June 2018


EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to the June edition of NACSAA News, a monthly compilation of feature news; Alliance news under “NACSAA in Action,” recent blogs offering policy positions on the issues important to Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA); “Other News We Are Reading,” a listing of news stories from other sources we think you will find of interest; and “Partner News and Events.” We hope this newsletter will serve to keep you, your members and other constituencies fully engaged in the growing development of climate-smart agriculture policy. Your feedback is welcome and appreciated. To subscribe, email info@SfLDialogue.net.

Featured News

Role of Biofuels in CSA Could Be Overshadowed by Disputes over RFS


Given the importance of biofuels and their capacity to avoid carbon emissions in climate-smart agriculture (CSA), advocates remain concerned about the ongoing uncertainty of federal renewable fuels policy.


A subcabinet-level gathering late last month of officials representing USDA, EPA and DOE was the latest in numerous meetings held in recent months, including several at the White House with President Trump, to resolve a longstanding dispute over Renewable Fuel Identification numbers (RINs).


RINs are assigned to commercially-made biofuels. Refiners who have insufficient amounts to meet their blending mandates under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) must purchase RINs from other refiners who have accumulated the credits after meeting their blending obligations.


EPA has granted more than two dozen blending waivers from RFS requirements to refiners who claim RIN prices are too steep and pose economic hardships. Critics say the agency under Administrator Scott Pruitt is granting the waivers at a rate far greater than in previous years and to refiners that don’t meet “hardship” eligibility – in effect, undermining the RFS and the ethanol market.


Ethanol and farm groups filed suit last week filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit to challenge the waivers to the RFS, narrowly targeting three that the petitioners say were “granted in secret to profitable refining companies.”


The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) and National Farmers Union (NFU), with support of Farmers Union Enterprises, say the decisions to grant waivers from RFS requirements to refineries in Wynnewood, OK; Cheyenne, WY; and Woods Cross, UT, were made “under unusually clandestine proceeding.”


The petitioners also note that company disclosures show the exemptions have saved the refiners a collective $170 million in compliance costs, despite healthy financial reports.


The groups say they are not challenging EPA’s underlying authority to exempt certain small refineries, but are instead contesting the three granted exemptions as abuses of the agency’s authority. They said EPA should be forced to explain why an otherwise profitable refinery faces disproportionate hardship from compliance with the RFS.


Another concern among CSA advocates stems from the status of sales of E15 (15-percent ethanol) during summer months in most of the country. One result of the White House meetings was Trump’s agreement to lift a ban on those summertime sales, given that EPA studies show the higher ethanol blend, in fact, do not pose the additional air quality problems originally cited for imposing the ban. Lifting the restriction would provide a major boost in the availability of ethanol and pressure RIN prices down. But no formal action has yet been taken to expand E15 sales and the partial ban went into effect Friday.


A proposal to ascribe RINs to ethanol exports to reduce their cost also concerns ethanol interests, who say the move would weaken the RFS and erode the ethanol market here in the United States.


Ironically, the tumult over the RIN issues has resulted in their price have falling since the end of 2017, now standing at a five-year low.


The dispute over the RFS is also muddling the promotion of even higher ethanol blends (E20-40) in transportation fuels – an effort that takes on additional significance with a decision pending from the Trump administration on whether to formally roll back auto fuel efficiency targets in the next decade.


DOE research shows ethanol-based, high octane fuels with optimized internal combustion engines can further reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.


Baker Bliss, president of the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance, points out in an essay published by Ethanol Producer Magazine last week that the transportation sector is the second-biggest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the world, accounting for more than one-fifth of all emissions. Furthermore, he says progress in reducing the emissions is among the slowest of all sectors, likely attributable to the failure to meet the full potential offered by biofuel technologies, including the use of ethanol.


He cites International Energy Agency research showing that sustainable biofuels could provide 27 percent of the world’s total transport fuel by 2050 and avoid around 2.1 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, with biofuels eventually providing 20 percent of total emission savings in the transport sector.


“For the Paris Agreement to be realized, ” Bliss writes, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries need to decline by 2.1 percent annually up to 2025. And they’ll need to use ethanol.”


