May 7, 2021

Climate Week Roundup

Climate Week Report
Beth A. Viola | Hannah M. Coulter | Isabel C. Lane

Throughout Climate Week, several commitments and initiatives were announced by various agencies and countries. This roundup highlights some of the key details on items that were released.  

White House Announcements

  • For the U.S.' nationally determined contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement, President Joe Biden committed the nation to reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 50 percent to 52 percent below its 2005 emissions by 2030.
  • President Biden announced international climate finance commitments to assist developing countries reduce GHG emissions.
  • The Biden Administration released a new report from the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization that identifies $37.9 billion in currently available funding across a wide variety of departments that can help support infrastructure development, environmental remediation, union job creation, community revitalization efforts, rural infrastructure and reclaiming abandoned mine lands.
  • The Biden Administration announced progress on the administration's goal to accelerate and deploy electric vehicles (EV) and charging stations across the U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Energy and General Services Administration.

U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)

  • The DOT announced guidance on how grants can be used to deploy charging infrastructure and newly designated alternative fuel corridors.
    • DOT announced the fifth round of "Alternative Fuel Corridors" designations
    • The DOT issued a new report clarifying how its programs can be used for EV charging infrastructure. Many existing programs have this as an eligible use and this guidance can expand how many funded entities take advantage of that. This could increase the use for EV charging infrastructure of $41.9 billion in federal grant funding in 15 specific programs.

General Service Administration (GSA)

  • GSA announced its commitment to 100 percent renewable electricity sources for the federal real estate portfolio by 2025.
  • The Biden Administration will publish its green procurement strategy in July.

Council of Economic Advisers

  • The Council of Economic Advisers published a report warning that without significant investment in research and development for clean energy technologies, the U.S. could become dependent on its competitors.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

  • EPA announced three initiatives "[to] catalyze meaningful climate action." Announcing these initiative, as "supporting community-driven solutions," Administrator Michael Regan expressly linked them and other EPA actions to environmental justice, stating, "EPA will be at the center of delivering on this agenda, and in doing so, we are lifting up overburdened communities while creating new jobs and building a 21st Century clean economy."
  • The initiatives: 

On the heels of these climate change actions, on April 28, 2021, the EPA opened public comment on its intent to consider reestablishment of California zero emission vehicle mandate greenhouse gas emissions standards under the state's Advanced Clean Car program. The previous administration withdrew the "waiver of [federal] preemption" in 2019, which placed a roadblock to the programs' implementation, and set off still ongoing litigation between California and the federal government and petitions for reconsideration. The public comment period will close on July 6, 2021. Announcing its intention to reconsider on April 26, 2021, the EPA Administrator Regan left no doubt as to his view, "I am a firm believer in California's long-standing statutory authority to lead. The 2019 decision to revoke the state's waiver to enforce its greenhouse gas pollution standards for cars and trucks was legally dubious and an attack on the public's health and well-being," said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan.

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)

  • DOE announced new research funding opportunities on three EV charging-related topics:
    • $10 million to research, develop and demonstrate innovative technologies and designs to significantly reduce the cost of electric vehicle supply equipment for DC Fast Charging
    • $20 million to accelerate the adoption of commercially available plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and supporting infrastructure through community-based public-private partnerships that demonstrate PEV technologies (for cars, buses, school buses, trucks) and infrastructure in various innovative applications and share resulting data, lessons learned and best practices with a broader audience
    • $4 million to encourage strong partnerships and new programs to increase workplace charging regionally or nationally, which will help increase the feasibility of PEV ownership for consumers in underserved communities (e.g., demographics that currently have minimal access to home charging)
  • Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced new goals to lower the cost of clean energy and other climate change technologies, including reducing the cost of hydrogen and batteries of electric vehicles.
    • In particular, Granholm said during her "Unleashing Climate Innovation" session that she wants to reduce the price of hydrogen energy by 80 percent before 2030 and said that this would make it "competitive with natural gas," during remarks at the White House's international climate summit. She also aims to cut battery cell prices in half in order to make electric vehicles more affordable.
  • DOE announced six new initiatives to expand international cooperation:
    • The U.S. will host the co-located 13th Annual Clean Energy Ministerial and the 7th Annual Mission Innovation Ministerial in 2022.
    • Launching a new partnership with India on speeding up clean energy deployment
    • Joining a new public-private consortium – Global Power System Transformation (G-PST) – with the United Kingdom to cut power sector emissions by at least 50 percent over 2020 levels in the next 10 years
    • Establishing a cooperative forum – Net-Zero Producers Forum (NPF) – between major oil and gas producers to develop pragmatic net-zero strategies (together with Canada, Norway, Qatar and Saudi Arabia); the inaugural meeting of the NPF will take place in the fall 2021
    • Creating a global initiative to support the clean energy transition for islands and communities (together with the State Department and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA, DOE will lead the Energy Transitions Initiative-Global or ETI-G)
    • Joining an initiative to ensure energy communities around the world are included in the clean energy transition (partnership with Canada and the European Commission) to launch the "Empowering People" Initiative at the Clean Energy Ministerial in June

Noteworthy Remarks by Speakers

International Commitments

  • Japan will cut emissions 46 percent to 50 percent below 2013 levels by 2030, with strong efforts toward achieving a 50 percent reduction, a significant acceleration from its existing 26 percent reduction goal.
  • Canada will strengthen its NDC to a 40 percent to 45 percent reduction from 2005 levels by 2030, a significant increase over its previous target to reduce emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
  • India reiterated its target of 450 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy by 2030 and announced the launch of the U.S.-India 2030 Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership to mobilize finance and speed clean energy innovation and deployment this decade.
  • Argentina will strengthen its NDC, deploy more renewables, reduce methane emissions and end illegal deforestation.
  • The United Kingdom will embed in law a 78 percent GHG reduction below 1990 levels by 2035.
  • The European Union is putting into law a target of reducing net GHG emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030 and a net zero target by 2050.
  • The Republic of Korea, which will host the 2021 P4G Seoul Summit in late May, will terminate public overseas coal finance and strengthen its NDC this year to be consistent with its 2050 net zero goal.
  • China indicated that it will join the Kigali Amendment, strengthen the control of non-CO2 greenhouse gases, strictly control coal-fired power generation projects and phase down coal consumption.
  • Brazil committed to achieve net zero by 2050, end illegal deforestation by 2030 and double funding for deforestation enforcement.
  • South Africa announced that it intends to strengthen its NDC and shift its intended emissions peak year 10 years earlier to 2025.
  • Russia noted the importance of carbon capture and storage from all sources, as well as atmospheric carbon removals. It also highlighted the importance of methane and called for international collaboration to address this powerful greenhouse gas.

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