It is a slow week with the Thanksgiving Holiday on Thursday. But the opening of the Paris Climate meeting and the impending RFS roll out will take the majority of the upcoming attention.
Below I am offering a few quick points on the Paris Climate Meetings to set up the November 30th launch. We will have more next week as the meetings kick off. Most importantly, please let me know if you will be in Paris at any point over the next two weeks so I can add you to my list of reporters on-site and stay in touch on activities.
As for the RFS, sources are reporting the latest rumor is that the rule will be released next week on its due date, November 30th. There were some rumors that it may be released Wednesday or even Friday, but that was tamped down last week. With the President arriving in Paris on the same day and speaking December 1st on his negotiating priorities, there are some thoughts that White House will want any political indigestion from the RFS under cover from the Thanksgiving Holiday. Just in case it rolls, I have included a quick primer with contacts for you to reach over the holiday.
Finally, enjoy your family over Thanksgiving. Enjoy some football and remember, the first American “President” to call for a national day of thanksgiving was Maryland native (eastcoast beach Route 50 namesake) John Hanson in 1782, seven years before Geo Washington’s first proclamation.
Call with questions…Best,
Who’s Going – The U.N. expects the COP-21 to draw some 10,000 government representatives to the Le Bourget conference center in a northeastern Parisian suburb, plus 7,000 observers per week and 3,000 journalists. Just Last week, more than 1,000 other reporters were cut from the list of accredited media. We will be in contact with several industry people on the ground in Paris and will be happy to provide you their thoughts and posit your questions to them.
Side Events Will Go On – Despite French officials canceling an outdoor climate march due to security concerns in the aftermath of the terror attacks, French and UN officials announced that indoor events organized by civil society during international global warming negotiations in Paris can proceed. One of those events will be NEXT Thursday, December 10th 3:00 p.m. Business Side Event in Room 5 which will offer business perspectives on INDCs. Business groups in Europe, the U.S. and developing nations will discuss implications for domestic and global outcomes from policy, as well as market changes in trade & investment. They will also present experiences with business engagement in developing INDCs and recommend ways to involve business in assessment and /improvement.
Leaders to Arrive Early – This year, world leaders will arrive at the beginning of the event with leaders like French President Francois Hollande and President Obama making kick off speeches. Most will conduct ministerial meetings, like the one held with Obama and India Prime Minister Modi. Most of the opening will be ceremonial with key negotiations and draft text due heading into the second week.
Some Key Points – There are several key points to keep on your agenda:
- Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) – The Paris agreement is anticipated to be a bottom-up treaty, with each country setting goals based on their unique national circumstances. These Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs, will form the basis of the country-specific commitments under the new UN climate treaty. It is also expected that periodic review of these commitments will be instituted along with measuring, reporting, and verification to ensure the integrity and ambition of the commitments. While may seem to be making INDCs, there are many questions as to whether countries will live up to these commitments. Even the US commitment is being questions by experts as not adding up to the 26-28% reduction.
- Green Climate Fund – Financing issues are among the most controversial in Paris, and they could easily derail any agreement. Many developing country INDCs are conditioned on financial support and technology transfer. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) was proposed at COP-15 in Copenhagen in 2009, refined in subsequent meetings, and became operational in 2014. GCF aims to provide support to developing country efforts to reduce their GHG emissions and to adapt climate change. However, this breaks down, it is clear that a significant portion of the expected funds—certainly tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars over many years—would be coming from public sources and would have to be appropriated by Congress.
- Intellectual property – Developing countries have used this provision deftly to justify their attempts to weaken intellectual property rights (IPR) protections, ostensibly to remove the supposed “barriers” to technology transfer raised by IPR. Compulsory licensing and a fund supported by developed countries to buy down IP are two of many proposals being bruited. IPR serve as a fundamental catalyst of innovation, and study after study has shown that it is not a barrier to technology transfer. A weakened IPR regime such as that being proposed above would provide precious little incentive for companies to invest in advanced technologies if after years of research and development and millions or even billions of dollars invested, their inventions could be expropriated outright by companies in developing countries and manufactured and sold around the world at reduced cost. Under such a circumstance, some of the most innovative companies in the developed world would simply abandon the development of advanced energy technologies.