In an interview with DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton last month, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said the ethanol industry is in position to rise above the debate over the RFS and E15 and help boost its market with a focus on octane.


“The question is: How do we get to the next level?” said Daschle, a co-author of the RFS in 2005, while laying out biofuels’ historic progression from reformulated fuels in the 1990s to the current RFS to higher-compression engines and octane levels in the near future.


“That’s sort of the extraordinary progression of an industry that can be remarkably catalytic in addressing many of the challenges we face in transportation fuels for the next generation,” Daschle said. “I look at it on that grand of a scale. I think that octane can mean cleaner air, it can mean higher performance, it can mean far more lucrative ethanol markets. It can mean tremendous new growth for rural America.”


California Sees CSA Role in Reaching Ambitious GHG Targets


A concept paper released jointly last month by four California agencies lays out what state officials say is an ambitious plan to use forests, farmland, ranchland, grasslands, wetlands and urban land to mitigate climate change while enhancing their resilience to worsening climate change impacts.


Although natural and working lands can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and sequester it in soil and vegetation, officials say, disturbances such as severe wildfire, land degradation and conversion can cause the landscapes to emit more carbon dioxide than they store.


Jointly developed by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), California Air Resources Board (CARB), California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) and California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA), “The Natural and Working Lands Implementation Plan” will identify the scope and scale of activities that California can undertake to mitigate the disturbances and enhance the resilience of natural and working lands, increasing their ability to sequester carbon and provide health, social, economic, and environmental benefits.


The plan calls for incentives and technical assistance rather than new regulations to accelerate soil conservation practices such as cover crops, reduced tillage and no-till on farmlands. Other carbon sequestration practices cited by the concept paper includes boosting rangeland compost applications and “prescribed grazing” to better preserve vegetation and grasslands that are otherwise lost to grazing.


The concept paper also cites several forestland management practices aimed at bolstering carbon sequestration, including the clearing and removal of understory to support forest health and reduce risk of fire.


Late last year, the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UCDANR) cited the growing role of agriculture in addressing climate change through a series of research articles appearing in the division’s quarterly research journal, California Agriculture. The articles foreshadowed the aims of the multi-agency concept paper, asserting that the agriculture sector offers opportunities for working lands to contribute to meeting state greenhouse gas targets.


California has committed to cutting GHG emissions by 40 percent of 1990 levels by 2030. As a sector, agriculture is responsible for 8 percent of state emissions, officials say, with some two-thirds of that coming from livestock production through manure management and enteric fermentation. Another 20 percent of agriculture’s share of emissions is said to stem from fertilizer use and soil management associated with crop production; while 13 percent comes from fuel use associated with agricultural activities, including irrigation pumping and cooling or heating commodities.


California also plays an essential role in the nutritional quality of our national food system, accounting for, by value, roughly two-thirds of U.S. fruit and nut production, half of U.S. vegetable production and 20 percent of U.S. dairy production.


One of the articles appearing in the UCDANR publication last fall reviews recent research on practices that can reduce emissions, sequester carbon and provide other co-benefits to producers and the environment across agriculture and rangeland systems. The research reviewed was conducted in California and addresses practices in the state’s specific agricultural, socioeconomic and biophysical environment.


While farmland conversion and the dairy and intensive livestock sector are the largest contributors to the state’s GHG emissions, they also offer the greatest opportunities for avoided emissions, the article states. The authors identify soil and nutrient management, integrated and diversified farming systems, rangeland management, and biomass-based energy generation. They add that additional research to replicate and quantify the emissions reduction or carbon sequestration potential of these practices will strengthen the evidence base for California climate policy.


Another article cites research work being done at the UC Davis Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Facility (RRSAF) aimed at developing resilience to the threats posed by a changing climate through strategies that are necessary for climate-smart management of soil and water.


The RRSAF is investigating the effects of multiple farming practices in a farm-scale replicated study of 10 row-crop cropping systems. The study is looking at different fertility management systems: organic, conventional and hybrid (conventional plus winter cover crop) systems; different crops: wheat, tomatoes, corn, alfalfa, cover crops and grasslands; and different irrigation systems: rainfed, flood-irrigated and drip-irrigated. All represent an important focus for developing climate-smart strategies in food production systems like those in California.


