California Cap and Trade scores big marketplace wins

by Silvio Marcacci.

Painted California flag
Painted California flag image via Shutterstock.

California’s cap and trade market will expand in 2014 after a successful first year of operations that quelled fears of a European Union-style carbon allowance glut while powering a clean energy economic boom.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced a minimum of 81 million 2014 allowances and 37 million 2017 allowances will be auctioned during 2014, and the minimum reserve price for allowances will be set at $11.34.

2014’s available allowances and minimum reserve price are both increases over this year, when 57 million available 2013 allowances sold at a minimum reserve price of $10.71. But beyond increasing the number and cost of permits, several other developments suggest California’s carbon market will have an even more successful second year of operation.

Carbon Market Success In 2013 Leads Into 2014

Before looking ahead to 2014, it’s worth recapping exactly how the state’s carbon market performed in 2013. CARB held the system’s fourth quarterly 2013 auction last month, selling over 16 million 2013 allowances at $11.48 and over 9 million 2016 allowances at $11.10.

Three positive angles stick out from these auction results. First, all available 2013 allowances sold during the auction while nearly two bids were received for every one available allowance, meaning strong demand exists among bidders. While the November auction’s allowance price was the lowest of the four auctions held this year, it was still significantly higher than the minimum reserve.

Second, all future allowances sold out for the second auction in a row, at the highest clearing price yet for future vintage allowances. With demand and prices rising, California’s carbon market also shows strong future interest from bidders and stabilizes the system moving forward.

Third, the carbon allowance auctions continued to plow revenue into the state’s clean energy economy. $1.4 billion in total auction revenue has been raised, with more than $530 million dedicated to cutting emissions or funding renewables, including $130 million for clean energy projects in low-income communities.

Market Developments Allay Instability Fears

Just like with any start-up, California’s cap and trade system experienced a few growing pains in 2013, but two new developments should allay fears of market instability.

To start, California’s Superior Court ruled the system is within its legal authority to use auctions as a mechanism to sell allowances into the market. The decision dismissed a lawsuit by polluters who argued all permits should be distributed for free. While the ruling may be challenged, it does set a reassuring precedent.

California Carbon Dashboard
California Carbon Dashboard image via CalCarbonDash.org.

In addition to legal authority, daily system interactions should become much clearer thanks to the California Carbon Dashboard, an online resource created to track carbon prices and system news. The website also aggregates CARB announcements, emissions levels by sector, and system interaction with other state policies to provide market participants the clearest possible picture.

Biggest Impact Could Come Outside California

But California cap and trade’s 2014 fortunes won’t only be made internally. The system’s biggest gains will most likely come through linkages to other global carbon markets, and could ultimately make it the center of the world’s second international cap and trade system.

On January 1, 2014, California will formally link its system with Quebec’s nascent cap and trade system. This move will establish North America’s first international carbon market and allow market participants to trade allowances and offset credits across both jurisdictions. By 2020, the linkage is expected to generate at least $2.5 billion for clean energy in Quebec.

California also recently signed a formal agreement to link its climate policies with British Columbia, Oregon, and Washington. Under the plan, California will maintain its cap and trade system while British Columbia keeps its carbon tax. Together, they’ll link where possible, and coordinate with carbon markets being considered in Oregon and Washington.

The state also now has a formal relationship with China to work together on cutting emissions by designing and implementing synchronized carbon trading systems. China is in the middle of launching seven regional carbon markets that once fully operational, will be the largest in the world.

California Cap And Trade: Key To Climate Victory?

As international carbon markets start to develop around the world, California’s success is becoming a model for emulation that could transform the state from the epicenter of America’s clean tech market to the centerpiece of the fight against climate change.

We’re fast approaching the world’s carbon budget, but considering carbon markets cut emissions 17 times cheaper than subsidies, California cap and trade may just hold the key to climate victory.

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This article, California Cap And Trade Expanding In 2014 After Successful 2013, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Silvio MarcacciSilvio Marcacci Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate-focused public relations company based in Washington, D.C.

US Cities In Which The Fewest People Drive To Work

by Nicholas Brown

Percentage of commutes done by bike, public transportation, and foot.
Percentage of commutes done by bike, public transportation, and foot.Image Credit: IQC.

