPA has consistently waived that requirement). Actual production was just over 5 billion gallons of advanced biofuels, of which less than 600 million gallons was cellulosic.
EPA recently established Renewable Fuel Standard targets for 2023–25 that aim to increase renewable fuel use in the United States by about 15% between 2022 and 2025. As advanced biofuel production has failed to take off, soy-based biodiesel and renewable diesel will drive much of this increase. Given growing global demand for food, feed, fiber and fuel, greater production of crop-based biofuels will increase competition for land use and likely increase global carbon emissions as a result of forest loss.
California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) takes a different approach to incentivizing alternative fuels with lower carbon intensity than conventional gasoline or diesel fuel; Oregon and Washington have adopted similar programs. The LCFS gives fuels sold in California a carbon intensity (CI) score based on their lifecycle GHG emissions and establishes a benchmark CI that declines over time. The benchmarks aim to reduce the CI of California fuels by 10 percent relative to the CI of gasoline and diesel by 2022 and by 20 percent by 2030. Fuels with a lower CI earn tradeable credits; fuels with CI above the benchmark generate deficits. The number of credits or deficits generated is based on how far below or above the benchmark the fuel’s CI is.
All fuel providers in California must meet the CI benchmark every year. Providers with deficits buy credits, increasing the cost of higher-carbon fuels. Producers of low-carbon fuels can sell the credits they earn, giving them an added revenue stream. These incentives help bring low-carbon fuels, including electricity for EVs, into the market in California. In 2022, the carbon intensity of California’s transportation fuels was 12.6% below the 2010 baseline, exceeding the 10% reduction target.
There has been discussion of a federal LCFS to replace the current Renewable Fuel Standard program. By establishing technology-neutral benchmarks based on the lifecycle GHG emissions of fuels, an LCFS has the potential to deliver significant climate benefits. A critical element of either an improved Renewable Fuel Standard or a national LCFS will be to get the carbon accounting right, being sure to fully account for the carbon opportunity cost of lands dedicated to fuel production.
The Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provide funding for alternative fuel production. The Inflation Reduction Act extends existing tax credits for alternative fuels through 2024, when they will be replaced by a new clean fuel production tax credit for fuels meeting GHG emission requirements; the size of the new credit will depend on the fuel’s GHG emission factor. The Internal Revenue Service is developing guidance on how the GHG emissions will be measured. Getting the carbon accounting correct for these credits will be crucial.
Clean fuel production credits supported by solid accounting together with the funding for charging and alternative fueling infrastructure from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will increase the supply and delivery of clean fuels, helping the United States meet ambitious standards.Rail Freight
The U.S. rail system needs to reduce its emissions and identify and mitigate its vulnerability to climate impacts. To help do so, in April 2022, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a climate challenge to the rail industry to commit to reaching net-zero GHG emissions from the nation’s rail system by 2050. The FRA’s Climate and Sustainability Program includes a locomotive replacement initiative and provides funding for low- and zero-emission locomotives. In addition, the Rail Electrification Council, launched by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association in 2020, is working to promote the use of electricity for passenger and freight rail, which offers significant opportunities for reducing rail GHG emissions.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $100 billion to upgrade the rail system, including $5 billion in grant funding for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Program. Improvements in rail infrastructure can increase the safe and efficient movement of freight and improve the system’s resilience in the face of increasing climate impacts.
California is taking the lead on the transition to zero-emission locomotives through the In-Use Locomotive Regulation, adopted in April 2023. This regulation aims to reduce emissions of particulate pollution, NOx and greenhouse gases. It is expected to significantly improve air quality and public health in communities near ports, railyards and rail lines, which are disproportionately low-income and minority communities. By emphasizing direct reductions in locomotive exhaust emissions, the regulation will push the industry beyond a shift to biodiesel and renewable diesel toward the development and deployment of new zero-emission locomotive technologies.
