Transportation & Climate Initiative would be a win for Vermont

TCI is a cap-and-invest program similar to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) that Vermont participates in to reduce carbon pollution from electricity generation. In 2005, Republican Gov. Jim Douglas signed on together with six other Northeast states. Vermont is still a part of it today, and it has been successful in multiple ways. Analysis from Acadia Center shows that since 2008:

  • GDP of the RGGI states has grown by 47%, outpacing growth in the rest of the country by 31%;
  • Electricity prices in RGGI states have fallen by 5.7%, while prices have increased in the rest of the country by 8.6%;
  • RGGI states have generated $3.4 billion in allowance auction proceeds, the majority of which have been invested in energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, including incentives for advanced wood heat and solar panels;
  • CO2 emissions from RGGI power plants have fallen by 47%, outpacing the rest of the country by 90%.

Read the full article from VTDigger here.

Power plant emissions down 47% under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

According to a 10-year report by the northeast regional advocacy group Acadia Center, proceeds since the time of the first two auctions (a year before RGGI officially got under way) had totaled nearly $3.3 billion by the end of June 2019.

The Acadia report also says emissions from the plants covered by RGGI are down 47% – outpacing the rest of the nation by 90%. The gross domestic product of the RGGI states, all in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions, also grew by 47% – again outpacing the rest of the country, which grew by 31%.

“I’m not shocked by the direction of the impact here,” says Jordan Stutt, carbon programs director at Acadia. “But I am surprised by just how strong the direction is. The fact that we’re outpacing the rest of the country in electric sector emission reductions by 90% is staggering. … It’s an important demonstration that taking on climate change doesn’t mean economic sacrifice.”

Read the full article from the Connecticut Mirror here.

Viewpoint: Need for Mass. clean transportation policy

When the world convened recently in Bonn, Germany, for the annual United Nations climate-change negotiations, there was a particular focus on the role of U.S. states, cities and businesses in reducing carbon pollution. Massachusetts, along with six other states and the District of Columbia, announced a regional pledge to work together with stakeholders to “create the clean transportation system that the region needs to meet today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.”

Cleaning up and modernizing the transportation system will be a major undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be a painful one. Massachusetts has demonstrated the ability to address similar challenges through innovative policies and regional collaboration that reduce emissions while improving the economy. The commonwealth played a key role in launching the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the nation’s first multi-state program to reduce carbon pollution from power plants.

While RGGI has helped Massachusetts make great strides in reducing electric sector pollution, the transportation sector still emits around the same amount of carbon as it did in 1990. Every year, pollution from the transportation sector causes asthma attacks and leads to preventable deaths, taking a massive financial and human toll on Bay State residents. Making matters worse, low-income communities and communities of color face a disproportionate share of the impacts from this pollution.

We can’t transform our transportation system overnight, but we can do more to invest and plan for a better future. From electric vehicle infrastructure to smart growth and improved public transit, we have an array of options to reduce pollution and increase transportation access while benefiting the economy. A RGGI-like program could go a long way to accelerate the adoption of these transportation solutions.

The RGGI cap-and-invest model has helped cut emissions from power plants in the region by 40 percent since 2008, while driving $2.8 billion in regional economic growth and creating nearly 30,000 jobs. Acadia Center analysis shows that RGGI has helped the region outpace the rest of the country in both emissions reductions and economic growth. In Massachusetts alone, these RGGI-driven emissions reductions have resulted in $798 million in avoided health costs.

Recent analysis conducted for the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) shows that regional carbon policy — like a cap-and-invest program — would add billions of dollars to the regional economy, reduce harmful pollution and generate revenue for reinvestment in transportation improvements, accelerating the transition to a cleaner, more efficient, more accessible system. A recent report from Ceres and M.J. Bradley and Associates found that the benefits of investments in electric vehicle infrastructure outweigh the costs by a margin of three to one.

Expanding clean transportation options should be a top priority for our economy. Businesses want 21st century cities with transportation systems to match, and they’ve proven to invest resources and create jobs in areas that have them. To keep Massachusetts’ economy thriving, we must embrace clean transportation. Market-based solutions like the RGGI model offer a promising path forward, and we urge Governor Baker and his peers across the region to act swiftly in establishing such a program.

Mindy Lubber is president and CEO of Ceres, a sustainability nonprofit organization. Daniel L. Sosland is president and executive director of Acadia Center, a nonprofit, research and advocacy organization.

