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02/08/2013

Comments

Matthew Thomas Howell

This article is a response to a previous article featured by env-econ.net that was initially a NY Times article (http://www.env-econ.net/2013/01/northeast-faces-stark-choice-on-climate-pollution-nytimescom.html). The first article addresses the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and its current success. It then goes on to explain the possibility that the cap on the emissions would actually be raised, which is counterintuitive and detrimental. This second article is a joking response to the first article that claimed a higher emissions cap would be put into place. This article cites specific sources that actually claim the cap will be reduced in coming years. The lower cap is needed to continue making progress toward lower emissions and a cleaner environment.

Cort Hammond

The full press release linked in the article includes a number of other changes to the program. Apparently, they have added a protocol for companies that want to offset their carbon emissions with forestry.

Further on in the document, the major benefits of the RGGI program are listed. They claim that the revenue from the first 3 years of the program generated $1.6 billion in net economic benefit by the end of the next decade. The net economic benefit is consumer + producer surplus. I have to wonder how this was calculated (and extrapolated). Also, it is claimed that the program creates 16000 job-year in the region. This was the first time I have come across the term "job-year" (perhaps this makes be ignorant), this clearly a much better measurement of job creation than the pure number of jobs since a 1 year job is not equivalent to a 10 year job. Also, it is incredible to think that all of these reductions (45% below 2005 levels!) only come with an approximate increase in electricity bills of 1%.

Perhaps the most intriguing fact is that the report barely mentions climate change, only listing that a benefit of the program is "community climate protection". The focus is clearly on painting this as an effort to improve efficiency, innovation, and air quality. This illustrates an important step in selling the idea of a carbon trading program: the focus must be on efficiency; climate change is still lacking in the views of the public as a reason on its own to put a price on carbon.

Of course, this is great news; the ongoing success of a carbon trading program (in sprite of economic stress) seems proof enough that the US is ready for a carbon emissions trading program and that such a program would not only lower greenhouse gas emissions, but also increase innovation and efficiency. The fact that companies did not manage to lobby RGGI into relenting on its cap, may be an indicator that a national program would have the same resilience.

Jonathan Stutts

I think Cort makes a great point after looking through the actual RGGI press release - this certainly represents a bright spot in the ongoing battle against pollution and climate change. Personally, I like the fact that air quality held weight in the decision to reduce, rather than increase, the carbon cap. We know that there are adverse health effects from poor air quality but often times overlook the direct impact on our own bodies (along with the planet). Assuming there was actual debate on whether to raise or lower the cap, the report's mention of air quality shows (in my mind at least) that communities are becoming more proactive and aware of the negative externalities of releasing greenhouse gases. Hopefully we can scale this up to the national level sometime soon

Sasha Doss

I really like the point Cort makes about examining the carbon trading program in the context of efficiency versus that of climate change. Clearly both are important, but I agree people and companies are more likely to jump on the bandwagon named efficiency. I am certainly glad RGGI decided to lower the emissions cap, and I like the other improvements they made as well, especially the “flexible cost containment mechanism.” I’m not sure if a form of that mechanism was included in earlier plans, but I think companies will look favorably on that addition. I also like that RGGI held a number of stakeholder meetings, stakeholders including companies responsible for lowering emissions. Some of the numbers they cite, such as the less than one per cent electric bill increase for consumers, seems unlikely, but if everyone was involved in the stakeholder meetings, these numbers seem slightly more believable. Presumably, RGGI knows the consequences of setting emissions at its future cap. All in all, I think the decision to lower the emissions cap seems mutually beneficial to the climate and the market.

Shawn Swaney

This coalition of states, as the source article and some background research suggest, are based mostly in the Northeastern part of the United States and some parts of Canada. While reducing the cap on carbon emissions is good in theory, I wonder as to how specialized the CGGI is to the specific emission trends in the Northeast. In my opinion, to be able to significantly reduce carbon emissions, this cap would have to be national. The specialization of the cap to the Northeastern states could prove less useful for other states on the western coast or anywhere else in the nation for that matter.

Daniel Molon

This article states how instead of raising the RGGI’s carbon emissions cap, as was previously mentioned in an earlier article, it was decided to decrease the cap from 165 million tons to 91 million tons by 2020. They plan on accomplishing this by reducing the cap by 2.5 percent per year until 2020. What this fails to mention is New Jersey withdrawing from the RGGI, and how significant they are to contributing carbon emissions in the northeast. With New Jersey’s carbon emissions no longer being relegated by the RGGI, the true reduction in carbon emissions this plan proposes is much less than it appears. Also, if New Jersey does happen to do minimal carbon emissions, then this drastic of a decrease in carbon emissions could greatly influence businesses to relocate to less environmentally-friendly states or countries. While this would in effect reduce our carbon emissions, because this is just a regional regulatory body, its effectiveness is limited, and could hurt the northeast’s economy is businesses decide that these regulations are too detrimental to their business.

Jspencer

John Whitehead’s short tongue-in-cheek article discusses the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) current goals to reduce anthropogenic sources of climate change, primarily carbon dioxide emission associated with energy production. It was postulated in a previous article that the RGGI would actually raise the cap for carbon dioxide emissions, completely undermining the mission statement at RGGI and creating angst amongst environmentalists in the region. These rumors were put to rest however, as the RGGI recently released a report of new goals for tightened restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions, reducing the 2014 CO2 budget by over 40% (from 165→91 mil. tons). Echoing what my peers have said, tightening the 2014 budget not only improves C02 emissions in 2014, but also has far-reaching implications on CO2 emissions through 2020 because emissions caps from are set to decrease by 2.5% each year from 2015-2020 based on the 2014 cap. Let’s say, for example, that the RGGI did NOT reduce the 2014 budget, and kept the emissions cap at 165milllion tons. The total CO2 emission from 2014-2020 would be ~1,072million tons! Now compare that with the total CO2 emissions with the new adjusted budget of 91million tons and the total is ~591million tons of CO2. That’s a difference of over 481 million tons of CO2 emissions from 2014-2020. This recent cap adjustment by the RGGI took really shows their proactive mission towards reducing carbon emissions and took a giant step, a lead that I believe many companies around the country should follow.

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