Author Archives: Derek Walker

California Climate and Energy: Top 10 Blogs of 2012

2012 was an exciting year for California’s climate change and energy leadership. Our “Top 10 Blogs of 2012” recap some of the year’s highlights and illustrate how EDF is engaged in groundbreaking work in the Golden State every day. Whether it was helping to pave the way for the opening of North America’s largest carbon market in California, or helping design the first commercial On-Bill Repayment program, EDF was at the center of the most important environmental issues facing California in 2012.

In 2013, we will continue to tout both the economic and environmental benefits of California’s landmark environmental programs. California is our nation’s most important laboratory for meaningful action on climate change and clean energy. We must ensure that California serves as a model for the nation proving that good environmental policy can create jobs, spur our economy, and improve our overall quality of life.  We look forward to a productive and prosperous 2013 and will continue to share with you the stories that impact California and shape our nation.

       1. On-Bill Repayment Bill Introduced In California (Published: December 7, 2012)

California Senator Kevin de León introduced a bill, SB 37, which would create the first On-Bill Repayment (OBR) program entirely financed by private capital. OBR allows property owners to finance energy efficiency and renewable generation upgrades and repay the obligations through their utility bills. Read more…

       2. California Cap-and-Trade Auction Success (Published: November 19, 2012)

The results of California’s first ever auction for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions allowances are public, marking the start of a new era for stimulating innovative solutions to combat climate change. Coincidentally, earlier today new atmospheric data was released by NOAA showing that 2012 is on pace to be the warmest year, eclipsing the mark set only two years ago. Read more…

       3. California’s record gas prices shows AB 32 will help both your wallet and your health (Published: October 10, 2012)

Fuel prices in California hit historic highs this week, an unexpected price spike that has put the state’s dependence on oil and natural gas into sharp focus. Like many of the state’s former fuel price shocks caused by demonstrable events (i.e. foreign and domestic supply disruptions), oil companies are once again saying that refinery problems and pipeline issues were the root cause. However, most reports on the current price swing aren’t pinpointing the true reason – drivers en masse are too reliant on the current mix of gas and diesel, an energy source that pollutes our environment every time it is used. Read more…

       4. Latino Support Surges for the Environment (Published: October 4, 2012)

California lawmakers take notice: Latino voters want a strong economy AND a clean environment, two things they believe are not mutually exclusive. Read more…

       5. What does history say about the costs and benefits of environmental policies? (Published: September 20, 2012)

With just three months to go before California launches North America's first economy- wide cap on global warming pollution, many businesses large and small all over the state are quietly and effectively creating a clean economy that will get a further shot in the arm when California puts a price on carbon in January. Unfortunately, albeit predictably, opponents of this landmark effort choose to overlook the likely benefits and instead spread questionable information about the assumed costs. Read more…

       6. Californians see global warming as a threat, and support action to abate (Published: August 2, 2012)

Decision makers at every level across California should take notice of today’s affirmation that the public supports California’s efforts to respond to the causes of climate change. Read more…

       7. Invest to Grow: EDF’s newest report highlights the opportunities created by the strategic investments behind California’s landmark emissions reduction program (Published: July 13, 2012)

Over the past 20 years, the unprecedented growth and resiliency of California’s clean and efficient economy has continued throughout economic recessions and budget crises – even while many other sectors of the economy have shrunk. This growth has created a statewide infrastructure of companies providing the products and services that are at the heart of the transition towards a lower carbon economy envisioned by California’s landmark climate law. Read more…

       8. A Dynamic Approach To California Energy Use (Published: July 5, 2012)

Californians are poised for a more functional, data-driven model for setting the prices people pay for electricity. The new model will make the massive differences in costs of providing electricity during the course of a typical day more evident to us as energy users, thereby inspiring more efficient use of electricity resources. Read more…

       9. Outpouring of Support for California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (Published: June 25, 2012)

California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) has received an impressive outpouring of support from a diverse range of “friend of the court” briefs as the case challenging the regulation makes its way through the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Back in April, the LCFS won a preliminary victory when the 9th Circuit held that California could continue to enforce the regulation while the court considers the case. On June 8, the state and other appellants, including EDF, submitted the first full brief arguing the merits of the case. A week later, groups filed seven different briefs in support of the LCFS, asserting a wide range of interests in the case. Read more…

       10. Getting ‘Smart’ About Your Energy Use Just Got Easier (Published: January 20, 2012)

On Wednesday, I attended a presentation of the Green Button at EMC2, hosted by Silicon Valley Leadership Group, OSIsoft and SolarCity, and moderated by Aneesh Chopra, U.S. Chief Tech Officer and Advisor to the President. Read more…


Posted in Clean Energy, Climate, General, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32, Politics, Smart Grid, Transportation| Comments closed

Californians see global warming as a threat, and support action to abate

Decision makers at every level across California should take notice of today’s affirmation that the public supports California’s efforts to respond to the causes of climate change.