The research cited by UCDANR demonstrates the role agriculture will play in the implementation plan proposed in the multi-agency concept paper. The plan will identify an ambitious but achievable 2030 GHG-reduction goal for natural and working lands and will provide a blueprint to achieve the goal by building capacity through state-funded conservation, restoration and management programs at CDFA, CalEPA and CNRA.


State officials say implementation will aim to achieve the state’s vision for the natural and working lands sector, which includes:

  • Enhancing the resilience of and potential for carbon sequestration on lands through management and restoration.
  • Innovating biomass utilization such that harvested wood and excess agricultural and forest biomass can be used to advance statewide objectives for renewable energy and fuels, wood product manufacturing, agricultural markets, and soil health, increasing the resilience of rural communities and economies and avoiding GHG emissions relative to traditional utilization pathways through these activities.

‘Roadmap’ IDs Georgia’s Top 40 Climate Research Questions


A multi-disciplinary team of experts from across Georgia has developed the “Georgia Climate Research Roadmap,” a first-of-its-kind list of 40 key research questions that can help policymakers and practitioners better understand and address climate change in Georgia.


The roadmap, published May 23 in the journal Environmental Management, is an initiative of the Georgia Climate Project, a state-wide consortium founded by Emory University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Georgia to improve understanding of climate impacts and solutions in Georgia.


The roadmap’s 40 questions focus on how climate change will impact Georgia and options for dealing with those impacts across themes such as water, the coast, agriculture, health, and energy. Several questions address issues related to equity and at-risk communities. The roadmap is a non-partisan initiative.


An interactive version can be accessed HERE.


Questions pertinent to agriculture and forestry include:

  • What are the economic costs and benefits of climate change for agricultural and natural resources?
  • How will climate change impact food security in Georgia?
  • How can the environment help Georgia adapt to climate change?
  • What policies and practices could Georgia use to increase carbon sequestration in agriculture and forestry?
  • What sources and forms of information and communication can be used to build resilience among farmers and farming communities faced with changing weather patterns and extreme events?

“By bringing these questions together in one place, we are trying to make it easier to identify high-impact research opportunities that will benefit decision-makers,” said Emory University’s Daniel Rochberg, a co-author of the paper. “The group that came together to produce the Roadmap is a great indicator of the expertise we have across the state on these issues.”


To develop the roadmap, a team of 41 co-authors from academia, government, non-governmental organizations and industry worked through a list of 180 candidate questions submitted by experts across the state through an online solicitation process.


“To our knowledge, we are the first to use this novel research prioritization methodology on such a complex cross-cutting issue at the state level,” said co-author Marilyn Brown of the Georgia Institute of Technology.


“We see this as a really important first step,” said co-author Patricia Yager of the University of Georgia. “Now that we have outlined these questions, we hope to see researchers across the state digging into these in much more detail.”


“This type of information is going to be really important for policymakers” said co-author David D’Onofrio of the Atlanta Regional Commission. “On our side, we’re already making plans to do more work on one of the big infrastructure questions by identifying vulnerabilities in our transportation system to climate change and extreme weather.”


The roadmap will also serve as the basis for a climate information portal that can provide easy access to information on climate impacts and solutions in Georgia. Jennifer Kline, a co-author from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, said “a tool like this roadmap can really broaden our engagement on these questions around the state.”


Renewables Continue Strong Growth, But CO2 Emissions Also Rise


Renewable power accounted for 70 percent of net additions to global power generating capacity in 2017, the largest increase in renewable power capacity in modern history, according to REN21’s Renewables 2018 Global Status Report (GSR). But the heating, cooling and transport sectors, which together account for about four-fifths of global final energy demand, continue to lag far behind the power sector.


Also, both energy demand and energy-related CO2 emissions rose substantially for the first time in four years. Energy-related CO2 emissions rose by 1.4 percent. Global energy demand increased an estimated 2.1 percent in 2017 due to economic growth in emerging economies as well as population growth.


The GSR is the most comprehensive annual overview of the state of renewable energy worldwide.


New solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity reached record levels: Solar PV additions were up 29 percent relative to 2016, to 98 gigawatts (GW). More solar PV generating capacity was added to the electricity system than net capacity additions of coal, natural gas and nuclear power combined. Wind power also drove the uptake of renewables with 52 GW added globally.


Investment in new renewable power capacity was more than twice that of net, new fossil fuel and nuclear power capacity combined, despite large, ongoing subsidies for fossil fuel generation. More than two-thirds of investments in power generation were in renewables in 2017, thanks to their increasing cost-competitiveness – and the share of renewables in the power sector is expected to only continue to rise.


Investment in renewables was regionally concentrated: China, Europe and the United States accounted for nearly 75 percent of global investment in renewables in 2017. However, when measured per unit of gross domestic product (GDP), the Marshall Islands, Rwanda, the Solomon Islands, Guinea- Bissau, and many other developing countries are investing as much as or more in renewables than developed and emerging economies.


But the renewable energy uptake is not keeping pace with the increasing energy demand and the continuous investment in fossil and nuclear capacity.


In the power sector, the transition to renewables is under, way but is progressing more slowly than is possible or desirable. A commitment made under the 2015 Paris climate agreement to limit global temperature rise to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels makes the nature of the challenge much clearer.


If the world is to achieve the target set in the Paris agreement, then heating, cooling and transport will need to follow the same path as the power sector – and fast. These sectors have seen:


Little change in renewables uptake in heating and cooling: Modern renewable energy supplied approximately 10 percent of total global heat production in 2015. National targets for renewable energy in heating and cooling exist in only 48 countries around the world, whereas 146 countries have targets for renewable energy in the power sector.


Small changes are under way. In India, for example, installations of solar thermal collectors rose approximately 25 percent in 2017 as compared to 2016. China aims to have 2 percent of the cooling loads of its buildings come from solar thermal energy by 2020.


In transport, increasing electrification is offering possibilities for renewable energy uptake despite the dominance of fossil fuels: More than 30 million two- and three-wheeled electric vehicles are being added to the world’s roads every year, and 1.2 million passenger electric cars were sold in 2017, up about 58 percent from 2016. Electricity provides 1.3 percent of transport energy needs, of which about one-quarter is renewable, and biofuels provide 2.9 percent. Overall, however, 92 percent of transport energy demand continues to be met by oil, and only 42 countries have national targets for the use of renewable energy in transport.


For these sectors to change, the right policy frameworks need to be put in place, driving innovation and the development of new renewable energy technologies in the sectors that are lagging.


“Equating ‘electricity’ with ‘energy’ is leading to complacency,” said Rana Adib, executive secretary of REN21. “We may be racing down the pathway towards a 100 percent renewable electricity future, but when it comes to heating, cooling and transport, we are coasting along as if we had all the time in the world. Sadly, we don’t.”


Arthouros Zervos, REN21 chair, added: “To make the energy transition happen there needs to be political leadership by governments – for example by ending subsidies for fossil fuels and nuclear, investing in the necessary infrastructure, and establishing hard targets and policy for heating, cooling and transport. Without this leadership, it will be difficult for the world to meet climate or sustainable development commitments.”



NACSAA in Action

NACSAA Recommendations Now a Part of UNFCCC Ag Work Plan


Hard work and leadership by NACSAA have successfully led to the integration of the alliance’s recommendations into the Koronivia Joint Work Program on Agriculture adopted last month by UN climate negotiators in Bonn, Germany.


Last March, NACSAA submitted a series of recommendations to two subsidiary bodies established by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) charged with developing a joint agriculture work plan. That the impacts to – and opportunities for – agriculture in the face of global climate change is now being considered by the UNFCCC is a major policy development, officials say.



Last month’s vote by negotiators acknowledges the critically important role agricultural landscapes can play in sustaining productivity, enhancing climate resilience, and contributing to the local and global goals for sustainability.


Success can also be attributed to USDA’s support for the NACSAA’s recommendations, alliance officials say.


The recommendations embrace all forms and scales of agriculture from small landholders to midsize and large-scale producers. They reflect the need for North American producers to be represented in discussions of the scale under discussion at the UNFCCC.


