As noted in our COP27 recap, this year’s climate summit in Sharm el-Sheik involved both the historic creation of a fund to compensate countries most impacted by climate change, as well as lost opportunities to adopt more ambitious and accelerated climate mitigation commitments.  Perhaps hidden between these headlines, President Biden announced an initiative with significant implications for federal contractors.  Under this proposal, the United States would become the first country to require major government suppliers and contractors to set science-based emissions reduction targets aligned with the Paris Agreement.  It would also require contractors to disclose their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate risks. 

This initiative—the proposed Federal Supplier Climate Risks and Resilience Rule—would have wide-reaching impacts if ultimately finalized.  Collectively, the proposed rule would cover about 86 percent of the federal government’s supply chain GHG impacts and 86 percent of federal annual spending.  To put this in perspective, in the last fiscal year alone the United States purchased $630 billion in goods and services.

The comment period for the proposed Federal Supplier Climate Risks and Resilience Rule closes on January 13, 2023.  The proposed compliance requirements for major contractors would start two years after publication of a final rule.  If promulgated, this rule may be challenged in court along the lines of the Biden Administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors.  

Continue Reading US Government Proposes Rule Requiring Major Federal Contractors to Disclose Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Establish Science-Based Emissions Reduction Targets

The United Nations annual climate change conference—officially known as the 27th Conference
of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (“UNFCCC”), or COP27 for
short—held in Sharm el Sheik, Egypt, finally concluded early Sunday morning, more than 24
hours late.

COP27 was held amidst the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine and the consequent economic
turmoil, including Europe’s scramble to secure non-Russian gas. It was previewed by a
UNFCCC report which concluded that on its current trajectory the world faced warming of
between 2.5 and 2.9 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, and accompanied by a new
report from the International Energy Agency’s 2022 World Energy Outlook, which concluded
that the world needed to spend at least $4 trillion annually to tackle climate change from now
until 2030.

Against this challenging backdrop, COP27 was never going to be straightforward. But those
difficulties were compounded by divisions between the developing and developed world over
the priorities that should form the focus for COP27. Those divisions manifested themselves
most clearly in tensions before, during, and at the conclusion of the Conference over the issue
of “loss and damage.” This acrimony overshadowed almost all other aspects of the COP, which
will nonetheless be viewed as historic for being the first COP to not only place the loss and
damage issue on the official agenda, but for its creation of a separate fund to compensate
countries most impacted by climate change. But loss and damage aside, the broader picture
that emerged from COP27 was one of lost opportunities to adopt more ambitious and
accelerated climate mitigation commitments in response to the dire scientific warnings about the
impact of rapid global warming on the planet. In particular, efforts calling for a phase down of all
fossil fuels were ultimately unsuccessful in the Summit’s final agreement and highlighted the
mismatch between the pace of global emissions reduction commitments and that which is
needed to avoid the most disruptive climate impacts.

Continue Reading COP27: A Flawed Though Still<br />Consequential Climate Summit

Negotiations over the text of the final Declaration appear to have not progressed significantly since yesterday. The issues holding up progress now are the same issues that had been identified at the outset as key: loss and damage; mitigation gaps (weak NDCs); the $100 billion in climate finance promised to developing countries from 2020; and the doubling of the proportion of the $100 billion going to adaptation projects. The dual Egyptian Foreign Minister and COP President called on delegates to find solutions—though normally the responsibility for moving text forward lies with the host country.  

Continue Reading Highlights from Cop 27: Solutions Day

COP 27 was electrified yesterday by the speech of President-elect Lula of Brazil. Promising to reverse the deforestation of the Amazon and commenting that Brazil is already a global agricultural giant without the need to clear any more rainforest, he called on wealthy nations to make good on their COP 15 pledge to set aside $100 billion per year for adaptation and demanded additional funding for loss and damage, noting that the countries least responsible for climate change were those currently suffering from it the most. He also underlined the importance of international partnerships, including the recent agreement between Brazil, Indonesia, and the Congo to work together on conservation.

Continue Reading Highlights from COP 27: Biodiversity Day

On November 15th, all eyes were on the G20 Summit where news that the meeting between Presidents Biden and Xi had been broadly positive–including instructions for officials to re-engage on climate change–along with the announcement of funding to help Indonesia move away from reliance on coal-fired energy, served as a welcome boost to the mood in Sharm.

Continue Reading Highlights from COP 27: Energy Day

COP27 was never going to be a ‘Big COP’ in the way that COP26 in Glasgow was.  It was not originally designed to be one of the five-year ratchet reviews of NDCs set out by the 2015 the Paris Agreement and there were no major new climate change texts due to be negotiated.  Sharm’s value is likely to be assessed, at least in part, on whether it effectively tees up important items for next year, including:

  • the Global Stocktake (the technical dialogue will conclude in June next year, and the political phase at COP28);
  • the Global Goal on Adaptation, due to conclude next year;
  • the New Collective Quantified Goal on climate finance, due to conclude in 2024; and
  • the increasingly important future discussions on loss and damage. 

However, COP27 remains an important waypoint – not least in how successful it eventually is in avoiding acrimonious debate and significant tensions over loss and damage.

Continue Reading COP 27: Week One Summary

Today, water and gender day, kicked off the second week of COP 27 after a rest day on Sunday.

Normally technical negotiators would hand over negotiations to ministers after the COP weekend to focus on political issues in the second week. However, at this COP, the Egyptian presidency is apparently not planning to bring ministers into negotiations until Wednesday. That would leave very little time to agree on the final texts before the end of COP.

Continue Reading Highlights from COP 27: Water and Gender Day

The day started with the gloomy release of the Global Carbon Project Report which concluded that 2022 was the highest ever emitting year, with increased coal use in India and increased airline use in the U.S. as the main culprits. UN projections are that global emissions must peak by 2025 and halve by 2030 if the world is to meet the 1.5 degree ambition agreed at the Paris COP in 2015 (emissions in 2022 are more than 5% higher than in 2015).

Continue Reading Highlights from COP 27: Decarbonization Day

Some frustrations emerged Thursday as it became clear that negotiations on the ‘Cover Text’ for COP27 would not begin until Saturday 12 November. In previous COPs, the text has been almost finalized in negotiations before the meetings started.

Continue Reading Highlights from COP 27: Youth and Science Day  

After the opening two days of COP27 – which were focused on the High Level Segment (HLS) dedicated to Heads of State and Government – today, November 9, was the first day of the ‘main COP’ with the opening of negotiations on official texts and agreements. Reports are that the opening phases of the talks are positive. Appropriately, given tensions earlier this week over financing for loss and damage, today was billed as Finance Day.

Continue Reading Highlights from COP 27: Finance Day