The results from the newly released Public Policy Institute of California’s annual survey of Californian attitudes towards the environment speak loud and clear: The majority of Californians see global warming as a serious threat to the state’s economy and their future quality of life and they continue to support measures to reduce green house gas emissions through the state’s cap and trade law.

Since the poll also revealed that many Californians think not enough is being done on this issue – particularly at the federal level – those in a position to make policy changes should take this poll as a call to action to address what the public sees as a major threat to their lives and livelihoods.

That’s not to say that significant efforts aren’t already underway. In addition to California’s visionary cap and trade law about to go into effect at the beginning of next year, the state just released its third assessment of our climate change vulnerabilities – a reminder that in addition to reducing our emissions we must also prepare for the climate impacts that scientists tell us are still to come.

Highlights from the PPIC poll include:

  • A majority of likely voters say global warming is a serious threat (40% very serious, 26% somewhat serious) to the economy and quality of life in California’s future.
  • 62% of likely voters support the state’s cap and trade law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
    • Four in ten Californians say efforts to reduce greenhouse gases will result in more jobs.
  • 64% of likely voters say steps need to be taken right away to counter the effects of global warming.
  • 53% of likely voters say the federal government is not doing enough to address global warming.
  • 42% of likely voters say state and local governments are not doing enough to address global warming.
  • The majority (78% of Californians and 73% of likely voters) is in favor of increasing federal funding to develop wind, solar, and hydrogen technology. That support is reflected across political party lines.

So the science is in, and so is public opinion. Our leaders have every incentive they need to take sustained and decisive action to kick start economic growth by moving forward with California’s groundbreaking climate law.

Posted in Climate, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32| Comments closed

Governor Brown and the U.S. Navy are making maneuvers with California clean energy companies to showcase real progress

This week, the U.S. Navy and the Office of California Governor Jerry Brown are teaming up to put on display the blossoming relationship between California’s clean energy industry and the U.S. Navy, part of the nation’s biggest energy consumer, the U.S. Department of Defense.

The fact that the U.S. Navy and the clean energy companies featured in the Clean Energy Showcase event – Borrego Solar, Solar City and Biodico, to name just a few – are nurturing this partnership is enormously telling of the direction that the mainstream of our country is moving in. And by providing a platform for this event, Governor Brown is shining a much-needed light on the numerous advantages to this significant public-private sector alliance, and continuing to bolster California’s impressive clean energy credentials.

It’s clear that Brown is applying the power of his office to set ambitious clean energy goals for the state – he already set a goal that the state will have 20,000 megawatts of new renewable energy on the grid by 2020. This newer role however is a clear signal that he is also committed to fostering clean energy links that will provide benefits throughout the state’s economy. In his role as convener, Brown sends a powerful message to all sectors – that they too can contribute to and benefit from California’s surge towards a clean energy future.

For its part, the Navy’s energy management strategies are an entirely pragmatic response to climate change, the complex security landscape and the realities of a squeezed budget. These three challenges represent three corners of a triangle, each inextricably linked to the other. As Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said back in May, “As someone who now faces a budget shortfall exceeding $3 billion because of higher-than-expected fuel costs, I have a deep interest in more sustainable and efficient energy options.”

Not only is the U.S. military out ahead on this issue, but so is California. Ready to implement America’s first carbon emissions trading market, California has already become a magnet for clean energy investment. And, as described in our new report Invest to Grow, the investment opportunities created by this law will provide numerous benefits to the existing landscape of companies throughout the state that are already providing clean energy and energy efficiency products and services.

Climate change, national energy security and constrained budgets are weighty issues for not just the military, but for the state of California. This week’s Clean Energy Showcase provides an opportunity for our country’s most innovative, practical and pragmatic forces – business and military – to publicly shine a light on the clear path forward. Under the wing of Governor Brown’s administration, this partnership can help further California progress towards a more responsible, and secure, clean economy.

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Politics| Comments closed

Cap-and-Trade Club Grows with Addition of Quebec

Despite the Durban climate talks ending with little progress beyond launching negotiations of a new agreement by 2015 that encompasses all the major emitters, momentum for carbon markets continues to grow from the ground up. Case in point: Canada’s second largest province, Quebec. 

Just three days after Canada announced it was dropping out of the Kyoto Protocol, Quebec announced it was going forward with a cap-and-trade program tied to California’s.

It was little surprise that Canada would renege on its commitment to cut climate pollution because it had done little to meet the treaty’s targets. And while its move was harshly condemned at home and abroad as ‘irresponsible’ and ‘reckless’, the news was offset by progress that’s being made at the sub-national level.

Quebec and California are part of the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), a partnership of states and provinces pledging to fight climate change by putting a price on pollution. Other Canadian provinces in the WCI, including British Columbia and Ontario, are actively developing carbon market programs.