The US is such a large country, that it has co-cultures and is almost like multiple countries in one. As a part of that, people’s habits and the accessibility of transportation options vary significantly throughout the country.

For example, in Oklahoma City, only 2.2% of people travel to work without cars. Tulsa and Fort Worth are tied just an edge above that. Notably, Tulsa is also in Oklahoma – its second-largest city. Meanwhile, in New York City, 67% of people travel to work without cars. It’s a world of difference.

Leading the nation at 67%, NYC’s subway system and density are surely big parts of that. There is also the fact that intense congestion (largely a result of high density) in some parts of the city can deter people from driving, as they don’t appreciate long waits in traffic.

The Institute For Quality Communities, which is at the University of Oklahoma, gathered data from Census metrics of how Americans usually travel to work to come to  the above conclusions. Here are more of their findings:

Next are charts where it is broken down by region and individual mode share.

Here’s the Northeast & Mid-Atlantic:

Image Credit: IQC.
Image Credit: IQC.

The Midwest:

chart-3
Image Credit: IQC.

The Southeast:

chart-4
Image Credit: IQC.

Finally, here are cities where bike transportation increased significantly over the last decade:

chart-5
Image Credit: IQC.

Congratulations to these cities for their strong and effective support for bicycling. Let’s see if these cities can surpass New York’s public transportation usage rate someday!

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This article, US Cities In Which The Fewest People Drive To Work, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Nicholas Brown has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, geography, and much more. My website is: Kompulsa.

North American West Coast Governments Sign Climate Change Pact

by Silvio Marcacci

Pacific Coast Collaborative logo via Pacific Coast Collaborative
Pacific Coast Collaborative

They say the West Coast is the best coast, and as of today, that’s definitely true in the fight against climate change.

The leaders of British Columbia, California, Oregon, and Washington just formally joined forces to reduce emissions and transition toward renewables by signing the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy, committing to link and maintain their respective climate and renewable energy policies.

This news is significant on multiple fronts, but mainly for the sheer size of its jurisdiction: three US states and one Canadian province that collectively represent 53 million people and a combined gross domestic product of $2.8 trillion – essentially the world’s 5th largest economy and now, the world’s largest green economy.

West Coast-Style Climate Change Action

Today’s agreement is part of the Pacific Coast Collaborative, which includes the four governments plus Alaska, formed to provide a co-operative forum on policy challenges facing the North American West Coast like clean energy, transportation, economic growth, and emergency management.

The four jurisdictions will account for the costs of carbon pollution and when feasible, link their respective clean energy programs to create a stable policy outlook to encourage investment. The plan also commits to adopting and maintaining low-carbon fuel standards across all jurisdictions, and pledges to work toward additional linkages across other North American states and provinces.

“This Action Plan represents the best of what Pacific Coast governments are already doing and calls on each of us to do more together to create jobs by leading in the clean energy economy,” said Washington Governor Jay Inslee.

California’s cap-and-trade system has sold out of all available current permits in each of its four allowance auctions and will link to Quebec’s carbon market on January 1, 2014. British Columbia has maintained a C$30/ton carbon tax for the past five years while working toward a 33% emissions reduction by 2020 goal.

Both governments will maintain their existing programs, and Oregon and Washington have now committed to explore similar policies. Those emissions reductions goals and mechanisms are yet to be determined, but Inslee has said he supports a cap-and-trade system in Washington while Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has called for a price on carbon.

Under the action plan, the jurisdictions agreed to harmonize their 2050 emissions reduction goals while developing shorter-term targets in the interim – certainly a requisite first step toward any kind of larger linkage, but still a long way off considering formal emissions reduction policies would likely require statewide ballot approval.

Toward Green Economies And Global Emissions Cuts

Regardless, today’s action shows the kind of political action that happens when climate policy turns into green jobs. “We are already seeing how our commitment to clean energy is changing the face and fortune of our state, accounting for $5 billion in economic activity and 58,000 jobs,” said Kitzhaber. “Transitioning to a clean economy creates jobs.”

