Outlook 2016: Climate Policy on an International Stage

Beijing air pollution

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling it the “start of a new era,” now that the first-ever global climate pact was reached last month in Paris with nearly 200 countries.  And now the international focus is on goals reached in the Paris Agreement. 

But what exactly are the immediate priorities going forward for the UN, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and individual countries involved in the deal?

The latest Outlook series released today by Bloomberg BNA’s Daily Environment Report examines what’s in store for 2016 on the international stage. The plans and promises to tackle global climate change. The economics involved. And calls for changes in the business community to help drive the change.

Across the UN, gears are shifting. While implementation of the Paris Agreement remains a top focus, climate change will be a less visible priority than a year ago. In fact, when asked about its environmental priorities for 2016, a UN Environment Program spokesman listed climate change alongside ecosystems management, environmental governance, and chemical and waste management as top priorities (story for subscribers).

The OECD plans to publish policy analysis and guidance to help countries implement outcomes from the UN climate summit in Paris. The organization also intends to follow-up work to its report from last year on aligning policies for a low-carbon economy—developed with its autonomous agencies the International Energy Agency, International Transport Forum and Nuclear Energy Agency (story for subscribers).

China, the world's biggest producer and consumer of coal, will unveil in March a major planning document for social, political and economic development, known as the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016–2020).  And while the country tries to direct its economy away from coal, it’s also grappling with a tremendous economic slowdown (story for subscribers).

Continued low prices for oil are both a boon and a curse for Canada. Low prices limit greenhouse gas emissions increases by restricting growth in Canada's oil sands-driven energy sector, but they also tie the government's hands by restricting tax revenue. Meanwhile Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says she is preparing for a meeting this winter between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the premiers to develop a national plan to fight climate change (story for subscribers).

France has an energy law that this year sets a broad plan for cutting the country’s reliance on fossil fuels and boosting use of clean renewable energies. Segolene Royal, France’s minister of ecology, sustainable development and energy, has called on the automobile industry to produce electric automobiles that sell for less than 7,000 euros ($7,686) to help expand their use (story for subscribers).