- Technology Transfer – Tied to INDCs and the Green Fund, Technology Transfer is one fundamental issue that could bridge the gap. It frankly is a better way to move toward a positive goal transforming our energy economy: engage developing countries with advanced technology transfer to help them grow their economies more efficiently and cleanly. Rather than going to Paris and trying to shame everyone into doing, this approach could be an important way to move forward. In fact, we are already doing in many ways. Look at the Clean Coal, Solar and offshore wind technologies that have struggled to catch on here in the US. While we have struggled, developing nations, specifically China, have looked for these opportunities even without the promise of billions in funds (that will likely not ever come).
- Verification – An issue that does not receive the attention it deserves is measuring, reporting, and verification of climate policies. As things stand now, the system of MRV that is likely to come out of Paris will focus not on whether a country meets its emissions goal, but on whether it implements the policies and measures designed to meet its goal. In other words, MRV is more about process than results. MRV will be especially challenging in developing countries. Transparency is a key to open markets and planning, and businesses will be reticent to invest in developing economies without assurances that its investments in emission reduction and offset projects are real and that government activities in support of INDCs have integrity.
- Binding Legal Commitments Or Non-binding Political Agreement – In a recently interview, Secretary of State John Kerry said recently the Paris agreement is “definitively not going to be a treaty.” While it has not been finalized, we can already say that the Paris Agreement will be a multilateral international agreement that will include almost every country in the world. In testimony last week, Hofstra Constitutional Law Professor Julian Ku said If the outcome of the Paris Conference is to make these promises to reduce emissions legally binding, it is my view that the Paris Agreement must be submitted to the Senate for approval as a treaty under Article II. This will continue to be a contentious point of negotiating among parties and one that US Senators will be watching Closely. Last week, Senator Barrasso and Inhofe said the any funding for climate initiatives would be tied to Senate review.
Staying in Touch – I will be monitoring activities and providing resources for those in Paris as well as those covering from Afar. Again, IF YOU WILL BE IN PARIS , please let me know so I can add you to my list of resources in Paris. Please feel free to stay in touch.
EPA’s RFS rules must be finalized by November 30th, per a court-approved consent decree. The rules will set final mandates for the entire program for 2014 and 2015 (retroactively) through 2016, and set final biodiesel mandates through 2017. We expect the release on Monday the 30th but it is possible EPA rolls out the rule around the Thanksgiving holiday this week. It is important to remember that Paris climate negotiations begin on the November 30 RFS deadline. In case EPA moves this week, keep this primer handy for contacts and background on EPA’s RFS move.
1) Talk to Scott Segal, one of the best and most savvy RFS experts in town: 202-262-5845; firstname.lastname@example.org
2) Have a conversation with Environmental Working Group expert Scott Faber or one of the experts on his team. You can reach Faber at (202) 939-9127 (direct); (202) 384-4280 (cell) or email@example.com
3) Talk to Stephen Brown of Tesoro, also one of the best and most savvy industry RFS experts in town: 202-744-5578; firstname.lastname@example.org
4) Another great resource for comments are energy analysts like Jim Lucier: 202-548-0072; email@example.com, and Kevin Book: 202-506-5744; book@CVEnergy.com, who have previewed the decision and I am certain will have pieces out after EPA’s final move.
IN THE NEWS
Air Liquide will buy US-based Airgas – Air Liquide announced an agreement under which it will acquire Airgas. Combining Air Liquide and Airgas will bring together two highly complementary businesses to deliver greater value, service and innovation to customers in North America and around the world. In the U.S., Airgas’ leadership in the packaged gases business and associated products and services and Air Liquide’s strong footprint in complementary activities will increase the scope and competitiveness of the combined companies’ product offering. This acquisition gives Air Liquide a greater presence in the U.S. market, the largest for industrial gases worldwide, and will ideally position Air Liquide for future growth. In addition, there is potential for further growth using Airgas’ footprint to accelerate the deployment of Air Liquide’s technologies. The combination builds on Air Liquide’s longstanding track record of successfully operating in the U.S. and will benefit from Airgas’ unmatched national presence and its more than 1 million customers in the U.S., as well as from its leading customer-facing platform including e-commerce and telesales capabilities. The combined entity will be able to better serve customers with the most advanced multi-distribution networks in the U.S. and more competitive product offerings thanks to an integrated upstream-downstream model.
EIA: China , India Drive Recent Changes in World Coal Trade – DOE’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that Global trade of coal grew dramatically from 2008 to 2013, but in 2014, it declined for the first time in 21 years. Interestingly though, EIA said China and India accounted for 98% of the increase in world coal trade from 2008 to 2013, but declines in China’s import demand have led to declines in total world coal trade in 2014 and, based on preliminary data, in 2015 as well. Some experts suggest that the slowdownis in part credited to slower growth in China and protections for its domestic coal industry. One thing is clear: there is no slowdown regarding the fact they will continue using coal.
