Overnight Energy & Environment

Energy & Environment — COP27 closes with ‘loss and damage’ breakthrough

The sunsets behind the COP27 logo outside the venue of the COP27 U.N. Climate Summit, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

The COP27 conference closes with a long-elusive “loss and damage” deal, pro-sustainability Democrats want narrower permitting reform and Saudi Arabia denies a report that it’s set to increase oil production.

This is Overnight Energy & Environment, your source for the latest news focused on energy, the environment and beyond. For The Hill, we’re Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk. Sign up in the box below or subscribe here. 

UN conference ends with climate damage deal 

The COP27 global climate change conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, wrapped early Sunday with an agreement to compensate developing countries for the damages they have suffered from climate change. 

  • While developing countries have long pushed for a “loss and damage” fund for suffering they say they have endured from climate change, wealthy countries, including the U.S., had resisted the idea.
  • But that changed this year, and those developing nations got a fund establishing such climate reparations. Still, questions linger over how that fund will actually secure monetary backing.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres heralded the agreement as an “important step towards justice.”

“I welcome the decision to establish a loss and damage fund and to operationalize it in the coming period,” Guterres said in a statement. “Clearly this will not be enough, but it is a much-needed political signal to rebuild broken trust.” 

What does it do? The decision establishes a fund for responding to the “loss and damage” that these countries have suffered, but some details are not yet resolved.  

  • To address that, a transitional committee that will be made up of 24 countries tasked with finding funding sources and establishing a structure and governance for the fund will be established.
  • The fund would be open to “developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.”
  • The decision comes after a tentative deal was reached in the early hours of Saturday morning.  

Background: Although the U.S. has long been at the forefront of opposition to the idea, President Biden’s climate envoy John Kerry said earlier this year the U.S. was open to it.

Late last week, European Union (EU) delegates issued a proposal that European Commission Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans described as the EU’s “final offer.”

Timmermans said any agreement would depend on an updated definition of a “developing” country. China, currently the world’s largest single emitter, is considered a developing country under the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. 

But wait, there’s more: Nations also adopted a broader agreement, called the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan.

Read more about the deal and the original announcement.

Sustainability Dems propose narrow permitting effort

A group of House Democrats that are part of a sustainability coalition on Monday put forward a narrow proposal on permitting reform amid broader talks on how to reshape the country’s energy approval process.  

The new policy brief, released by leaders of the House Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition (SEEC) narrowly focuses on bolstering the country’s electricity infrastructure and community involvement in energy project assessments. 

“This policy brief breaks down some of the key legislative solutions that Congress should take up when considering reforming our laws to build a clean energy future,” the brief’s introduction reads.  

The background: The permitting reform negotiations are complex as large swaths of Democrats and Republicans would have to be on board on a set of issues where the two parties remain far apart.  

Some of SEEC’s leaders, including co-chair Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and vice chairs Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) and Donald McEachin (D-Va.), were part of a large coalition of Democrats who expressed opposition to Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) permitting reform push.

The new pitch from the sustainability coalition promotes legislation that the lawmakers say would give the federal government more power to approve some electric transmission lines, bolster grid resiliency and promote the development of community solar and offshore wind.

It also called for increases to community involvement by requiring the preparation of reports on whether projects will harm community health and establishing environmental justice liaisons for such projects.  

Manchin has been fighting to speed up the approval process for both fossil and renewable energy projects. Backed by Democratic leadership, he recently attempted to pass legislation that included shorter timelines for environmental impact studies and the approval of a pipeline in his home state. 

Read more about the brief here. 

INTERIOR PROPOSES OIL LEASE SALES IN UT, NV

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Monday announced two proposed oil and gas lease sales for nearly 100,000 acres of land in Nevada and Utah.

The land in question includes 63,603.89 acres on 35 parcels in Nevada and 31,808 acres across 18 parcels in Utah, according to a release from BLM.

The land in question would be leased under updated provisions from the Inflation Reduction Act, President Biden’s expansive climate and infrastructure package that became law earlier this year. Under the updated regulations, minimum bids would be set at $10 per acre, a fivefold increase from the previous minimum of $2 per acre. This marks the first increase in the minimum in 35 years.

The sales will also reflect updated royalty rates for oil and gas leasing, with minimum rates increasing from 12.5 percent to 16.7 percent. Meanwhile, while rental rates before the act were $1.50 per acre for five years and $2 per year thereafter, the new rates will increase to $3 per acre for the initial two years, $5 an acre for the third through eighth years and $15 in the ninth and tenth years.

Read more here.

Saudi Arabia denies report on oil production increase

Saudi officials on Monday denied the kingdom is backtracking on planned cuts to oil production after The Wall Street Journal reported Riyadh is mulling an increase.

  • “It is well known, and no secret, that OPEC+ does not discuss any decisions ahead of its meetings,” Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said Monday through state news agency SPA.
  • “The current cut of 2 million barrels per day by OPEC+ continues until the end of 2023 and if there is a need to take further measures by reducing production to balance supply and demand, we always remain ready to intervene.” 

In its initial report Monday, the Journal reported Saudi Arabia and other OPEC member nations are considering stepping up oil production by up to 500,000 barrels a day ahead of the organization’s Dec. 4 meeting. 

In October, OPEC+ announced the original 2 million-barrel cut, sparking fears in the West that it could send gas prices spiraling and throw a lifeline to Russia as it faces the loss of energy revenues due to sanctions. 

A number of congressional Democrats called for changes to the U.S.-Saudi relationship after the announcement, saying the West has worked with the Saudis despite concerns over human rights abuses with the understanding that the kingdom would act as a strategic ally.

Read more about the denial here. 

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • No nitrate police: State and local regulators can’t, or won’t, stop Nebraska’s drinking water from getting worse (Flatwater Free Press
  • U.S. oil giants Exxon Mobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips challenged over ‘secretive’ tax practices (CNBC
  • Soaring West Virginia Electricity Prices Trigger Standoff Over the State’s Devotion to Coal Power (InsideClimateNews
  • Gold, guns, gangs: on patrol with the elite unit saving Ivory Coast’s forests (The Guardian
  • EPA floats sharply increased social cost of carbon (E&E News

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That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Energy & Environment page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.  

Tags Antonio Guterres Biden COP27 Gerry Connolly Joe Manchin John Kerry loss and damages oil lease United Nations

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