Climate 411

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

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