Last week marked the conclusion of the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). As we previously discussed, the expectations were COP28 would tackle a range of critical issues toward achieving the climate goals set out in the Paris Agreement. Below is an overview of the most significant developments coming out of Dubai, as reflected in the COP28 agreement, and the expectations for future climate action.Continue Reading COP28: Unpacking the Results and the Road Ahead in Global Climate Action

The 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiating process will take place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, beginning today, November 30, through December 12. As in the past, we are closely following the events on the ground in Dubai and the actions taken and the commitments made toward achieving the climate change goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The themes of COP28, set by the host nation, include technology and innovation (aligning on actions by governments and the private sector to limit warming to 1.5°C); inclusion (engagement with diverse peoples); frontline communities (ensuring the most climate-vulnerable communities can adapt); and finance (funding to close the finance gap on adaptation and the energy transition and aligning public and private finance with the Paris Agreement’s goals). Beyond these themes – that will guide the two-week negotiations – there are a few specific issues we expect to be a priority at COP28, which we briefly discuss below and intend to follow closely.  Continue Reading COP28: What to Expect in Dubai

On October 13, 2023, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) published its first annual report detailing the implementation of its Comprehensive Environmental Justice Enforcement Strategy (EJ Strategy). As we reported, in mid-2022, DOJ established an Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ), and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established a new Office of Environmental Justice (EJ) and External Civil Rights. DOJ’s OEJ is housed in the Environmental and Natural Resources Division (ENRD). DOJ intended its EJ Strategy to extend throughout the Department, in that OEJ’s mandate is to engage all DOJ bureaus, components, and offices in the collective pursuit of environmental justice. DOJ’s new report cites two main executive branch agencies involved in environmental protection and community development: EPA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The report touts efforts that DOJ views as EJ-related “successes” and details a number of authorities DOJ has relied upon in EJ-focused enforcement, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Affordable Care Act. Building on these highlighted successes, DOJ states that it will continue its focus on enforcement proceedings where there is a nexus with environmental justice and will seek EJ-focused mitigation to resolve such proceedings. Continue Reading New Report Suggests DOJ to Continue Actively Pursuing Environmental Justice-Focused Enforcement Actions

On November 16, 2022, the California Air Resources Board (CARB or the Board) proposed a new Scoping Plan for the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  Generally, the Scoping Plan is a means by which the Board can assess California’s progress toward achieving carbon neutrality by 2045, and issue new policies and strategy to meet that goal.  The Board is required by law to update the Scoping Plan every five years, and this is the third such update since the California legislature enacted the California Global Warming Solutions Act in 2006.  CARB staff are touting the Scoping Plan not only as reducing GHG emissions, but also as leading to the creation of four million new jobs and the avoidance of $200 billion in pollution-related health expenditures.Continue Reading To Achieve Carbon Neutrality by 2045, CARB Proposes 2022 Scoping Plan

The Biden-Harris administration is taking new steps to put some teeth into its emphasis on addressing environmental justice. Two recent developments are worth noting given the potential impact on projects and communities. One, EPA announced on September 24, 2022 that it is launching its new Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights (OEJECR or EJ Office). Two, in August 2022, EPA’s Office of General Counsel issued a guidance document entitled Interim Environmental Justice and Civil Rights in Permitting Frequently Asked Questions that outlines EPA’s current views as to how federal, state, and local permitting agencies can meet the requirements of civil rights laws when they are administering environmental permitting requirements.
Continue Reading Environmental Justice in Focus: Why EPA’s New EJ Office and EJ FAQs Guidance Are Important

Last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revealed its much-anticipated proposal to require that public companies disclose climate-related information. The proposed rule is significant because, for the first time, the SEC would mandate that companies (including foreign companies) publicly traded in the US disclose climate-related risk and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions information beyond the risk information currently required by existing SEC rules applicable to registration statements and annual reports.
Continue Reading What’s Worth Understanding: The SEC Proposes a Mandatory Climate Disclosure Regime for Public Companies

Two recent actions by the Biden Administration will identify areas of focus for environmental justice and therefore influence environmental enforcement priorities, federal permitting and licensing, and federal spending, among other actions. On February 18, the White House Council on Environmental Quality released the beta (or draft) version of its Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST), a key component of President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative. The Justice40 Initiative set the goal of “delivering 40 percent of the overall benefits of relevant federal investments” to disadvantaged communities. The CEJST serves a specific purpose: to help agencies identify disadvantaged communities in order to direct federal benefits and help agencies measure whether 40 percent of benefits are being received by those communities.
Continue Reading Biden Administration Rolls Out New Climate, Economic, and Environmental Justice Tools

After over two weeks of conferencing, the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (COP26) concluded with the finalization of the Glasgow Climate Pact (the “Glasgow Pact”) listing the accomplishments of the summit. The Glasgow Pact reaffirms the long-term global goals (including those in the Paris Agreement) to hold the increase in the global average temperature to “well below 2°C” above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. It also states that limiting global warming to 1.5°C requires “rapid, deep, and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including reducing global carbon dioxide emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 relative to the 2010 level and to net zero around mid-century, as well as deep reductions in other greenhouse gases.”
Continue Reading The Results of COP26

Building on the Biden Administration’s strategy to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050, and as world leaders begin gathering in Glasgow, Scotland, yesterday, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposal under the Clean Air Act to significantly expand regulation of methane from oil and gas operations in the United States. The proposal—issued in conjunction with measures proposed by at least five other cabinet-level agencies to address GHG emissions—is part of President Biden’s “whole of government” approach to addressing climate change and represents EPA’s most ambitious regulatory effort to date to curb oil and gas sector emissions. EPA estimates compliance costs of $12 billion (present value, 3% discount rate) for existing sources, which it indicates would be offset by an estimated $4.7 billion (present value) through the capture of natural gas pursuant to the fugitive emission requirements in the proposal.
Continue Reading As COP26 Begins in Glasgow, at Home EPA Releases Bold Proposal on Oil and Gas Methane Emissions: Four Elements Worth Knowing

On November 1, 2021, as the world commences the COP26 gathering in Glasgow, Scotland, for the next round of global climate negotiations, the White House, under the signatures of John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, and Gina McCarthy, National Climate Advisor, issued a strategy stating that achieving net-zero GHG emissions by 2050 is possible and outlining the broad steps for doing so.  The Long-term Strategy of the United States: Pathways to Net-Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050 includes the following key elements: 
Continue Reading What You Need to Know About the Biden Administration’s “Long-Term Strategy” with “Pathways to Net-Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050”