CFR Session on Geoengineering

For instructors who cover climate geoengineering in your climate courses, an excellent introduction is a symposium held by the Council on Foreign Relations last year, Developing an International Framework for Geoengineering. The site includes a transcript of the presentations, by Granger Morgan of Carnegie-Mellon, John Steinbruner of the University of Maryland, and Ruth Greenspan-Bell, of the World Resources Institute, as well as audio and video versions. The session includes a discussion of various geoengineering options, potential side-effects, and governance options.


CCKN Films

For those of you that use films in class, FYI; these are usually quite good at conveying developing country perspectives on climate issues.

Voices from the front line of climate change: a CDKN special film (4 minutes 13 sec)


Climate change is having a profound impact on developing countries that can least afford it. View a range of testimonials from Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific.


Hear Hameedullah Jan Afridi (Minister for Environment, Pakistan), Dr. Hasan Mahmud (Minister for Environment, Bangladesh), Claire Anterea (Pacific Calling Partnership), Mary Robinson (Mary Robinson Foundation), Negash Teklu (Population Health Environment Integration Ethiopia), Harjeet Singh (ActionAid Asia), and more.



Climate compatible development – towards solutions: A CDKN special film (4 minutes 54 sec)

Tackling climate change and tackling poverty and the great challenges of our time. Integrated solutions offer our best hope, but where to start? The Climate and Development Knowledge Network talks to experts and practitioners about how they are framing the solutions.


Speakers include Mark Bynoe (Caribbean Community), Atiq Rahman (Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies), Andrew Steer (World Bank) and Elvin Nyukuri (ACTS, Kenya).


Assessment of Copenhagen Pledges and Beyond

A new article in the journal Energy Policy would be an excellent reading for a post-Kyoto era module, Everett B. Peterson, et al., Environmental and economic effects of the Copenhagen pledges and more ambitious emission reduction targets, 39(6) Energy Policy 3697-3708 (2011).

Among the take-aways from the analysis, which employed a multi-region, multi-sector dynamic computable general equilibrium model to explore the economic and welfare effects of the pledges made at Copenhagen, as well as the ramifications of deepening the pledges of Annex I parties:

  1. CO2 certificate prices under the high and low Copenhagen pledge scenarios actually fall from 2004 levels by 2015, largely due to surplus AAUs from Russia and the sale of CO2 emission permits by India and China. Even in 2020, certificate prices are about level with those in 2004 (approximately $17.00). Certificate prices only rise (to about $25) under a scenario in which pledges are increased to 30% reductions by Annex I countries by 2020 from 1990 levels;
  2. Two thirds of emissions reductions in the lower pledge scenario comes from emissions trading, and one third under the higher pledge scenario, or an uptick to a 30% reduction scenario;
  3. There is likely to be substantial carbon leakage associated with the pledges, primarily from shifts in production in some regions and lower fuel prices associated with declines in demand. Emissions from countries not subject to emissions targets are 465–547 million tons higher in the policy simulations, or a leakage rate of approximately 10-13%;
  4. The reduction in global GDP ranges from 0.2% in the Lower Pledges scenario to 0.5% in the 30% Annex I scenario; however, the impact is much higher for non-Annex I countries, ranging from 0.86% for the lower pledge scenario, up to 2.04% for the 30% plege scenario; by contrast, Annex I face GDP reductions of 0.02% in the Lower Pledges to 0.13% in the 30% Annex I scenario. Russia, experiences the largest reduction in GDP of any Annex I country, ranging from 0.8% to 2.2%; China and India face the greatest GDP reductions of non-Annex I countries. The EU and Japan see increases in GDP;
  5. From a policy perspective, economies which commit to climate targets earlier and reduce their CO2-intensities are less vulnerable to tight CO2-emission targets in later periods.

The Future of Cap & Trade?

A recent New York Times article justifiably questions the future of cap and trade in light of a recent ruling putting implementation of California’s climate change law on hold.  The basic argument against cap and trade in the case is one of environmental justice:  if regulators focus too intently on GHG emissions, they may allow harmful concentrations of other pollutants to build up around areas in which a high concentration of allowances are held.  I saw Brent Newell, attorney for the plaintiff Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment, make this argument at a recent conference.  While the possibility appears very real, the appropriate solution, in my view, would be to demand strict enforcement of non-GHG air pollution control laws.  But the larger point that emerges, as the Times article notes well, is that cap and trade may be falling apart as a politically viable approach in the U.S. generally.  New Jersey has recently pulled out of RGGI  (reported here), California’s law is being attacked from the left, and the right appears to almost uniformly disdain the tool that was once a relatively conservative, market-friendly approach to regulation added to the Clean Air Act under President George H.W. Bush (i.e., the cap and trade approach of the Acid Rain program).  It’s hard to imagine a pure GHG tax taking hold in most of the U.S., so what is the most politically viable alternative?  Command-and-control regulation? 

Despite the dismal short-term prospects of any federal legislation to address climate change, sooner or later the U.S., or perhaps coalitions of the states and cities within it, will have to act.  Not long ago, it seemed clear that cap and trade would be the vehicle for doing so.  Now, perhaps not.  And if the U.S. cannot embrace cap and trade — after so strongly backing it in the 1990s — what will future international deals on climate change look like?