Acadia Center Policy Analyst Jordan Stutt said the most impressive thing about RGGI is that it has proved “ambitious emissions reductions” and “economic growth” can be achieved together. “A major part of that is the benefits from the reinvestment of auction proceeds,” he told Utility Dive.
Peter Shattuck, director of the Clean Energy Initiative at the Acadia Center, calls the agreement a major victory for bipartisan action to address climate change.
“This shows that northeast states are stepping up to fill the void left by the Trump administration’s irresponsible and misguided efforts to roll back every major environmental protection on the books,” he states.
RGGI estimates that extending the cap will bring carbon emissions in the region down 65 percent from 2009 levels. The Trump administration argues that environmental regulations hinder industrial development and economic growth.
The nine RGGI states together comprise the sixth-largest economy in the world, and Shattuck says RGGI’s record of pollution reduction and economic growth proves that the cooperative’s approach to fighting climate change can work.
“It puts a price on pollution, which unleashes innovative ways to avoid that pollution,” he points out. “And that’s what we’ve seen from RGGI and other market-based programs.”
But he cautions that the even these further carbon reductions by RGGI aren’t enough to slow global climate change. Shattuck says more states need to join in the effort, and move beyond RGGI’s mission of cutting power-plant pollution.
“This step helps clean up the electric sector, but we’re also going to need to tackle transportation, which is the largest source of climate pollution in the region and now, the country as a whole,” he stresses.
Read the full story from Public News Service here.
To prevent this, the states will further lower RGGI’s cap in 2021-2025 by the amount of excess allowances sold and banked between 2014 and 2020 (the same approach previously used to address banked allowances from 2009-2013). Our friends at Acadia Center estimate this could avoid an additional 48.5 million tons of carbon pollution (or more).
Read the full blog post from NRDC on Microgrid Knowledge here.
“This is what climate leadership looks like in the wake of the misguided and irresponsible decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris agreement,” said Peter Shattuck, Massachusetts director at the Boston-based Acadia Center.
New Jersey, a founding member of the group, dropped out in 2011. The move cost the Garden State nearly $300 million in lost proceeds from permit auctions ― a number which could balloon to $489 million by 2020, according to a 2015 estimate from the Acadia Center. Gov. Chris Christie (R) called the program a “failure,” and vetoed legislation to reinstate New Jersey’s membership three times, most recently last month.
As of now, RGGI reduces the carbon cap by 2.5% each year. However, RGGI can be made stronger by reducing the annual carbon cap to 5%. A study by the Acadia Center calculated that shifting the cap to a 5% annual carbon reduction will provide more than $2 billion in health benefits through 2030, which is more than double the benefits that would be achieved by continuing the 2.5% annual reduction.
Attention now turns to the Northeast, where nine states, including New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts, are part of what is known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which, like California’s effort, is a market-based cap-and-trade program that goes beyond state boundaries. So far, R.G.G.I., as it is known for short, has helped reduce emissions from power plants in the region by 40 percent between 2008 and 2016, according to the Acadia Center, a research and public interest group. States are now negotiating the future of the program beyond 2020.
Read the full editorial from The New York Times here.
“What we gain in return for that marginal additional cost is that we avoid 99 million [short] tons of CO2 emissions” from 2017 to 2031, Jordan Stutt, a policy analyst at the Boston-based Acadia Center, told HuffPost. “That’s more than a full year’s worth of emissions for this region. If the states are serious about acting on climate, they can’t ignore those kinds of emissions reductions at that low a cost.”
Read the full article from the Huffington Post here.
But as Fast Company has written before, the emissions reductions laid out under the Clean Power Plan are already underway, and the directive from Virginia, says Jordan Stutt, a policy analyst at the clean-energy research nonprofit Acadia Center, “is the first domino in what will be a series of states moving to adopt clean energy policies.”
In issuing the directive to Virginia’s DEQ, McAuliffe instructed that his state’s proposal to limit energy-sector emissions should fall in line with those already in place across the country, and is looking specifically to California and a coalition of nine East Coast states united under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), both of which have successfully implemented cap-and-trade policies to curb carbon dioxide emissions. Stutt says that while cap-and-trade policy implementation has been slow to spread beyond California and the RGGI (pronounced “Reggie”) states, and now Virginia, “the conversation is getting louder.” Following Obama’s introduction of the Clean Power Plan two years ago, “the whole country began preparing to comply with the standards, and most states were looking at how a RGGI model–a cap-and-trade model–might work in their state,” Stutt says.
“States are looking to these programs; they don’t want to be missing out on all the benefits the RGGI states and California have been seeing for revenue to be reinvested in clean energy initiatives and infrastructure needs,” Stutt says.
While cap-and-trade has proven effective in the RGGI states and California, and it’s likely to be the model that Virginia pursues (Stutt met with legislators in the state as far back as two years ago, as they were gauging the possibility of Virginia becoming part of RGGI), NextGen Climate founder and philanthropist Tom Steyer–who has considered running for governor of California–tells Fast Company that “there is no one magic bullet” that will dictate how states drive clean energy policies going forward. “The unending increase in the efficiency and effectiveness of technology is driving down the cost of renewable energy sources like wind and solar dramatically,” Steyer says. Unlike coal, whose price continues to rise as its supply constricts, renewable generation can proliferate with no harm to society, and states on both sides of the political divide are responding to the favorable market conditions.
While currently, those states most aggressively pursuing cap-and-trade and other carbon-reduction policies are blue states, both Kiely and Stutt emphasize that support for clean energy policies extends across political divides. RGGI was proposed by a Republican, former New York governor George E. Pataki, and John Kasich, the Republican governor of Ohio, vetoed an attempt by the state legislature in December to make the state’s renewable energy standards voluntary, saying to roll back the renewable energy policy would hurt Ohio’s economy (the legislature is continuing to fight the veto). And some of the strongest supporters of wind energy come from states like Iowa and Texas, where the availability of natural resources has driven the cost of renewables down. In Iowa, the cost is so dramatically lower that to do anything other than integrate wind into the energy landscape would put the state at an economic disadvantage–and powerful Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is strongly in support of increasing the amount of wind power the state produces.
According to Acadia Center, from 2008 to 2015 Co2 emissions dropped 30 percent in RGGI states compared to 14 percent in the rest of the country, excluding California, which has its own cap and trade program. During the same period, economic growth totaled 24.9 percent in RGGI states, compared to 21.3 percent in other states. According to a 2015 study, Co2 emissions would be 24 percent higher in RGGI states without the program. In addition, the auction proceeds have generated over $2.58 billion used to support investments in energy efficiency, renewables, greenhouse gas abatement and direct bill assistance. These reinvestments have contributed to lower utility bills and job creation.