Table of Contents

Review of Books on Green Buildings – Part 12

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Chapter 10: State Actions

Outline:

  1. Introduction
  2. Intersection of State Energy and Environmental Goals with Climate Change
  3. State Initiatives
  4. State Climate Plans
  5. Carbon-Based Energy Sector
  6. Renewable Portfolio Standards
  7. Public Benefit Funds
  8. Carbon Adders
  9. Net Metering
  10. Green Pricing
  11. State Appliance Efficiency Standards

Summary:

Under President George W. Bush, the US has differing positions on climate change and gas emissions. At the federal level, it rejected the Kyoto Protocol. At the state level, a wide range of policies, laws and regulations on GHG emissions have been passed. These laws and initiatives have been supported by the Supreme Court. Hence, the states have the power and authority to think globally and act locally, specifically on the issue of gas emissions.

To exemplify, Governor Pataki of New York and the governors of nine other US northern states agreed to create a flexible, multi-state cap and trade policies. They envisioned the first multi-state greenhouse gas control program in their country. In 2003, Maine also passed a law which requires it to limit its carbon dioxide (C0 2) emissions to 1990 levels as projected in 2010, with another 90% reduction from the 1990 levels in 2020. The state’s long-term objective is to reduce its emissions by as much as 80%. Three western states also prepared to reduce its GHG emissions. These were the states of Oregon, Washington and California. They intended to cut transportation sector GHG emissions and give renewable energy and energy efficiency standards. The three states also intended to integrate their GHG emissions inventories. Also in 2003, six northeast states planned a voluntary greenhouse gas registration.

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Chapter 11: The State Initiatives to Counter Climate Change: A Survey of 50 States

Outline:

  1. Pace Law School Center for Environmental Legal Studies

Summary:

The PACE Law School Center for Environmental Legal Studies was established in 1982 to oversee all of the Law School's environmental academic programs and research centers. It manages several projects addressing important environmental issue such as international environmental laws and energy preservation. The Center for Environmental Legal Studies arranges many of the environmental programs research undertakings. It hosts periodic national and international symposia and conferences such as the North American Conference on the Judiciary, the yearly National Association of Environmental Law Societies conference, etc. It also assists with research and editing of vital publications such as the UNDP Training Manual on Environmental Law.

In 2007, the Center published a survey of the GHG initiatives and programs of the fifty states of the United States. It consists of state legislation, rules, and executive orders which specifically address climate change as of March 2006. It reported hundreds of state activities which may have a great impact on greenhouse gases legislation relating to energy and renewable energy.

The renewable energy alternatives and legislation vary from state to state. Other states have short term laws and this may not be codified. Nonetheless, this survey shows how each US state has taken their own initiatives to sustain the environment.

Chapter 12: Local Efforts

Outline:

  1. The Relevance of Local Action to Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  2. Local Strategies to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  3. Collective Initiatives by Municipalities
  4. Survey of the Most Active Local Governments

Summary:

US municipalities are also an integral part of the global efforts to reduce gas emissions. While the political campaigns centers on the national and international ones, it is very striking to note the efforts of various states in helping to mitigate climate change. Almost the majority of the world’s population resides in urban areas and a great portion of the human activities that lead to gas emissions are centered in the cities and municipalities.

However, it is seemingly irrational to expect municipalities to take big actions in climate change because the issues seem remote to them. It is not at all clear that their actions to control emissions will have a concrete impact in the general campaign of the global climate change. Climate change is often framed in the international level and hence, municipal efforts seem a little help.

Municipal governments possess considerable power over land-use planning and waste management and they have a vital role on transportation and energy consumption concerns which are all great contributors to gas emissions. Thus, the US municipalities such as the California Bay Area, Portland, Oregon, Austin, Salt Lake City, and the likes have also taken great initiatives to help save the air through the management of their GHG emissions.

More than 75 local governments joined the Cities for Climate Protection (CCP) campaign which was held through the efforts of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). They have successfully created and implemented gas emission reduction policies and programs.

Chapter 13: Issues in Environmental Disclosure

Outline:

  1. Introduction
  2. Environmental Disclosure Requirements
  3. Voluntary Reporting
  4. Proxy Contests
  5. Corporate Image Advertising and Associated FTC Issues

Summary:

This chapter emphasizes that climate change disclosure has become a significant issue for both regulators and institutional stakeholders. There is no global standard for disclosure and no pane has even come close to leading it, even with various attempts in several areas. There are many problems to the present climate change disclosure and the developments are hampered by so many other issues. For one, the traditional US securities law disclosure standards is not specific to climate change. More so, these regulations overlap with various disclosure frameworks proposals. Unclear disclosure can also be traced to the uncertainties of climate change per se. itself. The scope and extent of these physical impact cannot be fully determined.

