Climate 411

Climate scare tactics won’t work in California

Some polluters and their allies are rolling out an old and tired playbook in Sacramento. California is ahead of schedule in curbing climate pollution and the economy is booming. Yet alarmism persists. These latest scare tactics are focused on one particular provision of the state’s cap-and-trade program: the level of the “price ceiling”. The price ceiling is an emergency provision that is intended to ensure that prices polluters have to pay per ton of pollution don’t reach above unexpectedly high levels.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is currently working to update the cap-and-trade program based on direction the Legislature gave in 2017 to extend it out to 2030. CARB will consider proposed amendments to the program today with passage of the amendments expected after a second consideration in January.

The future of climate action in California is optimism and transformation, not fear and anger

Those who look only at doomsday scenarios are mixing farfetched fearmongering with a dose of outrage by boiling this complex policy decision down to an oversimplified estimate of how much Californians might have to pay in the worst possible scenario in 2030. But fear and anger aren’t what California is about (whatever your political leanings). California is transforming its economy to a cleaner and more prosperous version of itself. After the great recession the economy recovered and grew, but carbon pollution did not.

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Posted in California, Carbon Markets / Comments are closed

California’s cap-and-trade program doesn't need an overhaul

(Source: cropped photo from Flickr/ Zoe-Rochelle)

Today Senator Bob Wieckowski, supported by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, proposed what amounts to a complete overhaul of California’s cap-and-trade program after 2020 in amendments to SB 775.

Pro Tem de Leon in particular has been a tireless champion of effective climate policies that are benefiting California’s communities and making the state a global leader on climate action. California would not be where it is today without his leadership especially on investments in disadvantaged communities and strong renewable and energy efficiency targets. This particular proposal, however, contains provisions that risk undermining the enormous progress the state has made.

Rather than scrapping the current system and starting over with an unproven approach, the state should build on success, keeping what is working well while strengthening the program by doing more to address local air pollution and environmental justice.

With President Trump seeking to take the country in reverse, California’s leadership is needed now more than ever. We can – and must – forge a post-2020 program that benefits communities in the state while leveraging progress here at home to spur greater ambition globally.

What’s at risk in this bill?

We still need to do a full assessment on the language of the bill, which was amended today on the Senate floor, but we know certain key policies are at risk:

  • Setting a hard ceiling on allowance prices, without any provision to ensure that California would meet its climate targets if that price ceiling were exceeded, opens a loophole that could undermine the program’s environmental integrity and California’s climate leadership. While the specific price ceiling envisioned in the bill is high enough that it may not be triggered, it represents an approach that is counter to the signature feature of the cap-and-trade program: the guarantee that California will meet its emission target.
  • This price ceiling also supplants a carefully designed cost-containment system that has operated effectively and works in harmony with California’s environmental goals. For example, this bill would prohibit firms from banking allowances, denying them a key source of flexibility that allows them to reduce emissions at the lowest possible cost over time. The bill would also ban the use of offsets, which help California achieve high integrity, hard-to-reach reductions outside the cap while keeping costs under the cap in-check and extending California’s climate diplomacy.
  • This bill could put California’s existing and future partnerships and linkages at risk by overhauling California’s approach to cap-and-trade and then asking partners to quickly fall in line. International linkages strengthen California’s leadership position and allow the state to leverage its program to spur greater ambition globally. Turning inward now would cede global leadership just when the world needs it most.

Today’s proposal is just one step in the complex legislative process, not a final bill proposal. Decision makers must balance many policy priorities as they navigate how to extend California’s cap-and-trade program. We believe there is plenty of room to adapt and strengthen California’s policy package while hewing to the framework that has served California well in reducing carbon pollution so far.

How California can chart a path to a strong cap-and-trade extension

California’s cap-and-trade program is working to bring carbon pollution down while the economy thrives. Even with this success, we recognize California needs to be doing more to address the very serious air pollution issues in local, environmental justice communities. EDF is committing to working on this with legislative leadership and our partners to ensure that the air is safe for all Californians to breathe wherever they live, while recognizing that climate policy – which affects issues as serious as our access to water – is critical to our continued future.

California needs policies that – in addition to improving local air quality – will continue to build on the successful reductions of GHG emissions; secure national and international partnerships vital to the state’s progress as a climate leader; and continue to support strong economic growth.

Rather than a wholesale change of a program that is meeting its goals, we should preserve what’s working and strengthen the parts that aren’t doing enough by designing and implementing policies that will directly improve air quality, especially in environmental justice communities.

This Senate bill comes as Governor Brown is urging the Legislature to pass an extension through the budget process with a two-thirds vote, and after two proposals introduced into the Assembly on how to extend the cap-and-trade program.

It is important that the Senate has now entered this debate and is recognizing the importance of passing a cap-and-trade extension with a supermajority vote. EDF looks forward to working with Senator Wieckowski, President Pro Tem de Leon, Assembly leaders, the Governor, and other stakeholders as California charts a path to a strong post-2020 climate policy.

