Climate 411

Connecticut can take the lead on creating a cleaner transportation system that cuts climate pollution

Connecticut state capitol building. Photo credit: Avala.

Connecticut is poised to lead the way on creating a cleaner and healthier transportation system – if legislators seize the moment to act. This past March, Connecticut Governor Lamont and 11 co-sponsors in the legislature introduced Senate Bill 884, which would give Connecticut the greenlight to implement a major multi-state program aimed at reducing climate pollution from the transportation sector: the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program (TCI-P).

The stakes are high. Passing this bill would make Connecticut among the first states to place a binding limit on climate pollution from transportation, which accounts for 40% of Connecticut’s greenhouse gas emissions. This is critical as EDF analysis found that Connecticut is off track for meeting its statutory 2030 climate target – and will need more policy action.

And beyond making Connecticut a national leader, TCI-P will bring major economic, public health and equity gains to the state.

Here is why Connecticut legislators should waste no time in putting the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program into action.

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Posted in Cities and states, Greenhouse Gas Emissions / Comments are closed

State analysis showcases promising solution to clean up North Carolina’s power sector

North Carolina is up against a climate deadline: In 10 years, the state needs to slash carbon pollution from the power sector 70% below 2005 levels by 2030. This goal, set by an executive order from Gov. Roy Cooper in 2018, will help communities avert the worst climate damages, while moving the state toward a clean energy future.

To determine how the state can achieve this 2030 goal and reach carbon neutrality in the power sector by 2050, the Duke University Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy and UNC Center for Climate, Energy, Environment and Economics undertook a year-long study analyzing options that can help the state’s power sector achieve these targets. It includes detailed power sector modeling of potential policies, including an analysis on joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) – a collaboration of 10 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states working together to reduce climate pollution.

The results of that study, which reflects the input of over 40 stakeholders including EDF, demonstrate that RGGI is one of the most promising and most cost-effective policies for reducing power sector carbon pollution in line with the state’s targets. Here are three key takeaways from the report that illustrate why RGGI is the right policy for achieving North Carolina’s power sector pollution goals:

1. RGGI is the most cost-effective option for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from North Carolina’s power sector. RGGI sets a declining limit and puts a price on carbon pollution, locking in a trajectory of pollution reduction over time and bringing in proceeds that the state can then reinvest towards additional beneficial programs. Since North Carolina would have to develop an investment portfolio specific to the state’s needs, the study evaluated three illustrative scenarios to assess potential benefits of different investment decisions:

  1. RGGI is implemented without re-investing proceeds
  2. RGGI proceeds are all invested in energy efficiency measures
  3. RGGI proceeds are all invested in direct energy bill assistance for ratepayers

Regardless of how proceeds are invested, RGGI showed the lowest cost-per-ton of carbon dioxide reduced. RGGI’s cost-effective approach to reducing emissions also limits electricity rate impacts as RGGI was found to have less impact on retail electricity rates than the other policies evaluated.

The report finds that directing allowance proceeds to energy efficiency provides even more benefits to North Carolina, making it the only standalone policy of those analyzed that produces overall cost savings compared to the business-as-usual (BAU) scenario. These investments also further reduce the policy’s impact on electricity rates, which fall below BAU by 2040. In addition to the potential to generate cost-savings, RGGI with reinvestments in energy efficiency can be a boon to the local economy, creating over 47,000 job-years and increasing GSP by $4.9 billion over the study period.

When proceeds are directly invested in energy bill assistance, the policy reduces residential electricity rates below business-as-usual (BAU) by 2030 and is the only policy option included in the report to do so.

RGGI’s flexible framework allows North Carolina to invest in a range of clean energy measures and programs that directly benefit ratepayers. Although the study looks at two illustrative scenarios that focus investments in energy efficiency or direct bill assistance, the actual investment portfolio can include elements of both, and the state can optimize investments to maximize benefits that ensure a cleaner, healthier, more equitable energy system for North Carolina’s communities.

2. RGGI is fully compatible with other policies like accelerated coal retirements and a clean energy standard. The report finds that combining a clean energy standard (CES) with RGGI not only achieves greater reductions in carbon pollution than the CES does by itself, but does so more cost-effectively. RGGI creates additional savings for ratepayers, while guaranteeing that the state will achieve its pollution reduction targets. By combining RGGI with a CES, the state can reap the benefits of both policies – the CES can encourage in-state deployment of renewable energy resources and the job growth that comes with it, while RGGI secures emission reductions at low cost, generates proceeds for reinvestment, and provides certainty that emissions will fall to the required levels by placing a binding limit on carbon dioxide emissions. RGGI can provide similar benefits when combined with other policies – like accelerating coal retirements.