RGGI States Leading the Way Toward Economic and Environmental Success

BOSTON — A new report from Acadia Center shows that the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states’ Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) continues to deliver for the economy, for the environment, and for public health. The program is driving down CO2 emissions, which have declined in each of the last 6 years and are down 40% since the program launched. The RGGI states have outperformed the rest of the country in emissions reductions and economic growth over this period, and the region has seen average electricity prices fall while prices have increased in the rest of the country. On top of all this, the program has driven substantial reductions in harmful co-pollutants, making the region’s air cleaner and its people healthier.

The report, Outpacing the Nation: RGGI’s Environmental and Economic Success, describes key trends and drivers, including the following:

  • Emissions of CO2 fell 8.4% below the RGGI cap in 2016, and emissions have declined 40% since RGGI launched.
  • Average electricity prices across the region have decreased by 6.4% since RGGI took effect, while electricity prices in other states have increased by 6.2%.
  • RGGI states have reduced emissions 15% faster than other states and have seen 4.3% more economic growth since RGGI launched.
  • Proposed RGGI reforms will result in 130 million fewer tons of CO2 and $1.28 billion in avoided health impacts through 2031.

“States in RGGI are demonstrating the power of bipartisan climate leadership,” said Daniel L. Sosland, Acadia Center President. “RGGI is a powerful example of an effective policy that drives economic, consumer, health and climate benefits while tackling a major challenge. Responsible leaders know we need to address climate change, and RGGI provides a readily available blueprint for success.”

“Launching RGGI took bold action from the region’s Governors, and thanks to that leadership the participating states have been reaping the rewards ever since,” said Peter Shattuck, Director of Acadia Center’s Clean Energy Initiative. “The current RGGI Governors have built on that success by strengthening the program for the future, ensuring that RGGI will continue to deliver benefits for years to come.”

“The RGGI states have shown that we don’t have to choose between ambitious climate policy and economic prosperity. In fact, RGGI’s track record has proven that ambitious climate policy can drive economic prosperity,” said Jordan Stutt, Policy Analyst at Acadia Center. “Now that the program for the electric sector has been strengthened and extended, we hope this proven model will be expanded to cover more states and applied to the region’s largest source of climate pollution: transportation.”

For more information, see: acadiacenter.staging.wpengine.com/document/outpacing-the-nation-rggi


Media Contacts:

Jordan Stutt, Policy Analyst
jstutt@acadiacenter.org, (617) 742-0054 x105

Peter Shattuck, Director, Clean Energy Initiative
pshattuck@acadiacenter.org, (617) 742-0054 x103

Krysia Wazny, Communications Director
kwazny@acadiacenter.org, (617) 742-0054 x107

RGGI Auction Prices Rebound in Response to Proposed Changes

BOSTON — Prices increased in the first Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) auction since the participating states proposed a set of changes to the program. This is an initial indication that the market expects the program to be stronger in the future. All 14,371,585 available allowances were sold at a clearing price of $4.35, generating $62,516,395 in revenue for reinvestment. This brings the program’s total revenue to $2.78 billion—most of which has been used to fund energy efficiency and other consumer benefit programs. The Auction 37 clearing price is 72% higher than the previous auction and 4% lower than the clearing price from one year ago. This marks an end to the steady decline in auction clearing prices that began in early 2016.

The key changes announced by the states include:

  • Reducing the emissions cap by 30% from 2020 to 2030;
  • Conducting a full adjustment for banked allowances;
  • Strengthening the existing Cost Containment Reserve; and
  • Establishing an Emissions Containment Reserve

 

“We applaud the RGGI states for working together to improve the program, and the Auction 37 results show that these changes should make RGGI stronger,” said Acadia Center President Daniel Sosland. “After nearly two years of negotiations, the states have put RGGI on a course for long-term success.”

“Proposed policy changes have driven prices upward in this auction, but implementing RGGI reforms is the only way to ensure that prices won’t dive again,” said Jordan Stutt, Policy Analyst with Acadia Center. “Emissions continue to fall rapidly—each of the first two quarters in 2017 resulted in record low quarterly emissions—and even the new cap may not decline quickly enough to keep up with decarbonization in the electric sector. Fortunately, the new addition of an Emissions Containment Reserve should help the states reduce emissions further, at low costs to consumers.”

“The increase in allowance prices is a testament to the leadership of the RGGI states,” said Peter Shattuck, Director of Acadia Center’s Clean Energy Initiative. “By following through on proposed reforms, the nine RGGI states can demonstrate the power of bipartisan action to address climate change.”

