The Week Ahead: Potential Clash Anticipated Between U.S., EU at Climate Meeting in Bonn


The first international climate talks of 2014 will be held March 10-14 in Bonn during which the U.S. and the European Union may clash over key issues, including the length of a future treaty and how to monitor, report and verify greenhouse gas emissions.

The talks, under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, are intended to build on progress toward reaching a new global agreement in 2015 that would go into force in 2020. To that end, countries have been submitting "official priorities" with key elements they think should be in the 2015 treaty.

As detailed in a March 3 "Energy and Climate Report" article, the EU's submission clearly states the 2015 treaty should be written to “endure well beyond 2020” and should seek to achieve the objective of keeping overall global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels by the end of the century."

The EU submission also calls for “robust rules on MRV and accounting” (language for “monitoring, reporting and verifying” greenhouse gas inventories), something the U.S. and large developing countries like China and India oppose.

In contrast, the U.S. submission lays out priorities in broad strokes, calling for each country to state goals to reduce emissions, with regular progress reports, but no overall target. Also, the U.S. submission allows for countries to report progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions without the requirement for outside monitoring or verification.

Senate to Pull an All-Night Session on Climate Change

Senate Democrats are expected to take their first action March 10 to raise awareness and urge action on climate change with an all-night floor "talkathon" session to discuss the issue.
As detailed in a Feb. 14 article, the all-night session will be the first concrete action a newly formed Senate task force on climate change will take to raise the profile of the issue nationally.
The formation of the task force was announced Jan. 9 by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) in hopes of obstructing Republican attempts to derail efforts by the Obama administration and raising the profile of the issue nationally. The all-night session is being organized by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).
 House Committee to Address CCS
On March 12, the House Science, Space and Technology subcommittees on Energy and Environment will hold a joint hearing on "Science of Capture and Storage: Understanding EPA's Carbon Rules."
The hearing will cover President Barack Obama's call for the Environmental Protection Agency to issue proposed carbon dioxide emission standards for existing power plants by June, which is one of the key components of his climate action plan.
The EPA is simultaneously working on standards for new power plants, which would require required the installation of carbon capture and sequestration systems.
Meanwhile, as covered in a March 6 article, the House voted 229-183 on a bill to curtail the EPA's authority to regulate coal-fired power plants.
The Electricity Security and Affordability Act (H.R. 3826) would bar the EPA from setting emissions limits for new plants until carbon capture and storage technologies have been successfully demonstrated at six different sites for at least a year. The bill also would block the EPA from regulating existing power plants until Congress passes legislation giving it the go-ahead to do so.
Budget Hearing to Cover Energy, Environment at Military Installations
The House Appropriations Committee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies will hold a budget and oversight hearing March 12 on "Installations, Environment, Energy and BRAC [Base Realignment and Closure]."
Witnesses include John Conger, acting deputy undersecretary for Defense Installations and Environment; Dennis V. McGinn, assistant secretary for Navy Energy, Installations and Environment; Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary for Army Installations, Energy and Environment; and Kathleen I. Ferguson, assistant secretary for Air Force Installations, Environment, and Logistics.
EPA to Hold Public Forum on Health Impacts of Climate Change
On March 13, the EPA will hold a public forum on research into the impact climate change is having on human health in the U.S. As covered in a Feb. 7 brief, the EPA, along with numerous other federal agencies, is working on a report, expected to be finalized by late 2015, to help public health officials, urban planners and government decision makers better understand health risks posed by climate change.
The report is being prepared by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, a collaboration among 13 federal departments and agencies to research the nation's response to climate change.
CARB to Hold LCFS Workshop
The California Air Resources Board will hold two public workshops March 14 in Sacramento on its Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS).
The first public workshop will cover general updates to the LCFS regulation, and the second workshop will discuss updates to the indirect land use change (iLUC) values for corn ethanol, sugarcane ethanol and soy biodiesel and proposed iLUC values for canola biodiesel, sorghum ethanol and palm biodiesel.
Other Climate, Energy Events
On March 13, EPA's Green Power Partnership will hold a webinar on "Long-Term Green Power Procurements from Wind Projects."
Resources for the Future and Stanford University's Woods Institute will hold an event March 11 in Washington on "Climate Change and Clean Energy: Survey of U.S. Public Attitudes."
The Environmental Law Institute will hold an event March 14 in Los Angeles on "Navigating Climate Regulation on Dual Tracks: The Promises and Pitfalls of A.B.32 and the Clean Air Act."
On March 11, the Wilson Center's Environmental Change and Security Program will host an event on "Double Dividends: Population Dynamics & Climate Adaptation." The event will focus on climate change adaptation and mitigation in the face of rapid population growth.
The Wilson Center's China Environment Forum will hold an event March 12 in Washington on "The Long Road to Lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions in China: Partnerships for Cleaner Energy Innovation."


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