Innovative Policy

We develop innovative policy solutions, which quickly move to the center of the debate

Mobilizing the U.S. Government to Support Sustainable Energy for All

Worldwide, about 1.3 billion people lack access to electricity, while 2.7 billion lack access to clean cooking fuels. Meeting their needs is central to reducing poverty. At the same time, we need to shift toward sustainable energy to confront climate change, the impacts of which are already being felt disproportionately by the poor. That requires a mix of renewable energy sources, fossil fuels, and energy-efficiency measures.

Fortunately, the two goals of ending energy poverty and protecting the Earth’s climate are compatible: ending energy poverty with this smart mix of energy sources and policies would only increase carbon dioxide emissions by 0.7 percent in 2030.

Climate Advisers worked with the Center for Global Development to synthesize extensive data and analysis on energy poverty, and created straightforward, politically realistic recommendations for how the United States should lead. We then organized a high-level event featuring a keynote address by the Secretary-General, who together with other distinguished speakers led a thoughtful discussion of one of the world’s most pressing development issues. Finally, we organized an exclusive meeting between the Secretary-General and top administration and political decision makers. Following these efforts, the United States joined other leading nations in endorsing efforts to end energy poverty in climate friendly ways by 2030.

A Carbon Tax and Global Trade: New Ideas for American Competitiveness

To be environmentally effective, climate policies need to protect against simply shifting pollution from one country to another.  To be politically sustainable, climate policies need to create a level playing field for domestic manufacturers and their international competitors.  Measures to achieve these goals, such as levies and rebates on imported and exported goods to equalize climate costs (border measures) also need to comply with international trade laws.

To inform public debate on these issues, Climate Advisers analyzed whether carbon border measures would comply with World Trade Organization obligations.

This study, published with the American Acton Forum and the German Marshall Fund, found that carbon border measures could indeed be applied in a way that met competitiveness and environmental objectives without violating U.S. trade obligations. We also found that allocating the revenue from a border measure to international climate programs would further strengthen the legal case.

America must address climate change to be competitive on the world stage – and we can do it in a way that addresses both policy and political concerns.

A New Paradigm for Climate Agreements : Securing U.S. Participation

Nations are more likely to take action on climate change when they believe other countries will do the same.  That’s why the world needs new international climate agreements – to create transparency, ensure political accountability and spur progress.  Most nations understand, however, that the U.S. Constitution requires the approval of two-thirds of the Senate for the United States to ratify a new climate treaty.

Climate Advisers created the first legal analysis answering the riddle of how to negotiate a strong international climate agreement that did not necessitate a supermajority in the Senate.  The answer is for the United States to negotiate climate change executive agreements.

Unlike treaties, executive agreements are entered into either solely by the President based on previously delegated constitutional, treaty or statutory authority; or by the President and Congress together through the enactment of an ordinary statute.

Both U.S. and international negotiators are keeping this advice firmly in mind as they elaborate the content of new climate agreements in order to secure the widest possible participation, including from the United States.