Category Archives: Climate

Carbon Markets Reward 10 Pioneering States. Who's Next?

carbon_378x235A handful of states are already proving that economic growth and environmental protection can go hand in hand – and they’re using market forces, price signals and economic incentives to meet their goals.

These results are particularly salient as states consider how to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to limit dangerous pollution from power plants.

So let's take a closer look at what's happening on our two coasts.

California: 4% cut in emissions, 2% growth

California’s landmark cap-and-trade program is closing out its second year with some strong results. Between 2012 and 2013, greenhouse gas emissions from the 350+ facilities covered by the program dropped by 4 percent, putting California solidly on track to meet its goal to cut emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

During the same period, the state’s gross domestic product jumped 2 percent.

Read More »

Also posted in Cap and trade, General, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32| Leave a comment

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.

Also posted in Cap and trade, General, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32| Comments closed

Why California Thirsts for Rain and the East Coast gets Soaked

rain_378x235_1If you think the weather’s acting strange, you’re correct. Extreme weather in the United States is trending upward, and human-caused climate change has already been blamed for much of it – most recently in connection with the California drought.

But along with extreme weather we’re also getting extreme contrasts. What on Earth is going on when New York gets endless rain and San Francisco none, and when one part of the country is freezing while another suffers under record heat?

You guessed it, rising temperatures have something to do with it – and here’s how.

Rain patterns are changing

In the Northeast, the combination of more moisture in the atmosphere from a warmer world and changes in circulation patterns are bringing more rain. In the Southwest, meanwhile, rainfall is suppressed by a northward expansion of high pressure in the subtropics. Read More »

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How Scientists Linked the California Drought to Climate Change

calidrought_378x235_2California has officially entered its fourth consecutive year of drought, and is trapped in its worst water shortage situation ever.

Because we know that human-caused climate change can trigger and exacerbate drought conditions, media, public officials, California residents, and scientists have all been wondering for years if rising global temperatures likely caused or contributed to the current drought in California.

The short answer: Yes, they did.

Weather won’t cooperate

Scientists have suspected for some time now that a certain meteorological condition lies behind the long-lasting California drought. The persistence of a stubborn high-pressure system off the coast has been preventing storm systems from reaching California and instead deflecting them to Alaska and elsewhere. Read More »

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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 »

Also posted in Auction revenue, Cap and trade, Cap-and-trade auction results, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32, Linkage| Comments closed

California Clean Energy Bill Could Open Door for Homeowners and Small Businesses

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Source: Flickr/constellationenergy

Governor Brown has the opportunity to make energy-saving upgrades possible for families and small business owners by signing Assembly Bill 1883 (Nancy Skinner- Berkeley). This bill would significantly lower the cost of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), a tool which enables property owners to take advantage of energy efficiency and rooftop solar PV for their homes or buildings with no money down, allowing them to pay off the investment over time through their property tax bill.

AB 1883 would streamline the PACE process and drive down the fixed transactional costs associated with commercial projects. Lowering these transaction costs is especially important for small businesses because high transaction costs can reduce the economic viability of the smaller energy upgrades that small business typically need. AB 1883 also incorporates new options for financing rooftop solar PV through PACE, which will enable a greater number of homeowners and small businesses to qualify for cost-saving solar PV contracts. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Politics, Smart Grid| 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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