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  • Author: Gwynne Taraska, Hardin Lang
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for American Progress - CAP
  • Abstract: In recent months, multilateral efforts have produced two historic agreements aimed at improving global security: the Iran nuclear agreement and the Paris climate agreement. The Iran nuclear agreement, which blocks Iran’s nuclear capacity in exchange for a gradual lifting of economic sanctions, was finalized in July and is expected to be implemented imminently. Before negotiations concluded, Congress passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, which gave Congress a 60-day period in which it could seek to pass a joint resolution of disapproval. On September 10, all but four Democrats in the U.S. Senate voted to filibuster such a resolution. The agreement, which is nonbinding under international law, therefore proceeded without the need for a presidential veto. Concurrently, the country parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC, were negotiating an international agreement to rein in greenhouse gas emissions and improve resilience to the effects of climate change. The agreement, which has force under international law, was finalized in Paris on December 12. It obliges countries to submit and update national climate goals and participate in systems to review national and collective progress. In the run-up to the Paris agreement, Congress held several hearings, but there were no developments akin to the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. As these two feats of international cooperation were under negotiation, Congress played an unusually involved role in the case of Iran but a more minimal role in the case of Paris. This brief discusses the status of both agreements and explains why the Iran and Paris agreements differ with respect to triggers of congressional intervention.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Multilateral Relatons, Paris Agreement
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Shiva Polefka, Gwynne Taraska
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for American Progress - CAP
  • Abstract: In December 2015, world leaders convened in Paris to adopt a historic agreement to limit carbon pollution and adapt to the effects of climate change. The promise of the agreement lies in the fact that it establishes a framework to drive progress, requiring successive national goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prescribing ongoing national submissions on climate resilience. It defines a new era of multilateral climate action. Successive national goals, however, are insufficient for the success of the agreement, even if they are increasingly ambitious. Success requires implementation, and implementation requires investment. A fundamental shift in finance flows will be necessary to achieve climate resilience and carbon neutrality on a global scale. Finance for adaptation to climate change is a particular concern, as it historically has trailed finance for emissions reductions by a large margin. Whereas the private sector provides the majority of global renewable energy investment, there is comparatively limited evidence of private investment in resilience efforts, which partly explains the imbalance. In Paris, nations showed an unprecedented recognition of the adaptation challenge. Despite their sometimes marked differences, countries coalesced around a common set of values—that adaptation and adaptation finance should be elevated; that the needs of the most vulnerable regions and populations should be prioritized; and that nonstate actors should be engaged to the greatest extent possible in the global climate effort. These values are reflected not only in the agreement itself, but also in a wave of commitments from both governments and the private sector. There are therefore grounds for guarded optimism that the Paris era could come to represent a collective pivot toward more adequate levels of resilience finance for the developing countries that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. This brief examines the gap in adaptation finance that must be bridged in order to fulfill the values of the Paris agreement, with a focus on regions such as Southeast Asia that are at particular risk from the effects of climate change. It also discusses new adaptation finance commitments from governments and the private sector; the landscape of existing adaptation finance channels and initiatives onto which these commitments build; and the undiminished role of developed countries—such as the United States, Japan, EU countries, and others—to facilitate an increase in adaptation finance as the Paris era begins.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Finance, Paris Agreement
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: John Norris, Carolyn Kenney
  • Publication Date: 02-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for American Progress - CAP
  • Abstract: 2015 was a remarkable year for international diplomacy and multilateralism, culminating in two major compacts on climate change and the global development agenda: The Paris agreement on climate and the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. In 2016, international efforts will focus on an area that will likely prove even more contentious and where the international system is fraying badly under the weight of current crises: the system of providing humanitarian relief around the globe in response to both man-made and natural disasters. Throughout 2016, world leaders and other international actors are set to participate in a number of high-level meetings and discussions to assess the state of humanitarian assistance. Their efforts will seek to improve the delivery of aid and address myriad underlying issues, ranging from how best to protect civilians in war zones to the effect of climate change on forced migration. The global scope of forced migration has already risen to severe levels, with most forecasts suggesting that the worst is yet to come. According to U.N. estimates, some 60 million people are now forcibly displaced, either as refugees, internally displaced persons, or asylum seekers. This is the highest level of forced migration the international community has faced since World War II, and the rate of displacement does not appear to be waning. This issue brief spells out the timeline of major upcoming events related to the humanitarian agenda in 2016 and discusses the scope of the major challenges the international community faces, including a lack of resources, repeated patterns of deliberate attacks on civilians, and a caseload that continues to expand rapidly. It also explores some of the issues that will likely prove most difficult to resolve given the current approach to reform, in which major structural changes—particularly to the U.N. system that helps deliver humanitarian aid—are largely off the table. Despite the enormous difficulties ahead, growing the number of actors involved in addressing humanitarian crises is the likely path to success.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Sustainable Development Goals, Multilateralism
