This week, University of Maryland Center for Global Sustainability (CGS) staff and faculty are attending the 2019 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit in Tempe, Arizona. The annual summit, hosted by Second Nature and the International Endowments Network, brings together a diverse set of higher education leaders who are committed to furthering the climate agenda, from local to global action.
COP24 was held in Katowice, Poland, a region known for producing one of the largest energy sources responsible for rampant GHG emissions – fossil fuels. And throughout the talks, the Trump Administration continued to bolster the coal industry. This nothing to stop the continual advancements and cost improvements of renewable energy technologies. As coal continues to decline globally, the issue of transitioning coal communities is coming into focus. In the US, one proposal that has been floated is the Green New Deal, which features a broad set of policies meant to spur job creation through clean energy investments.
The Center for Global Sustainability will have a strong delegation of University of Maryland faculty and staff at this year’s UN climate negotiations. CGS is hosting an official side event and co-hosting an event as a part of the “We Are Still In” (WASI) day of action. This COP has significant potential to set the tone for the future of international climate action as CGS Director Nate Hultman notes, “this conference is the beginning of that sprint to 2020 to encourage all cities, states, businesses, countries, and other actors to set their sights on more rapid economic transformations”.
Last week the Trump administration released the federally mandated National Climate Assessment (NCA4), which is prepared every four years by the nation’s top climate scientists. This publication is meant to take stock of the impacts from global warming and climate change in the United States as well as prepare the country for what is to come. And the message is clear: rising temperatures will not only cost everyone extreme amounts of money and negatively impact American’s livelihoods, but will notably disproportionately affect minorities and their surrounding environments.
Last week, the U.S. midterm election flipped the House of Representatives, six state legislative chambers, seven governorships, and a myriad of other seats across the country, thus sweeping in a cohort of new leaders at state, city, and local levels who have committed to ambitious climate action. This wave of new leaders adds to the already large list of city, state, and other elected leaders who have incorporated climate change into their platform: acknowledging scientific consensus, pledging to uphold the Paris Agreement, and investing in clean energy.
The recent IPCC 1.5 report dramatically underscores the critical importance of a rapid phasedown in global coal use. Pathways consistent with keeping warming under 1.5 degrees imply reductions of roughly 60-80% by 2030 and between 90-100% by 2050. And as the world’s largest coal consumer and largest GHG emitter, China is the single most important player in a successful global coal phasedown strategy. Our recent CGS State of Global Power report demonstrated the core necessity of a dual strategy of both phasing out existing coal capacity as well as ensuring that planned new capacity is not built. Until recently, it appeared that central government efforts to throttle back the hitherto blistering pace of Chinese coal build out, a recent report by CoalSwarm has surprised many indicating that a much larger number of coal plants than expected are still being planned and built.
A bit over one year ago, in June 2017, President Trump announced his intent to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. While formally the withdrawal cannot legally happen until just after the 2020 election, this announcement catalyzed a groundswell of new climate action across the United States. Within 72 hours of that announcement, a coalition of over 2,700 cities, states, businesses, universities, communities of faith, and others had committed to support the goals of the Paris Agreement through the “We Are Still In” coalition. That coalition—now numbering over 3,500—is globally significant. It represents more than half of the U.S. population (173 million people) and nearly 60% of U.S. GDP ($11.4 trillion). If this coalition were a country, it would be the world’s third largest economy and the world’s fourth largest GHG emitter.
The new report, Fulfilling America’s Pledge: How States, Cities, and Businesses Are Leading the United States to a Low-Carbon Future, was released at the Global Climate Action (GCAS) summit in San Francisco, CA. The report was co-chaired by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. and UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Action Michael R. Bloomberg.
From Sept. 12 to Sept. 14 people from around the world are gathering in San Francisco, CA at the Global Climate Action Summit to share information on climate action, discuss how to enhance ambition, and work together to help the world meet its’ climate goals. Among those people are representatives from the Center for Global Sustainability, including Director Nate Hultman.