The SEC implemented a guidance on climate change disclosure which consists of legislative and regulatory developments, the increasingly growing subject of climate litigation, MD&A disclosure of known and unknown trends, and physical risks to the registrant and other business related items. It also stressed the indirect impact of climate change, both on the supply chain and in matters of reputation. The new development in the said disclosures will put climate change disclosures under the SEC’s integrated disclosure requirements as seen in Regulation S-K. This will change the way registrant process their disclosure procedures and it will require some of them to reassess their voluntary climate change disclosure.

The disclosure control process, including the correct accounting for GHG emissions will be required (when necessary) to justify special topics like the prospective effects of GHG emission regulations.

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Chapter 14: The Fiduciary Duties of Directors and Officers

Outline:

  1. Introduction
  2. Directors’ Fiduciary Duties
  3. Directors’ and Officers’ Insurance
  4. The Principles in Practice
  5. Climate Change Risk — Considerations for Director and Officer
  6. Conclusions

Summary:

As of the historic greenhouse gas emissions, anthropogenic climate change will be continued in the years to come. Thus, climate change is always associated with risks and risk management. Thus, a fiduciary responsibility is at the helm of this issue. This chapter tackles this certain issues and impressed on the risks carried over by climate change. Climate change is financially relevant to the overall company risk management concerns of companies. This is a legal responsibility of the corporate managers and directors and institutional stakeholders in US commercial establishments. They can allocate considerable amount of capital, directly or indirectly, for managing the risks involved in climate change-related effects.

In various industries across the United States, ecological performance has been identified as a major driver of value. Thus, fiduciaries are responsible in putting systems intact in order to supervise the performance of the environment in both active and inactive stages. Insurance companies have also indicated in their clauses that if companies and its managers do not appropriate risk management accountability and measures for climate change related risks, the directors and officials liability may be endangered. Pension plan companies are also taking into full account climate change in their macro-economic and transboundary indicators since it could very much impact the pension funds of investors and beneficiaries. The social and environmental concerns fall within the scope of fiduciary responsibility of the company’s board.

Chapter 15: Climate Change and the Business of Insurance

Outline:

  1. Introduction
  2. Structure and Regulation of the Insurance Industry
  3. Evolution of the Insurance Industry’s Attention to Climate Change
  4. Nature of the Risks Presented by Global Warming
  5. Insurance Coverage Issues Presented by Climate Change
  6. New Insurance Products Responsive to Climate Change

Summary:

The melting of specific factors is push climate change risk as one of the priority issues of insurance companies. While the American public has already widely acknowledge the risk of global climate change, they put the utmost responsibilities to the companies to make a responsible approach in confronting the issue.

A very urgent purveyor was the Kyoto Protocol which took effect in 2005. This protocol impact companies all over the world, including those in the US even when US did not sign the said protocol. Instead, the US pushed for voluntary emissions reductions. Another is the radical institutional investor campaign. The Carbon Disclosure Project constituted about $31 trillion assets under management and about 500 top global corporation and their climate practices.

To initiate their own moves, the insurance industry set up the new Climate Risk Task Force under the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. It intends to assess the availability and costs of insurance coverage within the framework of the risks of climate change.

As we all know, climate change leads to droughts, sea-level rise, storms, wildfires, and windstorms. It also has great impact on the power, transport, communications facilities. In terms of health, climate change leads to diseases related to the heat waves. The degrading biodiversity and the lost of resources such as forest resources, crops and water supplies are also the effect of climate change. Thus, it became a major concern for companies and their stakeholders.

Chapter 16: Tax Policies, Subsidies, and Technological Developments

Outline:

  1. Introduction
  2. Incentives for Renewable Energy
  3. Incentives for Conservation
  4. Incentives for Alternative Fuel Vehicles
  5. Government Disincentives for Climate-Friendly Technology Development

Summary:

Historically, energy tax incentives have emphasized the supply of energy sources. The US government has allocated billions of dollars annually to support the petroleum industry via tax incentives. It has largely neglected the demand side of the energy formula. Appropriate tax incentives can magnificently motivate energy consumers to use alternative sources of energy.

On the national level, the clean fuel vehicle program attracted consumers to get hybrid gas or electric cars. Various states have also applied tax incentives to attract consumers to utilize "green" energy sources. They have given excise and income tax subsidies to fulfill economic, social and political agenda. Producers of fossil fuels have also received income tax incentives through percentage depletion and concrete drilling cost expensing. Incentives for fuel efficiency only started after 1978. Tax credits were also introduced to invite more investments in alternative energy sources which was enhanced due to the OPEC oil crisis. Adding to the Gas Guzzler tax applied on fuel inefficient vehicles is the tax credits available for alternative motor vehicles.

The US Congress also passed the “Gas Guzzler” excise tax to attract the producers of fuel efficient vehicles. It was implemented, with exemptions of vehicles over 6,000 pounds (this covers most SUVs and trucks). However, this tax incentives failed to increase fuel savings ratings nor has it encouraged the design and production of more fuel efficient vehicles.

