Tag Archives: climate policy

California’s New 2030 Climate Target Aims to Reduce Emissions by 40%

May 1, 2015 |

 

This week, California Governor Jerry Brown issued an ambitious new emissions reduction target of 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. It’s being lauded as one of the most aggressive climate targets in North America.

The new target is as an important step between California’s goal of reducing emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, set in an earlier executive order, and the interim target of 1990 levels by 2020, set under California law AB32 in 2006.

In 2013, AB32 launched one of its key policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet these targets – the Cap and Trade program. Unlike many such programs around the world, California’s Cap and Trade program acts as a backstop to a series of complementary policies that cover major emitting sectors in the state with the goal of returning California emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

CPI’s California Carbon Dashboard continues to offer the latest on AB32 and California’s Cap and Trade program, including current and historic carbon prices in California, emissions caps and history by sector, and relevant updates from the California Air Resources Board. It also provides a comprehensive overview of AB32 and complementary policies, as well as the role of the Cap and Trade program in meeting the emissions reduction target.

CPI analysis shows that the carbon price is making a difference. A 2014 study explored how industrial firms, which are responsible for 20% of statewide greenhouse gas emissions and are required to buy allowances to cover some of their emissions, are making decisions under the Cap and Trade Program. We focused on the cement industry, which is the largest consumer of coal in California, and found that the carbon price is making a difference in how cement firms approach business decisions about actions that would reduce emissions, such as investing in energy efficiency or switching to cleaner fuel.

It’s clear that California is well on its way to achieving the 2020 target, but meeting the 2050 target would require reducing emissions five times faster than the current pace. Governor Brown’s new 2030 target will put pressure on the state to pick up the pace. The next step is for California’s legislature to put in place a legal framework for post-2020 emissions reductions. CPI will update the California Carbon Dashboard once a post-2020 framework is in place.

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Dear Davos: There Are Ways to Boost Investment in Better, Cleaner Growth

January 22, 2015 |

 

At the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos today, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim called for proper consideration of the risks associated with investing in the high-carbon economy and for more investment in better, cleaner forms of growth.

This video interview with CPI Senior Director Barbara Buchner provides useful background for those at the WEF calling to make 2015 a year of action on climate change. In it she shares CPI’s analysis on how the world is progressing toward the investment needed to limit emissions and climate change and what current financial flows reveal about how we might unlock further investment.

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Indian concentrated solar power policy delivers a world-leading CSP plant but still needs adjustment

June 5, 2014 |

 

Solar power is one of the most promising options for India to meet its growing electricity demand. While the construction of further fossil fuel power plants is slowing due to lower domestic coal production than expected and the high cost of fuel imports, installations of solar plants are on the rise.

As discussed in a CPI blog, the Government of India’s National Solar Mission, started in 2010, has achieved targets for promoting solar photovoltaic (PV), having seen 660 MW deployed by January 2014. However, plans to deploy concentrated solar power (CSP) – a less mature and currently more expensive alternative with key technological advantages that allow it to deliver power reliably and when it is needed – did not meet with the same success. Over the same period, the government tendered 500 MW of CSP but successful bidders have only installed 10% of this deployment target to date.

In the coming days, however, the National Solar Mission takes an important step forward in its CSP efforts, when the 100MW Rajasthan Sun Technique CSP plant – the largest CSP plant built so far in India and the largest worldwide using linear Fresnel technology – is connected to the grid. In a recent CPI case study, financed by the Climate Investment Funds Admin Unit, Climate Policy Initiative examined this plant to understand why this project was implemented, while others under the National Solar Mission are still delayed. Some of our key findings include:

