Tag Archives: mrv

A Wish List for IPCC: “Policy-Ready” Climate Science

October 9, 2013 |


Last week’s release of the IPCC Working Group I’s contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) prompted a moment of self-reflection for the climate community.

It reported incremental gains in the scientific community’s confidence in its findings, with a few important tweaks to past findings. For example, it is now extremely likely (rather than just very likely) that human influence has been the dominant cause of observed warming since the mid-20th century (see C2ES’s table of increasing certainty). The Working Group also significantly revised the upper bound of their sea level rise estimates (see Nature’s News Feature on this topic).

However, there is a feeling that we have reached a point of diminishing returns in our current lines of inquiry. As a recent Nature editorial pointed out, comprehensive assessments of climate science may no longer represent the best use of our resources; continued investment in the IPCC process as it stands may result in smaller policy-relevant returns over time. We should feel a great sense of achievement and satisfaction at having reached this point. However, we may also need to sit back in our chairs, grab some old-fashioned writing implements, and reframe our questions.

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Counting on energy efficiency: climate gains from consistent program data

November 30, 2012 |


Most experts agree that one of the most cost-effective places to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is in energy efficiency. Over the years, hundreds of programs have sprung up across the U.S. to encourage businesses and households to use energy more efficiently. These programs — also called demand-side management (DSM) programs — hold real promise for climate mitigation.

It’s good that many, many programs exist. It’s also good that these programs are extensively evaluated. However, as Jeff Deason discusses in more depth, each jurisdiction uses its own measurement and reporting practices, resulting in scattered and inconsistently reported data.

As an organization keen to look across evaluations to find best practices, we find this frustrating. In essence, it’s a classic case of comparing apples to oranges — and sometimes a challenge just to locate those apples and oranges in the first place.

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U.S. energy efficiency programs: Lots of evaluation, little coordination

November 28, 2012 |


Suppose you are a regulator in a state or country new to energy efficiency programs and you want to design a set of financial incentives to encourage efficient appliances and equipment.

If you want to design something that generates significant energy and carbon emissions savings in a cost-effective manner, you have a number of decisions to make: What products and efficiency measures should you target? Should you offer incentives for very high-performing, super-efficient devices that may have a smaller market, or for more widely available but somewhat less efficient measures? How large should these incentives be? Should you offer incentives upstream (to manufacturers), midstream (to retailers), or downstream (to consumers)? Should you bundle the incentives with information and advertising, and if so, what is the best allocation of program resources? How do you need to vary your approach in different markets?

The U.S. appears, at first glance, to offer lots of evidence to help you make these choices.  A search of the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency yields 1124 separate U.S. programs that offer some form of rebate for energy efficiency measures. Programs have existed since the 1970s, so you have a long history to draw upon. Moreover, utility demand-side management (DSM) programs, which make up the lion’s share of energy efficiency programs, are routinely evaluated. In fact, U.S. efficiency program administrators budgeted at least $181 million for DSM program evaluation in 2011.

Unfortunately, despite the many programs and the many millions of dollars spent evaluating them, there is less evidence on what works and what doesn’t than there could and should be.

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Keeping track of climate progress: Are countries well-placed to meet new tracking needs?

November 27, 2012 |


As the business school adage goes, you manage what you measure.

When it comes to progress on climate change, measurement doesn’t often capture much public attention. However, measurement and reporting play a fundamental behind-the-scenes role: They help build confidence that countries are doing what they say, and they also build capacity for countries to identify opportunities and tackle challenges domestically.

Right now, climate negotiators are gathering in Doha for the 18th Conference of the Parties (COP 18) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). While headlines around these meetings usually focus on the lack of progress in UNFCCC discussions of countries’ emissions reduction targets, the UNFCCC is making strides on other fronts. In the past three years, countries have agreed to significantly expand the amount of information they report on their greenhouse gas emissions and their climate policies and measures.

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Tracking emissions and climate policies: How well are we doing?

June 13, 2012 |


On May 24, Kath Rowley and I presented CPI’s work on countries’ efforts to track emissions and mitigation actions to an international audience. Our event took place on the sidelines of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference in Bonn, Germany.

After sitting in on some of the negotiations, Kath and I were struck by the disconnect between the discussions at the negotiating table and the real world of policy implementation. Measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) is a contentious issue in climate negotiations; the discussions might lead you to believe that “MRV” is a burdensome requirement and rarely done now. In fact, as our work demonstrates, countries are already doing a great deal to track emissions and mitigation actions, for both international and domestic purposes.

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