Climate 411

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 / Leave a comment

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

New York is developing a cap-and-invest program to cut climate pollution. How would it work?

As a major next step in achieving New York’s climate targets, Governor Hochul and state agency officials are developing rules for a cap-and-invest program. A bold and equitable program would aggressively cut climate pollution, while supporting and investing in clean and healthy communities around the state.

This rulemaking could be game-changing for New York — and for the nation.

New York would be the third state in the country to put a declining cap — or limit — on emissions across its economy, building on successful models from California and Washington state. And critically, this program is coming together right as new analysis underscores the need for leading states to follow through on their climate commitments and drive national climate progress.

Here’s what to know about how a cap-and-invest program would work in New York as these rules come together.

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

One year into its cap-and-invest program, Washington state looks to build upon its landmark climate law

Photo of mountain in Washington state

Results were released today for Washington’s fourth quarterly cap-and-invest auction, which was held on December 6th. The results from this sold-out auction show continued strong demand for allowances in the program, which has brought in substantial revenue for the state of Washington to reinvest in its communities. This is the final auction of 2023, marking the end of this program’s first year of auctions, which in total have generated close to $2 billion for Washington communities. The revenue has already begun to be distributed to different projects that benefit communities across the state, including expanding public transportation in rural areas and improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety, with much more investment to come.

December auction results

At the auction, administered by the Department of Ecology (Ecology), participating facilities submitted their bids for allowances. Washington’s major emitters are required to hold one allowance for every ton of greenhouse gas that they emit, with the total number of available allowances declining each year. This declining cap requires Washington’s businesses to reduce their climate pollution in line with the state’s climate targets. Here are the results, released today:

  • All 7,142,146 current vintage allowances offered for sale were purchased, resulting in the 4th consecutive sold out quarterly auction.
  • The current auction settled at $51.89, $29.69 above the floor price of $22.20, and $11.14 below Washington’s last quarterly auction price of $63.03.
  • This auction is projected to generate roughly $370 million in revenue, which will be invested into Washington communities to enhance climate resilience, create jobs, and improve air quality. A report from Ecology confirming the amount of revenue raised in this auction will be published on January 4.

What these results mean

The settlement price for this auction is a very promising indication of strong and stable demand in the Washington market. Covered entities are still eager to acquire allowances early in the program, but the fact that this auction settled below the Allowance Price Containment Reserve (APCR) trigger price shows that those entities also feel more confident in their ability to secure enough allowances or to further reduce their emissions.

The lower settlement price in this auction compared to recent auctions could be driven by a few factors; for one, this could be the result of previous APCR auctions fulfilling their role as price stabilizers in a market with high demand. APCR allowances were budgeted out ahead of time when the cap-and-invest program was originally designed, and they’re still under the overall allowance budget set by Ecology in order to keep Washington on track with its climate targets. Making these additional allowances available at a predetermined and transparent price point through the APCR helps to stabilize allowance prices in the program, and that’s precisely why Ecology designed this feature into the program from the start. Entities who were able to secure additional allowances at the two APCR auctions held this year may have felt more confident in this auction that they don’t need to scramble to out-bid other entities to buy up allowances.

Another factor that may have driven slightly calmer demand in this auction is the recent decision by Washington’s Department of Ecology to officially pursue linkage with the joint California-Quebec market, known as the Western Climate Initiative (WCI). The December auction was the first auction to be held following this decision, and this step towards a larger, linked market with greater access to more allowances may have given covered entities more confidence in their ability to obtain allowances in the future through this broader market. Read on for more information about this milestone decision, what it means, and what’s next!

Looking ahead: Linkage and the legislative session

In case you missed it, early last month the Department of Ecology officially announced its intention to pursue linkage with the California-Quebec market. This decision is a significant milestone in the linkage process, and if California and Quebec follow suit, it would lead to a tri-jurisdictional system operated jointly by all three parties. California, Quebec, and Washington would all be able to pool their supply of emission allowances and hold shared auctions. As we’ve written previously, these jurisdictions all stand to benefit from a linked market as it can drive faster cuts in climate pollution and support a more stable, predictable market for all participants.

Before that happens though, there are a lot of things to get done. California and Quebec each have their own processes to go through and there’s some legislative fine-tuning that Ecology is planning to request in order to make the linkage process as smooth as possible.

That means potentially making small, strategic updates to the Climate Commitment Act (CCA) to build alignment with the joint California-Quebec program, with the goal of making it easier to operate as a single, linked market. The CCA is the landmark climate policy that Washington passed in 2021 that placed a firm, declining limit on climate pollution while also providing new tools for tackling local air pollution and creating the cap-and-invest market. Thanks to the CCA, Washington is one of only a few states in the nation that’s actually on track to meet its targets. Now, state leaders have an opportunity to scale up the state’s climate action by ensuring that Washington’s cap-and-invest market is ready to deliver enhanced climate and cost-savings benefits as part of a linked market.

As things progress in the legislative session, we’ll be keeping an eye on all things CCA and linkage — stay tuned for our updates and analysis!

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

Duke Energy’s proposed investment in fossil fuels will leave customers with higher bills and more pollution

In the last few years, North Carolinians have seen eye-popping electricity bills. Bill increase after bill increase has compounded, resulting in 20+ percent higher monthly bills for most ratepayers in our state. The main driver? The volatile cost of natural gas, which accounts for a larger and larger portion of the energy mix that North Carolinians depend on.

And yet, instead of curbing use of a risk-intensive fuel source that has had such a detrimental effect on customers, Duke Energy is proposing a huge investment to build even more gas power plants. Why? State policy guarantees Duke a profitable return on investment for its spending on infrastructure like power plants. The more costly the investment, the higher the return for the company and its shareholders.

There’s no free market for electricity in North Carolina. With no meaningful competitor to provide customers the option to choose a different energy provider, Duke dominates the market and the company’s expensive investment plans are entirely in line with what should be expected from a profit-seeking monopoly utility taking advantage of a captive customer-base.

North Carolinians deserve the facts about Duke’s decisions, how it impacts their lives and how their leaders can protect them. Here’s what you should know: 

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Posted in Cities and states / Comments are closed

EDF’s new equity map shows state efforts to make the energy transition fairer for all

(This post was written by EDF interns Cyera Charles and Remeny White)

Across the U.S. states are passing laws that will ensure greater equity as we transition to a clean energy system. EDF has developed an interactive map – based on our new report, the State Climate Equity Survey – that documents states’ efforts to make their energy transition more equitable and healthier.

Our new map identifies which states require, allow, or promote consideration of equity and environmental justice in agency decision-making and budget-setting.

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Also posted in Energy, News / Comments are closed