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Issues to watch at COP26: US perspective

26 October 2021 Kevin Adler

With COP26 a few days away, Net-Zero Business Daily has reached out to leading companies, analysts, and trade groups for their perspective on the upcoming meeting in Glasgow, Scotland, asking: What needs to be accomplished? Will those goals be met?

IHS Markit pointed out in a recent report that the global energy market price surge and energy supply shortfalls have changed the dynamics of COP26. "This development has only crystalized its transformation into an economic planning conference—as much or more than a climate change conference," wrote Peter Gardett, executive director, financial services, and Conway Irwin, research and analysis director, financial services.

Conferees will have to balance the pressures of immediate demands for energy with the urgency to set strict and enforceable long-term rules to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

In this first of a two-part series, experts respond with a US perspective. A non-US perspective will follow later this week.

American Petroleum Institute Director of Corporate Policy Aaron Padilla

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time; and, as the Paris Agreement lays out, the world needs to develop approaches to reduce GHG emissions while ensuring access to affordable, reliable energy to meet rising demand in emerging markets. The natural gas and oil industry supports these efforts and is committed to working on solutions through continuous innovation and collaboration on policies that support our Climate Action Framework.

API seeks to accelerate technologies like hydrogen and carbon capture, use, and storage, put an economy-wide price on carbon dioxide, directly regulate methane from new and existing sources, improve climate reporting, and advance cleaner fuels and LNG exports. COP26 presents an opportunity for our industry to highlight these climate solutions so countries can work together on a global scale while ensuring the world has access to the affordable, reliable energy needed to alleviate poverty and make modern life possible.

US Chamber of Commerce Global Energy Institute Vice President for Policy Dan Byers

First, we are pleased the United States has rejoined the Paris Agreement and is leading international collaboration on climate change. It's very difficult for US business community priorities to be advanced when our government is not at the table.

Second, successful completion of the "Paris Rulebook" will provide a common framework for implementing national commitments. In particular, accounting and transparency measures under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement are important to enabling emissions credit trading among countries. If successful, it will facilitate greater private investment in climate solutions and help unleash the power of markets to meet emissions targets.

Finally, it's important to recognize that COP26 is only one step on a journey, and there is much reason for optimism. Governments, businesses, and other stakeholders are more committed than ever to addressing the climate challenge. A cooperative global foundation will help facilitate development of the technologies and policies necessary to meet ambitious climate goals.

Environmental Defense Fund Director, Multilateral Climate Strategy and Lead Counsel Alex Hanafi

A compromise is within reach for implementation guidance for Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which provides a framework for countries to cooperatively use carbon markets to meet and beat their international emissions reduction targets, while promoting sustainable development and adaptation to the impacts of climate change.

Draft guidance produced by negotiators at COP25 created a strong foundation for agreement this year. That progress helped crystallize attention on the stickiest issues, like double counting and the transition of Kyoto-era carbon credits into a new global market, that will require additional focused work at this COP to be resolved.

Any compromise must:

  • Prevent all forms of double-counting of mitigation toward the achievement of Paris Agreement temperature goals;
  • Facilitate high-quality mitigation across all sectors; and
  • Ensure comprehensive reporting and transparency of international carbon market cooperation.

These basic rules of the road are essential for carbon markets to contribute to ambitious emissions cuts, and critical to providing confidence in the environmental integrity of Article 6.

Frank Maisano, Bracewell Policy Resolution Group

COP26 is a challenging environment for negotiators, but especially the US. We already had a steep uphill climb to meet arbitrary targets that President Biden announced in April. Now, we are feeling further pinch of a global energy squeeze that has increased the prices of everything and made our recovery from COVID-19 even more difficult.

Difficulties Congress encountered attempting to pass climate legislation in the budget process further underscore the political challenges an overly aggressive climate plan faces.

These are the political and energy realities.

We already have a success though that is important to recognize: Last December, bipartisan legislation was overwhelmingly passed to phase out HFCs from air-conditioning and refrigerants, which will reduce global temperatures by 0.5 degrees Celsius by 2100. This is a major gain where industry and environmentalists, Republicans and Democrats, and developed and large developing economies like India and China all came together to support significant climate reductions.

Given the COP challenges, it should be the model for how to proceed.

Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute

For the HVACR [heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration] and water heating industry, success at COP26 looks like collaboration centered around success stories such as we've achieved in the United States. Our multi-year, multi-million-dollar alternative refrigerant research program, coupled with the aggressive allocation-based HFC phasedown schedule, can be used as a model for others to follow. The alternative refrigerants we've developed will be available for the industries in all countries to use according to their needs and applications and the US Environmental Protection Agency's phasedown program can be emulated by any nation.

When the HFC phasedown program is complete, including ratification of the Kigali amendment, US greenhouse gas emissions will have been reduced by the equivalent of one-quarter billion tons of carbon dioxide per year. The overwhelming majority of those reductions will be due to refrigerant changes by the HVACR and water heating industry. We are happy to assist the global industry, drawing from our extensive research and training, which is why we hope collaboration will be a major marker of this meeting.

Alliance for Automotive Innovation President and CEO John Bozzella

The auto sector is doing its part to shape a path forward toward a net-zero carbon transportation future. As the auto sector continues to make hundreds of billions [of dollars] in financial investments in vehicle electrification, there also needs to be a sustained commitment by governments and all stakeholders.

COP26 and surrounding conversations will help to clarify the shared vision and challenges ahead as nations across the globe work to put in place the complementary policies and investments necessary to support a fundamental shift to net-zero carbon transportation and broad consumer adoption.

The Center for ESG & Sustainability, Jim Duncan, president, and Jack Belcher, vice president

Success at Glasgow would be commitments from Paris signatories to meet and increase their Nationally Determined Contributions toward 1) meeting/committing to net-zero emissions targets, 2) financing decarbonization and 3) phasing out coal.

In order to achieve goals 1 and 3, we need to take a realistic look at the world's energy system and determine how best to expand energy use in the emerging world without coal in a clean, reliable, and affordable manner. The US comes to Glasgow with newly affirmed Paris commitments, but it needs to assert more leadership than that. It needs to commit to helping provide the energy the world needs in order to replace coal. That means developing and exporting clean energy for the world, including financing the infrastructure the developing world needs to get there (goal 2). We believe that at least part of these goals will be achieved at COP26.

Posted 26 October 2021 by Kevin Adler, Chief Editor

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