Author Archives: Katie Hsia-Kiung

California’s Carbon Market Remains Strong through Growth Spurt

rp_KHK-picture-200x300.jpgGrowing up can be tough. But we all remember how good it felt to pass an important exam or achieve one of our major goals – whether it be getting a driver’s license or graduating from middle school. California’s landmark cap-and-trade program was just recently put to the test after undergoing a substantial growth spurt, more than doubling in size to include transportation fuels, California’s biggest source of greenhouse gas pollution. To account for this increase in the number of businesses and emissions capped by the program, more than three times the amount of allowances were offered in the cap-and-trade auction held last week as compared to the one before it. This was also the second auction since California began holding joint auctions with Quebec, the Canadian province that has a similar cap-and-trade program in place.

Auction results released earlier today indicate that the strong foundation built over the first two years of the program allowed the market to easily pass this important growth test, remaining stable and strong even in the face of a considerable change in allowance supply and shifting market dynamics.

So what happened in this auction?

Of the 73.6 million current vintage allowances offered in this auction, 100% were purchased at a price of $12.21. This is 11 cents above the floor price and the settlement price at the previous auction, and is consistent with historical trends of prices slightly above the floor. In the advanced auction for 2018 vintage allowances, over 10.4 million allowances were offered and 100% of these were purchased at the floor price of $12.10. These allowances can only be used starting in 2018 and the fact that there was a high level of demand for them once again reflects confidence in the future strength of the market. These companies are making financial investments that are consistent with the belief that the market will be in existence well into the future, as was strongly signaled through the Governor’s and the Legislature’s prioritization of long-term emission reductions. Read More »

Posted in Cap and trade, Cap-and-trade auction results, Climate, General, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32| Comments are closed

California’s Cap and Trade is Succeeding after Two Years, Report Says

rp_KHK-picture-200x300.jpgThese days, everyone seems to have an opinion about everything. The ubiquity of social media channels has saturated public discourse with so many viewpoints that it can be nearly impossible to distinguish facts from fiction. But facts still matter. Even though an argument about the quality of a neighborhood restaurant or the accomplishments of your local elected official might be inherently subjective, there’s no question that strong, empirical evidence gives you the best shot at coming out on top. What’s more, the greater the consequences of the issue being debated, the higher the stakes are when it comes to analyzing and acting on real-world evidence.

On one particularly timely and potentially far-reaching issue—solutions to climate change—evidence is mounting and becoming impossible to ignore: cap and trade is not just an idea you learn in an economics lecture, it is a policy solution being deployed successfully in California, the world’s eighth largest economy. According to EDF’s comprehensive analysis released today, California’s cap-and-trade program is working after two full years of implementation. Not only is the program incentivizing energy efficiency improvements, it is paving the way for the state to pass even stronger climate policies, and is helping other states and nations move forward with similar steps. Here are some of the top conclusions EDF puts forward in the report, based on our analysis of the evidence:
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Posted in Cap and trade, Climate, General, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32| Comments are closed

Vive La Linkage: California and Quebec Working Together to Fight Climate Change

rp_KHK-picture-200x300.jpgThe holiday season is often considered a time to stop and take stock of the things that we are thankful for, and to celebrate the accomplishments of the past year. Today, California and Quebec have one more thing to celebrate: the successful completion of their first-ever joint cap-and-trade auction, which marks the last of many steps to fully harmonize the two carbon markets. Auctions are held quarterly and are opportunities for companies regulated by cap-and-trade and others to electronically bid on and purchase carbon allowances (permits to emit one metric ton of greenhouse gas emissions).

California and Quebec carefully prepare for full linkage of their programs

California and Quebec worked closely to design their cap-and-trade programs to ensure that the essential mechanisms and stringent targets were in place to allow for linkage. The jurisdictions both started their cap-and-trade programs on January 1, 2013, and formally linked their carbon markets a year later. At that point, carbon allowances originating from Quebec’s program could be purchased and used by a California company and vice versa. Until the most recent auction, the two jurisdictions held separate auctions, allowing time to update the auction system to handle bidding from multiple jurisdictions with different currencies, different time zones, and different requirements for the minimum allowable bid. This process of careful preparation culminated in a practice joint auction held at the beginning of August, which went smoothly according to reports from the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the regulatory agency responsible for overseeing the implementation of California’s cap-and-trade program.

Sustained strength of linked program reflected in results of first joint auction

The first real joint auction took place last Tuesday, after a great deal of preparation and some technical difficulties that caused a few days of delay. During this auction, companies from both California and Quebec bid together on the same collective pool of allowances, aligning allowance price over the two programs. The results of this auction were released today and revealed healthy demand in the linked market for cap-and-trade allowances. 100% of the current 2014 vintage allowances for sale in this auction were purchased by bidders at a price of $12.10, while 100% of the 2017 future vintage allowances offered were purchased at a price of $11.86.

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Posted in Cap and trade, Cap-and-trade auction results, Climate, General, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32| Comments are closed

The Results Are In: 2013 Data Shows Capped Emissions are Down

rp_KHK-picture-200x300.jpgYesterday, millions of votes were tallied across the country and meticulously recorded to determine who would make up the nation’s next group of elected leaders. At noon yesterday, in the midst of this election activity, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) released a report of its own careful counting; not of votes, but of 2013 greenhouse gas emissions, collected under California’s Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting program. Under this program, California’s largest polluters across all sectors are required to report their emissions and have them checked by a CARB-accredited verifier.