The vote in Bonn last month by the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), marked the beginning of a 30-month negotiating process that will lead to a final report to the UNFCCC round of global climate talks in November 2020.


NACSAA’s recommendations now included in the joint work agreement are principally focused on soil health, livestock productions systems, crop and nutrient management, agroforesty, water resource management and integrated solutions including bioenergy.


NACSAA leaders say the common sense and practical solutions laid out in the recommendations had support from a diverse range of stakeholders. They also say the recommendations gives voice to farmers on the ground who know much work lies ahead to attain the levels of sustainable production needed over the next several decades. They can lead to the right policy tools that the agricultural work program can generate, allowing producers to meet the challenges posed by growing demand and a harsher climate.



Other News We Are Reading

Pig-Powered Microgrid In North Carolina May Be Future of Rural Cooperative Supply (Utility Dive)


In North Carolina, a microgrid was recently commissioned at the Butler Quality Pork and Renewable Energy Farm in Harnett County, and connected to the South River Electric Membership Corporation (SREMC). The system, which is member-owned and controlled, integrates renewable biogas from swine waste, solar generation and energy storage, and can power 28 nearby homes for up to four hours at peak demand.


The Butler microgrid is unique in many ways, but leadership at North Carolina Electric Membership Corp. (NCEMC), the power supplier for most of the state’s member cooperatives, sees this as an example of what could be possible. There are more than 2,500 farms in North Carolina where the same process could be used, said Mike Burnette, senior vice president of power supply and COO of NCEMC. Read more…


In a Warming West, the Rio Grande Is Drying Up (The New York Times)


Mario Rosales, who farms 365 acres along the Rio Grande, knows the river is in bad shape this year. It has already dried to a dusty ribbon of sand in some parts, and most of the water that does flow is diverted to irrigate crops, including Mr. Rosales’s fields of wheat, oats, alfalfa and New Mexico’s beloved chiles.


Because last winter’s mountain snowpack was the second-lowest on record, even that irrigation water may run out at the end of July, three months earlier than usual. Read more…


EPA Science Board Votes to Review Climate Policy Changes(Inside Climate News)


The Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board, in a rebuke to the Trump administration’s retreat on environmental protection, voted overwhelmingly Thursday in favor of a full board review of the agency’s most important actions to dismantle climate policy.


EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who appointed about 15 members of the 44-member board, now must decide whether to accept its recommendation that the outside scientific experts be allowed to formally vet his decisions. Read more…


Warming Planet Could Zap Nutrition from Rice that Feeds the World (NPR)


The rising concentration of carbon dioxide in our air has the potential to severely diminish the nutritional value of rice, according to a new study

published in Science Advances. For people who depend heavily on rice as a staple in their diets, such a nutritional loss would be devastating.


“When you look at a country like Bangladesh, three out of every four calories comes from rice,” says Kristie Ebi, a professor at the University of Washington and an author on the study. “Obviously, that means any decline in nutritional value is very significant.” Read more…


Climate Change Disrupts Long-Term Plans for California’s Farmers (Grist)


America’s avocado industry is already experiencing the effects of climate change. Avocados are particularly sensitive to temperature fluctuations, as the trees start to falter when temperatures drop below 28 degrees Fahrenheit or rise above 100 degrees. Cold weather can shorten the trees’ pollination period, while water shortages, salt accumulation in the soil, and warm-weather loving pests can also lead to death.


California farmer Chris Sayer says all of these hazards are “quite possible in the next few decades, as the climate shifts.” During a February freeze, Sayer’s trees shed their leaves, which then caused the exposed avocados to burn in the sun.


Farmers who grow tree-based crops have to deal with the fact that it can take years for those trees to mature and pay off, which makes long-term planning in the face of an uncertain climate all the more challenging.


“It’s a virtual certainty that California will get drier,” said Jay Famiglietti, a senior water scientist at NASA. “I don’t think it’s a climate that’s conducive to orchard crops anymore.” Read more…


Urgent Climate Action Required to Protect Tens of Thousands of Species Worldwide, New Research Shows (Inside Climate News)


Humanity can powerfully improve the survival odds of tens of thousands of species, but only if nations dramatically raise their ambitions in the fight against climate change, according to new research published on Thursday in the journal Science.