Second Study This Month Projects Significant Costs, Few Benefits of GHG Rule – Another new analysis of the Obama administration’s GHG rule for power plants shows the policy for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s power sector will raise electricity costs significantly for families and businesses throughout the nation. The study, by Energy Ventures Analysis (EVA), finds consumers will pay an additional $214 billion by 2030, with 45 states facing double digit increases in wholesale electricity costs and 16 states saddled with a 25 percent increase or more. Added to this total will be a projected $64 billion bill to replace an estimated 41,000 MW of power plant capacity that will be forced to close, enough to power 24 million homes. The analysis, commissioned by the National Mining Association (NMA), identifies the flaws in the CPP that ignore actual costs likely to result from replacing existing power plants using affordable fuel with plants using costlier fuel sources. The findings demonstrate EPA has substantially understated the plan’s costs to consumers in at least three ways: 1) by failing to acknowledge the higher cost of natural gas required to replace the coal generation displaced in base load power; 2) by failing to recognize the cost impact on industrial and other natural gas customers who are outside the power sector and 3) by failing to fully account for the costs that consumers will pay for new power generation and transmission infrastructure necessary to replace coal generation that will be prematurely retired by the rule.
Dartmouth Study: Regional NatGas Impact Significant – A new National Bureau of Economic Research study led by Dartmouth College experts examines the economic and job-creating impact of shale development, enabled by fracking, within 100 miles of active drilling locations. Commenting on the study’s findings, Dartmouth economics professor Bruce Sacerdote notes that “It’s surprising just how much of the revenue, how large the benefits are in the county and within 100 miles of the county.” Key study takeaways include 1) over a third of fracking revenue stays within the regional economy; 2) between 2005 to 2012 within 100 miles of new production, $1 million of extracted oil and gas generates $243,000 in wages, $117,000 in royalties and 2.49 jobs; and 3) impact on jobs and income at the state level was approximately five times larger than the county impact; 4) within the county, every $1 million generates $66,000 in wage income, $61,000 in royalty payments and 0.78 jobs within the county and 5) with the creation of 725,000 jobs associated with the new oil and gas extraction between 2005 and 2012, the study findings indicate that U.S. unemployment was lowered by 0.5 percent during the significant economic downturn.
ON THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK
Moniz to Address Energy Technology – 1776 will hold a special afternoon event today at 3:00 p.m. with the Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz where he will announce a significant Department of Energy investment in cutting-edge energy technologies. The Secretary will also discuss the Department’s role in driving technological solutions that will allow ambitious commitments to help achieve our climate goals ahead of global climate negotiations at COP21 in Paris. The Secretary’s remarks will be followed by a distinguished panel talking about energy innovation and how startup companies and government R&D can transform the industry.
Cheniere Exec to Discuss LNG at NatGas Roundtable – The Natural Gas Roundtable will host Cheniere’s vice president of finance, Tarek Souki to be the guest speaker at tomorrow’s natgas luncheon. He will discuss the outlook for natural gas exports from the US and the dynamics of the global LNG market including supply, demand and pricing linkages to Henry Hub.
UCS to Hold Paris Webinar – Tomorrow at 1:00 p.m., the Union of Concerned Scientists will hold a webinar on the U.S. role in international climate negotiations.
Georgetown Report to Look at Transpo Issues – The Georgetown Climate Center will release a new report tomorrow at Noon on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, looking opportunities in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.
THANKSGIVING – November 26
PARIS UN COP 21 Meeting – November 30th to December 11th
IEA Outlook Discussed at CSIS – The CSIS Energy and National Security Program will host Dr. Fatih Birol, Executive Director at the International Energy Agency to present the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2015 on Monday November 30th at 1:00 p.m. The presentation will include updated projections for the evolution of the global energy system to 2040, based on the latest data and market developments, as well as detailed insights on the prospects for fossil fuels, renewables, the power sector and energy efficiency and analysis on trends in CO2 emissions and fossil-fuel and renewable energy subsidies. In addition, the WEO 2015 includes in-depth analysis on several key issues including the implications of a lower oil price future, India’s energy sector, on the competitive position of fast-growing renewable energy technologies in different markets, new analysis of energy efficiency policies, and unconventional gas with a particular focus on China.