With the Trump Administration abandoning its leadership role on climate at home and on the international stage, it is more important than ever that California continues to model successful climate policy that ensures that the state will meet its ambitious carbon pollution reduction targets, while promoting better local air quality and supporting a thriving economy.

Posted in California / Comments are closed

Linkage Approval Boosts Cap-and-Trade Momentum

(This was originally posted on EDF’s California Dream 2.0 blog)

Don’t look now, but California’s cap-and-trade program is going global.

With California Air Resources Board (CARB) approving linkage between California and Quebec’s cap-and-trade programs today, these two programs will now be able to trade emissions allowances across borders starting in 2014.  CARB’s action comes on the heels of California Governor Jerry Brown’s recent decision to approve the linkage, which will increase the size of California’s cap-and-trade market by 20 percent. More importantly, linkage will boost California’s clean energy economy by creating a broader market for innovative, low-carbon technologies.  The linkage is also a shot in the arm for global efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and it sends a positive signal to other jurisdictions that are working on building their own carbon markets and might ultimately seek to join with California and Quebec.

This linkage comes at a moment when momentum for carbon market development has been building around the world. Many other regions, including Europe, Australia, South Korea, and the Northeastern U.S., have instituted or are currently developing carbon markets. Australia also announced plans last August to phase-in a linkage with the EU system starting in 2015.

California Governor Jerry Brown also recently returned from a trip to China where he signed an agreement with their Minister of Environmental Projection to help reduce air pollution and an agreement with Guangdong Province to share best practices related to cap-and-trade, clear evidence that if we want to get serious about climate change, California or one region can’t do it alone.

Before full linkage is possible, it’s often helpful for governments to develop ‘unofficial links’ in the form of partnerships to share policies, best practices, and goals. This cooperation – which California and Quebec have had since 2007 – is important and beneficial for the overall growth, rigor and integrity of carbon markets. The California cap-and-trade system uses a similar platform to the RGGI system in the Northeastern U.S., and the California system has been carefully crafted based on lessons learned from the EU ETS.

It took many steps to get to this point, but with a first joint cap-and-trade auction now scheduled for early 2014, California and Quebec are finally there. CARB’s approval of linkage is a big milestone for California and the nation, and another strong signal of California’s leadership in fighting climate change, while moving the nation further down the path to a clean energy economy.

Posted in Greenhouse Gas Emissions, International, News / Comments are closed

6 Reasons to Love the New EPA Car Labels

http://www.flickr.com/photos/64958688@N00/3276526777/

Flickr phot by: Helen Taylor

As we’ve reported here, here, and here, EPA has designed and released for public comment two options for new information labels one of which will go on new cars in 2012.  Both labels have a slick new look as well as helpful information comparing fuel efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions, tail pipe emissions between vehicles, and annual fueling costs.  Label Option 1 contains additional information, a letter grade that reflects fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions and fuel savings over a five year period based on average use.

 

 

Letter grades make car buying easier.

1. It’s simple: Focus groups and market experts alike emphasized the need for a simple, easy-to-understand label format.  The letter grades achieve this by providing a central focus to the label that gives information on the performance not just of that vehicle but relative to other vehicles. 

2. It’s familiar: Letter grades for new vehicles, like health and safety grades for restaurants, provide you with a single piece of data that is instantly familiar and thus meaningful to you.

3. It’s informative: The label with a letter grade contains more information not less than the alternative.  The letter grade simply provides an easy-to-remember representation of the more detailed information contained in the rest of the label and the website.  This doesn’t mean you haven’t checked the numbers for yourself; it means you now have a single representation of all those details.

4. It's Easy to Remember: Imagine this scenario.  You’re discussing the front runners in your search for a new car with your partner.  This is a big purchase so you’ve done some background research on all the candidates but you have a lot of numbers swimming in your head.  Would it be easier to have one fuel efficiency letter grade to refer to that represents multiple numbers which you remember easily?  Or do you want to pore over a spread sheet with city mpg, highway mpg, not to mention miles/kwh etc. for electric vehicles?

New labels will help consumers and the environment.

5. First national environmental metric for vehicles:  EPA focus groups show that nine percent of consumers currently consider environmental impacts in their car buying decision.  With the information clearly displayed right on the sticker, maybe it will be easier now to factor the environment in without having to research the issue extensively.

6. Easy comparison between vehicles: EPA focus groups also show that consumers don’t tend to limit themselves to one class or type of vehicle when shopping.  Most vehicle manufacturers wanted comparisons made only within a class of vehicle.  EPA’s new labels give you what you need and set fuel efficiency, environmental performance and fuel costs in context among all vehicles.

Let EPA know what you think about the new labels here.

Posted in Cars and Pollution / Comments are closed