300+ multinational companies urge bigger action from Biden, plus Biden’s Interior Dept. Reverses Trump Anti-Wind Stance and Rescinds Trump-Era Coal, Oil and Gas Directives. What Are Nationally Determined Contributions Anyway?
300+ Multinational Businesses Urge Bigger Action From Biden, Dept. of Interior Reverses Trump Anti-Wind Stance and Rescinds Trump-Era Coal, Oil and Gas Directives, also What Are Nationally Determined Contributions Anyway?
OVER 300 MULTINATIONAL CORPORATIONS AND EUROPEAN LAWMAKERS DEMAND BOLDER ACTION OF BIDEN
More than 300 businesses and investors, including such giants as Apple, Google, Microsoft and Coca-Cola, are calling on the Biden administration to set an ambitious climate change goal that would cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030. “A bold 2030 target is needed to catalyze a zero-emissions future, spur a robust economic recovery, create millions of well-paying jobs and allow the U.S. to ‘build back better’ from the pandemic,” the businesses and investors said in a letter to Biden. “New investment in clean energy, energy efficiency and clean transportation can build a strong, more equitable and more inclusive American economy,” they wrote. An ambitious 2030 target would guide the federal government’s approach to sustainable and resilient infrastructure, as well as zero-emissions vehicles and buildings, and “would inspire other industrialized nations to set bold targets of their own,” the group wrote. By comparison, the European Union last year agreed to cut its emissions of carbon dioxide and other planet-warming gases by at least 55% by 2030 compared with 1990 levels.
Millions of Americans are already feeling the impacts of climate change, they wrote. “The human and economic losses of the past 12 months alone are profound,” they wrote. “Tragically, these devastating climate impacts also disproportionately hit marginalized and low-income communities who are least able to withstand them. We must act now to slow and turn the tide.”
DEEPER DIVE: AP
INTERIOR SECRETARY HAALAND RESCINDS TRUMP-ERA COAL, OIL AND GAS DIRECTIVES
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland revoked a series of Trump administration orders that promoted fossil fuel development on public lands and waters, and issued a separate directive that prioritizes climate change in agency decisions. “From day one, President Biden was clear that we must take a whole-of-government approach to tackle the climate crisis, strengthen the economy and address environmental justice,” Haaland said in a statement. The new orders will “make our communities more resilient to climate change and … help lead the transition to a clean energy economy.” The orders revoke Trump-era directives that boosted coal, oil and gas leasing on federal lands and promoted what the former president called “energy dominance” in the United States. Haaland also rescinded a Trump administration order intended to increase oil drilling in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve. Haaland called the orders by her predecessors “inconsistent with the department’s commitment to protect public health; conserve land, water, and wildlife; and elevate science.″
DEEPER DIVE: AP, The Hill, WaPo, The Wichita Eagle
INTERIOR DEPARTMENT BOLSTERS U.S. OFFSHORE WIND FARM ENERGY PROTECTION
The United States Interior Department recently bolstered offshore wind energy when its principal deputy attorney, Robert Anderson issued a new opinion regarding the “prevention of interference with reasonable uses” of the ocean. That reasonable uses clause is what former Trump administration official Daniel Horhani hinged his opinion on to limit wind energy exploration off US shores. According to Anderson, Jorjani too narrowly interpreted the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) to protect the legal rights of the fishing industry at the expense of offshore wind farm energy production. The OCSLA was created in August 1953. The statute defines the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) as all submerged lands lying beyond State coastal waters (3 miles offshore) which are under U.S. jurisdiction. The statute authorized the Secretary of Interior to establish regulations to lease the OCS in an effort to prevent waste and conserve natural resources / and to grant leases for the express purpose of administering mineral and oil exploration. It was created to regulate offshore energy-exploration activities vital to post-war expansion of the US economy.
Why this matters is because wind farms make energy, so by extension, wind farms fall under the OCSLA’s jurisdiction, which underpins part of Anderson’s opinion. Anderson goes on to write that the Interior secretary should seek to “strike a rational balance” between various interests, noting that Jorjani’s opinion “failed to note” that the law also says that the “interference with reasonable uses” is followed by the phrase “(as determined by the Secretary),” which he argued gives the secretary discretion to decide, and a subject with which Anderson concurs. The Interior Department has recently moved closer to approving a major offshore wind project.
DEEPER DIVE: The Hill, DOI.gov, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
WHAT ARE NDCs ANYWAY?!
There’s been a lot of talk about NDCs lately, particularly surrounding President Biden’s Climate Leaders Summit. Foreign nations have demanded the USA up its NDC game. The administration has pledged to do so. But what the heck are NDC’s anyway? NDCs are “Nationally Determined Contributions.” They are national climate plans highlighting climate actions, including climate-related targets, policies and measures governments aim to implement in response to climate change. Put another way, NDCs are like an EKG readout for every country committed to the Paris Agreement. If every country were a body, and the Paris Agreement on climate change is each country’s heart, then think of NDCs as an EKG for each country’s commitments to mitigate and adapt to climate change. If your heart was underperforming, your doctor might recommend an EKG to monitor it and look for signs of disease. This data and information can be life-saving, and it’s critical for designing an improvement plan. So too, do NDCs help monitor the state of health of each country’s mitigation methods. If that’s not enough, here are the top 3 reasons NDCs matter:
#3. Understanding global trends: Accounting information can help establish a clear understanding of the state of global climate action and progress toward global goals. This will be important to inform work during the global stocktake, which takes stock of countries’ progress towards the Paris Agreement’s goals. #2. Reflecting reality, not hopes: NDC accounting can ensure that countries are reporting numbers consistent with what the “atmosphere sees.” It’s possible that if there were no rules for the land sector, baselines or recalculations, for example, countries’ accounted numbers could be very far off from the actual changes in emissions in the atmosphere. And, #1. Knowing where you’re headed: Countries need to know what emissions level they need to aim for in order to achieve their targets. This is important not only to know where individual countries’ emissions are headed, but also to inform estimates of future global emissions.