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W. Andrew Jack

Andrew Jack has a diverse corporate and securities practice with clients principally in the energy, industrial manufacturing, technology and sports and entertainment industries. He regularly represents corporations, board committees, and other forms of enterprises in mergers and acquisitions, strategic alliances, financing activities, securities law compliance, corporate governance counseling, and executive compensation arrangements. Mr. Jack also co-chairs the firm's Energy Industry Group.

What You Need to Know.

  • After two days of intense negotiations, world leaders adopted a draft decision that sets out international climate priorities in response to the findings of the first Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement.  The decision covers several thematic areas, including mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation and resilience in the face of climate change, financing and means of implementation and support for climate projects, and loss and damage funding for climate-vulnerable nations.  The text of the draft decision can be found on the UNFCCC’s website here.
  • The most highly scrutinized and heavily debated aspect of the agreement was the path forward on the use of fossil fuels, greenhouse gas emissions from which, the decision notes, have “unequivocally caused global warming of about 1.1 °C.”  Recognizing the need for deep, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in line with 1.5 °C pathways, the decision calls on Parties to contribute to the following efforts related to the energy transition and fossil fuel use:
    • Tripling renewable energy capacity globally and doubling the global average annual rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030;
    • Accelerating efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal power;
    • Accelerating efforts globally towards net zero emission energy systems, utilizing zero- and low-carbon fuels well before or by around mid-century;
    • Transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science;”
    • Accelerating zero- and low-emission technologies, including, inter alia, renewables, nuclear, abatement and removal technologies such as carbon capture and utilization and storage, particularly in hard-to-abate sectors, and low-carbon hydrogen production;
    • Accelerating and substantially reducing non-carbon-dioxide emissions globally, including in particular methane emissions by 2030;
    • Accelerating the reduction of emissions from road transport on a range of pathways, including through development of infrastructure and rapid deployment of zero and low-emission vehicles; and
    • Phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that do not address energy poverty or just transitions, as soon as possible;
  • While coal has been mentioned in previous COP decisions, the language on “transitioning away from fossil fuels” represents the first time that countries have agreed to language that explicitly curtails all fossil fuels in the nearly three-decades-long history of the UN climate summit.  Though hailed by COP28 President Al Jaber and other world leaders as a “historic package to accelerate climate action,” the decision, and how it was adopted, was not without its critics.
    • UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell pushed the world to strive for more action.  “COP 28 also needed to signal a hard stop to humanity’s core climate problem—fossil fuels and their planet-burning pollution.  Whilst we didn’t turn the page on the fossil fuel era in Dubai, this outcome is the beginning of the end.”
    • Anne Rasmussen, lead delegate for Samoa, complained that delegates of the small island nation nations weren’t even in the room when President Al Jaber announced the deal was done.  Garnering the longest applause of the session, Rasmussen declared that “the course correction that is needed has not been secured” and that the deal could “potentially take us backward rather than forward.”

Continue Reading COP28 Final Negotiations Recap: A Global Agreement to Transition Away from Fossil Fuels

What You Need to Know.

  • The thematic focus of the day’s programming was on nature, land use, and ocean, including events on scaling effective solutions that protect, restore, and beneficially manage nature ecosystems, addressing drivers of nature loss, empowering Indigenous Peoples and local communities, and creating resilient livelihoods.  As part of this discussion, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) launched a report highlighting that nearly $7 trillion of public and private finance each year supports activities that directly harm nature—thirty times the amount spent annually on “nature-based solutions,” or actions to protect, conserve, restore, sustainably use, and manage natural resources that simultaneously provide human well-being, ecosystem, and resilience and biodiversity benefits.
  • Late Friday evening, various news organizations reported that the head of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) sent a letter to its thirteen members as well as ten additional countries (altogether known as “OPEC plus”), highlighting the increased pressure to reach an agreement to phase out fossil fuels at COP28.  The letter urged the OPEC plus nations to “reject any text or formula that targets energy i.e. fossil fuels rather than emissions.”
  • Various high-level officials from international organizations or countries central to the energy transition made statements in favor of reaching an agreement to curb fossil-fuel production.  Dr. Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, noted that it is “imperative” that countries agree to an “orderly and just decline in fossil fuels in line with our international climate goals.”  These comments were echoed by Xie Zhenhua, China’s climate envoy, who noted China’s desire to see an agreement that would reduce fossil fuel consumption, and Alok Sharma, the president of the COP26 summit in Glasgow, who stated that “If you’re going to keep 1.5C alive” countries need both “language on a phase-out of fossil fuels” and “a credible implementation plan.”
  • The Netherlands launched a coalition to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, along with Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Spain, Finland, Antigua and Barbuda, Canada, France, Denmark, Costa Rica, Luxemburg.  The coalition has three pillars: (1) publishing a list of their fossil fuel subsidies before COP29; (2) working together to identify and address international barriers to phasing out fossil subsidies; and (3) shaping an international dialogue to share knowledge, develop national strategies for phasing out fossil benefits, and seek joint action to minimize carbon leakage.