Bank Report to Look at Latin America Infrastructure – Next Monday at 2:00 p.m., the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, CAF-Development Bank of Latin America, China Development Bank, and others will discuss ways to provide billions in finance for much-needed transportation, energy, water, sanitation, and other projects throughout the region in recent years. In their newest report, Fei Yuan and Kevin Gallagher of Boston University’s Global Economic Governance Initiative’s (GEGI) compare development bank commitments to “green” finance in Latin America. Although some institutions have made great strides in promoting sustainable development in Latin America, much more will need to be done to scale up green finance and to adequately safeguard both green and conventional development projects.
Forum to Look at Indonesia, Energy – Next Tuesday, December 1st at 8:30 a.m. in B-338 Rayburn, the National Bureau of Asia Research will hold a forum on Indonesia and its energy issues. Indonesia’s successful democratic transition and strong economy have made the country a major political and economic power in both Southeast Asia and the broader region. Indonesia is now a key strategic and economic partner for the United States, as well as Japan and other countries in Asia, and has played an increasingly important role in shaping the future of the Asia-Pacific.
Senate Energy to Look at Well Control Rule – The Senate Energy Committee will hold an oversight hearing on the Well Control Rule and other regulations related to offshore oil and gas production on Tuesday, December 1st.
DC Bar Panel to Look at Fracking Rule Case – Next Tuesday, December 1st at 1:00 p.m., the D.C. Bar will hold a forum on the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming decision to prevent enforcement of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) recently issued hydraulic fracturing rule. BLM issued the rule in March, attempting to exert jurisdiction over hydraulic fracturing on federal and Indian lands. The district court’s decision prohibits the BLM from implementing the new rule while litigation over the rule’s legality is pending. The lawsuit, filed shortly after BLM issued the hydraulic fracturing rule, was originally brought by the Independent Petroleum Association of America and the Western Energy Alliance. The lawsuit now includes challenges from four states—Wyoming, North Dakota, Colorado, and Utah—and the Ute Indian Tribe. This panel will discuss the impact of the court’s decision and their thoughts regarding future developments in the case.
Senate Foreign Relations to Hold Hearing on Energy Nominee – The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations will meet next Tuesday to consider several nominations including Amos Hochstein appointment to be an Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources.
Transmission Forum Set – The 5th annual TransForum East, will be held December 1st and 2nd in Washington, D.C. at the Westin Georgetown. As in previous Forum events, our presenters and panelists have been hand selected by the TransmissionHub editorial team to address the most important issues facing stakeholders in the Eastern Interconnection. You can view the agenda and speaker lineup here.
Panel to Look at Offshore Wind in the U.S. – The Clean Energy Leadership Institute (CELI) will hold a panel discussion on Tuesday, December 1st at 6:30 p.m. looking at offshore wind in the U.S. CELI and panelists from the U.S. Department of the Interior, EDF Renewable Energy, and the American Wind Energy Association, will hold a discussion on the potential benefits of and challenges facing offshore wind. The panel will feature Interior’s Joshua Kaplowitz, EDF Renewable’s Doug Copeland and AWEA’s Hannah Hunt.
Atlantic Council CEO Series Continues with GDF Suez’s Smati – The Atlantic Council will continue its CEO Series with a discussion on Wednesday, December 2nd at 1:30 p.m. on the future of power markets and energy technology with Zin Smati, the President and CEO of GDF SUEZ Energy North America. As Chief Executive of GDF SUEZ Energy North America, Zin Smati is tasked with navigating his company through an era of profound change in the world of energy. He brings his perspective to the Atlantic Council to discuss the sweeping energy transition now underway and to assess the future of power markets and energy technology.
NASA’s Chief Scientist Helping Countries Build Climate Resilience – Next Wednesday, December 2nd at 2:00 p.m. Georgetown University will host NASA scientist Ellen Stofan, who will discuss NASA’s International Programs and how they are using data to help countries develop climate resilience. Stofan was appointed NASA chief scientist on August 25, 2013, serving as principal advisor to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on the agency’s science programs and science-related strategic planning and investments.
RFF to Look at Vehicle Fleet, Regs – Resources for the Future will hold a First Wednesday Seminar on December 2nd where panelists will analyze some of the emerging information, including consumer demand for fuel economy and how lower gasoline prices can affect future fuel savings from the regulations. Manufacturer responses will also be discussed, including how the production of different vehicle sizes and types can affect regulatory compliance strategies, and how the new markets for emissions and fuel economy credits are developing. Speakers will include RFF fellows Virginia McConnell and Joshua Linn, as well as Chris Knittel of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research at MIT and Gopal Duleep of H-D Systems.