Under the regulations, which will require a Clean Air Act waiver from the EPA to be enforced, rail operators will be required to fund a trust account with a fee based on their California emissions; they can use the funds in their trust account to upgrade to cleaner technologies.
In addition, operational limits on the age and types of locomotives that can be used in California go into effect starting in 2030. Switcher locomotives (locomotives that operate only in and around railyards) built after 2029 and long-distance locomotives built after 2034 will be required to operate in zero-emissions mode in California. Rail operators will be able to develop alternative compliance approaches to achieve the emission reductions expected under the regulation. Once California receives a waiver from EPA, other states will be able to adopt the regulation, as they did with vehicle regulations including the Advanced Clean Trucks rule discussed above.
The combination of improving rail efficiency and safety through investments in modern rail infrastructure and measures to push railways away from the use of diesel fuel can help create a cleaner, safer and more efficient rail system for both passengers and freight.Maritime Freight and Ports
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) governs international shipping, including setting environmental standards. IMO regulations affect the environmental impacts of shipping, as evidenced by the 77% reduction in sulfur oxide emissions from ships after IMO placed strict limits on the sulfur in the bunker fuel used in ships. IMO recently updated its GHG emissions reduction strategy. It now seeks to reach net-zero GHG emissions from international shipping by around 2050, while taking into account different national circumstances, with “indicative checkpoints” for GHG emission reductions by 2030 and 2040. The strategy also calls for initial uptake of zero or near-zero GHG shipping by 2030 and reductions in the carbon intensity of international shipping by 40% from 2008 levels by 2030. Although the strategy is more ambitious than the previous version, its targets likely fall short of what is needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C. Reaching net-zero emissions from maritime shipping will require significant work in developing clean fuels, improving ship design and investing in supporting infrastructure.
Decarbonizing international shipping will require the development of low- and zero-carbon fuels to replace fossil fuels. Developing a robust supply and distribution system for sustainably produced synthetic liquid fuels will be critical. Such fuels include clean hydrogen and clean hydrogen-derived fuels, such as ammonia or methanol produced with sustainable bio-based feedstocks.
Electrification is unlikely to play a significant role in international shipping, because of the space and weight associated with battery electric approaches. It can, however, play a role in both riverine and coastal shipping and in ports. Electrification of port operations, including associated truck and rail operations, can significantly reduce local air pollution from diesel combustion, providing meaningful health and equity benefits to nearby communities.
EPA and state and local agencies across the country are investing in reducing pollution from port operations while improving the efficiency and enhancing the security of the nation’s ports. The EPA’s Ports Initiative provides funding and technical support and improves collaboration and communication among stakeholders. Port initiatives are also underway across the country, with ports from Houston to Seattle and from New York/New Jersey to Long Beach setting emission reduction targets and taking action. Efforts to establish green shipping corridors are also underway.Aviation
International aviation is governed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). In 2016, it adopted the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), which aims to offset the increase in aviation emissions through 2035.
In 2021, International Air Transport Association (IATA) airlines pledged to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Because of the need for energy-dense fuels in aviation, this sector is a prime candidate for fuels derived from clean hydrogen and sustainable biomass. Both CORSIA and IATA’s Net Zero 2050 pledge will rely heavily on out-of-sector offsets as sustainable aviation fuels are scaled up, so ensuring that any offsets used represent real emission reductions will be critical. In the long term, residual aviation emissions will likely need to be addressed through carbon removal options such as direct air capture.
In the United States, the federal departments of energy, transportation and agriculture launched the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge in 2021. This initiative aims to increase the production and use of sustainable aviation fuels that achieve at least a 50% reduction in lifecycle GHG emissions, with a goal of all aviation fuel meeting this criterion by 2050. The supply of sustainable biomass to support development of sustainable aviation fuels may limit the ability to meet these goals, particularly in the face of competition from other potential biomass uses.
