Last Thursday, California took an important step towards finalizing a major component of the state’s effort to cut climate change pollution, an economy wide cap-and-trade regulation that establishes a price on carbon pollution. Along with an expert from EDF’s economics team, Jonathan Camuzeaux, I had the opportunity to participate in the first ever public “practice” auction for the Global Warming Solutions Act cap-and-trade program – and it was a runaway success.
The goal of yesterday’s practice was to test the new online exchange where users will be able to bid on "carbon allowances" starting in November of this year.
EDF decided to submit the paperwork to be among the first users to test the new auction system since there is a lot riding on the cap-and-trade program working. Once fully operational, California’s cap-and-trade market will introduce the most cost-effective way to reduce climate pollution, protect public health, and spur clean tech innovation.
Here's how it worked:
During the practice auction we walked through a checklist of 33 tasks EDF designed to test the functionality of the system. What we found was that the auction system run by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) works much like other secure websites, such as that of an on-line bank or retailer. Users sign in with a secure username and password and during the pre-determined open hours (bidding window), bidders place an order for as many emissions allowances as they want to buy, though only a certain number will actually be sold. Bids from other organizations are rightfully kept private and hidden from view – making this a “sealed-bid” auction platform that is based on the system designed and currently in use in North America’s other cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution in the Northeast.
During the bidding window, users were free to modify or rescind bids. Once the bidding window closed all bids were final. Since yesterday was only practice though, no money was actually exchanged or allowances sold once the bidding ended.
From top to bottom, the AB 32 cap-and-trade auction system was easy and straightforward to use. Though we witnessed a few minor annoyances – such as being able to upload multiple bids at one time but only being able to delete one at a time – all of the market critical aspects were running well from our vantage point. The next step will be for CARB to evaluate the bids and determine which are accepted and rejected based on the publically available market rules.
In all, after three hours of testing, our consensus is that the system works, and works well. California is ready to launch a new era of innovation, job creation, and economic stability. It is inspiring to see California taking climate action, and we believe success here will inspire other states, regions, and nations to develop similar climate programs.