Continue Reading COP28 Day 9 Recap: Nature, Land Use, Oceans, and Nature-Based Solutions

What You Need to Know. 

  • After a year of preparation and months of anticipation, the twenty-eighth annual United Nations Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) opened in Dubai on November 30, 2023.  Live and recorded coverage of the plenary sessions can be found on the UNFCCC COP28 website.
  • UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell opened the conference with a powerful call to action and reminder of what is at stake at COP28.  “Remember this.  Behind every line you work on.  Every word or comma you wrestle with here at COP.  There is a human being, a family, a community, that depends on you.  Turn the badge around your necks into a badge of honour, and a life belt for the millions of people you are working for.  Accelerate climate action.  Teach it to run.”
  • With a standing ovation from attendees, delegates approved the operationalization of a fund to assist developing countries in responding to economic and non-economic loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change.  COP28 President Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber praised the approval of the loss and damage fund—the first time a decision has been adopted on the first day of any COP—as setting “a clear ambition for [delegates] to agree [to] a comprehensive, ambitious GST [Global Stocktake] decision over the next twelve days.”
  • The fund will initially be hosted by the World Bank for an interim period of four years, at which time an independent assessment of the World Bank’s performance as a host will be conducted.  World leaders must now nominate and appoint a board to operationalize the fund.  The UNFCCC also must formulate and post a final decision reflecting today’s approval.
  • Funding commitments for the loss and damage fund are mounting, with contributing countries facing a mix of peer pressure and political constraints.  National contribution pledges to date include: UAE ($100 million); UK ($51 million); US ($17.5 million); Japan ($10 million); European Union ($245 million, including $100 million pledged by Germany).

Continue Reading COP28 Day 1 Recap: A Call for Action and Historic Decision on Loss and Damage Funding

What You Need to Know. 

  • After the opening day, action at COP28 shifted to the World Climate Action Summit (WCAS), where world leaders convened to deliver national statements and carry out initial negotiations on the Global Stocktake and expanding climate financing.  Concurrently, business leaders and philanthropists gathered at the Business and Philanthropy Climate Forum to discuss how the private sector and philanthropy can contribute to climate action.
  • UN Secretary General António Guterres opened the WCAS by urging countries to speed up their net zero timelines to 2040 for developed countries and 2050 for emerging economies and accelerate towards a “just, equitable transition” to renewable energy.  In his speech, Mr. Guterres laid out a hard line on phasing out fossil fuels, saying that “The 1.5-degree limit is only possible if we ultimately stop burning all fossil fuels.  Not reduce. Not abate.  Phase out – with a clear timeframe aligned with 1.5 degree.”
  • Fifty oil and gas companies representing more than 40 percent of global oil production joined the Oil and Gas Decarbonization Charter, which commits signatories to align around net zero by or before 2050, zero-out methane emissions, eliminate routine flaring by 2030, and to continue working towards emission reduction.  COP28 President Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber praised the declaration as “a great first step” while also highlighting that national oil companies, which represent 60 percent of the signatories, “can and need to do more” to keep the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degrees Celsius target within reach.  More than 300 environmental organizations lambasted the declaration in a letter to the COP28 Presidency, stating that voluntary efforts without any accountability mechanisms are “insufficient” and that “the only safe and effective way to ‘clean up’ fossil fuel pollution is to phase out fossil fuels.”
  • The United States Environmental Protection Agency issued a final rule designed to sharply reduce methane and other harmful pollutants from the oil and natural gas industry.  The final rule includes standards to reduce methane and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from new, modified, and reconstructed sources as well as guidelines for states to follow in developing their plans to limit methane from existing sources.  The timing of the announcement is indicative of the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of using COP28 as a platform to elevate pollution-reduction measures in the United States and galvanize global action.
  • 117 countries signed the Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge, agreeing to  triple the world’s installed renewable energy generation capacity to at least 11,000 GW by 2030 and collectively double the global average annual rate of energy efficiency improvements from around 2% to over 4% every year until 2030.  And twenty countries signed the Declaration to Triple Nuclear Energy with the goal of tripling nuclear energy capacity from 2020 by 2050. 
  • The UAE announced the establishment of ALTÉRRA, a $30 billion climate fund in collaboration with BlackRock, Brookfield and TPG.  The fund will allocate $25 billion towards climate strategies and $5 billion specifically to incentivize investment flows into the Global South.  ALTÉRRA aims to mobilize $250 billion globally by 2030.
  • Vice President Kamala Harris announced that the United States would pledge $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund (GCF).  The pledge by the United States was joined by pledges from Estonia ($1 million), Portugal ($4.4 million), and Switzerland ($155 million). The GCF was established by the UNFCCC at COP16 in 2010 to accelerate the development of climate mitigation and adaptation projects in developing countries by mobilizing financial flows form the private sector to climate-smart investment opportunities.

