Insights

The Climate Report

The Climate Report

The Climate Report is a periodic newsletter that examines some of the topics affecting the field of climate change.

In This Issue

U.S. Regulatory Developments

The California Air Resources Board is considering revisions to the state's Scoping Plan for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and cap-and-trade regulations, and it recently announced a number of approved emissions offset projects. Legal challenges to aspects of California's program continue to work their way through state and federal courts, with the state generally prevailing thus far. As part of President Obama's Climate Action Plan, the administration has announced plans to regulate emissions of methane, a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, from the U.S. oil and gas sector.

Climate Change Issues for Management

The activist investor group Ceres has issued two new documents focused on climate change and sustainability reporting, just as companies are in the midst of the busy financial reporting season. In the first, Ceres asserts that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's 2010 guidance to public companies of disclosure of climate change matters has not produced sufficient levels of disclosure and offers recommendations to both the SEC and companies on how investors could be better informed of such risks. In the second report, Ceres proposes stock exchange requirements for corporate sustainability reporting.

Renewable Energy and Carbon Markets

Grid operators and other entities are increasingly using "demand response" programs to curtail or shift loads instead of building more generation. In response, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is paying close attention, and recent FERC enforcement actions have penalized demand response service providers for not ensuring that load actually could be curtailed or shifted. The Government Accountability Office recently issued a report praising the federal government's efforts to facilitate demand response activities but urging the FERC to improve its data collection and reporting efforts.

Climate Change Litigation

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that Clean Air Act citizen suit plaintiffs seeking to force the State of Washington to adopt greenhouse gas regulations for petroleum refineries lacked standing to sue, because they could not allege a scientifically discernible connection between the specific refineries' emissions and climate change, or show that the requested rules would produce a discernible improvement. A group including states, individuals, and energy companies has sued the U.S. Department of the Interior in federal court, challenging the legality of its agency's judicial settlements with environmental groups that establish deadlines for listing decisions under the Endangered Species Act.

Climate Change Regulation Beyond the U.S.

On April 12, 2014, the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ("IPCC") published the third of three Working Group reports entitled Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. This report, along with a Synthesis Report due in October 2014, constitutes the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report on climate change. The most notable aim of this Assessment Report is to guide United Nations negotiators in preparing a new treaty in 2015 to limit global greenhouse gas emissions.

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