North American leaders agree to cooperate on climate change
On August 10, 2009, at a North American summit in Guadalajara, Mexico, the leaders of the United States, Mexico and Canada issued a joint declaration that committed their three countries to work together on climate change and clean energy issues. In the declaration, U.S. President Barack Obama, Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper supported reducing global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 50% below 1990 or more recent levels by 2050, as well as having developed countries reduce their emissions 80% below 1990 or more recent levels by the same year. Other commitments include (i) cooperating to implement mid- and long-term goals to reduce national and North American GHG emissions; (ii) developing comparable approaches to measuring, reporting and verifying emissions reductions; and (iii) collaborating on climate-friendly and low-carbon technology, including a smart grid in North America.
For further information, please see "NAFTA partners eye continental carbon scheme."
Chicago Climate Exchange incorporates international standards in offset protocols
The Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), a voluntary emissions trading program, recently announced that it will be incorporating International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards into its project design criteria; currently, project proponents must follow these criteria before the CCX will issue them tradable offset credits – which it bundles as Carbon Financial Instruments (CFIs) – for the sequestration, destruction or reduction of GHG emissions. The ISO standards will add more stringent requirements to CCX's project design criteria, particularly with respect to quantifying, monitoring and reporting GHG emission reductions or removals.
In the draft of the climate bill proposed by U.S. Congressmen Henry Waxman and Edward Markey (Waxman-Markey Bill), which is currently being considered in the U.S. Senate, CFIs could be used for compliance with the bill's proposed federal U.S. cap-and-trade system.
For further information, please see CCX Offsets Program.
National Round Table responds to federal climate change report
The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) recently released its response to the federal government's 2009 Climate Change Plan, as required by the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act. In its response, the NRTEE assesses the federal government's current and proposed emission-reduction programs, concluding, among other things, that "it is likely that many of the emission reductions attributed to specific measures and policies are overestimated." As a result, the NRTEE recommends the federal government continue to improve its emissions forecasting methodologies and reporting.
For further information, please see "Response of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy to its Obligations under the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act - July 2009."
Nova Scotia limits electricity sector emissions
On August 14, 2009, Nova Scotia issued the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Regulations under the province's Environment Act, requiring certain electricity generators to make incremental emissions reductions between 2010 and 2020. Although the regulations apply to all generators in the province that emit more than 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year, their effect will only be to limit emissions from Nova Scotia Power Inc., the province's only operator of coal-fired generation. Nova Scotia Power is currently responsible for nearly 50% of the province's GHG emissions. To date, Nova Scotia has not become a full member of any regional emissions trading regime, being an observer of, but not a partner in, the Western Climate Initiative.
For further information, please see "Greenhouse Gas, Air Pollutant Caps."
U.S. commission to regulate carbon-based financial instruments
The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has reportedly decided to regulate aspects of the CCX's emissions trading program. This announcement follows the CFTC's decision earlier this month to assess whether CFIs, the tradable emissions reduction unit listed on the CCX, perform a significant price discovery function. If, as the CFTC has suggested, it will issue an order determining that CFIs perform such a function, the previously exempt CCX must come into compliance with certain core requirements of the U.S. Commodity Exchange Act. These requirements would subject CFIs and CCX market participants to the CFTC's position limits and large trader reporting requirements, among other things. The CFTC's announcement coincides with the U.S. Senate's consideration, in the context of the Waxman-Markey Bill, of the way any future emissions trading under that bill would be regulated and which agency would oversee and enforce the trading rules.
For further information, please see the CFTC's media release.
Climate change shareholder resolutions increasing
The non-profit groups Ceres and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility recently issued a report concluding that shareholder resolutions on the issue of climate change are increasing in frequency and success. According to the report, 68 climate-related shareholder resolutions were filed during the 2009 proxy season. One of these resolutions by shareholders of the Idaho energy company IDACORP was the first to be approved by a majority vote – 51.2%. IDACORP has now promised to adopt GHG emission- reduction targets and is cooperating with a shareholder advisory group to identify potential renewable energy pilot projects.
For further information, please see "Investors Achieve Major Company Commitments on Climate Change.
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