Click through to learn more about the initiatives and events that CGS is a part of this week at GCAS.
Growing concerns surrounding global temperature rise and climate instability has created a sense of urgency among the international community, national and subnational leaders, companies, and citizen groups to dramatically reduce carbon emissions, and one of the largest opportunities to do so is through a reduction in coal power usage.
The Center for Global Sustainability has authored a report that analyzes what impact existing and future coal power has on the world meeting the national and global goals of the Paris Agreement.
CGS director Nate Hultman, who led the UMD COP23 delegation, noted that “this COP was focused on how the international community will develop procedures to implement the Paris Agreement, including provisions on reporting and transparency, and also on the next steps for the process to assess progress toward national goals. Our presence at the COP was focused on how we as a research and educational institution can support those processes and develop future leaders.”
On October 27, The Center for Global Sustainability co-sponsored a screening of “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” and an interactive panel on how students can take action to address the climate crisis based on the challenges portrayed in the film.
The Center for Global Sustainability and School of Public Policy recently hosted Ambassador Rachmat Witoelar, Indonesian President’s Special Envoy for Climate Change, for a special event to discuss current issues facing Indonesia, specifically deforestation, and potential ways to achieve sustainable economic growth and meet commitments under the Paris Agreement.
As US states and territories grapple with rebuilding costs and the need for enhanced resilience in the wake of extreme weather events, the Center for Global Sustainability (CGS) released a report today on “Climate Change Risk and the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System.” This analysis recommends specific actions the State of Maryland could take to more fully account for climate related risks facing its state pension system.
Drawing on research on climate-related investment risks, opportunities, and responsibilities, the report explores the extent to which the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System (SRPS) incorporates such risks in its investment planning and other practices. The report further describes best practices for managing institutional investment portfolios in the face of climate change and offers recommendations for how Maryland SRPS can incorporate climate risk and opportunity into its operations.
For the fall 2017 inaugural Global Sustainability Forum, the Center for Global Sustainability welcomed Dr. Katja Biedenkopf, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Leuven in Belgium, who presented her work on policy diffusion, infusion, and the linkages within polycentric carbon pricing governance.
Dr. Biedenkopf opened her discussion with a question: “How and why do policies, policy-makers and non-state actors interact to ratchet up global climate mitigation ambition to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system?”
Energy planning and policymaking require careful balancing of multiple objectives, such as economic growth, social impact, and environmental sustainability. But fossil-fuel based energy is a leading cause of climate change as well. How can these varied concerns be addressed? What trends of energy production and consumption can we expect in the future? What will be the socio-economic impacts of transition towards low-carbon systems?
To discuss these questions and many more, energy modelers from all over the world gathered at the University of Maryland campus for the 36th edition of the International Energy Workshop. The IEW is the one of the world’s leading conferences for the energy modeling research community.
April 22, 2017 marked 47 years since the first Earth Day was celebrated across the United States. In the decades since, Earth Day has transformed into a widely-embraced annual event, observed by over one billion people globally.
The Center for Global Sustainability hosted a panel in Stamp Student Union on April 20 that attempted to understand what it will take to achieve continued and meaningful progress toward sustainable development, given the current political reality. The Environmental, International Development, and International Security and Economic Policy Councils at the School of Public Policy cosponsored the event.
Distinguished University of Maryland physics professor Ellen Williams presented a Global Sustainability Forum on April 25 discussing her ARPA-E concerning the interface between policy and technology.
The Center for Global Sustainability co-sponsored a career practitioner panel with the School of Public Policy Environmental Council and the Office of Career Services and Alumni Relations on April 11 in order to provide an opportunity for professionals to share their experiences with undergraduate and graduate students.
The panel included Cara Marcy, Renewable Electricity Analyst with the U.S. Energy Information Administration; James McGarry, Maryland and D.C. Policy Director for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network; and Andrew Reighart, an economist with the Environmental Protection Agency.