  • The Government of India’s measures, including awarding a subsidized power purchase agreement (PPA) and payment security scheme through a competitive reverse auction, were essential to getting the Rajasthan plant built but they were not enough to deploy CSP at the desired scale. Indeed, the only winning bidders able to build CSP plants at the low tariffs that resulted from the competitive bidding process were those that had financially strong private stakeholders and were able to source public debt. The 100MW Rajasthan Sun Technique CSP plant, for instance, benefitted from USD 280mn of long-term foreign public debt, a project developer both willing to take risks to establish itself in the Indian CSP market and willing and able to accept low returns, and a technology provider that contributed comprehensive warrantees.
  • India’s CSP policy kept costs to the public low but it will need adjustment to increase the certainty and speed of deployment and meet the country’s ambition to establish a national solar industry. Strong competition among project developers resulted in several submitting bids at prices that put them among the cheapest CSP tariffs worldwide (see also our previous paper on the global CSP landscape). However, project delays, possible cancellations, and difficulties in sourcing technologies and financing experienced by several of these developers – due in part to the challenge of building at such low tariffs – meant India was unable to meet its CSP targets and capitalize more fully on learning-by-doing, establishment of local supply chains, and investments in basic infrastructure, as developed during the implementation of projects like Rajasthan Sun Technique.

If a reverse auctioning scheme is used in India for future scale up of CSP, the design could be substantially improved and the Indian government could increase the likelihood of timely project implementation by:

  • Including stricter qualification requirements for bidders in terms of CSP experience and financial strength
  • Setting out more realistic timelines for bidding
  • Making reliable on-site solar irradiation data available
  • Allowing sufficient time for construction but also then enforcing penalties more strongly for delayed projects

With the 100MW Rajasthan Sun Technique plant commissioning, Indian CSP policy takes an important step forward but there is still a way to go before large scale up of the technology allows the country to balance the cheaper but fluctuating solar PV and wind power with more reliable CSP plants.

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Adjustments to Indian renewable energy policies could save up to 78% in subsidies

April 21, 2014 |

 

Recently, the Government of India announced plans to award licenses for an additional one gigawatt of solar in the next year – about half the capacity of the Hoover Dam and enough to meet the energy needs of two million people. This move is part of India’s already ambitious targets for renewable energy that aim to address rising energy demand, decrease the country’s dependence on fossil fuel imports, and mitigate climate change.

To ensure the country meets these targets, India provides a package of renewable energy support policies that includes state-level feed-in tariffs and federal subsidies, which are in the form of a generation based incentive – a per unit subsidy; viability gap funding – a capital grant; and accelerated depreciation.

However, given the ambitious goals, but limited budget in India, the cost-effectiveness of these policies is an important factor for policymakers.

Our recent study “Solving India’s Renewable Energy Financing Challenge: Which Federal Policies can be Most Effective?” took on the question of cost-effectiveness by comparing a range of policy alternatives to the status quo.

Our findings were striking. We found that a policy that both reduces the cost of debt and extends its tenor is the most cost-effective. In fact, for wind energy, reducing debt cost to 5.9% and extending tenor by 10 years can cut the cost of total federal and state support by up to 78%. For solar energy, which is more capital-intensive, reducing debt cost to 1.2% and extending tenor by 10 years can cut the cost of support by 28%.

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California’s Climate Credit is Worth Watching

April 17, 2014 |

 

This month, many Californians will see something new on their electricity bills: The first bi-annual Climate Credit, a payout to customers of investor-owned utilities like PG&E and SCE through California’s Cap and Trade program. The Climate Credit is worth around $30-$40 and will recur every April and October for most customers. However, for customers of some small utilities it will reach nearly $200, while certain small businesses, schools, and hospitals will receive their credit every month.

National and international climate communities are already keeping a close eye on California’s AB32 Global Warming Solutions Act, which includes the Cap and Trade Program as part of a package of policies aimed at cost-effectively reducing California’s emissions. The impact of the Climate Credit — the first of its kind — is worth watching to determine if similar mechanisms could be used successfully elsewhere. In particular, the Credit’s impact on both energy efficiency and public support for the Cap and Trade program will be especially interesting to follow.

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Looking behind IPCC’s WG3 climate finance figures

April 15, 2014 |

 

Last Sunday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the final version of the Summary for Policymakers for its working group dedicated to the assessment of the options for mitigating climate change. This is the first time an IPCC assessment report features a chapter dedicated to investment and finance. We are thrilled to see that the results draw heavily on CPI Climate Finance pioneering work in the field.

To demystify the term ‘climate finance’ and better understand the magnitude and type of climate financing available, CPI has provided an overview of the climate finance landscape for the past three years. Three particular objectives have guided our work:

(1)  identifying the main dimensions of climate finance,
(2)  highlighting issues and gaps in the tracking of flows, and
(3)  pointing to remedies when needed.