Information on RGGI’s performance to date can be found in Acadia Center’s latest RGGI Status Report:

 

Additional information on the benefits of RGGI can be found at https://www.cleanenergyeconomy.us/

RGGI Overview:
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is the first mandatory, market-based effort in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Nine northeastern and mid-Atlantic states reduce CO2 emissions by setting an overall limit on emissions “allowances,” which permit power plants to dispose of CO2 in the atmosphere. States sell allowances through auctions and invest proceeds in consumer benefit programs: energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other programs.

The official RGGI web site is: www.rggi.org


Media Contacts:

Jordan Stutt, Policy Analyst, Clean Energy Initiative
jstutt@acadiacenter.org, 617-742-0054 x105

Peter Shattuck, Director, Clean Energy Initiative
pshattuck@acadiacenter.org, 617-742-0054 x103

Massachusetts Joins Other States in Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Announcing Plan to Reduce Emissions by Additional 30 Percent over 2020 Levels

The consortium has been lauded for its success in achieving carbon dioxide emissions reductions and extensive investment in clean energy technology. A 2016 report by the Acadia Center found RGGI states reduced emissions by 16 percent more than other states while energy prices fell by an average of 3.4 percent. The regional permit auctions have generated more than $2.7 billion in proceeds used to build a cleaner energy system, and healthcare cost savings from emissions reductions are estimated to be nearly $6 billion.

Read the full article from The National Law Review here.

The Climate Post: Harvey Shines Light on Issue of Climate Change

Program advocates point to several studies suggesting the program’s success, reported the Boston Globe. One by the Acadia Center in 2016 found that RGGI states reduced emissions by 16 percent more than other states, while growing the region’s economy 3.6 percent more than the rest of the country. At the same time, energy prices in RGGI states fell by an average of 3.4 percent, while electricity rates in other states rose by 7.2 percent.

States Dare to Think Big on Climate Change

Even as emissions have come down, electricity rates have fallen by an average of 3.4 percent in the nine states, according to the Acadia Center, an energy research and advocacy organization. And the economies of the nine states have grown faster than the economy of the rest of the country.

 

Read the full editorial at The New York Times here

Our Opinion: Massachusetts allies make it easier to breathe

While a number of environmental groups had advocated for deeper emissions reductions over the past year, all expressed support of the agreement, with Peter Shattuck, director of the Acadia Center, a Boston-based advocacy group, telling The Boston Globe “This is what climate leadership looks like.” Significantly, the New England Power Generators Association (NEPGA), which has opposed emissions reduction mandates for not considering the burden on its members, praised the new agreement, as it has the RGGI in general. “Market-based programs provide the most efficient, competitive, and lowest-risk way to address climate change,” said NEPGA President Dan Dolan in The Globe.

[…]

The Acadia Club [sic] has found that RGGI states have reduced their emissions by 16 percent more than other states while seeing economic growth of 3.6 percent more than those states. Energy prices fell by an average of 3.4 percent while rising by an average of 7.2 percent in non-RGGI states. Those numbers are backed by the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations. The Cambridge, Ma.-based consulting group Abt Associates said in The Globe that it estimates the the RGGI has resulted in the saving of as many as 800 lives, reduced asthma attacks by bout 8,000 and saved as much as $6 billion in health care costs.

Read the full editorial from the Berkshire Eagle here.

Chris Christie Has Plenty to Be Embarrassed About, But This One Really Matters

Contrary to what Christie said in 2011, New Jersey has lost money as a result of exiting RGGI. The state lost out on $130 million in proceeds from auctions where RGGI sells emissions permits and could miss out on another $359 million by the end of 2020 if it doesn’t rejoin, according to estimates by the Acadia Center think tank. If the sum of that money were invested in energy efficiency programs, as RGGI is designed to facilitate, New Jersey would save 15.3 million megawatt hours of electricity, more than all the power produced by the state’s coal-fired plants from 2010 to 2012.

[…]

The nine remaining states are deciding between three different options to ramp up the rate at which RGGI reduces emissions. But the states are split between those who want the most ambitious target, such as New York and Massachusetts, and those that want the more modest choice, including Maine and New Hampshire. The difference in cost between the most and least ambitious targets comes out to less than one-tenth of one penny more per kilowatt hour of electricity over the current standard, yet the impact would be huge. Choosing the most aggressive reduction rate would avoid 99 million short tons of carbon dioxide emissions, according to the Acadia Center.

Read the full article from Mother Jones here.