Selected category: Cap and Trade

How Energizing Renewables can Spur Carbon Pricing

Photoy Jürgen from Sandesneben, GermanyTo avoid the worst effects of climate change, we must do more to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, we still do not have a price on carbon, one of the most prevalent greenhouse gases in the world and the biggest contributor to climate change. Despite knowing that a carbon price creates broad incentives to cut emissions, the current average price of carbon globally (which is below zero, once half a trillion dollars of fossil-fuel subsidies are factored in) is much too low relative to the hidden environmental, health, and societal costs of burning a ton of coal or a barrel of oil.

Policies that comprehensively reform the energy sector—a sector designed around fossil fuels—are necessary even as the price of renewable energy declines. The cost of solar photovoltaics, for example, has declined 80 percent since 2008. Prices will continue to fall, but not fast enough to make a dent in the climate problem.

Policymakers are more likely to price carbon appropriately if renewables are competitive with (or cheaper than) fossil fuels. But reducing the cost of renewable energy requires substantial investment, and thus a carbon price. The best hope of resolution is through controlled policy experiments designed to drive down the cost of renewable power sources even further and faster than in the past five years. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Electricity Pricing, Energy Storage, General, Renewable Energy| Tagged , | Comments are closed

Cracking the Code on California’s Clean Tech Leadership

Clean Tech IndexBy: Katie Hsia-Kiung

It may be hard to believe that just 15 years ago the term “clean tech” was largely unheard of. Today, the term has gained widespread usage, and is often applied to a diverse array of businesses, practices, and tools. Clean tech not only includes renewable energy technologies like wind and solar, but also electric motors, green chemistry, sustainable water management, and waste disposal technologies, to name just a few.

One research institution that has followed this sector through its short, but burgeoning history, is Clean Edge, a firm devoted exclusively to the study of the clean tech sector. Last week, the firm released their annual U.S. Clean Tech Leadership Index, which ranks each state based on several indicators across three categories: technology, policy, and capital. For the sixth year in a row, California came out on top as the leading state for clean technology. In fact, over the past year, California has widened its lead over the rest of the pack, with a score that is 15 percentage points higher than Massachusetts, the state in second place. According to the report, “with 55,000 people employed in its booming solar industry alone, a carbon market in place with its AB 32 trading scheme, and a 50 percent renewables goal by 2030 set by Governor Jerry Brown, California sets the pace for what a clean-energy economy looks like.” Read More »

Also posted in Air Quality, California, Clean Energy, Climate, Electric Vehicles, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy| Comments are closed

California Leaders See Climate Action as a Winning Political Issue

567465036_2f33f6506e_bIt’s always inspiring to see people stand up and fight for issues that matter to them. In our world, when politics can at times seem petty or backwards, it’s especially uplifting to see politicians do this. And that’s exactly what’s happening inside California’s state capitol.

The three most powerful political leaders in the state – Governor Brown, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins – are moving in lockstep to enact an ambitious long-term climate and clean energy agenda. Yesterday, we witnessed a major demonstration of that political leadership when the pro tem and speaker marshalled support to move fundamental pieces of legislation through a key part of the lawmaking process – passing bills through their respective houses of origin.

The bills currently under consideration put in place a climate pollution reduction target of 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 and reaffirm the ongoing role of market-mechanisms like cap-and-trade in California. They accomplish this while also codifying the governor’s goals to meet half of our energy demand with renewable energy, double energy efficiency in existing buildings, cut our harmful petroleum addiction in half, and reduce climate pollution 40 percent below 1990 levels all by 2030. Read More »

Also posted in Air Quality, California, Clean Energy, Climate, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy| Comments are closed

Moms and Parents Gather in Sacramento to Show Support for Climate and Clean Energy Action

Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez with Mama Summit participants

Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez with Mama Summit participants

By: Loni Russell, California Field Manager, Moms Clean Air Force

Who among us has not felt the power of a mom? My mom was one of the hardest-working women I’ve ever known, yet she still found the time to do so much for me. So when moms take on the role of advocates and activists, watch out.

