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CATF in 2023: Ambition to action

December 22, 2023

In 2023, the world started to get real about climate action.  

After important displays of ambition and breakthroughs in policy support for climate protection in recent years, 2023 was the year the world reckoned with implementation – confronting the question, how are we actually going to get the job done?  

For CATF, it meant driving :  

  • Strong regulations to clean up our energy system and the air we breathe. 
  • Policy wins to support a wide range of climate solutions. 
  • Efficient and equitable distribution of funding for the technologies we’ll need to power the future. 
  • A more conducive commercial and regulatory environment for clean energy. 
  • Innovative research to help us better understand the economics, politics and logistics of a climate-constrained world – so that we can make real progress within it.   

Here are just a few highlights of how we delivered change in 2023: 

Momentous methane: World-leading regulations to cut methane pollution on both sides of the Atlantic

Reducing methane pollution is the fastest way to slow global warming right now. We have readily available solutions and growing buy-in from world leaders. This year, we helped secure strong rules to make it happen. 

The European Union adopted an ambitious Methane Regulation after a three-year campaign from CATF and our partners. The new regulation is set to reduce global emissions of methane from oil and gas by a third, and improve the health of almost 10 million people living near flares in EU oil and gas supplying countries.  

The U.S. EPA finalized its strongest-ever methane standards in 2023, the result of years of work from CATF’s team of policy advocates and technical experts. The new standards address methane pollution and volatile organic compound (VOC) pollution from both new and existing oil and gas sources nationwide for the first time. Over 2024-2038, EPA estimates the final rule will reduce 58 million tons of methane pollution and 16 million tons of VOC pollution – the equivalent of taking 21.8 million gasoline-powered cars off the road each year. 

Pollution and power plants: U.S. proposes stringent standards for U.S. power plants, reflecting CATF-proposed architecture 

Power plants are the largest industrial contributor to global warming in the U.S., accounting for 30% of U.S. carbon pollution. Yet the bulk of those emissions have, so far, gone completely uncontrolled. In 2023, EPA broke ground with a carefully formulated proposal that requires power plants to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions in accordance with the best available technology – a good first step toward protecting clean air and achieving U.S. climate goals. CATF has engaged policymakers every step of the way. Now, we’re stepping up to defend the rule and further strengthen it. 

The how of hydrogen: CATF notches late-breaking win in effort to get clean hydrogen right in U.S.   

Hydrogen is an important feedstock for fertilizer production, petroleum refining, and other sectors vital to our modern economy, and will likely play a critical role in decarbonizing hard-to-abate sectors like marine shipping, steel production, and aviation. For that to happen, hydrogen production – 99% of which currently uses unabated, fossil-based methods, must be decarbonized.   

CATF has been hard at work this year to ensure the world gets clean hydrogen right. Our experts have conducted studies on clean hydrogen costs, developed tools to help policymakers, researchers, and industry professionals better understand hydrogen, and advocated for the incentives and guardrails that ensure hydrogen is climate beneficial and applied appropriately. That effort notched an important win in the U.S. when – thanks to significant engagement from CATF and its partners – the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued its long-awaited proposed regulations for the Section 45V Hydrogen Production Tax Credit (PTC). The Treasury Department’s new 45V guidance is an excellent step toward developing a credible clean hydrogen market in the United States, and effective implementation of it is a critical step toward clean hydrogen production in the U.S. and around the world. 

Getting real about climate and energy in Africa: Assessing the scholarship and forging new partnerships 

Africa is the fastest-urbanizing and fastest-growing region in the world. By midcentury, 25% of the global population will be African. That means the fate of our climate will depend in part on how Africa’s energy systems evolve to meet its quickly growing needs. The problem? The scholarship on Africa’s energy transformation that is informing policy decisions is out of touch with the continent’s realities, according to CATF analysis released in 2023. We’re conducting research to change that, and working with a network of partners on the continent to shape a pragmatic and context-appropriate energy future that meets the needs of a growing continent while protecting our climate. We’re convening African utilities to explore opportunities to build strong and well-financed central grids and establishing partnerships with the continent’s manufacturers to design and implement industrial decarbonization roadmaps – pushing for an energy-secure, prosperous Africa that can play an active role in global decarbonization efforts from a position of strength.  