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Cathleen Kelly
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for American Progress - CAP
  • Abstract: When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau travels to the United States for his first state visit, he and President Barack Obama should seize the opportunity to launch a new era of U.S.-Canadian cooperation to curb climate change, accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, and safeguard the Arctic. The United States and Canada share far more than borders; the two countries are close allies on key issues, including counterterrorism, the environment, the Arctic, law enforcement, and maritime safety. The two nations also trade more than $2 billion in goods and services daily. Obama and Trudeau’s March meeting will do more than bolster the U.S.-Canadian bond—it will also set the stage for their trilateral meeting with President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico at the North American Leaders’ Summit this spring and could help to catalyze more ambitious climate action globally. The energy ministers from the United States, Canada, and Mexico took steps toward accelerating North American efforts to curb climate change when they jointly signed a Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU, in February to expand climate change and clean energy collaboration. Time is running out for President Obama to secure new climate policy breakthroughs and a lasting climate change legacy by the end of his tenure, and this is cause enough for the two like-minded leaders to cement strong bilateral agreements. There are other reasons besides this ticking clock, however, that make Prime Minister Trudeau’s visit an ideal time to advance pro-environment policies.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Regional Cooperation, Renewable Energy
  • Political Geography: Canada, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Andrew Little
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for American Progress - CAP
  • Abstract: A few years ago, a Labour government in New Zealand introduced a series of payments to families on modest incomes. The payments increased with the number of children in the family. The policy was based on the radical ideas that kids need food and clothing to learn and thrive; it’s not a child’s fault if she is born into a family of modest means; and the entire community benefits when its young are doing well. The disgust among our opponents was visceral. They railed against the payments. One of their members of parliament, now New Zealand’s prime minister, derided the policy as “communism by stealth.” Now New Zealand has a conservative government in its third term, but the payments haven’t been touched. Families are still receiving the money, more of it if they have more dependent children. Yet again a major social initiative, introduced by a progressive government against a tirade of conservative abuse, has become part of the political furniture. Untouchable. Sacrosanct. For progressives, that’s what victory looks like. Even when we’re out of office, our ideas remain dominant, our policies in force. Our influence on the future far outlasts our ministerial warrants.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Economics, Environment, Science and Technology, Progressivism
  • Political Geography: New Zealand, Oceania
  • Author: Michael Werz
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for American Progress - CAP
  • Abstract: Policy communities in the United States and Europe are increasingly identifying climate change, environmental deterioration, water management, and food security as key concerns for development and global governance. The interplay of these trends is visible in the upheavals across the Middle East, with food riots and water disputes illuminating the region’s food insecurity. In the five years before the uprising in Syria, for example, the country experienced one of the worst droughts on record, which decimated wheat production and wiped out livestock. In Yemen, tensions—and outright conflicts—over water rights and illegal wells underpin the ongoing insecurity and anti-government sentiment. There is little question that the effects of climate change will cause more extreme weather events and crop insecurity in the decades to come, and it is reasonable to expect that they will magnify such dangerous problems. A few years ago, the complex interplay of several factors—including droughts in major grain- and cereal-producing regions, increases in biofuel production that reduced grain supplies, and other long-term structural problems—triggered the 2007-2008 world food crisis. The disruptions that this crisis caused affected both developed and developing countries, creating political and economic instability around the world and contributing to social unrest. The crisis highlighted the critical importance of better understanding the interdependencies and cascading effects of decisions made throughout the global food system, as well as how climate change could exacerbate such challenges. The increasing urgency of food and climate security requires greater international cooperation and, more specifically, innovative and forward looking transatlantic policy responses to address these pressing issues. Over the past decade, the links between climate change, food security, and political instability have steadily risen on the global policy agenda, and both adelphi and the Center for American Progress have played a role in bringing attention to their importance. CAP has conducted significant research and analysis on the security effects of climate change, including its effect on human mobility, and has elevated these issues in Washington, D.C. For its part, adelphi has a long track record of raising climate security issues in Europe and in 2015 led an international consortium that prepared a report and knowledge platform for the Group of Seven, or G-7, nations on climate change’s effect on state fragility.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Governance, Food Security, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America, Atlantic Ocean, United States of America