One key to salvaging plant and vertebrate habitat and protecting the world’s biodiversity is to limit warming to the most challenging benchmark established under the 2015 Paris treaty-1.5 degrees Celsius of warming-not to the treaty’s less stringent 2 degree guardrail, the study found.


The study assessed, in more detail than ever before, a key measure of extinction risk: the shrinking size of each species’ current geographical range, or natural habitat. It projected that for an alarming number of species, their range size would shrink by at least half as temperatures rise past the Paris goals. Read more…


‘Clean Trillion’ Investment Goal in Sight and Achievable, Report Says



As part of the effort to stem climate change, a goal of an additional $1 trillion investment in clean energy per year through 2050 is eminently feasible, says a new report from Ceres, a Boston-based, non-profit sustainability advocacy organization.


The report, In Sight of the Clean Trillion: Update on an Expanding Landscape of Investor Opportunities, says that as a global transition to clean energy takes hold and the market matures, the quality of available opportunities aligned with core investment fundamentals make clean energy investments more attractive to investors. Savvy investors are taking stock of the dramatically improved landscape for clean energy – which is increasingly out-competing new fossil fuel and nuclear power sources around the world. Read more…


Hitting Toughest Climate Target Will Save World $30 Trillion in Damages, Analysis Shows (The Guardian)


Achieving the toughest climate change target set in the global Paris agreement will save the world about $30tn in damages, far more than the costs of cutting carbon emissions, according to a new economic analysis.


Most nations, representing 90 percent of global population, would benefit economically from keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the research indicates. This includes almost all the world’s poorest countries, as well as the three biggest economies – the US, China and Japan – contradicting the claim of US president, Donald Trump, that climate action is too costly. Read more…


A Higher Market for Ethanol through Octane Levels  (DTN)


Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle keeps close tabs on what’s happening with biofuels even though he’s been out of the U.S. Senate more than a decade now.


Daschle, who is working with the High Octane Low Carbon Alliance, told DTN in an interview last week he thinks the time is right for the ethanol industry to transcend the debate over the Renewable Fuel Standard — or even 15% blend levels — to help ethanol gain more market share by focusing on octane.


“The question is how do we get to the next level?” Daschle said from the office for his consulting and lobbying business, the Daschle Group. Read more…


Insurance Industry Dangerously Unprepared for Extreme Weather, Study Finds

(Science Daily)


As historic flooding caused by climate change devastates communities in New Brunswick and British Columbia, new research from the University of Waterloo reveals the insurance industry hasn’t considered a changing climate in their practices, putting homeowners at financial risk.


The study which looked at data from 178 insurers, found that most insurance companies assumed the risk to property from extreme weather is static and based their premiums on historical data. However, as extreme weather events are increasing in severity, frequency, and unpredictability, insurers have not adjusted. Read more…


Climate Change Fueled Hurricane’s Destruction Last Year. This Year Could Be Worse  (Think Progress)


Record-breaking ocean heat and other factors linked to climate change fueled Hurricane Harvey last year, according to a new report. The findings come amid initial forecasts indicating this year’s hurricane season could be far worse, with affected areas like Puerto Rico and Southeast Texas still a long way from recovery.


New analysis led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) indicates that warming waters off the Gulf of Mexico in the weeks before Hurricane Harvey allowed the storm to supercharge in August 2017. Published in Earth’s Future and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation, the report confirms what scientists have long speculated: that climate change plays a role in exacerbating hurricanes. Read more…


Grid Investments Totaling as Much as $500 Billion Challenged by Clean Energy Technologies (Rocky Mountain Institute)


U.S electricity generators may be committing their customers and investors to as much as $1 trillion in future investment and fuel costs through 2030 as they rush to build new gas-fired power plants. Yet advances in renewable energy and distributed energy resources (DERs) offer lower rates and emissions-free energy while delivering all the grid reliability services that new power plants can, according to a new Rocky Mountain Institute report, The Economics of Clean Energy Portfolios.


