More Americans, these days, understand the threat climate change presents in the present and in the future, and support taking action. Over 64 percent of Americans and 67 percent of Californians support curbing carbon pollution from existing power plants which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to do through the Clean Power Plan. The EPA's proposal would set specific reduction targets for each state. In California and other states that are already acting to reduce climate pollution, the early assessments seem to be an upbeat "yes, we can meet those targets and probably exceed them." You wouldn't know that after reading a recent white paper released by Latham Watkins recently on behalf of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), though.
The white paper purports to identify "design flaws" in California's cap-and-trade program. Some of the technical adjustments to the cap-and-trade program suggested in this paper are worthy of careful consideration. In fact, some have been addressed in part or are being considered through the regulatory process at the Air Resources Board. So there doesn’t seem to be any real reason to sound the alarm bells on California’s program at this point in time. Read More
Bigger 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
Anna Doty contributed to this post.
A quick look back at California’s 2014 legislative agenda, which closed in the early morning hours of August 30th, shows it certainly was one for the record books. California took up major efforts to cut climate pollution and portion out billions in new investments, modernize the electric grid, and take on other not-so-small issues such as phasing out plastic bags. This activity happened while California led the nation in a remarkable economic rebound, continued to deal with an epic drought, and combatted the worst air quality in the U.S.
Among the many environmental issues in the spotlight this year, climate change, air quality, clean energy, water, and waste lead the pack.
Implementing a climate protection framework worthy of acclaim
On climate, lawmakers turned a corner by affirming the state’s commitment to AB 32 and green-lighting a new era of pollution reducing investments from the state’s world-class cap-and-trade regulation. Keeping transportation fuels within cap and trade starting January 2015 remained a main focus, with lawmakers facing and rebuffing numerous attempts by regulated industries and other legislators to undermine and delay the state’s landmark program. Throughout the session, lawmakers remained strong, demonstrating a commitment to the state’s growing clean economy and the need to capture the huge savings in health and fuel costs AB 32 will provide. Read More
For many people across the country, August is the last opportunity to enjoy the final bits of summer relaxation before fall sets in and the weather turns colder. While many people are away on vacation, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight against Climate Change (MDDELCC) of Quebec have been hard at work.
During the first week of this month, the two regulatory bodies held a practice joint auction for interested stakeholders to prepare for California and Quebec to officially join their quarterly auctions in November. A week and a half later, this past Monday, CARB held a California-only auction, the results of which were released today. Next week, MDDLECC will hold a Quebec-only auction, and finish out a very busy month for these linked cap-and-trade programs.
Amidst this flurry of activity, the results of California’s eighth quarterly auction, released today, show that the carbon market remains steady and strong. For the eighth time in a row, all current 2014 vintage allowances offered for sale were purchased. Current allowances sold at the same price as the last auction, $11.50, and 3.15 million more bids were placed than could be filled, reflecting healthy competition for credits. More 2014 vintage allowances were offered in this auction than in both of the previous auctions this year. This uptick in volume was due to the fact that a greater number of utility-owned allowances were turned over to CARB to be sold in this auction as compared to the previous two. 71 entities registered for this auction, which is similar to registration in previous auctions. This implies that there is sustained interest in the market and suggests that covered entities are actively planning how they will comply with the regulation. Read More
EDF’s 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.
The vast majority of Californians put ethanol in their car – it makes up about ten percent of every gallon we buy at the local filling station (not including diesel). This means that every year, drivers in the Golden State use about 1.5 billion gallons of this alternative fuel. Such widespread use of this fuel begs the question: What is ethanol’s environmental profile, and is everything being done to produce it as efficiently as possible?
Over the years, a great deal of effort has gone into answering the first part of the question, and the answer is: it depends on many factors. Water use, land use, and fertilizer use are all factors associated with growing ethanol feedstocks (typically corn) that can influence whether the fuel is an environmental winner. Aquifer depletion, unsustainable land clearing, and fertilizer run-off are just a few of the potential problems that can emerge when ethanol production is performed in a short-sighted manner. Similarly, feedstock type, biorefinery efficiency, and ethanol yield per ton also matter and can impact whether ethanol helps from a climate change standpoint. Cumulatively, each of these factors can influence the environmental profile of California’s third-most widely used fuel. Read More
This summer I had the unique opportunity to drive with members of the California state legislature through their districts in Los Angeles and the Central Valley. In addition to brown lawns, hazy air, and intense heat, we were reminded of California’s persistently high gas prices on filling station signs at nearly every major intersection.
Fuel hoses from a gas station. Source: Flickr/Boegh
As we drove through many neighborhoods struggling to pull themselves up economically, the need for solutions was clear. Since lower-income households pay the same amount per gallon as people in more affluent neighborhoods, low-income households tend to devote a greater percentage of their monthly income toward fuel purchases. Furthermore, since new and more efficient cars are usually more expensive, low-income households tend to drive older, less efficient vehicles that use more gas and release more pollution. So, while families across California are cutting back on things like watering their lawns, they are forced to spend a lot of these savings filling up their cars, while also breathing some of the most polluted air in the nation.
Fortunately, there is a solution at California’s fingertips that will tackle the issues of gas prices and pollution at the same time: transportation diversification. This simply means providing all Californians with choices on how to get where they need to go. These choices can take the form of alternatives to gas and diesel, alternatives to inefficient vehicles, and alternatives to cars all together. By providing these choices, consumers can pick what works for them – allowing the entire transportation system to better meet people’s unique needs and budgets. Read More