Continue Reading COP28 Day 2­–­3 Recap: The World Climate Action Summit and Expanding Commitments to Climate Financing

On 26 June 2023, the International Sustainability Standards Board (the “ISSB”) issued its inaugural International Financial Reporting Standards (“IFRS”) Sustainability Disclosure Standards (the “Standards”), heralding progress in the development of a global baseline of sustainability-linked disclosures. The Standards build on the concepts that underpin the IFRS Accounting Standards, which are required in more than 140 jurisdictions, but notably not in the United States for domestic issuers subject to regulation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), which must apply US Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (“US GAAP”).  Despite broad investor appetite for  transparent, uniform and comparable disclosure rules, the scope of required sustainability disclosure and timing for adoption of the SEC’s pending climate disclosure rule remains unresolved.

  1. IFRS S1 General Requirements for Disclosure of Sustainability-related Financial Information (“IFRS S1”) requires an entity to disclose information about all sustainability-related risks and opportunities that could reasonably be expected to affect the entity’s prospects. The effect on the entity’s prospects refers to the effect on the entity’s cash flows, its access to finance, or cost of capital over the short, medium or long term.
  2. IFRS S2 Climate-related Disclosures (“IFRS S2”) requires an entity to provide information about its exposure to climate-related risks and opportunities. Information to be disclosed includes both physical risks—such as extreme weather events—as well as transition risks, such as changes in customer behaviour.

Both IFRS S1 and IFRS S2 are effective for annual reporting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2024. Accordingly, where the Standards have been adopted for a 2024 reporting cycle, relevant disclosures will begin to be published in 2025 in an entity’s general purpose financial reports (subject to transitional provisions), alongside an “explicit and unreserved statement of compliance” when disclosing against the Standards. Whilst the launch of the Standards has been a welcome step, seeking to provide greater uniformity in corporate reporting, individual jurisdictions will decide whether entities will be required to comply with the Standards.Continue Reading ISSB issues inaugural global sustainability disclosure standards

In a series of prior blog posts, we previously highlighted the historic implications of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) for the U.S.’s international climate commitments, as well as for private companies navigating the energy transition.  Shortly after our series published, the Senate passed the IRA on Sunday August 7th with only minor modifications to the bill’s $369 billion in climate and clean energy spending.  Today, the House passed the IRA without any further changes, and soon hereafter President Biden is expected to sign it into law. 

However, this is only the beginning of the road; the IRA will have sweeping implications beyond the four corners of its pages.  In the coming months and years, we expect to see intense jockeying over agency rulemakings that will shape the IRA’s implementation, as well as determine its ultimate success as an energy policy.  