Quebec is the latest entity to join climate’s ‘cap-and-trade club’ that counts the European Union, Japan, New Zealand, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and Switzerland as members. China and South Korea are among the countries that are exploring starting cap-and-trade programs. The United States used cap-and-trade to notable success in the ‘90s to cut acid rain faster and at dramatically lower costs than predicted by industry.

With extreme weather events linked to climate change on the rise, along with public support for solutions, Canada is joining the United States in refusing to deal with the most pressing environmental issue of our lifetime.  Fortunately, Quebec and California are leading the charge to cap and reduce pollution, an approach proven to deliver great economic and public health benefits. 

A recent study on the economic benefits of RGGI in the first three years found that the region’s economy grew by $1.6 billion, produced $1.3 billion in energy savings to consumers and created more than 16,000 jobs. 

Sub-national governments have become the hotbeds of leadership and progress on climate change, proving that taking action grows their economies while protecting the environment. We must not let the hope of a perfect (global agreement) become the enemy of the urgent (taking concrete action to fight climate change).

Posted in Cap and trade, Climate, Linkage| Comments closed

While Countries are Talking, California is Doing

Climate change is all over the news these days and while most of the news isn’t good, there are a few signs of progress.

First the bad news: a recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that we have five years to act if we want to avoid the most extreme consequences of climate change.  A subsequent report issued by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in mid November confirms that the extreme weather events over the last few years are a direct result of climate change. Unfortunately, expectations are low that there will be much agreement at the international climate talks taking place in Durban this week.

Now the good news: California, the world’s 8th largest economy and 12th largest climate polluter, is leading the way on fighting climate change and the state’s economy is benefitting from an early-mover advantage.

The state just unanimously adopted a cap-and-trade program as part of its landmark Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), the law requiring California to cut climate pollution to 1990 levels by 2020.  To meet the 2020 level, California is implementing nearly 70 policies, including cap-and-trade.

The recently adopted cap-and-trade program will cover 360 of California’s largest polluters and, by 2015, over 85% of all climate pollution in the state, accelerating new innovations in clean energy, energy efficiency and fuels and stimulating next-generation solutions we have yet to even imagine.

According to a number of reports, the latest of which was published in Science Magazine, these reductions are critical if we hope to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of climate change. That report lays out what it would take to meet California’s long-term vision of slashing climate pollution 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

More good news: California can achieve early AB 32 targets through energy efficiency and other existing measures alone. Deeper cuts require significant innovation and deployment of new technologies, which is, of course, why California’s cap-and-trade system is so critical. It will put a price on pollution for the first time, motivating investors, innovators and entrepreneurs to deliver solutions that will get us where we need to be at the lowest cost possible.

The Science report should strengthen our resolve and be a wake-up call about the scale of our task.  The U.S. and other countries that are fighting about whether dramatic action is necessary will be big financial losers, and the entire world and everyone on it will be at greater risk.

As our international climate director stated on Monday in Durban, “Given the current global political and economic situations, renewal of the Kyoto Protocol is highly unlikely. But that is no excuse for the world to sit back and do nothing. We need to build on the efforts of individual countries and regions so that every nation does their part to reduce the emissions that are harming our way of life.” 

California's examples cannot be just the CFL light bulb burning at the end of the tunnel. They must be the locomotive of a bullet train into the clean energy future.


Posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32| Comments closed

California Shapes National Action on Clean Car Standards

Fortunately, when it comes to climate and energy policies, what happens in California doesn’t stay in California.

Yesterday the Obama Administration announced a second phase of national greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency standards—covering passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks for model years 2017-2025—that California played a key role developing. California also announced new Advanced Clean Cars package to deliver cleaner air, slash greenhouse gases, rapidly increase numbers of zero-emissions vehicles. 

Yesterday’s announcements represent a key step forward in addressing our fundamental economic, energy and environmental priorities.

The federal standards are expected to result in at least $1.7 trillion in savings, reductions of an estimated 2.2 million barrels of oil a day by 2025 and 6 billion metric tons of climate pollution. California’s package—covering cars and light-duty trucks for model years 2012-2025 will likely result in having 1.4 million zero-emission vehicles and plug-in hybrids on the road in 2025 with savings of $5 billion that same year for consumers and businesses.

Consumers and businesses are rightly concerned about our dependence on imported oil and rising energy prices. Setting new greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency standards will address those concerns by saving them money and creating a healthier environment. 

The new auto standards are widely supported by a diverse coalition of automakers and the United Auto Workers, as well as businesses, consumers, veterans, health and environmental organizations. These standards will help create jobs, grow our economy, break our addiction to oil, save consumers trillions of dollars at the pump and dramatically cut climate change pollution.

 This is great news for Americans in every state and further proof that California serves as the model for climate change policy.

Posted in Climate| Comments closed
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    How California can leverage market-based environmental policies to revitalize its economy, protect its quality of life and retain a leading edge in global innovation.

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