Any Way the Wind Blows: New Enhesa Report Highlights Air Emissions Requirements Around the World

March 29, 2022

As climate change momentum grows, so will your company’s list of air emission requirements.

Climate change is on more regulatory radars than ever before, and that means more obligations and regulations are on their way. In the United States, ­the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission just released proposed regulations that “would require information about a registrant’s climate-related risks that are reasonably likely to have a material impact on its business, results of operations or financial condition.”

In August 2021, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that global warming will increase by more than 1.5°C this century. More stringent legislation is expected around the world, and a new white paper from Enhesa, “Around the World in Air Emissions: Winds of Changing Requirements across the Globe” by EHS regulatory consultants Evelyn Chuang, Beatriz García Fernández-Viagas and Nathaniel Gajasa, highlights key developments in air emissions regulations for the European Union, United States and APAC.

European Union Focuses on Carbon

As noted by the report authors, the European Union (EU) is at the forefront of international efforts to tackle climate change. “In fact,” notes the report, “it’s the only region in the world with a climate neutrality target enshrined into law.”

In light of the goal to reach climate neutrality by 2050, the EU has committed to reducing GHG2 emissions by at least 55% by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels). The “Fit for 55 Package” as it’s called, is the European Commission’s set of proposals towards achieving this goal, and it includes a “broadened scope for better emissions control.” The proposals include expanding European Emissions Trading System (ETS) rules to cover additional sectors including construction, maritime and road transportation sectors. Companies in these newly added sectors would need to report their emissions and surrender their allowances to cover them.

In addition, Enhesa reports, “the Commission proposes to reduce the ETS’s total number of emission allowances (the “cap”) – by 4.2 % every year and free allocation would be made conditional on companies’ decarbonization efforts.” The Commission also plans to plug up carbon “leakage” by setting a proposed carbon price on specific products imported to the EU and the importers will have to buy carbon certificates corresponding to the carbon price they would have paid if the imported goods had been produced under the EU ETS rules. (For more specific information, on proposed or new rules and regulations in the EU, United Sates or APAC, download Around the World in Air Emissions: Winds of Changing Requirements across the Globe.”)

United States: EPA Sets Climate Change as #1 Priority

According to the Enhesa report, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a new strategic plan for 2022-2026. It sets climate change as the number one priority, zooming in on the cost of carbon in air emissions. Even if you don’t produce a lot of GHG, you still need to be aware of the potential impact. In March 2022, the Interagency Task Force on Illegal Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) Trade announced that over the previous 10 weeks, it prevented illegal HFC shipments equivalent to approximately 530,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions, the same amount as the emissions from nearly 100,000 homes’ electricity use in one year.

The task force was established in September 2021 when EPA issued a final rule initiating a comprehensive program to cap and phase down the production and consumption of climate-damaging HFCs in the United States, potent greenhouse gases commonly used in refrigeration and air conditioning equipment. A global phasedown of HFCs is expected to avoid up to 0.5 °C of global warming by 2100. The HFC phasedown is projected to avoid approximately 4.6 billion metric tons of COfrom 2022 – 2050 in the United States, or nearly equal to three years’ worth of U.S. power sector emissions at 2019 levels.

APAC Near Top of List for New Regulatory Action

In 2021, according to Enhesa, “the APAC region saw 591 regulatory developments related to air emissions management – ranking it as the third-most active region in [Enhesa’s] database. And it’s about to step up its game even more.”

As the result of net-zero emission goals, India and Southeast Asia have sped up legislation and stipulated additional measures to achieve carbon neutrality and slow climate change. China, India and South Korea have all published more stringent air emission standards at both the national level and state/province level.

For additional information, download the report.

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