Martin Levy

Martin Levy is an associate in the firm’s Washington’s office. He is a member of the Environmental and Energy Regulatory practice, focusing on low-carbon and renewable energy incentives, carbon markets, environmental marketing claims, and other corporate climate change initiatives. He advises power generators, technology companies, and financial institutions on how to better align their business practices with “net zero” commitments. Before joining Covington, Martin was a vetting attorney with the Biden-Harris Presidential Transition, a law clerk at the Eastern District of New York, and an undergraduate environmental law instructor at Boston College.

What You Need to Know.

  • After two days of intense negotiations, world leaders adopted a draft decision that sets out international climate priorities in response to the findings of the first Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement.  The decision covers several thematic areas, including mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation and resilience in the face of climate change, financing and means of implementation and support for climate projects, and loss and damage funding for climate-vulnerable nations.  The text of the draft decision can be found on the UNFCCC’s website here.

Continue Reading COP28 Final Negotiations Recap: A Global Agreement to Transition Away from Fossil Fuels

What You Need to Know.

  • The thematic focus of the day’s programming was on nature, land use, and ocean, including events on scaling effective solutions that protect, restore, and beneficially manage nature ecosystems, addressing drivers of nature loss, empowering Indigenous Peoples and local communities, and creating resilient livelihoods.  As part of this discussion, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) launched a report highlighting that nearly $7 trillion of public and private finance each year supports activities that directly harm nature—thirty times the amount spent annually on “nature-based solutions,” or actions to protect, conserve, restore, sustainably use, and manage natural resources that simultaneously provide human well-being, ecosystem, and resilience and biodiversity benefits.

Continue Reading COP28 Day 9 Recap: Nature, Land Use, Oceans, and Nature-Based Solutions

What You Need to Know.

  • Two years ago, governments at COP26 agreed to “phase down” the use of unabated coal. This year, countries remain split on specific language concerning fossil fuels more broadly.
  • A draft version of the climate agreement for COP28 provides three different options for the future of fossil fuel use.  The first requires the parties of COP28 to commit to “an orderly and just phase out of fossil fuels,” while the second would instead commit to “accelerating efforts towards phasing out unabated fossil fuels and to rapidly reducing their use so as to achieve net-zero CO2 in energy systems by or around mid-century.”  The third option would contain no text on this point.  Saudi Arabia’s energy minister has already rejected any language that would phase out fossil fuels.  And at the same time, NGO reports have sharply criticized the outsized role of fossil fuel lobbyists at COP28, especially at a time when the stakes are high for the energy transition.  

Continue Reading COP28 Day 6 Recap: Draft Agreement Lays Out Options Concerning Potential “Phase Out” of Fossil Fuels

What You Need to Know.

  • The fourth Day of COP28 saw the first-ever Health Day at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference.  In collaboration with the World Health Organization, Health Day included programing that showcased the links between the impacts of climate change on human health and methods for identifying and scaling adaptation measures to address these impacts.

Continue Reading COP28 Day 4 Recap: The First COP Health Day

Last week, the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that modifies the regulations applicable to the Energy Credit under Section 48 of the Internal Revenue Code (Code).  The NPRM also withdraws and repurposes portions of an August proposal on the rules governing the increased credit amount available for taxpayers satisfying prevailing wage and registered apprenticeship requirements established by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).  This post summarizes a few key aspects of the NPRM below:Continue Reading Department of the Treasury and IRS propose new guidance for the Section 48 Investment Tax Credit

On January 6th, the White House Council of Environmental Quality (“CEQ”) released a new Guidance on Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate Change (“the Guidance”) in permitting decisions, with significant implications for energy and infrastructure projects.  Though this Guidance is effective as of the date of publication, it was issued on an interim basis and CEQ will consider comments until March 10th, after which it could be revised further. 

CEQ’s recommendations will influence the Biden Administration’s analysis of greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions in environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), applying immediately to all newly proposed actions as well as some on-going NEPA reviews.  While the Guidance is largely framed as a series of recommendations rather than requirements, it highlights best practices for environmental reviews that could help expedite project completions, improve agency decision making, and minimize litigation risks for developers.  Ultimately, CEQ is trying to ensure that agencies and project developers pay sufficient attention to climate impacts, without causing unwarranted delays to agency decision-making, particularly considering that accelerating clean energy infrastructure is a key component of the Biden Admiration’s climate agenda. 

The Guidance seeks to foster a greater understanding of GHG impacts and the tradeoffs among alternatives, thus raising expectations around the quality of federal GHG analyses.  Project developers will want to work closely with federal regulators to ensure the sufficiency of agency NEPA reviews. Failures to do so may provide project opponents a pathway to litigation. Continue Reading White House issues guidance on greenhouse gas analysis in permitting decisions

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol (“GHG Protocol” or “Protocol”)—a leading standard setter for measuring and managing corporate greenhouse gas emissions, borne of a partnership between World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)—has opened stakeholder surveys concerning the revision of its Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard, Guidance on Scope 2 Emissions, and the Scope 3 Standard and Scope 3 Calculation Guidance.Continue Reading Corporate Carbon Counting Under Scrutiny—Comments Requested on Pending Updates to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol

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

In a series of prior blog posts, we previously highlighted the historic implications of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) for the U.S.’s international climate commitments, as well as for private companies navigating the energy transition.  Shortly after our series published, the Senate passed the IRA on Sunday August 7th with only minor modifications to the bill’s $369 billion in climate and clean energy spending.  Today, the House passed the IRA without any further changes, and soon hereafter President Biden is expected to sign it into law. 

However, this is only the beginning of the road; the IRA will have sweeping implications beyond the four corners of its pages.  In the coming months and years, we expect to see intense jockeying over agency rulemakings that will shape the IRA’s implementation, as well as determine its ultimate success as an energy policy.  Continue Reading House Passes Inflation Reduction Act, Marks a New Era for Climate Policy

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (the “IRA”) features $260 billion in clean-energy tax credits. While the IRA extends many existing clean-energy tax credits, like the energy production tax credit and investment tax credit for wind and solar, it also establishes new credits, including credits for advanced manufacturing and hydrogen production. Additionally, beginning in 2025, taxpayers with zero emissions facilities would have added flexibility to choose between using a new technology neutral production tax credit or investment tax credit.Continue Reading Expansion and Long-Term Stability of Climate and Energy Tax Credits