3. The flexibility of the RGGI framework allows North Carolina to tailor the policy to meet the state’s unique needs while providing certainty in the emissions outcome. The binding limit RGGI sets on carbon pollution ensures the required reductions are achieved and its flexible compliance mechanism allows North Carolina to reduce emissions and reinvest the program’s proceeds in a way that best meets the state’s needs.

With the proceeds from RGGI, North Carolina can invest in programs that support the state’s frontline communities most overburdened by air pollution. The state should work hand-in-hand with these communities to drive investments and complementary policies toward safety, health and equity.

For example, the state could reinvest proceeds to expand air quality monitoring in overburdened areas, provide energy bill assistance for households with lower incomes, and create jobs and economic opportunities through investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency in underserved communities.

RGGI is a critical tool in achieving longer term climate goals. Importantly, the report’s analysis assumed that the RGGI carbon pollution limits would remain flat after 2030. In reality, RGGI limits are expected to decrease beyond 2030, meaning North Carolina would continue to decrease allowable emissions in line with the state’s long-term climate goals, resulting in greater long-term emissions reductions and co-benefits for the state.

North Carolina is on an urgent timeline to achieve its climate goals and needs a proven policy to curb carbon emissions. RGGI provides an opportunity for North Carolina to jumpstart progress on its climate goals in the near term, while still allowing for future legislative action to deliver even further benefits with the adoption of smart clean energy policies. This study underscores that North Carolina can reduce carbon pollution in line with the goals of the Clean Energy Plan. Now Governor Cooper must take action so that North Carolina can lead in the fight against climate change and reap the benefits of a growing clean energy economy, healthier communities, and more equitable and prosperous future.

Read more about the benefits of RGGI in this fact sheet and our previous blog posts on RGGI and its benefits.

Posted in Cities and states, Greenhouse Gas Emissions / Comments are closed

Analysis: North Carolina is off course for achieving a key emissions goal

As flooding, extreme heat and stronger hurricanes increasingly strain North Carolina’s communities and economy, new analysis from EDF shows that the state’s current policies are not enough to curb the worst climate impacts to come. Despite Governor Cooper’s commitments to slash climate-warming pollution, the analysis finds that the state is off course for bringing emissions down consistent with a key, science-based target for 2030. However, the state can still close its “emission gap” and get on track with a strong policy toolkit that includes placing enforceable limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

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Posted in Cities and states, Greenhouse Gas Emissions / Comments are closed

Analysis: North Carolina can curb emissions and reduce costs through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

As North Carolina Governor Cooper considers policies to reach the state’s climate goals, analysis from EDF and M.J. Bradley & Associates shows that joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) can help get the job done. RGGI would significantly reduce climate-warming pollution in North Carolina by capping and reducing power sector carbon emissions.

The analysis underscores that North Carolina will not reach its emission reduction targets under a business-as-usual scenario, though a strong cap on emissions can deliver the reductions necessary while driving investment in zero emitting resources. We also found that RGGI can help North Carolina reduce emissions while lowering overall system costs, reducing the state’s reliance on fossil fuels, and improving public health through reduced air pollution.

EDF and M.J. Bradley & Associates modeled the potential impacts of placing a cap on power sector emissions that declines at a rate consistent with the cap trajectory adopted by the 10 other states participating in the regional program. This analysis looked at several different scenarios, which evaluated a range of fuel prices and different options regarding whether surrounding states capped power sector emissions and found substantial benefits from participation in RGGI. The analysis was completed prior to availability of data related to potential impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on carbon emissions, electricity demand, and economic recovery, though COVID-19 considerations are addressed below.

By modeling a range of fuel price and policy scenarios, we can draw useful insights about expected trends in emissions, electricity generation sources, and power sector costs based on a number of different factors. Energy models, like the one used in this analysis, are not crystal balls that predict exactly what emissions or costs will be in the future, but they provide useful insights about the directional impacts of climate policies compared to a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario with no carbon limit.

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Posted in Cities and states, Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions / Read 1 Response