Make no mistake, California is a leader when it comes to improving air quality and deploying unprecedented amounts of cleaner, low-carbon fuels. However, despite years of efforts to cut vehicle emissions and reduce fossil fuel consumption, California remains in the top spot nationally for gasoline use, and is home to the top five most polluted cities in the country.
In addition, as the state and surrounding region continues to cut petroleum usage and clean up the environment – yielding major climate benefits – economic growth in emerging markets across the world means that our efforts are being undercut by increases in use elsewhere.
For California to truly deliver in in the fight against climate change, we must not only cut fossil fuel use and deploy cleaner alternatives at home, but also create solutions that deliver benefits abroad. In other words, we should aim to export our best transportation policies abroad – the ones that have helped California reduce fossil fuel use yet still help foster economic opportunities and growth.
A range of current policies are helping drive new technologies that yield low carbon vehicles and fuels
Over the past 15 years, California has given birth to the some of the most ambitious and successful climate change related transportation policies imaginable. For example, in 2002 the legislature adopted the Pavley Clean Cars law (AB 1493) which set greenhouse gas standards for automobiles. This law eventually led to new national vehicle efficiency standards and the production of a new wave of more efficient and cleaner cars and trucks.
Would you believe there's a state that cut pollution and cleaned up its air, while creating jobs and sustaining economic growth?
And where economic incentives, rather than costly regulations, are stimulating innovation and investment?
California passed the earliest, most comprehensive law to set a cap on carbon pollution, along with numerous other complementary policies to help the state transition to a low-carbon, clean-energy economy.
The results are now coming in and the present – and future – looks bright.
Two years after it was fully implemented, California's cap-and-trade program is thriving, a new report [PDF] from Environmental Defense Fund shows.
The program is now ramping up as the state economy is growing, paving the way for California to pass even stronger climate policies. Perhaps most important, it's laying the groundwork for other states and nations to move forward with similar steps.
The four top findings from our report: Read More
These 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:
These days there seems to be steady stream of stories coming from Washington D.C. that are of interest to California, from national standards on trucks to new regulations covering existing emissions sources under the Clean Power Plan. However, the story treadmill runs in reverse too, as evidenced by the attention being paid to California’s world-leading climate program, AB 32, which is being fully implemented during a time of strong economic recovery in the Golden State.
In February 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), The Climate Registry, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, and the Association of Climate Change Officers will host the Climate Leadership Conference in Washington D.C and California’s AB 32 story and success will be on full display.
At the CLC in Pentagon City, taking place February 23rd through 25th, hundreds of policy makers, businesses, and advocates from across the nation will learn about and discuss efforts that are leading the way on climate solutions. As part of that discussion, the California story – from cap and trade to the Low Carbon Fuel Standard – will be showcased and broadcast in a multi-hour seminar, connecting state-level solutions to national decision makers.
California state Senate President Kevin de León arrives at the conference center for the UN climate talks in Lima, Peru. Image used with permission from Senator de León.
The chattering classes of the climate policy world are abuzz with their customary post-mortems following the latest breathless two-week session of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change 20th Conference of Parties (also known simply as COP 20), held in Lima, Peru.
Consensus is forming around a “slightly better than nothing” assessment of the Lima Call for Climate Action, which was adopted in the wee hours of Sunday amidst the usual skirmishes over money, monitoring, and mandates.
Lima clarified some of the expected content of the national pledges (“Intended Nationally Determined Contributions,” INDCs in COP shorthand) to be presented by all countries next year.
Notwithstanding the softness engendered by the word “intended,” at least we aren’t firmly stuck in the “old world order” where only developed countries are taking on mitigation actions.
Subnational cooperation and pathways to climate progress outside UN process
While nations squabbled about intentions, another story was playing out on the sidelines of the COP, showcasing real, groundbreaking and consequential progress at the subnational level – within states, provinces, and cities. Read More
The 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.