Southern Company Holiday Party – Wednesday, December 2nd Union Station.
Hill Hosts Policy Discussion on Microgrid Technology – On Thursday, December 3rd 8:00 a.m. at The Newseum, The Hill hosts a discussion on the future of energy delivery. Policymakers, researchers, and technology and energy industry experts will discuss the value of microgrids in the event of a natural disaster or homeland security threat, how microgrids allow for integration of alternative energy sources, and what policy and regulatory reforms are necessary to facilitate the integration of microgrids into the larger power supply system. Speakers will include Sens. Martin Heinrich and Lisa Murkowski, as well as Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy & Environment Katherine Hammack and others.
Forum to Look at Barriers to Renewables – On Thursday, December 3rd at 2:00 p.m. in 334 Cannon, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and the Center for Climate Strategies (CCS) will host a briefing discussing how all levels of governments in the European Union and United States can expand collaboration on renewable electricity market penetration to meet energy, economic, and environmental needs. The briefing will feature an upcoming report by CCS, funded by the European Union Delegation to the United States, which examines high-priority common challenges and opportunities in the renewable energy sector that are prime candidates for new or enhanced forms of transatlantic collaboration at the regional and Member State/U.S. state levels. Attendees will be invited to provide comments and input for the report; join us to discuss how enhanced transatlantic cooperation can help set the stage for new investments and technologies through greater thought leadership, information sharing, technical assistance, and collaboration.
Mercury Case Arguments Set – The DC Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments to determine the future of EPA’s mercury rule on Friday, December 4th at the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse. Judges Garland, Judith Rogers and Kavanaugh will hear the case, the same panel of judges who initially upheld the mercury rule 2-1. EPA has suggested remanding the rule without vacating it so it can fix the problem identified by the Supreme Court that it should have considered the cost of regulating when issuing an initial “appropriate and necessary” finding. Late last week, EPA proposed a fix using data collected during the implementation of the rule, and says it can finalize the new finding by next spring. Opponents say the court should make EPA start from scratch, arguing that if the initial “appropriate and necessary” finding was improper then the entire rule must be trashed.
Clean Energy Leaders Honored – On Friday evening at Bier Baron, Leaders in Energy will honor Four Generations of leadership in clean energy and sustainability. They will recognize leaders from World War II (1927-1945), Baby Boomer (1946-1964), Generation X (1965-1980), and Millennial (1981-2000) generations who exemplify leadership in the energy and sustainability arena. Leaders from each generation will discuss “Leading Through Adversity,” our theme. . Shira Harrington, Founder and CEO, Purposeful HireFounder and President, Purposeful Hire, is the keynote speaker for this event. She will explore the changing world of work and the impact multigenerations are having on the workforce. Building on the understanding of what makes each generation unique, Shira will highlight how the four generations can embrace what they have in common to work together to create a more sustainable world.
NJ Event to Look at Grid – National Journal LIVE will hold a forum on December 8th on powering the 21st Century and making the grid work for all consumers. The event will explore Washington’s role in encouraging energy innovation, the future of the grid and how best to ensure the benefits of new power generation methods are sustainable and extended to all communities. The nation’s policy makers, innovators, stakeholders and thought leaders will conduct a robust conversation about grid modernization and the future of American energy. Speakers will include North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer, Opower’s Jim Kapsis, RFF’s Phil Sharp DOE’s Karen Wayland and several more.
Utility Execs Looking at Storage – The 2015 U.S. Energy Storage Summit will be Held in December 8th and 9th in San Francisco. Utility speakers will offer presentations, case studies, and panel sessions on the status and technology of energy storage. Our friend Stephen Lacey will be among those leading the discussion.
Bloomberg Reception Honors Hess Book – Bloomberg will host a reception on Wednesday, December 9th at 6:00 p.m. congratulating our friends Tina Davis and Jessica Resnick-Ault on the publication of their new book, Hess: The Last Oil Baron, published by Bloomberg Press and John Wiley & Sons. It will Be at the Bloomberg offices in NYC on Lexington Avenue.
FERC’S Clark to Address ICF Breakfast – ICF will host FERC Commissioner Tony Clark at its December 10th Energy Breakfast at the National Press Club. Clark will discuss FERC’s cutting-edge energy agenda.