  • Author: Peter Ogden, Gwynne Taraska, Ben Bovarnick
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for American Progress - CAP
  • Abstract: An idiosyncrasy of the international negotiations under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC, is that its annual Conference of the Parties, or COP, is hosted by a different country each year. The host country serves as the COP president and takes the lead both in shaping the broader themes of the session and in managing the mechanics of the negotiation process. Naturally, each host country wants to preside over a successful conference and leave its mark on the process going forward. Last year’s host, France, left quite a mark: a new international agreement to address climate change. This year—in which Morocco assumes the role of COP president—will be different. When countries convene in the city of Marrakech in early November 2016, they will do so with far less of the fanfare that surrounded last year’s Paris conference—and without the need to negotiate a new agreement. Morocco has indicated that it perceives this year’s COP to be part of a trilogy that began at the COP hosted in Lima, Peru, in 2014. Hakima El Haite, Moroccan minister delegate to the minister of energy, mining, water, and environment, has claimed that “Lima is the COP [of] negotiations, Paris is one of decisions,” and COP 22 “will be the Action Conference.” However, COP 22 will not only be the final installment of the COP trilogy that El Haite envisioned, but also the first COP in a long line of conferences focused on the implementation of the Paris agreement. Morocco therefore has the opportunity to establish a successful model for future COPs faced with this task.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, International Cooperation, United Nations, Paris Agreement
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Tom Daschle, Michael Werz
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for American Progress - CAP
  • Abstract: In 2010, President Barack Obama’s National Security Strategy, or NSS—the periodic planning document that assesses the risks facing the country and outlines the United States’ response—for the first time recognized climate change as a security threat. The document noted that, “The danger from climate change is real, urgent and severe,” arguing that “[t]he change wrought by a warming planet will lead to new conflicts over refugees and resources.” The framing of the threat was exceptionally strong for the carefully worded NSS document; previous strategy documents in 2006 and 2002 mentioned climate change only briefly in the context of spending on new technology and natural disasters. The 2010 acknowledgment of new, nontraditional threats linked to climate change marked a turning point in the security community’s thinking about these issues. Over the past six years, analysts have accelerated their study of how these changes may affect international institutional architecture and shape geopolitical power. However, the international community still finds itself in largely uncharted waters, which requires new analytical approaches, data and mapping tools, and academic studies. But already, this nascent field points to the need to fundamentally rethink how our foreign and security policies intersect with access to water, agricultural production, food markets, transportation networks, and development projects.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, International Cooperation, Food Security
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 05-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for American Progress - CAP
  • Abstract: Today, the effects of climate change on domestic agriculture are felt through events such as droughts, wildfires, heavy downpours, and greater occurrences of pests. Emissions of greenhouse gases from agricultural processes amount to 9 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and have increased 11 percent since 1990. Thus, as the United States moves forward with the rest of the world to respond to climate change, the agriculture sector will face the dual challenge of reducing emissions and enhancing resilience to climate change. This will require more sustainable agricultural practices—often referred to as climate-smart agriculture. This fact sheet describes how the recently established Paris climate agreement relates to the agriculture sector, along with the opportunities that climate-smart agriculture presents.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Climate Change, Environment, Paris Agreement
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Gwynne Taraska, Henry Kellison
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for American Progress - CAP
  • Abstract: The G-20—a forum of 20 of the world’s largest economies—has a record of ambivalence on the topic of climate change. One case in point is the disconnect between the group’s efforts to address climate risks and its efforts to reduce the shortfall in global infrastructure investment. On one hand, the G-20 is aware that investing in projects that are high-carbon or vulnerable to the physical effects of rising temperatures carries risks that could have a destabilizing influence on the global economy. On the other hand, the G-20 is seeking to narrow the infrastructure gap in the absence of a guiding principle that infrastructure investments must be climate-compatible. Members of the G-20 Argentina Australia Brazil Canada China European Union France Germany India Indonesia Italy Japan Korea Mexico Russia Saudi Arabia South Africa Turkey United Kingdom United States In September 2016, world leaders will convene for the G-20 summit in Hangzhou, China. One focus of the climate agenda will be ensuring that the Paris Agreement takes effect in the near term. Negotiated by more than 190 nations and finalized in December 2015, the agreement set many collective goals, including limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels and ensuring that global financial flows are compatible with low-greenhouse gas development.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Japan, China, United Kingdom, Indonesia, Turkey, India, South Korea, France, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Italy, Mexico