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Milestones toward a zero-carbon future

December 28, 2022

2022 has been a year of what has been called “polycrisis.” The impacts of the war in Ukraine, global energy crisis and energy market instability, the end of cheap money, and geopolitical shifts have revealed just how difficult and how important it is to keep climate top-of-mind on an ever-growing list of competing priorities. These events have elevated the complexity of the climate challenge and highlighted the urgency with which we need to expand our thinking.  

In order to address the scope and scale of this challenge in an increasingly complex world, we must broaden our views and rethink our approach to how we develop, design, and deploy the suite of practical solutions needed to take successful climate action. The old way of doing things is no longer sufficient, the old narratives are not serving us, and we can no longer ignore the voices of those who will be most affected by climate change and the role they must play in finding long-term equitable solutions. 

With this paradigm shift in mind, CATF bolstered its global leadership in 2022 to push for the technology and policy changes needed to achieve a zero-emissions, high-energy planet at an affordable cost. Together, with support from our donors, partners, scientific and industry experts, and colleagues we expanded our reach, enhanced our strategies, and increased the size of our global impact. 

While 2022 will be remembered as a year of unprecedented challenges, there were also many milestones and reasons to celebrate. Here are just a few of the ways our teams fueled change and moved the needle on climate. 

Turned methane ambition into action 

At COP27 in Egypt, alongside CATF, U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry announced that more than 150 countries have now joined the Global Methane Pledge to cut collective methane emissions 30% by 2030. Of those 150, dozens have now developed national methane action plans or are in the process of doing so, with progress being made on financing, policy, and new pathways to drive emissions reductions from the energy, agriculture, and waste sectors. 

We also saw the U.S., EU, Canada, UK, Norway, Japan, and Nigeria share major new methane announcements that put in place actionable policy on the path to meeting the Global Methane Pledge, many with the help of CATF. We worked with Colombia, Ecuador, and Mexico on their efforts to tackle methane pollution in 2022, and worked with Nigeria to develop the first-ever African rules to reduce methane emissions from its oil and gas sector. In 2022 our work expanded, with $3 million in Global Methane Hub funding to power new work to reduce methane emissions from the global waste sector in 2023. 

Passed foundational climate and clean energy legislation in the U.S. 

From the landmark climate and energy provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act to transformational clean energy bills in Maryland, North Carolina, and California, CATF has been at the forefront of U.S. climate policy in 2022 — advocating for a full suite of climate solutions to reduce emissions and achieve deep decarbonization nationwide. 

CATF uses its research and technical expertise to engage policymakers and design pragmatic policies that support global decarbonization and garner support across a wide range of constituencies. And we don’t only help design smart policy; we advocate for it as well. Over the course of this legislative cycle, CATF helped to educate policymakers and raise awareness around the longstanding benefits of clean energy investment, showcasing the importance of supporting innovative and diverse technologies to address climate change, create jobs, and position the U.S. for global clean energy leadership. 

Catalyzed leadership for a zero-carbon future at COP27 

COP27, the year’s largest global climate change summit, brought world leaders in government, civil society, industry, and finance together in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, — and Clean Air Task Force was on the ground to advocate for immediate and long-term climate action. In addition to co-hosting and speaking at ministerial events with world climate leaders, CATF hosted the Zero-Carbon Future pavilion — a collaborative platform for climate advocates, government officials, and other experts to take on the hardest questions, share innovative solutions and highlight opportunities to transform the energy system and decarbonize the global economy. CATF hosted two full weeks of programming, highlighting the need to: 

  • Develop the next generation of innovative clean energy and climate solutions 
  • Center the development needs of the Global South and support those on the front lines of climate change 
  • Move from ambition to action, accountability, and implementation 
  • Reduce carbon emissions and methane emissions simultaneously 

Promoted global deployment of carbon capture and storage 

From developing a comprehensive policy framework for carbon capture and storage in Europe to advocating for government support in the U.S. to collaborating with developing countries on financing for this critical climate technology, CATF was at the forefront of carbon capture deployment and commercialization in 2022. In Europe, CATF co-chaired one of the European Commission’s Carbon Capture and Utilisation Forum working groups and continued its #TenTTuesday campaign, pressing for support for carbon storage sites and transport infrastructure as part of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) reform. In the U.S., we helped secure provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act that incentivize the development and deployment of carbon capture at scale

Reimagined global energy markets 

At CATF, we’re advocating for new global energy markets to better fit the needs of the future. The Middle East and North Africa region has the potential to position itself for leadership in the growing global market for low-carbon hydrogen, as we documented in a comprehensive report this year. We made sure global stakeholders understood that, with the right policy and market conditions, the Middle East can achieve long-term economic and geopolitical success in a carbon-constrained world while helping major fuel importers like Europe and other regions decarbonize their energy systems without sacrificing energy security. 