The Inflation Reduction Act provides financial support for deploying sustainable aviation fuels that can help achieve the Grand Challenge goals. It includes the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Credit, set at $1.25 per gallon for fuels with lifecycle GHG emissions at least 50% below fossil jet fuel for fuel sold or used before 2025. Beginning in 2025, sustainable aviation fuels will be eligible for the new clean fuel production tax credit for fuels meeting GHG emission requirements through 2027. The Inflation Reduction Act also includes grant funding for the production and distribution of sustainable aviation fuel and the development and demonstration of low-emission aviation technologies. It also includes a loan program for manufacturing advanced technology vehicles, including aircraft.
As in other sectors, getting the lifecycle carbon accounting right will be critical to maximize the climate benefits of sustainable aviation fuels.Conclusions
Decarbonizing freight transportation is more challenging than decarbonizing passenger transport, where the shift to EVs continues to gain momentum. Moving tons of freight over long distances requires energy-dense fuels to power trucks, trains, ships and planes.
Significant public and private investments will be needed to develop the fuels and technologies needed to shift toward zero-emission options. These investments will need to be backstopped by a strong regulatory push to provide industry with a clear path forward.
EPA and states such as California are taking important regulatory steps to move freight transport toward zero-emission trucks and trains. Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act and Inflation Reduction Act, the federal government is investing heavily in developing and deploying low- and zero-emission fuels and technologies. All these actions are helping decarbonize the U.S. freight system.
Editor’s note: This article is part of WRI's work on clean transportation fuels, which is supported by the UPS Foundation. This article reflects the independent views of the author.freight-train.jpg Climate United States Climate transportation public transit Type Technical Perspective Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Authors Kevin Kennedy
A recent analysis found that tall, mature forests — which are critical for storing carbon and safeguarding biodiversity — are declining significantly in some parts of Europe. This is primarily due to a rise in timber harvesting as well as natural disturbances, such as wildfires and pests, which are often exacerbated by climate change.
There was some good news as well. The study, from the University of Maryland and WRI in partnership with European researchers, shows that Europe’s total tree cover increased slightly over the last two decades. But that’s not the full story: Some regions within Europe saw significant declines in forest area. And the total amount of tall forests (forests with trees taller than 15 meters) declined by 2.25 million hectares — an area half the size of Denmark. The decline was highest in Nordic countries, which saw a 20% reduction in tall forests, followed by areas in Southeastern Europe. While tall forests have often been replaced with new trees, these can take decades to mature to the point where they provide equivalent climate and ecosystem benefits, meaning overall forest health in these areas is being reduced.
These findings underscore the need for ambitious action on the part of EU countries to protect and maintain existing forests and the vital services they provide. Progress is underway, with a number of new laws aimed at curbing deforestation and forest degradation. But to be successful, these must be informed by timely, robust data on forest health and disturbances. The proposed EU Forest Monitoring Framework, issued on November 22, 2023, should support these efforts by ensuring harmonized and improved forest monitoring in Europe — if it mandates comparable and consistent reporting on key forest health indicators throughout the EU.Europe Lost 2.25 Million Hectares of Tall Forests From 2001-2021
Between 2001 and 2021, Europe experienced a small net gain in tree cover of around 1%, or 1.5 million hectares. With tree cover declining in almost all other areas around the world, this is an important achievement. But despite this overall gain, the findings also show that Europe’s tall forests declined by 3%, or 2.25 million hectares, over the same period. Tall forests were disproportionately affected by an acceleration of forest disturbance in recent years, including both harvesting activities and natural disturbances.
The analysis shows strong variability between regions, with some experiencing significant losses in forest area while others saw more gains. The Nordic region (Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland) saw the biggest declines, losing 3.5% of its total forests and 20% of its tall forests over the last two decades.
The vast majority (around 87%) of tree cover loss was due to intensive timber harvesting — which can take the form of direct felling or salvage logging after a disturbance — as well as natural disturbances like wildfires and insect outbreaks, which are increasing in extent and severity due to climate change.