Covered emissions decrease

Today's report revealed that emissions currently covered by the state’s cap-and-trade program decreased by almost 4% to 145 million metric tons (MMT) of CO2E. This is 11% under California’s stringent cap of 162.8 MMT for 2013, indicating that the state is on track to reduce emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020. Complementary policies established under AB 32, such as the Renewable Portfolio Standard and the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, are almost certainly playing a significant role in keeping emissions down. Because these other measures drive reductions in emissions within the cap, the cap-and-trade program essentially functions as an insurance policy, guaranteeing the state meets or even beats its reduction targets.

California’s economy flourishes while companies comply with cap-and-trade

Total reported emissions, including those not covered under the cap-and-trade program, increased from 2012 to 2013 by a very slim tenth of a percentage point. Over this same period, California data shows that the state gross domestic product (GDP), a commonly used measure of the health of the economy, increased by over 2%. So, while the state’s economy grew, emissions did not grow proportionally with it, showing that it is possible to break the link between economic output from emissions output. Job growth in California throughout 2013 was also impressive, beating the national average.

 In addition to reporting emissions every year, regulated polluters must also surrender some emissions allowances each year. Yesterday, covered businesses did this for the first time, turning in enough allowances to account for 30% of their 2013 emissions. ARB confirmed that they saw 100% compliance with this surrender requirement, showing that businesses are ready and able to incorporate cap-and-trade obligations into their regular business practices.

Sights set on post-2020

As significant progress is being made towards the state’s 2020 goals, focus is beginning to turn to California’s ambitious long-term target: to reduce emissions down to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.   To achieve this, CARB, the Governor's office, and some members of the legislature are calling for a midterm target to keep the state on a path to deep reductions.  Next year, we will take another important step towards this goal when transportation sector emissions, representing 38% of state GHG pollution, are regulated under the cap-and-trade program.

Today's results show that, as we prepare for these critical next steps, California has a strong foundation to build on with its cap-and-trade program. For more in-depth analysis of the emissions data released today, look out for EDF’s second annual report on California’s cap-and-trade program in January 2015.

Posted in Cap and trade, Climate, General, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32| Comments are closed

How California’s Climate Policy is Saving the Forest and Preserving a Way of Life

rp_ca_innov_series_icon_283x204.jpgEDFs Innovators Series profiles companies and people across California with bold solutions to reduce carbon pollution and help the state meet the goals of AB 32. Each addition to the series will profile a different solution, focused on the development of new technologies and ideas.

Although the Yurok Tribe is the largest Native American tribe by membership in California, it has struggled for centuries to keep hold of its ancestral land – an integral part of the Tribe’s livelihood. As European settlers moved in, the Yurok culture of living in unison with nature was rapidly and repeatedly challenged, as their land was taken and the natural ecosystems on which they depend were disrupted. In the New World economy that emerged, a person could make money from this acquired land in one of only three ways. The first was by cutting down the trees to harvest timber. The second was by cutting down the trees to create farmland. The third was by selling the land, most likely to someone who was hoping to cut down the trees for one of the first two purposes.

This story has played out countless times across the world, but California’s cap-and-trade program is changing the existing paradigm by creating a fourth way to derive revenue from forestland through the creation of an active carbon offsets market. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has approved five types of offset protocols for use in cap and trade, one of which is for U.S. forestry projects. This offset protocol gives forest landowners that meet stringent certification criteria a financial incentive to keep sustainable inventories of trees, and their carbon, on the land as opposed to cutting and hauling it all away. Companies regulated under the cap-and-trade program may purchase certified offset credits to account for a small percentage of the greenhouse gas pollution they produce. In this way, offsets can provide valuable opportunities to cut pollution while also creating valuable sources of revenue for landowners.
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Posted in California Innovators Series, Ecosystem Restoration, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32| Comments are closed

Strength in Numbers: Linked California-Quebec Market Benefits Environment and Economy

KHK pictureBigger is not always better, but a recent cap-and-trade auction in Quebec gave us one example of why it may be the case for a combined California and Quebec carbon market.

The linkage of Quebec and California’s markets has been watched by many around the world, and the start of joint auctions in November 2014 is the final step in full linkage. Last month, however, both jurisdictions were busy conducting their last solo auctions. While the results of the California-only auction were as anticipated, the Quebec-only auction yielded both expected and less expected results.

What was not a surprise was that not all (83%) allowances offered for sale were purchased. Unlike in the California program, Quebec entities do not have to surrender any allowances this coming November. With their first deadline not until November 2015, Quebec entities have been understandably slow to enter and be active in the market. Another positive and not so surprising takeaway from Quebec’s last auction is high demand for 2017 allowances, a strong sign that Quebec companies are confident in this market’s future health.

More surprising to observers in Quebec’s recent auction, however, was that a higher percentage of 2017 vintage allowances sold than 2014 vintage allowances. Current 2014 vintage allowances can be used for compliance at any time, while 2017 vintage allowances can only be used starting in 2017. This longer useful life should make 2014 allowances more valuable and thus in higher demand, but this did not appear to be the case in the recent auction. Read More »

Posted in Auction revenue, Cap and trade, Cap-and-trade auction results, Climate, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32, Linkage| Read 2 Responses
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