Pioneered research and advocacy on superhot rock energy 

Superhot rock energy is a visionary geothermal technology that has the potential to provide abundant, carbon-free renewable energy, 24/7 — all with a low land footprint. In 2022, CATF expanded its team working to advocate for funding and investment in this technology and produced leading thought leadership and educational materials highlighting the potential for firm, global, zero-carbon energy. 

Expanded our Energy and Climate Innovation in Africa program 

This year, CATF expanded its work in Africa with an enhanced focus on addressing the critical dual needs of expanding affordable energy in developing economies and creating a global decarbonized energy system — building our Energy and Climate Innovation program and showcasing its leadership alongside prominent voices in energy, development, and industry in Africa at COP27

Accelerated the deployment of zero-carbon fuels 

While electrification is a critical component of decarbonization, our analysis has found that zero-carbon fuels like hydrogen and ammonia are essential to decarbonizing hard-to-electrify sectors like global marine shipping, aviation, and long-haul trucking. This year, we launched major reports on what will be needed to decarbonize aviation, the public health impacts of diesel pollution, and how India can decarbonize its transportation sector

Invested in climate action in California 

Mandating and funding clean energy is a big enough hurdle; actually building it in a land constrained world is potentially even a bigger one. Having helped successfully advocate for the first-ever state law in California requiring a zero-carbon power grid, CATF launched a program this year focused on building clean energy infrastructure. We produced a landmark report, two years in the making, on what California must do to achieve a clean energy transition through a new and repurposed electricity infrastructure to reach state climate and clean energy goals. With the report’s findings in hand, we’re working to ensure the state develops a Clean Energy Deployment Plan with concrete plans for quantities, locations, and timing of new resource development and infrastructure expansion to expedite clean energy deployment.  

Maintaining existing zero-carbon energy to build on is also important, and in 2022, CATF assembled a first-class scientific, economic, public affairs, and government affairs team to help preserve Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, California’s largest single source of carbon-free energy. With the support of CATF and a wide range of stakeholders in California, CA lawmakers voted to keep Diablo Canyon open, while at the same time investing $1 billion to accelerate wind, solar, storage, and other renewable energy sources. CATF also successfully advocated to California lawmakers who embraced technology diversity this year voting to increase support for critical carbon capture and storage infrastructure.  

Provided legal expertise in West Virginia v. EPA 

Clean Air Task Force’s legal advocacy team represented the American Lung Association, American Public Health Association, Appalachian Mountain Club, Clean Air Council, Clean Wisconsin, Conservation Law Foundation, and Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy in West Virginia v. EPA, with CATF attorney Jay Duffy providing expert analysis after the decision on EPA’s authority to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The Supreme Court ruled that the pollution control system EPA employed as the basis for the 2015 Clean Power Plan was outside its authority to regulate emissions from power plants. While the opinion took a key tool out of EPA’s regulatory toolbox, CATF deployed a public relations campaign to ensure the world understood that it did not by any means block the agency from exercising its authority to establish stringent emission guidelines for fossil fuel fired power plants in the future. 

These examples highlight how we work to put our theory of change into practice by implementing our strategic efforts to effectively change policies, transform business practices, position technology innovations and systems analysis to create new frames and narratives around climate change. The climate challenge is complex, it demands more – not fewer – solutions, and it requires a more intentional approach to Increasing optionality. 

 In 2022 we were honored to be recognized, for the third year in a row, by Vox and Giving Green, who named CATF one of the most effective and highest impact nonprofits in the world working to address climate change. 

As we look ahead, we are committed to bringing bold ideas forward, inspiring others to join us, and using every tool at our disposal to address the climate challenge.  

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