Most tree cover loss will be temporary as new forest growth in Europe is largely compensating for forest loss in terms of area alone. But tall forests are being cleared at a faster rate than new forests can regrow, leading to a gradual decline in forest height and a reduction of forest services such as carbon storage over time. So while Europe isn’t losing tree cover overall, the health of its forests is declining.
This decline in Europe’s tall forests is a sign that timber harvesting may already exceed rates that can be sustained into the future. With global demand for timber expected to grow in the coming decades, Europe should heed this warning and take action to avoid running down its precious forest assets.Why Are Tall Forests So Important?
While most forests in Europe have been intensively managed by humans for centuries, these forests still provide immense value for people and nature.
For one, the carbon storage capacity of trees increases with height and age, meaning the loss of tall trees and a resulting shift toward shorter, younger trees reduces the carbon storage capacity of Europe’s forests. While the full carbon picture is complicated (for example, young forests absorb carbon from the atmosphere at a faster rate than older standing forests), protecting mature forests is critical for curbing climate change.
These tall forests also include many of Europe’s old growth forests, which take centuries to grow and cannot be replaced by young, regrowing forests. Old growth forests play a key role in climate change mitigation by storing large quantities of carbon both in their biomass and in their soil. They provide ecosystem services like protecting soil health and regulating water drainage, and act as a critical refuge for wildlife and biodiversity. They are also a valuable part of cultural heritage for European communities and nations.
Further, even though the last two decades saw a slight increase in tree cover in Europe overall, much of this increase is due to expansion of tree plantations — specifically plantations of non-native tree species such as eucalyptus, black locust and Sitka spruce. This likely has negative consequences for ecosystems, such as reduced diversity and abundance of plants and animals, particularly where more diverse natural forests are replaced by monoculture plantations.New EU Regulations Could Curb Forest Degradation, but Improved Monitoring Is Needed
Europe is working to improve forest management and address its contribution to forest loss worldwide through a number of new and developing laws and strategies. These include:
- The EU Forest Strategy for 2030: A strategy to improve the quantity and quality of EU forests and strengthen their protection, restoration and resilience.
- The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030: A comprehensive long-term plan to protect nature and reverse ecosystem degradation in the EU.
- The proposed Nature Restoration Law: A binding regulation to restore nature, including putting restoration measures in place for at least 20% of the EU's land areas and 20% of its seas by 2030.
- The EU Deforestation Regulation: A binding regulation to ensure that certain commodities exported to or placed on the EU market are deforestation free.
These initiatives show progress is moving in the right direction, but they must be supported by improved monitoring and transparency to be most effective. This is the aim of the proposed Forest Monitoring Framework — a regulatory initiative to ensure that European member states provide detailed, robust and timely information on the condition and management of EU forests, including indicators on their health, quality and trends over time.
With better monitoring, Europe will be able to assess whether its forests are managed sustainably, evaluate the ability of forests to contribute to climate change mitigation and identify priority forests to protect. Monitoring efforts under the framework must be harmonized to allow comparison and understanding across the EU, meaning countries should be responsible for reporting on the same set of indicators. They should also be transparent to encourage public accountability and timely to enable data-based decision making on appropriate time scales.
Forests are crucial to fighting climate change and to protecting ecosystems and biodiversity. To maximize their potential, Europe should look deeper into its forests. Satellite monitoring and data products, like the ones used in this study or through the open-source Global Forest Watch, combined with ground-based measurements can support implementation of the Forest Monitoring Framework Regulation and help ensure all of Europe’s forests are on the right track.tall-tree-harvest.jpg Forests Europe Forests forest monitoring deforestation global forest watch forest products Type Finding Exclude From Blog Feed? 0 Projects Sarah Carter Fred Stolle Mikaela Weisse Stientje van Veldhoven