According to the analysis, in addition to beating proposed gas-fired power plants on a levelized cost basis, “clean energy portfolios” of renewables and DERs will also increasingly threaten the profitability of existing gas plants. Read more…


Pruitt’s Anti-Climate Agenda Is Facing New Challenge From Science Advisers

(Inside Climate News)


Scott Pruitt, the embattled head of the Environmental Protection Agency, faces a broadening challenge to his efforts to roll back greenhouse gas regulations, as agency science advisers expand the list of policies they want to vet at an upcoming meeting.


A work group of the EPA’s Science Advisory Board, in a May 18 memo, has added three more of his actions to a list they want reviewed by the full board: the weakening of auto efficiency and emissions standards, Pruitt’s elimination of a rule to curb truck pollution, and the cost-benefit analysis underpinning the Clean Power Plan, which the Trump administration is trying to undo. In an April 30 memo, the work group called for the full board to review Pruitt’s repealing of the Clean Power Plan


The main purpose of the board is to review the quality and relevance of scientific research used by the EPA to draft regulations. Read more…


Partner News and CSA Events


Global Climate Summit Set for Sept. 12-14 in San Francisco


The 2018 Global Climate Action Summit, set for Sept. 12-14 in San Francisco, will bring together state and local governments, business, and citizens from around the world to showcase climate action taking place, thereby demonstrating how the tide has turned in the race against climate change and inspiring deeper national commitments in support of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.


To keep warming well below 2 degrees Celsius, and ideally 1.5 degrees, and avoid temperatures that could lead to catastrophic consequences, worldwide emissions must start trending down by 2020, summit organizers say.


The Summit will show-case climate action around the world, along with bold new commitments, to give world leaders confidence to go even further by 2020.


The Summit’s five headline challenge areas are Healthy Energy Systems; Inclusive Economic Growth; Sustainable Communities; Land Stewardship; and Transformative Climate Investments


A series of reports are set to be launched over the coming months and at the summit underlining the contribution of states and regions, cities, businesses, investors and civil society, also known as “non-party stakeholders” to national and international efforts to address climate change.


Many partners are supporting the summit and the mobilization in advance, including Climate Group; the Global Covenant of Mayors; the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group; BSR; We Mean Business; CDP, formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project; the World Wide Fund for Nature; and Mission 2020.


Summit organizers are providing new evidence of how cities, states, regions, businesses and investors are taking climate ambition to the next level. Officials say the widespread efforts are helping to build momentum for a successful outcome for the UN Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland (COP24) at the end of the year.


Specifically, 11 new commitments from Mahindra, among India’s largest business houses, push the number of major global companies with science-based targets to more than 400.


The summit in San Francisco will be hosted by the California Gov. Jerry Brown; the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Climate Action, Michael Bloomberg; the Chairman of the Mahindra Group, Anand Mahindra; and the Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change, Patricia Espinosa.


“At COP (Conference of Players) 24 in Katowice, the world has much to accomplish to ensure that the Paris Agreement delivers the desired result, which is to keep climate change within manageable limits,” Espinosa said. “Thankfully, the revolutionary progress underway in the ‘real world’ economy, which will descend on California in September, will be instrumental to helping make Poland a success.”


To date, more than 700 leading businesses around the world have made strategic climate commitments through the We Mean Business coalition’s Take Action campaign. Collectively, the companies represent 2.62 gigatons of emissions, which is equivalent to the total annual emissions of India.


In addition to adding critical momentum to the COP24 negotiations in Poland this December – when governments of the world will meet to signal their readiness to enhance ambition – the summit in San Francisco will build momentum for a strong outcome at the Climate Summit to be convened by UN Secretary-General António Guterres in 2019, and to elevate climate action plans – Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs – by 2020.


“2018 is the year when the world must step up climate action to bend down emissions by 2020 – and set the stage for the fast and full implementation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement and its crucial temperature goal,” said Nick Nuttall, the September summit’s communications director. “The summit will bring businesses, states, cities, regions, territories and people from around the world together and in common cause to take climate ambition to the next level.”


For more information on the September summit, click HERE.


We encourage our NACSAA partners and other stakeholders to share with us any organization news or events highlighting your role in climate smart agriculture. We look forward to including your information in our monthly newsletter. Simply send your news or event notices to info@SfLDialogue.net.



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