Last week, moms in California showed up big time. And as the lead organizer for that event, I’m here to give you a birds-eye view of what happens when moms decide to raise their voices.

On Thursday, May 21, over 40 mothers, parents, grandparents, and supporters from across California gathered in Sacramento at the state capitol building for our Mamma Summit California. The Mamma Summit is part of a series of events hosted by Moms Clean Air Force (MCAF), an organization which encourages and enables moms and parents to advocate for climate action for the health and future of their families. We at MCAF teamed up with Environmental Defense Fund, Climate Parents, the American Lung Association in California, The Greenlining Institute, and California Interfaith Power and Light to put together a full day of advocacy for participants.

Our group of moms, motivated to make their voices heard, showed up bright and early to the Capitol.  They came to tell lawmakers that they expect California to continue to lead on fighting climate change and supporting clean energy to protect their air and keep their kids healthy and thriving. We were honored that the Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León, architect of this year’s Senate climate package on which the Summit’s advocacy was based, greeted us first thing in the morning to thank the parents for their resolve. Senators Fran Pavley, mother in her own right of California’s climate leadership, and Richard Pan, staunch defender of children’s health, also came by to thank us for being there and reinforce the importance of our presence. Read More »

Also posted in California, Clean Energy, General, Renewable Energy, State| Tagged | Comments are closed

Clean Mountain Air Brings Clarity to Energy Debate at Vail Global Energy Forum

Vail_Mountains-CompressedLast month, I attended the Vail Global Energy Forum in Colorado. Billed as a “mini-Davos” of energy (studiously ignoring the Aspen crowd a few hours down the highway), that moniker may have felt aspirational when the conference launched three years ago. But, this year it paid off: momentum for frank dialogue and global innovation is building on the slopes of the Vail Valley.

Here’s my take on how the clean air of the mountains cuts through the hot air of energy debates to illuminate practical, actionable ideas.

Three big ideas drove the conference:

  1. North American energy independence

Mexico, the United States, and Canada could, together, innovate their way to an energy marketplace that weakens dependence on overseas imports, scales up clean energy solutions, and charts a path to low-carbon prosperity. At times, the discussion was framed by the rise of unconventional oil and gas exploration (yes, “fracking”), collaboration around pipelines (yes, “Keystone”), and whether these could disrupt traditional geopolitical frames. Read More »

Also posted in Air Quality, California, Clean Energy, Climate, Colorado, Energy Efficiency, Energy Financing, Methane, Natural Gas, New York, Utility Business Models| Comments are closed

Here Comes the Sun: How California is Bringing More Renewables to the Grid

Have a sunny dayAsk most people what the Beatles and California have in common and they might very well be at a loss. However, the answer is pretty simple: they are both unabashed trendsetters in the face of resistance – the former in their musical style and the latter in its clean energy policies.

Not content with setting a Renewable Portfolio Standard that ends at 2020, Governor Jerry Brown and state legislators are pushing for the Golden State to get 50 percent of its energy from renewable resources by 2030.

To meet this ambitious target, California must build a system that is largely based on renewable electricity, like wind and solar. This is not an easy task. The primary reason? Sunshine and wind are only available at certain times of the day and can be variable during those times.

Traditionally, managers of the electricity grid have relied upon dirty “peaker” power plants – usually fossil fuel-fired and only needed a couple of days a year – to balance the grid during periods of variability or when electricity demand exceeds supply. But, in a world where 50 percent of our energy comes from renewable sources as a means to achieving a clean energy economy, we can’t rely on these dirty peaker plants to balance the variability of wind and solar.

Luckily, technology is available today that can help fill the gap of these peaker plants – and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is starting to embrace it. Read More »

Also posted in Air Quality, California, Clean Energy, Climate, Demand Response, Electric Vehicles, Electricity Pricing, Energy Efficiency, Energy Storage, Energy-Water Nexus, Grid Modernization, Renewable Energy| Read 1 Response
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