This commentary originally appeared on EDF's California Dream 2.0 blog.
For a window into two vastly different visions of our state’s future, take a look at the comments filed last week as part of the AB 32 Scoping Plan update process. The 2008 Scoping Plan lays out the approach that California will take to achieve its goal of reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and this is the first 5 year update.
EDF’s comments reflect what most Californians have already asked for – a laser focus on expanding emission reductions and providing ample clean energy opportunities for businesses throughout the state.
- Increasing emission reductions from vehicles, goods movement and the agriculture sector;
- Developing diversified low-carbon fuels that yield cost reductions;
- Integrating clean energy and energy efficiency through programs like “time-of-use” pricing and On-Bill Repayment;
- And, extending the cap-and-trade program and low carbon fuel standard beyond 2020;
All of the opportunities outlined by EDF aim to fulfill the Scoping Plan’s mission: achieving the maximum technologically feasible reductions in greenhouse gas pollution in a cost-effective way.
A recent report by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) shows that refineries and other businesses are investing in the future by taking advantage of energy efficiency and savings opportunities under AB 32 – at a rate that has increased since the adoption of the 2008 Scoping Plan. A price signal for cap and trade beyond 2020 would reduce uncertainty, create a robust and stable market, and is key if California wants to continue driving these energy and money saving opportunities.
Comments filed by the California Chamber of Commerce (Cal Chamber) tell a different story.
Rather than encourage long term planning and a robust low-carbon economy, they've joined in lockstep with organizations like the Western States Petroleum Association (a representative of large oil including Exxon and Chevron) to try and hinder the state’s efforts to cut greenhouse gas pollution. Just as their frivolous lawsuit shows they would rather expend resources on litigation rather than innovation, they used the entirety of their comments to discourage CARB from using the Scoping Plan update as a tool to drive the state forward towards a clean-energy future.
Although they admit “the AB 32 mandate does not vanish in 2020,” they’re short on ideas that reduce greenhouse gas pollution in the state at the lowest possible cost.
They also fail to recognize that under the current cap-and-trade program, businesses have the tools and flexibility to reduce emissions through cost-effective means, and ignore the over 350,000 jobs created from California’s green economy.
A major part of the Cal Chamber’s argument is that California is going it alone, creating an unfair playing field for businesses in the state. They conveniently forget that Quebec will link with California’s cap-and-trade program in January 2014, and that there are complementary programs nationally and globally: RGGI has proposed severely lowering its emissions cap, and even China – the world’s biggest polluter – has started pilot emissions trading programs in an effort to potentially move towards a nationwide carbon cap in 2016.
While ideas like extending the market signal and expanding programs that help integrate clean energy and energy efficiency point us towards a bright future of innovation under AB 32, oil companies continue to stand in the way of progress and resist moving toward a robust, low-carbon economy. With apologies to Charles Dickens, this is a tale of two (very different) visions for California’s clean energy future.