Thursday, September 26, 2013

State Department Draft 2014 Climate Action Report

Sep 26: The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental Scientific Affairs has provided notice [78 FR 59412-59413] of the opportunity to submit comments to the draft 2014 Climate Action Report (CAR) on U.S. climate change actions. This draft CAR consists of two documents, the National Communication and the Biennial Report, that respond to reporting requirements under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The document contains the sixth National Communication, which is provided in accordance with Articles 4.2 and 12 of the UNFCCC and accompanying decisions. The draft CAR also includes the Biennial Report, which summarizes major actions taken to address climate change, covering the period up to 2020, and contains additional reporting information. The United States submitted the first U.S. CAR to the UNFCCC Secretariat in 1994, and subsequent reports in 1997, 2002, 2006, and 2010.
   The documents set out major actions the U.S. government is taking at the Federal level, highlight examples of state and local actions, and outline U.S. efforts to assist other countries in addressing climate change. Each document meets specific UN reporting requirements, resulting in overlap between the documents. The report reflects the
U.S. Government commitment to the UNFCCC to communicate U.S. actions and policies addressing climate change transparently. The agency must receive comments on or before noon, October 24, 2013.
    Table of Contents of the Draft Sixth U.S. CAR includes the following chapters: 1. CAR Foreword; 2. Biennial Report; 3. Executive Summary; 4. National Circumstances; 5. Greenhouse Gas Inventory; 6. Policies & Measures; 7. Projected Greenhouse Gas Emissions; 8. Vulnerability Assessment, Climate Change Impacts, and Adaptation Measures; 9. Financial Resources and Transfer of Technology; 10. Research and Systematic Observation; and 11. Education, Training, and Outreach. Among other things the draft report indicates:
A major contributor to the decline in U.S. GHG emissions has been the displacement of coal with natural gas that is extracted from shale rock formations through hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. The production of "shale gas" has grown rapidly in recent years. In 1996, U.S. shale gas wells produced 0.3 trillion cubic feet (8.5 billion cubic meters) of natural gas, representing 1.6 percent of U.S. gas production. By 2011, production of shale gas had increased to 8.5 trillion cubic feet (241 billion cubic meters) of natural gas, 30 percent of U.S. gas production. The extraction and use of shale gas are projected to continue to grow during the next several years.
The U.S. transportation system has evolved to meet the needs of a highly mobile, dispersed population and a large economy. Automobiles and light trucks still dominate the passenger transportation system, and the highway share of passenger miles traveled. In 2013, the most recent year of available data, automobiles and light trucks constituted about 87 percent of the passenger miles traveled, down 2 percentage points from the highway share listed in the 2010 CAR. Air travel accounted for slightly more than 11 percent (up 1.5 percentage points from the 2010 CAR), and mass transit and rail travel combined accounted for only about 1 percent of passenger miles traveled. . .
Given implementation of programs and measures in place as of September 2012 and current economic projections, total gross U.S. GHG emissions are projected to be 4.6 percent lower than 2005 levels in 2020. Between 2005 and 2011 total gross U.S. GHG emissions have declined significantly due a combination of factors, including the economic downturn and fuel switching from coal to natural gas (U.S. EPA 2013). Emissions are projected to rise gradually between 2011 and 2020. Emissions are projected to remain below the 2005 level through 2030, despite significant increases in population (26 percent) and GDP (69 percent) during that time period. More rapid improvements in technologies that emit fewer GHGs, new GHG mitigation requirements, or more rapid adoption of voluntary GHG emission reduction programs could result in lower gross GHG emission levels than in the "with measures" projection.

Between 2005 and 2020, CO2 emissions in the "with measures" projection (measures in place as of 2012) are estimated to decline by 7.5 percent. In contrast, in the 2010 CAR, CO2 emissions were expected to increase by 1.5 percent between 2005 and 2020 (U.S. DOS 2010), a change of about 9 percent, and in the 2006 CAR, emissions were expected to increase by 14 percent between 2004 and 2020 (U.S. DOS 2006). During the same period, CH4 and N2O emissions are expected to grow by 3.5 percent and 6.1 percent, respectively. The most rapid growth is expected in fluorinated GHGs (HFCs, PFCs, and SF6) which are expected to increase by more than 60 percent between 2005 and 2020, driven by increasing use of HFCs as 6 substitutes for ODS.

    Access the FR announcement (click here). Access links to the individual report chapters and alternative commenting instructions (click here). Access the DOS docket for this action for further details and to submit and review comments (click here). [#Climate]