And the West Coast’s climate action could soon have international repercussions. All four signatories said they would work with other national and sub-national governments to secure a global climate change agreement in 2015. With 60 carbon pricing systems either in operation or under development around the world, today’s action could be the biggest sign yet of a truly international carbon market.

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This article, North American West Coast Governments Sign Climate Change Pact, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Silvio Marcacci Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate-focused public relations company based in Washington, D.C.

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Over 50% Of Electric Cars Sold In US Are In 5 Cities

by Nicholas Brown — Special to JBS News

You have probably heard of certain cities which have particularly high electric car ownership rates, often due to their generous incentives. Can you name which five cities have over 50% of the electric cars sold in the US?

los angeles

Image Credit: Los Angeles via Shutterstock

Here’s the list:

  1. Los Angeles, California
  2. San Francisco, California
  3. New York City
  4. Seattle, Washington
  5. Atlanta, Georgia

Georgia offers a tax credit for electric vehicles that is equal to 20% of the vehicle’s cost, up to a maximum amount of $5,000. California has many charging stations, which might have contributed to its presence in the list above, but it also offers a $2,500 incentive for electric vehicles. (The charging stations may just be in place due to the high electric car ownership in the state… it’s that whole chicken & egg question again.)

New York City has its own EV policies that surely helped stimulate EV adoption a bit, but the fact that it is the largest city in the US (by far) is also surely a factor.

Image Credits: San FranciscoLos Angeles via Shutterstock

American University Honored as Business Leader for Energy Efficiency

Image courtesy: American University, Washington, DC
Image courtesy: American University, Washington, DC

American University is recognized for its commitment to improve campus-wide energy efficiency

DC SEU PRESS RELEASE: July 15, 2013 (Washington, DC) – Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) has recognized American University (AU) as a 2013 Business Leader in Energy Efficiency. Nominated by the DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DC SEU), AU was honored for its green building policies and continued efforts to advance campus-wide energy efficiency.

With assistance from the DC SEU, AU completed a major lighting retrofit to modernize Bender Arena, home to the university’s NCAA athletics programs and host to commencement exercises, concerts, and world renowned speakers. The improved lighting and controls in Bender Arena cut energy use by more than 350 MWh per year and reduce the cooling necessary when the gym is in use for a total of more than $50,000 in annual cost savings.

“We’re committed to reducing energy consumption in the District of Columbia,” said Ted Trabue, Managing Director of the DC SEU. “Dedicated partners like American University are leading the way by example.”

AU has pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2020. A leading strategy is to reduce campus-wide energy consumption. In addition to retrofits in Bender Arena, the university is currently working with the DC SEU to upgrade lighting in three parking garages and to make HVAC improvements to the American University Library, which will reduce energy use and increase occupant comfort. AU has also adopted a green building policy requiring that all new buildings meet or exceed LEED® gold standards and is one of only three universities in the world that is currently working on a large-scale LEED volume project to certify 25 existing buildings on campus.

“Sustainability, carbon neutrality…these are all issues that are on the national agenda,” said David Osborne, the Director of Energy and Engineering at American University. “From that standpoint, not only is it good business sense, but it’s also the politically and socially responsible thing to do.”

American University was recognized along with 11 other Northeast Energy Efficiency Business Leaders, including Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, ESPN, and Anheuser Busch at the 2013 Northeast Energy Efficiency Summit. Watch the video to see American University’s beautiful campus and learn more.

ABOUT AMERICAN UNIVERSITY

American University is a leader in global education, enrolling a diverse student body from throughout the United States and nearly 140 countries. Located in Washington, D.C., the university provides opportunities for academic excellence, public service, and internships in the nation’s capital and around the world.

ABOUT the DC SEU

The DC SEU helps District residents and businesses save energy and money through energy efficiency and renewable energy services.  For more information on the DC SEU, visit http://www.dcseu.com, or contact Hanna Grene at 202-309-3839 or hgrene@dcseu.com.

ABOUT NEEP

NEEP was founded in 1996 as a non-profit whose mission is to serve the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic to accelerate energy efficiency in the building sector through public policy, program strategies and education. For more information visit www.neep.org.