Chapter 17: The Impact of the Voluntary Climate Change Efforts

Outline:

  1. Background
  2. Voluntary Corporate Greenhouse Gas Management—Common
  3. Overview of Voluntary Climate Change Efforts
  4. Conclusion

Summary:

The main strategies to overcome the risks of climate change include: developing a further understanding and appropriate costing of climate risks; loss control and preparedness; reducing emissions, developing regulatory certainty, and developing resilient tools for climate change risks, etc. Voluntary efforts or initiatives are the ways by which organizations affirm their ecological commitment to perform beyond the legal regulations and policies.

Tom Kerr of the U.S. EPA enumerated various activities and focused on the two specific illustration of voluntary efforts in climate change.

The main drivers for motivating the voluntary efforts to reduce the effects of climate change include:

  1. Cost reduction
  2. Influential policy development
  3. Influence from the financial sector
  4. Public acknowledgment
  5. Enhancement of brands
  6. Competitive reasons
  7. Environmental groups’ pressures
  8. Corporate initiatives

Corporate initiatives have taken the lead in voluntary climate change mitigation efforts. The commercial world has played a major role in responding to the risks of global climate change in various international and national levels. Voluntary agreements are also an integral part of the combined measures to act on the problem and are usually promoted as a good and accommodating efforts businesswise. However, there are several benefits and disadvantages of voluntary agreements as a way to achieve least-cost reductions in GHG and to mitigate concerns for commercial leakages and competition. The utilization of voluntary efforts to mitigate climate change have also received various criticisms. Generally, it is considered that the reduction of pollution is costly and corporations may be expected to “voluntarily” incur these expenditures only when these are taken off by extra benefits.

Chapter 18: The Pragmatic Aspects of Emissions Trading

Outline:

  1. Introduction
  2. What Lawyers Need to Know About Emissions Trading Programs
  3. S. Emissions Trading Programs
  4. Global GHG Trading: The Kyoto Protocol Flexibility
  5. Implementation of the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme
  6. Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
  7. Chicago Climate Exchange
  8. Eligibility of U.S. Companies Participating in U.S. Emissions Trading Programs for Kyoto Protocol CERs or ERUs
  9. Contracting Transactions in GHG Credit Trading
  10. Conclusion

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Summary:

The first market based regulation for environmental excesses is traced under the U.S. Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. This law has introduced an emissions trading policy for sulfur dioxide emissions. Another major trading program managed the emissions of nitrogen oxide. Now, the two are the landmark emissions trading programs in the country. They regulate and control the most significant traditional air pollutants, sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx).

This chapter explores the regulatory history of various emission trading programs, not only in the United States but also in various continents across the world. In the U.S., the cap-and-trade has been effective in achieving its emissions targets. This, in turn, led to great ecological and health benefits.

In Europe, the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) became the fundamental policy of the European Union to counter climate change. It also became a major instrument to reduce industrial greenhouse gas emissions with smart costs reductions. As it was the initial and the largest international scheme for the trading of greenhouse gas emission allowances, the EU ETS surpassed about 11,000 power stations and industrial facilities in thirty nations.

Chapter 19: Carbon Sequestration

Outline:

  1. Biological Sequestration in Terrestrial Ecosystems
  2. Physical Sequestration—Carbon Capture and Storage
  3. Conclusion

Summary:

The process of carbon sequestration enables the incrementing of the rates by which the ecosystems take out the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store the carbon element in plant material. This process decomposes detritus and organic soil. In sum, forests and other greatly productive ecosystems can be “biological scrubbers” through the removal or sequestration of carbon dioxide from the air.

Managing the changes in the climate involves strategies that controls its causes and complies with the human surroundings in its consequences. Carbon sequestration policy generally increase the amount of carbon dioxide emissions that biological sequestration presently takes out of the atmosphere and will allow human settlements to carry over with the harsh effects of a changing weather while achieving some other objectives that preserve open spaces.

Most of the US states and local initiatives emerging from the preservation and enhancement of open space serve as the basis for a larger sequestration policy. This larger policy hinges on available legal technology and current norms to defend itself against the global warnings of climate change. Extra mitigation can be realized through land use techniques which develop, preserve and extend landscapes that sequester carbon. On the other hand, the biological sequestration of carbon dioxide emissions happens within vegetated areas such as the forests, fields and pastures, meadows, and agricultural lands. These landforms inherently absorb and lock up carbon.

Considerations for carbon sequestration are always accompanied by its inherent costs compared with the inherent purpose of mitigation. The financial costs of carbon sequestration are often interpreted in terms of monetary units (usually in dollars) per ton of carbon sequestered, which means it is expressed as the proportion of economic inputs to carbon mitigation outputs for a targeted program.

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