Net-Zero Industry Act: Europe’s flagship, options-based clean energy policy  

The European Union broke ground in 2023 with the release of the Net-Zero Industry Act, proposing a bold plan to achieve climate neutrality and unleash economic growth. By setting a target for carbon storage and placing the responsibility to deal with emissions on the biggest emitters, it also sets the stage for widespread carbon capture and storage deployment in the EU. CATF’s advocacy helped ensure the policy promoted technologies critical for industrial decarbonization – including carbon capture and storage, and clean hydrogen. We’ll continue to advocate for a well-designed and implemented Net-Zero Industry Act to support the development of much needed clean energy infrastructure. 

Primed for the moment: CATF’s impact in the states 

We know that successful deployment of clean energy technologies in U.S. states is key to global climate action – and in 2023 we saw historic state-level progress in clean energy deployment and new climate policies. Over the past year, CATF has built a team of experts to lead our work in every region of the country – from Louisiana to Minnesota, and from New England to California. We are embedded in local discussions with policymakers, helping to advance state-specific solutions using CATF’s policy and technical expertise. 

In 2023, CATF helped state and local governments implement climate funding – from clean electricity and transportation to industrial decarbonization and pollution reduction. 2024 offers additional state opportunities in terms of federal funding, legislation, regulatory actions, and community benefits, and CATF is working with states and stakeholders across the country to ensure states seize them. 

Driving climate action at COP28 

At the world’s largest climate conference in Dubai, COP28, CATF’s team of experts helped to drive forward groundbreaking announcements from world leaders to triple global nuclear energy deployment, support the rollout of robust U.S. methane regulations, and secure powerful financial commitments to fund methane mitigation around the world. We also helped engage some of the world’s largest international and national oil companies to commit to increased transparency and improved emissions mitigation, and launched a new platform with our partners to better track waste methane emissions in cities around the world.   

In addition to securing game changing commitments and supercharged clean energy ambition, we also hosted a range of in-depth discussions assessing where we stand on climate action and what we must change to achieve climate goals. Alongside national government ministers, company CEOs, global policymakers, and leading climate and energy journalists, we showcased CATF’s unique approach to the climate challenge — making clear that we need more climate solutions, more flexible approaches, inclusion across the climate ecosystem, and accountability for all parties.   

And in a victory for all pushing for a pragmatic approach to the climate challenge – the final COP28 text recognized, for the first time, the need to transition away from fossil fuels, and somewhat even more surprisingly, advance clean energy solutions like wind and solar, nuclear energy, carbon capture, and low-carbon hydrogen, and rapidly cut methane emissions – all while allowing for a regionally flexible approach that acknowledges each countries’ energy access and energy security needs.  

This breakthrough consensus reflects growing recognition of something CATF has been pushing for years: we must move quickly and decisively toward a zero-carbon future, and, in order to do so, we must move strategically as well, with a diverse range of tools and technologies.   

More milestones in 2023: New programs and expanded focus areas 

  • Land Systems: How we manage land systems shapes our energy and climate systems and determines our ability to meet the needs of a growing population. CATF’s new program combines analysis, policy advocacy, and communication to understand trade-offs and synergies among competing land uses and to advance policies and practices that best mitigate climate change while supporting livelihoods worldwide. 
  • Clean Energy Infrastructure Deployment: CATF is working to ensure that a diverse array of clean energy infrastructure is built in a fair and equitable manner at the pace and scale required to meet growing global energy demand and achieve climate goals. 
  • Fusion Energy: Fusion is an advanced energy source with the potential to produce abundant, zero-emissions power around the world. This year, CATF launched a program focused on fusion energy and envisions a world where fusion energy has a viable pathway to commercial development, with the potential to transform our global energy matrix and dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • Hydrogen Hubs: A new effort to help advocate for and guide the U.S. towards rigorous, climate-beneficial implementation of clean hydrogen policy through deep research and engagement on hydrogen hubs and the hydrogen production tax credit
  • Transportation Decarbonization: We need a fully decarbonized global transportation sector by midcentury. See how CATF is working to advance incentives and performance standards to decarbonize land, marine and air transport, and fueling systems. 
  • Carbon Capture: CATF continued raising awareness around a reality that energy modelers and climate scientists have long known: carbon capture is critical to hitting our climate goals. In 2023, our engagement helped advance major milestones in carbon capture – including the Carbon Management Challenge, the Oil and Gas Decarbonization Alliance, and important policy support in Europe and the U.S. 
  • Superhot Rock Energy: A visionary geothermal technology that has the potential to provide abundant, carbon-free renewable energy, 24/7 — all with a low land footprint. In 2023, CATF expanded its work advocating for funding and investment in superhot rock energy and produced a global project map and glossary to help advance this innovative climate solution.  

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