Climate 411

Electrifying Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles: A Critical Step Towards Environmental Justice in North Carolina

As the impacts of climate change reveal themselves to North Carolinians in the form of heat, flooding, wildfires, drought, and increasingly intense and more frequent tropical storms, the case for urgent action to combat climate change is strengthening. Our state has made important strides, setting vehicle electrification goals and power sector emissions reductions directives, but new data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows that levels of greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere continued a steady climb in 2023, nonetheless, underscoring that our efforts to reduce emissions from all sources must be tackled with urgency.

One significant source of emissions — medium and heavy-duty vehicles (MHDV) like trucks and buses — is an area of important focus. We know from a 2022 study that, despite constituting only 6.5% of on-road vehicles in North Carolina, MHDVs are responsible for a staggering 34.5% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions within the transportation sector. Adopting clean transportation policies for MHDVs can make a big difference toward reaching the state’s climate goals and could have a positive impact on North Carolina’s economy — netting nearly $118 billion in health, climate and economic savings over a 25-year period.

And now, in a new analysis, we have further knowledge to inform MHDV policies in the state. Beyond the environmental perspective, there is the human impact that we’ve suspected was significant, and now have data to confirm a disproportionate health burden on marginalized North Carolina communities. This new analysis takes a closer look at localized impacts, examining the communities most affected by MHDV emissions, and exploring the potential health benefits of implementing strong policies to reduce pollution from this sector.

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Also posted in Cars and Pollution, Policy / Leave a comment

Governor Inslee moves Washington state one step closer to linking carbon market with California and Quebec

Today, the state of Washington took a big step toward linking its cap-and-invest program with the carbon markets in California and Quebec, a move that could boost climate action and create a more stable, more predictable market for all. Governor Inslee signed E2SB 6058 into law, which will further align Washington’s program with the joint California-Quebec program (known as the Western Climate Initiative) and facilitate a smoother linkage process.

This latest development builds on the momentum of last week’s joint statement from the three jurisdictions, in which they expressed their shared interest in the potential creation of a larger, linked market among them. While Governor Inslee and Washington policymakers are tackling climate change head-on and trying to strengthen the state’s carbon market, a wealthy hedge fund executive is trying to bring climate progress to a screeching halt through a ballot initiative that would end the program altogether. The contrast between the two outcomes for Washington’s cap-and-invest program could not be starker.

Here’s what you need to know about the linkage bill and what’s at stake with Washington’s program.

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Also posted in Carbon Markets, Economics, Energy, News, Policy / Comments are closed

Auction results and budget decisions emphasize importance of investments from Washington state’s Climate Commitment Act

This blog was co-authored by Janet Zamudio, Western States Climate Policy Intern

The last week has been eventful in Washington, seeing the end of legislative session last Thursday and the first quarterly cap-and-invest auction of 2024, which posted results today. With the legislative session wrapped up and budgets passed, we now know what additional spending lawmakers plan to do with the revenue generated by these cap-and-invest auctions thanks to the supplemental budget passed last week. And with the results from the first auction of 2024 now in the books, it seems the Evergreen State will continue to see significant revenue from this program to reinvest in communities, clean energy projects and climate resilience. There’s a lot to unpack, so let’s start with the auction results:

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Also posted in California, Carbon Markets, Economics, Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Health, Policy / Comments are closed

Clean heat standards: an effective climate policy for the thermal sector

Downtown Boston. Photo: Emmanuel Huybrechts via Wikimedia Commons

This post was co-authored by Chris Neme, Co-Founder and Principal of Energy Futures Group

The concept of a Clean Heat Standard (CHS) is gaining traction in multiple jurisdictions as a way to drive larger, faster reductions in the thermal sector’s greenhouse gas emissions. At least ten U.S. states are considering the policy, with Colorado and Vermont having enacted legislation and Massachusetts and Maryland considering a CHS regulation.

A new report commissioned by Environmental Defense Fund and prepared by Energy Futures Group provides an overview of key design elements that can be used for a CHS, as well as a look at how four states are approaching these elements in their own CHS development process.

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Also posted in Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, News, Partners for Change, Policy / Comments are closed

As it enters its eleventh year, California’s cap-and-trade program continues to raise revenue to fight the climate crisis

This blog was co-authored by Katelyn Roedner Sutter, California State Director 

Results of the latest Western Climate Initiative auction were released today, and we continue to see strong demand for allowances. This was the first quarterly auction of 2024, and it was a strong start for this marquee climate program.

This auction is expected to generate roughly $1.31 billion for the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, which will invest in projects around the state that electrify transportation, reduce household energy costs, strengthen resilience to natural disasters, and more. This funding comes at a crucial time, as California faces both ongoing impacts from climate change and a challenging budget year.

February auction results

  • All 51.2 million current vintage allowances offered for sale were purchased, resulting in the 14th consecutive sold-out auction. This is 11% or 6.4 million fewer allowances than were offered at the previous auction.
  • The current auction settled at a record price of $41.76, $17.72 above the $24.04 floor price and $3.03 above the November 2023 settlement price of $38.73.
  • All of the 7.2 million future vintage allowances offered for sale were purchased — these allowances can be used for compliance beginning in 2027. This is about 366,000 allowances fewer than were offered at the previous advance auction.
  • Future vintage allowances settled at $41.00, $16.96 above the $24.04 floor price and $3.60 above the November settlement price of $37.40.

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Also posted in California, Carbon Markets, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, News / Comments are closed

Cut carbon, raise cash: How New York’s cap-and-invest program could invest billions in communities

In leading climate states, you’ll find trailblazing projects that are benefiting people’s lives and cutting costly pollution right now.

In Washington, young people ride the ferry across Puget sound and buses around the state for free. In California, low-income residents get money-saving home energy efficiency upgrades at no cost. And in New York, businesses and apartments earn major rebates to install EV charging stations — with 4,000 stations installed so far.

These are just a few projects supported by funding from cap-and-invest programs. While limiting and driving down harmful climate pollution, these programs are in turn raising revenue that is re-invested in communities.

As New York develops the rules for its statewide cap-and-invest program — the third such program in the nation — a high-ambition program would give New Yorkers an exciting opportunity to shape and direct billions of potential investments each year for communities. From improving public transportation access to lowering energy bills, the possibilities are endless.

Here are just a few ways that other statewide programs, like California and Washington, are putting their revenues to work, and how New York’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is already funding projects around the state — investments that could be significantly expanded and scaled up with a strong statewide cap-and-invest program.

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Also posted in California, Carbon Markets, Economics, Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Health, Jobs, Policy / Comments are closed