Tag Archives: emissions

Identifying strategic opportunities for philanthropy to engage in sustainable land use finance

May 2, 2016 |


With growing global demand for food and fuel in a climate-constrained world, the question of how to best reorient land use towards more sustainable and productive practices is a key challenge for governments, businesses, and individuals. This is particularly true for developing countries, where agricultural expansion is a major source of economic growth and development, but also a major source of emissions and environmental degradation.

In recent years, significant international efforts have focused on developing mechanisms to deliver incentives for developing countries to maintain high-value ecosystems. This has happened primarily through bilateral and multilateral funds in support of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), as well as through voluntary carbon markets and ad-hoc payments for ecosystem services (PES) pilots. However, such mechanisms have often proved disappointing, failing to deliver on the intended results or suffering from inadequate funding and difficult implementation.

There is a need to better understand how investments are currently being delivered on the ground to support the land use sector, and to support the most appropriate interventions to shape investments towards more sustainable and less destructive land use activities.

To explore these opportunities, CPI partnered with the Climate and Land Use Alliance (CLUA) to identify entry points for philanthropic funders to unlock capital in support of more sustainable land use practices. CPI analysis shows that there are distinct, powerful, and accessible finance-related levers that philanthropy can use to unlock investment in and reorient capital towards more sustainable land use practices. Philanthropy can often act in more nimble and strategic ways compared with public donors who may be constrained by slow bureaucratic processes and competing political priorities.

These opportunities were presented to CLUA and key stakeholders at a retreat in early March, and are now presented here. In the coming months, CPI will continue this work with CLUA and will rank and more fully develop the most promising interventions that can be supported by philanthropy.

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Indonesia’s INDC – A step forward or a missed opportunity?

September 28, 2015 |



Indonesia submits its INDC

As the Paris climate negotiations draw closer, countries have been asked to submit their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions – INDCs – by 1 October. INDCs identify the actions a government intends to take as the basis of post-2020 global emissions reduction commitments, that will be included in the future climate agreement. The process of setting the INDC is bottom-up and country-led, in contrast to the top-down approach of the Kyoto Protocol. INDCs already submitted have been heavily scrutinized and judged for the level of ambition or leadership.

Given the importance of the INDCs as a way for nations to take stock of their goals and needs and to chart paths towards an ambitious outcome in Paris, our question here is whether Indonesia has taken full advantage of this opportunity to close the gaps in existing and newly proposed policy frameworks, to pave the way for a prosperous, decarbonized economy.

Baselines – going back to the drawing board

Indonesia is presenting its INDC as a deviation from business as usual using projections based on the historical trajectory (2000-2010). It assumes projected increases in the energy sector in the absence of mitigation actions, however details of these assumptions and how they are modelled have not been disclosed in the INDC document.

As Indonesia’s INDC sets out a 26% emission reduction by 2020 and 29% emission reduction by 2030 based on a 2010 projected business as usual scenario, at a glance, this seems to imply that the first target was very ambitious, or perhaps that the new one, which adds a further 3% over the next 10 years, is hedging bets. It could also imply that the Government of Indonesia has calculated the variables with extra care and has set a more realistic target. In any case, because inventory and monitoring systems have not been able to estimate progress to date, it is hard to decipher where Indonesia stands with respect to business as usual and where they could go.

Casting more light on this situation in the latest inventory, and outlining in detail the baseline as well as assumptions and modelling underlying it, for each sector, would add credibility to Indonesia’s upcoming Third National Communication to UNFCCC in 2016.

Capitalizing on low hanging fruits

Since forestry emissions (from land and land use change, as well as peat and forest fires) as per Indonesia’s Second National Communication to the UNFCCC of 2010 account for 63% of the emissions profile, a landscape-scale ecosystem management approach, emphasizing the role of sub-national jurisdictions to decarbonize the economy, could be highly relevant to Indonesia. The INDC document describes its strategic approach as recognizing that climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts are inherently multi-sectoral in nature and require an integrated approach. However current on-going efforts, such as the moratorium on the clearing of primary forests, are not enough to curtail rising pressures on land. Increased palm oil production and the recent push for expanding markets for biodiesel, upcoming food security programs which open one million hectares of new paddy fields, and 35 GW of power to be installed by 2019 – much of it coal based, while all important to Indonesia’s growing economy, could threaten Indonesia’s sustainability goals if not managed properly.

