Climate 411

Western Climate Initiative kicks off 2022 with strong results – and high hopes for greater ambition

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

Wind farm in California.

PC: Tom Brewster Photography for the Bureau of Land Management.

The results of the Western Climate Initiative’s February auction were released today, and all current vintage allowances sold at a record-high price – raising over $970 million for the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.

These results arrive alongside major opportunities for California to bolster its climate leadership. The state’s Climate Change Scoping Plan update, which intends to chart a pathway to achieving California’s 2030 and 2045 greenhouse gas reduction goals, is well underway with preliminary modeling results expected this spring. And recently, a group of experts released a report highlighting ways California can strengthen its cap-and-trade program and make the most of its Scoping plan.

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Posted in California, Carbon Markets / Comments are closed

Colorado legislators passed a law to cut pollution from industry, but regulators have yet to deliver

Cement plant west of Pueblo, CO.

Cement plant west of Pueblo, CO. Photo by Jeffrey Beall

As the 2022 legislative session in Colorado gets underway – with many climate and environmental issues on the agenda – it’s important to take stock of what legislators accomplished on this front last year. One key action we’ve been tracking closely and hope to see progress on this year: Curbing climate pollution from industry and manufacturing.

On top of Colorado’s existing obligation to cut emissions across the economy, established in the state’s Climate Action Plan in 2019 (HB 19-1261), the legislature passed an additional mandate last year directing the state’s Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) to adopt rules that ensure climate pollution from the industrial and manufacturing sector falls 20% below 2015 levels by 2030.

As we detail below, even with this further direction from legislators and some positive steps, progress on reducing emissions continues to be slow. In the fall, the Commission adopted a new rule that takes aim at climate pollution from four specific industrial facilities in Colorado. The new rule marked an important step forward as the first rule directly regulating climate pollution from one of the state’s major source categories, though together these facilities account for just 2% of the statewide emissions (see Figure 1 below).

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

Measuring the true impact of Colorado’s climate delay: A pathway for curbing pollution (Part 3)

After Colorado legislators passed landmark climate legislation in 2019, which included a statutory mandate directing the Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) to adopt rules and regulations to reduce statewide emissions, the state has yet to adopt a policy framework capable of getting the job done. This three-part series explores the impact of Colorado’s delay, analyzing the impact on total emissions and the state’s ability to meet its own climate targets.

Alamosa Photovoltaic Power Plant.

Alamosa Photovoltaic Power Plant.

Colorado’s policy action is nowhere close to living up to its climate commitments. As we’ve illustrated in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, the state is far off track from meeting its own climate goals, even accounting for all current policies and recently announced coal plant retirements. And the recently released final Roadmap doesn’t include a comprehensive and specific regulatory agenda that will secure the needed reductions. Without urgent action, climate pollution will continue building up in the atmosphere and will wreak further environmental, health and economic havoc on Coloradans.

But in the face of this immense challenge, the Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC)—the regulatory body responsible for ensuring Colorado meets its targets—has an opportunity to get the state on the right course. The Commission is already overdue on its responsibility to evaluate options and then propose a regulation or suite of regulations to meet its statutory climate targets. A recent EDF petition for an enforceable, declining emission limit could help the AQCC deliver concrete climate progress on an urgent timeline, while improving health and equity across the state.

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

Measuring the true impact of Colorado’s climate delay: Minding the emissions gap (Part 2)

After Colorado legislators passed landmark climate legislation in 2019, which included a statutory mandate directing the Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) to adopt rules and regulations to reduce statewide emissions, the state has yet to even propose a policy framework capable of getting the job done. This three-part series explores the impact of Colorado’s delay, analyzing the impact on total emissions and the state’s ability to meet its own climate targets.

Editor’s note: This post was last updated Jan. 19. 2021 to reflect Colorado’s final greenhouse gas roadmap.

Hayden Generating Station

Hayden Generating Station (Hayden Station), a coal-fired power plant near Hayden, Colorado. PC: Jeffrey Beall.

This year started with promising climate news in Colorado: The state’s largest electric utility, Xcel Energy, announced it will close two of its coal-fired units sooner than planned and support plant workers through retraining and retirement opportunities. While this is a step in the right direction for Colorado’s clean energy future, much more policy action will be needed to meet the state’s statutory emissions goals.

In Part 1 of this series, EDF analysis uncovered the cumulative impact of the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission’s (AQCC) inaction on greenhouse gas emission reductions. Delays will have profound consequences for the total pollution that the state emits over the next decade, which could mean more severe long-term climate damages for Colorado communities and ecosystems. The AQCC’s refusal to seriously evaluate policy mechanisms for much faster and deeper reductions flies in the face of what Colorado legislators mandated in 2019. They set a clear timeline for the AQCC to swiftly propose regulations and reduce statewide emissions 26% by 2025, 50% by 2030 and 90% by 2050, all relative to 2005 emissions.

In Part 2 of this series, we dive into a recent EDF report and analyses released by both the state and other researchers that reveal how Colorado is far off track from achieving these upcoming 2025 and 2030 statutory targets under current policies. The state’s glaring ‘emissions gaps’ underscore the need for transformative leadership on a policy framework capable of securing the reductions consistent with its goals — and protecting Coloradans for generations to come.

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

Measuring the true impact of Colorado’s climate delay: Total pollution in the next decade (Part 1)

After Colorado legislators passed landmark climate legislation in 2019, which included a statutory mandate directing the Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) to adopt rules and regulations to reduce statewide emissions, the state has yet to adopt a policy framework capable of getting the job done. This three-part series explores the impact of Colorado’s delay, analyzing the impact on total emissions and the state’s ability to meet its own climate targets.

Editor’s note: This post was last updated Feb. 15, 2021 to correct Colorado’s target emissions from gross to net emissions, consistent with data used throughout this analysis. It was also updated Feb. 2, 2021 to reflect Xcel Energy’s announcement to retire two units of the Hayden coal-burning power plant in 2027 and 2028.  Comanche coal power plant in Pueblo, Colorado.

When it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Colorado—like many other states with leading science-based climate commitments—has a disconnect between rhetoric and reality. Colorado is far from where it needs to be to meet its climate goals, and state regulators just recently slammed on the brakes on a small but important step forward.

After initially voting to accelerate three coal plant retirements as part of a Regional Haze rulemaking in November, state Air Quality Control Commissioners reversed their decision under pressure from the Polis administration to revert back to the later coal plant retirement dates volunteered by industry.

Yet new analyses from EDF, and those released by both the state and other researchers, underscore that Colorado can’t afford a cavalier approach to curbing climate-warming pollution. The state is still far from having a policy framework in place capable of cutting greenhouse gas emissions at the pace and scale required—and Colorado’s first emissions target is right around the corner in 2025.

EDF’s analysis on the impact that these delays will have on total emissions this decade—which will translate into long-term climate damages—underscores why Colorado urgently needs a policy framework that will deliver the ambitious emission reductions that science—and state law—demand.

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