I. Congressional Permitting Reform

As an initial matter, it seems Congress has not finished its work revamping the nation’s climate and energy laws.  As part of his agreement to support the IRA, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced that “President Biden, Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi have committed to advancing a suite of commonsense permitting reforms this fall that will ensure all energy infrastructure, from transmission to pipelines and export facilities, can be efficiently and responsibly built to deliver energy safely around the country and to our allies.”  While the exact contours of this legislation are not currently known, Senator Manchin’s office recently released a legislative framework, which includes proposals to, among other things:Continue Reading House Passes Inflation Reduction Act, Marks a New Era for Climate Policy

Late on July 27, Sen. Joe Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer announced an agreement on the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA): a reconciliation package that implements prescription drug pricing reform, invests in Affordable Care Act health care subsidies, imposes a corporate minimum tax and improves tax enforcement, and—most relevant for this post—provides $369

On July 14, 2022, the U.S. Department of Commerce (“Commerce”) issued a request for a range of additional factual information in connection with the agency’s ongoing circumvention inquiries into solar cells and modules from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam that employ inputs from mainland China.[1]  The deadline to respond is July 21st.

In the July 14 memorandum, Commerce seeks information about the:  (1) amount of investment necessary to construct and start-up certain facilities, (2) non-financial barriers (e.g., access to inputs, qualified technical employees, technologies, research and development, etc.) that companies typically face to establish and begin certain operations, and (3) research and development (“R&D”) expenses associated with conducting certain operations.  These types of facilities/operations involved in:

  • refining silicon into solar-grade polysilicon,
  • producing ingots from solar-grade polysilicon,
  • producing wafers from solar-grade ingots,
  • producing solar cells from wafers,
  • producing solar modules from solar cells, and
  • the same operations and products as foreign producers and exporters responding to Commerce’s solar circumvention inquiries. 

Continue Reading Commerce Requests Factual Information in Solar Circumvention Inquiries on Level of Investment, Non-Financial Barriers, and Research and Development Expenses

On July 1, 2022, the U.S. Department of Commerce (“Commerce”) issued proposed rules implementing President Biden’s emergency declaration to provide temporary tariff relief on certain imports of solar cells and modules from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.[1] Commerce has provided the public with a 30-day period to comment on the proposed rules.

If enacted

Presidential Action Triggered by Crisis in the U.S. Solar Industry

In recent months, the U.S. solar industry has been in the midst of an existential crisis, triggered by the threatened imposition of retroactive and future tariffs on a significant portion of U.S. imports. That crisis began on April 1, 2022, when the Department of Commerce (“Commerce”) initiated an inquiry to determine whether solar cells and modules from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam are circumventing antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) orders on solar cells from China. Solar cells from these countries generally accounted for approximately 80% of U.S. solar module imports in 2020.[1] If Commerce finds circumvention, solar cells and modules from the four target countries could not only be subject to combined AD/CVD tariffs approaching 250%, but Commerce’s regulations also allow for the agency to apply these tariffs retroactively to merchandise entering on or after April 1, 2022 (and potentially as far back as November 4, 2021). This threat of AD/CVD tariffs triggered a steep decrease in imports of solar cells and modules from Southeast Asia, and caused parts of the U.S. solar industry to come to a stand-still, furthering domestic reliance on coal.[2] Given this paralysis in the solar industry, lawmakers and others urged the President to provide relief from potential AD/CVD tariffs.[3]

The President’s Response

On June 6, 2022, President Biden issued a declaration of emergency (the “Declaration”)[4] pursuant to section 318(a) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. § 1318), and issued a determination pursuant to section 303 of the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended (50 U.S.C. § 4533) (“the DPA Determination”)[5]. The Declaration finds that an emergency exists “with respect to the threats to the availability of sufficient electricity generation capacity” and authorizes Commerce to issue a moratorium on tariffs on solar cells and modules from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam for up to a 24-month period, while the DPA Determination aims to “expand the domestic production capability” for solar cells during this 24-month period. The Declaration itself does not prevent the imposition of tariffs on imported solar cells and modules from the Southeast Asian countries, rather it authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to “take appropriate action” to permit the duty-free importation of solar cells and modules for 24 months after the Declaration’s issue date.[6]Continue Reading President Acts to Prevent Import Tariffs on Solar Cells and Modules from Southeast Asia