Climate Policy Initiative’s protection and production and land management approach (PALM), applied in applied in Central Kalimantan, in collaboration with the University of Palangkaraya, aims to lead the way in this regard by bringing together private, public, and smallholder-farmer stakeholders to unlock a new, collective approach to agriculture that will promote food security, energy security, socially inclusive economic development and environmental sustainability. The project has already identified opportunities to increase profitability and productivity for smallholder farmers through larger scale management in the form of cooperatives. Such opportunities reduce pressure on land, support sustainable development of the palm oil economy, and provide livelihood benefits to the smallholder community. Such initiatives could also potentially lead to quantifiable emissions reductions.

Scaling up climate finance required to deliver the INDC

The Landscape of Public Climate Finance in Indonesia conducted by the Indonesian Ministry of Finance’s Fiscal Policy Agency and CPI found that public climate finance in 2011 reached at least IDR 8.377 billion (USD 951 million). The Government of Indonesia disbursed at least IDR 5,526 billion (USD 627 million) or 66% of those flows. The finance was well targeted, with most of it flowing through to the forestry sector (73%) and laying a strong foundation for decarbonizing the economy through policy development and capacity building.

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With new market structures and business models, consumers can help states reduce carbon emissions

July 8, 2014 |


On June 2, in a historic move towards addressing CO2’s climate impacts, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its Clean Power Plan proposed rule for regulating carbon emissions from existing power plants. The regulations encourage states to take advantage of a range of CO2-reducing methods, like energy efficiency and renewable energy, rather than requiring all emissions reductions to occur at the power plants themselves. Electricity consumers can play an important role in states’ plans to meet the regulations, if regulators can take advantage of all the resources they can provide. Fully utilizing consumers’ electrical resources may require the help of new market structures and business models.

The value that individuals, households, and businesses can provide to the electric grid could be quite significant. Technologies such as rooftop solar panels, “smart” thermostats, more efficient appliances, and electric vehicles, especially when combined with smart meters and other smart grid technologies, could enable consumers to reduce the demands on the grid at peak times and help absorb excess generation from renewable generation when demand is low. As CPI discusses in our Roadmap to a Low Carbon Electricity System, many factors are already conspiring to make these consumer-level resources more valuable and accessible.

Wise use of these so-called distributed energy resources could replace some of the fossil-fuel power plants that would otherwise be needed to balance a renewable-generation-heavy grid, creating cost-effective emissions reductions. They could even make the grid more resilient to future severe weather.

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Paving the way for emissions reductions in California

July 1, 2014 |


California’s budget for the next fiscal year, signed by Governor Brown on June 20, includes $832 million in auction revenues from the Cap and Trade Program, which will go toward high-speed rail, public transportation, energy efficiency, and other projects to support low-carbon, sustainable communities. Where did that money come from? In some cases, from industrial firms like cement producers and food processors, which are responsible for 20% of statewide greenhouse gas emissions and are required to buy allowances to cover some of their emissions.

Our new study, Cap and Trade in Practice: Barriers and Opportunities for Industrial Emissions Reductions in California, explores how those industrial firms are making decisions under the Cap and Trade Program. More specifically, we wanted to know if industrial firms, given their typical decision-making processes, would invest in the emissions reductions options that are most cost-effective on paper — and if not, what are the barriers? We focus on the cement industry, which is a major player in the industrial sector and is also the largest consumer of coal in California.

The carbon price is making a difference

We find 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. Firms are considering the carbon price when they make investment decisions, and our modeling shows that the carbon price significantly changes the financial attractiveness of several abatement options.

As an example, this graph shows how the carbon price adds to the value of an investment in energy efficiency. The additional savings from reducing the firm’s obligations under the Cap and Trade Program would add around 50% to the value of the investment if the carbon price is near the price floor — or could more than triple the value of the investment if the carbon price is at the top of its target range.

Cap and Trade - Lifetime Value of Energy Efficiency Investment

The Cap and Trade Program magnifies the value of an energy efficiency investment

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The Clean Power Plan means changes for coal, but not the ones you might expect

June 18, 2014 |


Under President Obama’s recently announced Clean Power Plan, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed that states cut greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels.

Commenters on both sides of the aisle say this rule means big changes for the coal industry.

But before we get fired up about the changes, it’s important to take a look at the facts: While states will need to retire coal plants at the end of their useful lives to meet the proposed limits, EPA’s rule would give states a great amount of flexibility to avoid coal asset stranding and still meet emissions reduction targets. In fact, valuing the right services from coal plants will prove the more important question for a low-cost, low-carbon electricity system.

