Climate 411

With one week to act, California needs to pass these policies to drive climate progress and protect communities

This post was co-authored by Caroline Jones, Analyst for U.S. Climate

photo of a wind farm in a western landscape

Photo Credit: Pixabay

The heat is on in Sacramento.

With less than a week left in the California State Legislature’s session (which ends on August 31), a set of potentially game-changing climate policies are on the table. Earlier this month, Governor Newsom released a series of proposals for the legislature, including a more ambitious goal for cutting climate pollution by 2030, codifying a carbon neutrality goal, interim clean electricity targets, safeguards from the health impacts caused by oil and gas drilling and providing direction on the use of carbon capture and sequestration — all of which are now being negotiated in Sacramento.

This push arrives amid a grueling year for climate change-fueled impacts across the state, with wildfires, heat waves and the worst megadrought the West has seen in over 1,000 years all underscoring the urgency for bold action. And with the new, massive down payment on climate and clean energy through the Inflation Reduction Act, California will have even more tools and investments available to drive down climate pollution further and faster.

Here are the key policies that can drive meaningful climate progress and protect communities — and need to pass the finish line by the end of the session.

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Posted in California, Cities and states, News, Policy / Read 1 Response

The scoop on the Scoping Plan: California’s plan relies too heavily on emerging technologies (Part 3)

This post was co-authored by Caroline Jones, analyst for U.S. Climate, and Katie Schneer, High Meadows fellow for subnational climate policy.


Photo credit: pexels

In May, the California Air Resources Board released the draft 2022 Climate Change Scoping Plan, a roadmap that will guide the state toward meeting its 2030 emissions target and achieving net-zero emissions no later than 2045. This four-part series will unpack several key aspects of the plan and evaluate whether they raise California’s climate ambition to the levels needed to protect communities from the worst climate impacts.

While California already has most of the tools it needs to meet its climate goals, there are still hard-to-tackle areas of the economy – like industry – that will demand new climate solutions not yet widely available on the market. This is where newer technologies like hydrogen and carbon capture & sequestration (CCS) may help address those emissions. Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) is another solution needed to address legacy carbon pollution in the atmosphere, but all of these approaches need more innovation investment now to reach scale safely, affordably and reliably.

Currently, CARB is over-relying on these emerging solutions for critical emission reductions and removals in California’s Draft Climate Change Scoping Plan, rather than maximizing proven solutions we have right now – like reducing more pollution from the power and transportation sectors, and tightening the state’s cap on emissions. As a result, this strategy leaves reductions in climate pollution that can and should be achieved this decade up to chance. And as we’ve explained in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, near-term ambition is essential for minimizing the most devastating climate damages in the long run, like wildfires and droughts.

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Posted in California, Greenhouse Gas Emissions / Comments are closed

May brings another record auction for the Western Climate Initiative, as California considers how to ramp up climate action

Results of the May Western Climate Initiative auction were released today, and again they demonstrate strong demand for allowances and generate revenue that will deliver meaningful investments for California communities. Earlier this month, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) also outlined the role of its cap-and-trade program in its draft Scoping Plan, which intends to chart the path to California’s 2030 and 2045 climate targets. However, there is major room for improvement: CARB needs to do more to ensure the emissions cap is an effective backstop and can provide certainty of near-term emission reductions.

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Posted in California, Carbon Markets, Greenhouse Gas Emissions / Comments are closed

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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Posted in California, Carbon Markets, Cities and states / Comments are closed

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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Posted in California, Carbon Markets / Comments are closed