Climate 411

4 ways California should strengthen its cap-and-trade program

This blog was co-authored by Mary Catherine Hanafee LaPlante, Intern, U.S. Climate Policy

As the hottest summer on record scorches the state, California leaders are working to tackle the impacts of climate change head-on by strengthening an essential tool in their climate policy toolbox: the state’s cap-and-trade program.

Last year, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) finalized its Scoping Plan for Achieving Carbon Neutrality which recognized the importance of accelerating action this decade to put the state on track to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045 as well as 85% reductions below the 1990 level. Specifically, the Scoping Plan highlights that California needs to exceed its near-term goal and achieve 48% reductions below 1990 by 2030.

To reach these critical goals, CARB is evaluating potential amendments to its cap-and-trade program. With two workshops on the books, CARB is already making significant strides towards fortifying the program.

Here are four key opportunities for the state to strengthen the cap-and-trade program:

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Clearing the Air: California’s Leadership on Clean Trucks

FedEx Express truck

A FedEx eStar electric truck in Los Angeles. Photo: Mr.choppers

This blog is co-authored by NRDC’s Britt Carmon, Guillermo A. Ortiz, and David Pettit. It originally appeared here.

California has long grappled with the challenge of improving its air quality, which ranks as the worst in the country. Heavy-duty diesel trucks, which are significant contributors to air and climate pollution, make it difficult for the state to achieve nationwide air quality standards.  As such, it should be no surprise that the transportation sector remains the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, not only in California, but nationwide as well. However, the scale of the problem is not insurmountable. California has also been at the forefront of regulating tailpipe and motor vehicle greenhouse gas emissions and has made steady progress towards cleaner air for decades.

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Also posted in California, Cars and Pollution, Cities and states, Economics, Energy, Green Jobs, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Innovation, Jobs, News, Partners for Change, Policy / Comments are closed

New York is poised to elevate its climate leadership with ambitious cap-and-invest program

This blog was co-authored by Alex DeGolia, Director, U.S. Climate.

As Governor Hochul and her administration advance a major cap-and-invest program, a new EDF analysis on state emissions reveals how New York’s progress stacks up against its climate goals.

New York has done more to move from pledges to policy than most states, but our analysis finds that the state is still projected to face an “emissions gap” in 2030 — the gap between where emissions are headed under existing policy and where New York needs to be to reach its targets. While New York is not alone in facing an emissions gap, the state stands out for the concerted actions New York policymakers are taking to close this gap.

After finalizing New York’s climate plan late last year, Governor Hochul, state agency officials — led by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and NYS Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) — and New York legislators are diving in and actively working to implement the plan’s recommendations. Notable among these is the development of a cap-and-invest programa policy that can serve as a critical emissions backstop, offering maximum certainty that New York will reach its climate targets. Just as importantly, the Administration has expressed its commitment to put equity, job creation, and affordability at the center of the program — and it must deliver on this commitment as the program advances.

This is exactly the type of action that other states serious about reaching their climate goals should be taking.

Here’s what to know about the analysis and New York’s climate policy leadership.

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Leadership states can drive U.S. climate progress forward, if governors meet their commitments

This blog was co-authored by Alex DeGolia, Director, U.S. Climate.

With historic federal climate investments in law, states are now in the driver’s seat to leverage this funding to drive U.S. climate progress forward — adopting bold policies of their own that limit pollution, boost jobs and bring down energy costs.

States that have made climate commitments in line with U.S. goals under the Paris Agreement are in the best position to make a significant impact in cutting U.S. emissions. A new EDF report analyzes state emissions data from Rhodium and projected emission reductions from federal investments to determine how much closer these states could bring the country to its goals.

We find that leadership states could shrink the remaining gap to the U.S. national 2030 target by nearly half, if they adopt ambitious and comprehensive policies that achieve their own emissions targets.

To get there, governors and state leaders must shift policy action into high gear, as our analysis reveals these states are currently projected to collectively fall well short of their climate commitments.

The urgency — and the opportunity — for states to move from climate pledges to policy has never been greater. Here’s what you need to know about the analysis:

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Also posted in California, Carbon Markets, Cities and states, Economics, Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Policy / Read 1 Response

What Washington state can learn from California’s decade of climate investments

Photo of a wind farm in eastern Washington state

This blog was authored by Delia Novak, Western States Climate Policy Intern, U.S. Region.

Since the launch of Washington’s cap-and-invest program in January, the state has raised over $850 million in revenue through two consecutive, sold-out auctions under the program. These cap-and-invest auctions provide critical funding for the clean energy and climate resilience projects that will lock in a swift transition to a healthier, safer climate future — with at least 35% of funding used to benefit communities that are overburdened by air pollution and who will be impacted first and worst by the climate crisis if we fail to act.

Last month, Governor Inslee signed Washington’s final budget for 2023-2025, which will make use of a whopping $2 billion in funding from the Climate Commitment Act (CCA), with highlights including $138 million for electric vehicle charging infrastructure, $123 million for solar and storage projects, $120 million for zero emission medium and heavy-duty vehicles, and $163 million for home electrification rebates. By making decarbonization more affordable and slashing climate-warming emissions, this funding is already an impressive indication of the opportunities and investment that the cap-and-invest proceeds will deliver to communities across Washington.

But Washington’s climate investments are just getting started. In the meantime, we can look to California’s decade of climate investments to understand the important benefits that Washington’s cap-and-invest program can provide for its communities.

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How our clean energy laws can support a fair transition for workers and communities

photo of a coal plant

Our country is going to rapidly deploy and manufacture clean energy technologies to a scale never seen before, thanks in large part to historic laws passed by the Biden-Harris administration and Congress.

This shift is already unleashing new jobs and economic opportunities around the country, but many communities reliant on fossil fuel production – coal, oil and gas – are rightfully concerned about how it will affect their lives and their futures.

Last month, the Biden-Harris administration announced a sweeping set of new investments under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act aimed at revitalizing communities dependent on coal and fossil fuels. It’s a recognition that the clean energy transition cannot succeed unless it’s fair and equitable.

For over 150 years, coal and other fossil fuel workers have worked to power our economy. As natural gas and clean energy outcompeted coal in the last decade, hundreds of coal plants and mines across the country have shuttered, while the communities that depended on them have often been left behind – facing job loss, with funding for schools and roads running dry, and a legacy of local pollution to reckon with.

Recognizing the challenges facing fossil fuel communities in transition, the administration responded with a “whole-of-government” approach, bringing 12 different agencies together through the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization. In the past two years, the group has driven $14 billion in targeted investment to these communities.

The latest set of actions takes that support to new levels, not just by dollar amount, but in how it deploys a suite of different policies to help make communities whole – from job and benefits programs for individual workers to large-scale economic development that can sustain communities. While more support will be needed, this kind of comprehensive approach has been recommended by many groups, including joint research from EDF and Resources for the Future, as well as by the BlueGreen Alliance and Just Transition Fund.

Here’s a quick look at how some of these new investments take aim at critical challenges facing energy communities, and what needs to happen next:

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