Featured Report

Fulfilling America’s Pledge: How States, Cities and Businesses are Leading the United States to a Low-Carbon Future

September 2018

Bloomberg Philanthropies

Meeting the ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement demands full partnership and deep collaboration between all actors across our society: states, cities, businesses, universities, and communities.

The decisions taken by these real economy actors shape the trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions, drive innovation across the economy, and determine the speed of the global energy transition. And nowhere is this kind of decentralized climate leadership currently more important than in the United States.

You can access the report here.


Recent CGS Publications

The State of Global Coal Power: Proposed New Capacity and Power Sector Decarbonization - A Summary for Policymakers

April 9, 2018

Center for Global Sustainability

Abstract: The world is running out of time to dramatically reduce emissions to stabilize climate, and one of the biggest contributors, and potential reduction opportunities, is the massive amount of existing and planned coal-fired electric power capacity. The Paris Agreement, signed by 195 Parties with broad engagement from businesses, subnational actors, and citizen groups, crystallized the world’s commitment to stabilizing and reducing emissions while limiting global temperature increase to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

Achieving these goals will not be possible without a rapid phase-out of existing coal-fired electricity and a dramatic reduction in the construction of new coal power. Moreover, as part of the Paris Agreement, countries advanced national targets, known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs), which identify their roadmaps towards lowering emissions. However, at the same time, many of these countries are still actively planning, authorizing, and constructing new coal-fired power plants, which if actually built would prevent many from reaching their national goals and would make reaching global climate goals nearly impossible.

This report examines the current trend of global coal power development and how those trajectories will affect these national and global goals.

You can access the report here.

Climate Change Risk and the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System

Matthew Binsted, Nathan Hultman, Wes L. Hanson, Alan Miller, Travis St. Clair

September 2017

Center for Global Sustainability

Abstract: Climate change poses a real and meaningful threat to economies, industries, and companies at global, national, and local levels. The physical impacts of climate change create multiple, well-documented risks to people, governments, and business, but the risks are not limited to physical damages: other important risks include loss of competitiveness and value associated with the transition to a low carbon economy, and legal liability for the mismanagement of such risks. These risks are particularly relevant to public pension funds, which have long-running, predefined obligations to beneficiaries and need to sustain growth over longer time horizons.

Download the report here.


Affiliated Publications

Implications of sustainable development considerations for comparability across nationally determined contributions

Gokul Iyer, Katherine Calvin, Leon Clarke, James Edmonds, Nathan Hultman, Corinne Hartin, Haewon McJeon, Joseph Aldy & William Pizer

29 January 2018

Nature Climate Change

Abstract: An important component of the Paris Agreement is the assessment of comparability across nationally determined contributions (NDCs). Indeed, game-theory literature on international environmental agreements highlights the need for comparable emission-mitigation efforts by countries to avoid free-riding. At the same time, there are well-recognized links between mitigation and other national priorities, including but not limited to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which raises the question of how such links might influence comparability assessments. Here, using a global integrated assessment model, we demonstrate that geographical distributions of the influence of meeting the domestic mitigation component of the NDCs on a subset of the broader SDGs may not align with distributions of effort across NDCs obtained from conventional emissions-based or cost-based comparability metrics. This implies that comparability assessments would be altered if interactions between mitigation and other SDGs were accounted for. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the extent to which these distributions differ depends on the degree to which mitigation activities directly affect broader SDGs domestically and indirectly affect international goals, and whether these effects are synergistic or antagonistic. Our analysis provides a foundation for assessing how comparability across NDCs could be better understood in the larger context of sustainability.

You can access the paper on Nature's website here.

Poverty eradication in a carbon constrained world

Klaus Hubacek, Giovanni Baiocchi, Kuishuang Feng & Anand Patwardhan

24 October 2017

Nature Communications

Abstract: The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change aims to keep warming below 2 °C while recognizing developing countries’ right to eradicate extreme poverty. Poverty eradication is also the first of the Sustainable Development Goals. This paper investigates potential consequences for climate targets of achieving poverty eradication. We find that eradicating extreme poverty, i.e., moving people to an income above $1.9 purchasing power parity (PPP) a day, does not jeopardize the climate target even in the absence of climate policies and with current technologies. On the other hand, bringing everybody to a still modest expenditure level of at least $2.97 PPP would have long-term consequences on achieving emission targets. Compared to the reference mitigation pathway, eradicating extreme poverty increases the effort by 2.8% whereas bringing everybody to at least $2.97 PPP would increase the required mitigation rate by 27%. Given that the top 10% global income earners are responsible for 36% of the current carbon footprint of households; the discourse should address income distribution and the carbon intensity of lifestyles.

You can access the paper on Nature's website here.