The third edition of this study, the Global Landscape of Climate Finance 2013 is the most comprehensive look at climate investment to-date.

$356-363 bn. went to climate finance projects in 2012…

The Summary for Policymakers indicates that “published assessments of all current annual financial flows whose expected effect is to reduce net GHG emissions and/or to enhance resilience to climate change and climate variability show USD 343 to 385 billion per year globally.” These numbers are taken from the 2012 edition of the Global Landscape of Climate Finance and are relative to the year 2011. We updated these numbers in the 2013 edition and found that climate investment plateaued at an average $359 billion in 2012, far short of even the most conservative estimates of the investment need.

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Is concentrated solar power getting any cheaper? And what role can policy play in bringing costs down?

January 22, 2014 |

 

In the past, renewable energy technologies have been much more expensive than their fossil fuel competitors but costs of wind and solar have come down after public support has deployed them at scale. In fact, costs of solar photovoltaic power plants have decreased roughly 20% and wind power plants 15% every time installed capacity has doubled.

For concentrated solar power (CSP), experts have projected a cost reduction of 10-15% for every doubling of capacity. However, new CPI analysis shows that CSP has not demonstrated cost reductions at the global level with increased deployment over the last five years, but it has done so in some regions for some CSP technologies.

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Policy Watch: Black carbon, Beijing’s new air pollution measures, and California carbon trading

January 24, 2013 |

 

This week, climate policy headlines from around the world include a new study that ranks soot as the second-worst cause of climate change, an estimated $700 billion cost to avoid further temperature rise, and Germany’s solar development.

Elinor Benami, Chiara Trabacchi, Hermann Amecke, and Karen Laughlin contributed headlines to this edition of Policy Watch.

Study: Black carbon ranks as second-biggest human cause of global warming
Soot ranks as the second-largest human contributor to climate change, exerting twice as much of an impact as previously thought, according to an analysis released Tuesday.

The four-year, 232-page study of black carbon, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, shows that short-lived pollution known as soot, such as emissions from diesel engines and wood-fired stoves, has about two-thirds the climate impact of carbon dioxide. The analysis has pushed methane, which comes from landfills and other forces, into third place as a human contributor to global warming.  Full article.

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In Germany, one billion euros of government money go a long way

December 13, 2012 |

 

One of the major themes coming out of Doha at the UNFCCC Conference of Parties last week was the role of climate finance. Basically, if we want to reduce emissions and scale up renewable energy and energy saving measures, we need to figure out where the money to do these things will come from.

With public budgets strapped, this challenge increasingly becomes about how we can direct limited public funds to unlock private investment in a targeted, effective way.

In Germany, a recent CPI study showed that 1.5% of GDP, or 37 billion Euros, is invested in climate-related activities like renewable energy and energy efficiency. More than 95% of that investment comes from businesses and households. This small share of government spending is striking. However, it would be wrong to conclude that the government plays no role.

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Policy Watch: UN climate talks wrap up, Indonesia approves landmark forest protection deal, and Africa’s largest solar plant close to breaking ground

December 11, 2012 |

 

This week, climate policy headlines from around the world include results from the UN climate talks, Indonesia approving a conservation deal that will protect 200,000 acres of forest, and Norway contributing $180 million to help Brazil slow deforestation.

Elinor Benami, Chiara Trabacchi, and Xueying Wang contributed headlines to this edition of Policy Watch.

UN climate talks extend Kyoto Protocol, promise compensation
The summit established for the first time that rich nations should move towards compensating poor nations for losses due to climate change. Developing nations hailed it as a breakthrough, but condemned the gulf between the science of climate change and political attempts to tackle it.

The deal, agreed by nearly 200 nations, extends to 2020 the Kyoto Protocol. It is the only legally-binding plan for combating global warming. The deal covers Europe and Australia, whose share of world greenhouse gas emissions is less than 15%.

But the conference also cleared the way for the Kyoto protocol to be replaced by a new treaty binding all rich and poor nations together by 2015 to tackle climate change. The final text “encourages” rich nations to mobilize at least $10bn (£6bn) a year up to 2020, when the new global climate agreement is due to kick in. Full article.

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