Let’s look at why.

First, we need to understand what the rule really means for coal asset stranding. An asset is “stranded” if a reduction in its value (that is, value to investors) is clearly attributable to a policy change that was not foreseeable by investors at the time of investment.

In our upcoming analysis of stranded assets, Climate Policy Initiative finds that if no new investments are made in coal power plants and existing plants retire as planned (typically, 60 years for plants with pollution control technology investments and 40 years for plants without), the U.S. coal power sector stands to experience approximately $28 billion of value stranding from plants that are shut down. While that’s a big sounding number at first glance, it’s very small relative to the size of coal power sector. As the figure shows, that retirement schedule puts the U.S. coal power sector on track to come close to the coal power capacity reductions called for in the IEA 450 PPM scenario to limit global temperature increase to 2°C.

U.S. Coal Power w emissions (2)

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How to spread new technology in agriculture: the importance of geographic conditions and learning-from-peers

November 7, 2013 |


In business, it is unusual to find a technology that proves to be better and costs less than the one in use. In theory, that technology should spread like wildfire and quickly replace current production methods. If it doesn’t, there is usually a barrier that prevents its spread.

In a new CPI study, we examine a farming technology called the Direct Planting System (DPS) which has proven to be one of the most important developments in agriculture in the past decades – however, after nearly forty years of its introduction in Southern Brazil, only 10% of Brazilian farmers reported using it in the 2006 Agricultural Census. The questions we address in this study are: What is keeping this technology from spreading and how do we overcome this barrier?

Our analysis reveals that soil composition is an important factor affecting the spread of the DPS. When soils are similar in a given municipality, it is easier for farmers to learn from the experience of peers who have already successfully adopted the system. Likewise, differences in the soil can act as a barrier to the expansion of DPS, since the system would have to be adapted to different soils. 

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Introducing California Carbon Dashboard: All your questions about AB32 answered in one place

October 24, 2013 |


This blog was co-authored by Andrew Hobbs and Karen Laughlin.

This week CPI is pleased to launch our new beta California Carbon Dashboard—a one-stop site for information on California’s portfolio of climate policies, current carbon prices, and news aggregation.

The California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB32) set into motion a suite of policies to reduce California’s economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020—and set California, again, out in front as a climate policy test bed for the United States. AB32 established a cap and trade program for California as well as many sector-specific complementary policies to achieve the 2020 state target.

California’s climate package is leading edge, so there is plenty of information out there on AB32’s policies and processes. Locating the quick or in-depth information you want or need, however, can be a challenge. So, as we gathered information for our more in-depth analyses on California’s climate policy effectiveness, CPI decided to build a one-stop dashboard to provide policymakers, stakeholders, and the public—in California, in the U.S., and the world—a user-friendly tool to learn about how California’s climate policies fit together and to get current updates.

Let us give you a quick tour to highlight the Dashboard features that you might find useful:

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China’s Path to Low-Carbon Development: A Q&A with Thomas C. Heller

August 14, 2013 |


This interview discussing the challenges China faces on its path to low-carbon development  and parallels with other countries’ experiences first appeared in Mandarin in the China Economic Times. In it, our executive director, Thomas C. Heller, references CPI’s recent publication The Policy Climate, which presents 30 years of climate and energy policy in China, Brazil, India, the EU, and the U.S..

Reporter: Why did you undertake this report and what was most surprising about your findings?

Heller: A lot of the attention to date has been on international climate negotiations, but actually, there’s more action at the national level. We wanted to examine climate and energy policies in key regions around the world, and share lessons about their experience. It was interesting to see how much nations had in common. All nations want green growth. And they face the same choices about how to get there. China has a very different governance and economic system from other countries, but like other countries, it faces the same decisions on how to balance national and regional policies, whether to use mandates or incentives, how to target large as well as small enterprises. Our report talks about some of these common challenges.

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Land use policy in Brazil: A brief video overview

July 30, 2013 |


In this brief video, CPI senior analyst Clarissa Costalonga e Gandour discusses land use policy in Brazil in the context of deforestation, climate change, and economic growth.

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Obama’s climate plan and what it means for states

June 28, 2013 |


This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

In his climate speech this week, President Obama gave the go ahead for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop national greenhouse gas standards for both new and existing power plants — making carbon regulation under the Clean Air Act the primary action of his broader plan to reduce U.S. carbon emissions.

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