Climate 411

Western Climate Initiative ends the year on a high note with record prices

Wind farm in Mojave Desert.

Wind farm in the Mojave Desert. PC: Tom Brewster Photography for the Bureau of Land Management.

The latest results of the Western Climate Initiative’s quarterly auctions were announced today. All current and future vintage allowances sold, and for the second quarter in a row, settled at a record-high allowance price.

These results arrive as new data underscores the success of the program’s design and the strength of the market.

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Cutting pollution, driving investment: US state leaders shared ambitious models for action at COP26

While many of the headlines from COP26 focused on whether newly announced national commitments will be enough to curb catastrophic global warming, our ability to fend off the climate crisis largely depends on what happens outside conference walls — namely, how quickly we translate climate commitments into policy that curbs pollution.

This COP saw the largest-ever, bipartisan U.S. subnational delegation, including six governors and dozens of state lawmakers, who were there to discuss progress on slashing greenhouse gas emissions. It was a strikingly different context from the last three COPs when U.S. leadership on climate was absent at the federal level, and state leaders stepped up to send a message to the world that U.S. states, cities and corporations were still committed to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. However, state officials did not come to Glasgow to pass the baton back to the Biden administration; all were there to demonstrate how they are putting in place policies that can help the U.S. meet its ambitious new National Determined Contribution (NDC).

One key policy that is already delivering quantifiable results at the state level is cap-and-invest, which puts a limit on climate pollution while driving significant investments in climate mitigation and resilience. The Western Climate Initiative (WCI) and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) are already keeping emissions in participating jurisdictions within a steadily declining budget, and Washington state’s new Climate Commitment Act provides the onramp to get a program up-and-running by 2023.

At a COP26 event hosted by Environmental Defense Fund, International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), and National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL), state and environmental leaders discussed how these leading programs can help states meet their targets, promote equity, drive progress on our national target and offer valuable lessons learned.

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Western Climate Initiative auction hits a new record, raising over a billion in proceeds for California

Photo by Tom Brewster Photography for the Bureau of Land Management

The results of the Western Climate Initiative’s August auction were released today and all current and future vintage allowances sold at record-high allowance prices.

This news follows two other key climate updates from this summer: The release of the 2019 California Emissions Inventory which looks back at the state’s encouraging emissions progress, and the launch of the Climate Change Scoping Plan update process, which looks ahead at how the state will achieve its 2030 and 2045 targets. Taken together, all of these updates show that California has a golden opportunity to raise its climate ambition, as communities across the state grapple with intensifying, climate-fueled wildfires and drought.

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With the Climate Crisis Act, California can lock in a safer pathway to net-zero emissions

The new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes clear what Californians already know: the climate crisis is upon us. Impacts like ever-more-extreme wildfires, intensifying drought, and the growing threat of sea-level rise are accelerating, and the widespread damage are only going to intensify unless we take bold, swift action to slash greenhouse gas emissions.

In California, no person or region will be immune, and the harms from climate change are felt first and worst by communities that historically have borne a disproportionate burden of California’s pollution: communities of people with low wealth, people of color, indigenous people, and farmworkers, among others.

California urgently needs to get on track to meet the state’s 2030 goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below the 1990 level by 2030; it has the slate of policies needed to succeed but must maximize near-term climate ambition. At the same time, it is essential for California to have a long-term vision and ensure that policy decisions made with an eye toward 2030 are consistent with the need to achieve net-zero emissions as swiftly as possible, and no later than 2045.

That’s why it is crucial for California to adopt the new Climate Crisis Act (AB 1395), co-authored by Assembly Members Al Muratsuchi and Cristina Garcia, to dramatically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. This bill will cement California’s commitment to a safer pathway — a pathway that aligns with the science and achieves net-zero emissions — while also providing crucial guidelines that can maximize reductions, preserve environmental integrity and safeguard communities. Here’s why CA lawmakers should back this bill.

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California needs to raise its ambition to beat the climate crisis. This policy will be key.

This post was authored with Katie Schneer, High Meadows Fellow for subnational climate policy at EDF, and Mayu Takeuchi, intern for U.S. Climate at EDF.

This summer, as Californians face an onslaught of climate-fueled disasters like severe drought and explosive wildfires, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is launching the development of a roadmap that will outline the next phase of the state’s climate fight.

The 2022 Climate Change Scoping Plan, which will guide the state towards achieving its 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target and its 2045 net-zero emissions target, is a critical opportunity for California to double-down on its climate ambition. State leaders should harness this moment to calibrate California’s suite of climate policies to ensure that the state not only meets its climate goals, but maximizes cuts in emissions this decade.

California’s cap-and-trade program, which launched in 2013, is one of the key policies that should be fine-tuned to respond to the urgency of the climate crisis that Californians are seeing across the state. CARB should act swiftly to ensure that the most important aspect of this program — the emissions cap — is stringent enough to ensure that California meets its 2030 emissions goal of a 40% reduction below 1990 the emissions level and delivers the most reductions in pollution as quickly as possible.

Here’s why CARB should tighten the emissions cap:

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Western Climate Initiative recovering from COVID-19, and the new climate kid in town

The results of the latest Western Climate Initiative cap-and-trade auction were released today and all current and future allowances sold. This generates substantial revenue for California’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund but could also indicate that greenhouse gas emissions are rebounding as the economy recovers from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Auction quick takes:

  • All 71,647,138 current vintage allowances offered were sold; this is the third consecutive sold out auction. There were almost 17 million more allowances offered in May as in February, largely due to the return of previously unsold allowances.
  • Current vintage allowances cleared at $18.80, $1.09 above the floor price of $17.71. This is one dollar above the February 2021 settlement price of $17.80.
  • All of the 8,306,250 future vintage allowances offered for sale sold, just as 100% sold in the previous two auctions. These allowances may not be used for compliance until 2024.
  • Future vintage allowances sold at $19.04, $1.33 above the floor price of $17.71, and $1.03 cents above the $18.01 settlement price from February 2021.
  • California raised almost $ 916 million for the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, which will continue to help support essential climate programs through the California Climate Investment
  • Quebec raised almost $210 million (just under $253 million CAD) to invest in their own climate priorities.

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