Bradford McGann

Bradford McGann is an associate in the firm’s Washington, DC office, where he provides strategic advice to clients as a member of the firm’s Environmental and Energy Practice Group, the Environmental, Social, and Governance (“ESG”) Practice, and the Carbon Management and Climate Mitigation industry group. Bradford’s work focuses on helping clients understand and navigate multijurisdictional climate-related financial disclosure requirements. He also provides regulatory compliance support for clients engaged in carbon-reduction, renewable-energy, and net-zero efforts. His pro bono practice focuses on issues of immigration and international human rights.

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.

  • Azerbaijan is poised to host COP29 next year after receiving regional backing.  If formally confirmed, Azerbaijan’s COP Presidency would resolve months of deadlock.  It will also trigger criticism that next year’s COP will again be hosted by a nation heavily dependent on fossil fuel exports.
  • Brazil has been formally chosen to host COP30 in 2025.  The venue will be the city of Belém, located in the Amazon rainforest.  As Brazil’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Marina Silva, commented: “With its immense biodiversity and vast territory threatened by climate change, the Amazon will show us the way.”
  • The UNFCCC has released a revised draft text of the negotiated outcome of the first Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement.  The revised draft no longer mentions the “phase out” of fossil fuels and instead mentions the “substitution of unabated fossil fuels” and “tripling renewable energy capacity . . . by 2030.”
  • The inclusion of “phase out” language in the final agreement has been one of the yardsticks by which commentators have suggested the success or failure of COP28 should be measured.  Accordingly, the new draft was met by significant criticism, including by the European Union’s representatives who called elements of the text “unacceptable.”  Negotiations now center on finding a compromise, almost guaranteeing that discussions at COP28 will continue beyond the official close of the conference on Tuesday, December 12.
  • Following the official theme of the day, 154 nations signed the COP28 UAE Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action.  The Declaration commits to “expedite the integration of agriculture and food systems into our climate action” and to “scaling-up adaptation and resilience activities and responses in order to reduce the vulnerability of all farmers, fisherfolk, and other food producers to the impacts of climate change.”  The contributions of the agriculture and forestry sectors, both as a source of emissions and as carbon sinks, are continuing to gain attention as an important part of the global efforts on climate change.

Continue Reading COP28 Day 10 Recap: Food in Focus, and a Look Ahead to COP29 and COP30

What You Need to Know.

  • With a focus on multilevel action, urbanization, and the built environment and transport, the events of Day 7 of COP28 highlighted efforts to transition to low-carbon and resilient infrastructure, particularly in urban areas.  This thematic focus is significant; according to the UN Environmental Programme, cities are responsible for an estimated 75 percent of global CO2 emissions, primarily from transportation and buildings.

Continue Reading COP28 Day 7 Recap: “A Bullet Train to Speed Up Climate Action”

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