In light of U.S. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, The Climate Trust, a mission-driven nonprofit that specializes in mobilizing conservation finance, is advocating for the formation of a U.S. Carbon Club (CC) as a credible solution to meet our Paris commitment. A CC would harness the spate of corporate, state, and municipal climate commitments to chart a meaningful path to climate stability.
Carbon Clubs are receiving increasing levels of attention. A club framework incentivizes active participation by members to achieve climate friendly outcomes. Member corporations would agree to measure, reduce and pledge to offset their remaining impact.
While the announcement to renege on the Paris Agreement, a historic commitment of 195 countries and parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect our planet from the climate crisis, has sparked dismay and anger around the world, The Climate Trust believes that progress toward a sustainable future will continue.
Nations and governments like China and the EU are stepping up to fill the leadership void, while at home, American cities and states have been energized to act on climate, despite massive federal rollbacks of environmental regulation.
The momentum is promising, however, significant commitment and resources lie with the corporate sector. Prior to last week’s presidential announcement, more than 760 business and investors had called on Trump to support the Paris pledge. While this is a positive signal, en-masse active support by U.S. corporations is vital if we hope to meet our climate goals under the Paris Agreement. Within the next two years, more than 1,200 firms are using or planning to use an internal carbon price that is then incorporated into business and investment decisions.
“A Carbon Club strategy has gained importance following this announcement to withdraw from the global climate accord,” said Sheldon Zakreski, director of asset management for The Climate Trust. “The Carbon Club would give the U.S. a real shot at meeting our targets—despite abysmal and alarming federal actions.”
“Efforts by conscientious U.S. corporations that urged Trump to stay [in the Paris Agreement] were to no avail,” said Sean Penrith, executive director for The Climate Trust. “Full-page ads have not worked; it is now up to us to take action. Let us catalyze the commitment of our corporations to take tangible actions at mitigating emissions. Let’s establish a U.S. Carbon Club to keep us on track with the Paris commitment and protect the health of our planet for generations to come.”
In practice, a U.S. CC would be compatible with the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and largely mimic the international effort of Climate Neutral Now. It would solicit solid pledges from member corporations to reduce on-site emissions and purchase the balance of the reductions needed to achieve the GHG target committed to by the U.S. under the Paris Agreement. This firm commitment would catalyze climate-friendly projects across the country to deliver real, verifiable, and permanent reductions.
Sectors that include agriculture, forestry, wetland restoration, fertilizer management, grassland conservation, livestock waste management, rice cultivation, and fugitive methane emissions would be eligible to develop reductions. These registered carbon credits would be delivered to CC members in accordance to their pledge in return for payment. Members could retire the credits to offset their own internal carbon footprint or bank them.
This bold effort will advance the U.S. towards its Paris goals, put a price on carbon nationally, and stimulate climate-friendly projects throughout the country.
Image credit: Flickr/Tommy Clark