U.S. States & Regions
States and regions across the country are adopting climate policies, including the development of regional greenhouse gas reduction markets, the creation of state and local climate action and adaptation plans, and increasing renewable energy generation. Read More
Statement of Eileen Claussen
President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
January 24, 2012
We share President Obama’s enthusiasm for homegrown solutions to America’s energy challenges. Without question, America has the resources and know-how to produce more energy at home, strengthening both our economy and our national security. But protecting the climate also has to be part of the equation. If we sensitively develop domestic reserves, get serious about ramping up new energy sources, and push efficiency across the board, we can both meet America’s energy needs and dramatically shrink our carbon footprint.
Even if comprehensive legislation remains off the table for now, we can make important progress tackling these challenges piece by piece. C2ES is working with policymakers and stakeholders on ways to expand enhanced oil recovery using captured carbon dioxide – an approach that can boost domestic oil production while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Similarly, we’re working with automakers, environmentalists and others on a plan for integrating plug-in electric vehicles into the U.S. electrical grid. We look forward to sharing the results of these and other C2ES initiatives aimed at practical solutions to our twin climate and energy challenges.
Contact: Tom Steinfeldt, 703-516-4146
Read the full transcript of the 2012 State of the Union Address
The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) was named the world’s top environmental think tank in a global survey of top public policy research institutes.
The University of Pennsylvania’s 2011 Global Go-To Think Tank Rankings are based on a survey of more than 1,500 policymakers, scholars, journalists, think-tank executives and others worldwide. The survey assessed more than 5,300 organizations nominated in 30 categories to create a global list of top think tanks by region and policy area.
C2ES’s predecessor organization, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, was named the world’s top environmental think tank in the same survey in 2009. The center began operating as C2ES in November 2011, and is listed in the new survey under its former name.
“While our name has changed, we remain as committed as ever to fact-based analysis and common-sense solutions to our climate and energy challenges,” said C2ES President Eileen Claussen. “We are thrilled to again be recognized as the world’s top environmental think tank. I’d like to commend the C2ES staff and thank all of our partners and supporters in the United States and abroad for helping to make this possible.”
The independent, nonpartisan center provides impartial information and analysis on energy and climate challenges; convenes policymakers and stakeholders to work toward consensus solutions; works with members of its Business Environmental Leadership Council and others to promote on-the-ground action; and promotes pragmatic, effective climate and energy policies at the state, national and international levels.
The annual survey, first published in 2007, is directed by James G. McGann, assistant director of the University of Pennsylvania’s International Relations Program and director of the Think Tanks and Civil Society Program.
The World Resources Institute and Chatham House ranked second and third, respectively, among the study’s top 30 environmental groups. Brookings Institution was named the top overall think tank. Additional categories in which the report ranks organizations include health policy, international development, and security and international affairs, among others.
The complete study, released in January 2012, is available online here.
More about C2ES's work to advance climate and energy solutions can be found here.
Yesterday, EPA announced the public release of reported greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from large facilities across the country. Under legislation signed by President George W. Bush, most large sources of GHG emissions, including refineries, power plants, chemical plants, car manufacturers, and factories emitting more than 25,000 tons of CO2 equivalent a year, have been reporting their annual emissions electronically to EPA since 2010, while small sources are specifically exempted from the rule. Now, in accordance with the law, EPA is making that data public.
Some similar information was public already. Power plants have been required to report their CO2 emissions since the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, while many other companies have voluntarily reported their emissions through programs like the Carbon Disclosure Project
Statement of Eileen Claussen
President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
January 11, 2012
We’ve seen before that what you measure, you can manage. Two decades ago, when EPA published the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), the public, policymakers and business all got a better handle on toxic emissions across the U.S. and how to reduce them. We can expect similar results now that EPA is publishing greenhouse gas data from major emitters. Businesses shrinking their carbon footprints will have a metric credible with the public. Clean technology developers will know who and where their potential customers are. Policymakers will know better how to develop policies that reduce emissions while contributing to economic growth. Simply getting this data out is an important step in tackling climate change.
Click here for more on EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule.
Click here for a related blog post.
Contact: Tom Steinfeldt, 703-516-4146
For the second year in a row, unprecedented numbers of extreme weather events have occurred across the globe. However, more of 2011’s impacts occurred in the United States. From the drought in Texas to the floods in the Midwest and Northeast, this past year underscored the huge economic costs associated with extreme weather. While specific weather events are not solely caused by climate change, the risks of droughts, floods, extreme precipitation events, and heat waves are already climbing as a result of climate change. This year reminded us of our vulnerability to those events.
C2ES's December 2011 features updates from the 17th annual Conference of the Parties (COP17) in Durban, South Africa, policy options for a clean energy standard, a blog post on the landmark new fuel economy standards, and more.
On September 27, 2006, then Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, or AB 32. The law seeks to fight climate change through a comprehensive program reducing GHG emissions from virtually all sources statewide. The Act requires the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to develop regulations and market mechanisms that will cut the state’s GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020—a 25% reduction statewide. AB 32 requires CARB to take a variety of actions aimed at reducing the state’s impact on the climate.
AB 32 authorizes CARB to use market mechanisms as part of its portfolio of carbon-cutting policies, and on December 17, 2010 CARB decided to pursue a cap-and-trade program. The Board formally adopted the proposed cap-and-trade rule on October 20, 2011. The program is scheduled to begin in 2012, though the compliance period does not begin until 2013. The program places a GHG limit that will decrease by two percent each year through 2015 and by three percent from 2015 through 2020. The cap-and-trade rules will first apply to some of the major emitters—utilities and large industrial plants. In 2015, the rules will apply to fuel distributors as well, eventually totaling 360 businesses throughout California. The market will begin with a distribution of free allowances to regulated businesses. The portion of emissions covered by these free allowances will vary by industry, but generally will account for approximately 90 percent of the business’s overall emissions and this percentage will decline over time. For any additional emissions, the business must purchase the necessary allowances at a quarterly auction or from an entity that has excess allowances. Offsets are also allowed for up to eight percent of a business’s compliance obligation. California’s cap and trade program is scheduled to link with programs in Ontario, British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec through the Western Climate Initiative.
Main C2ES California Cap-and-Tade Page
California Cap-and-Trade Program Summary Table (pdf)
California Cap-and-Trade Home
California Cap-and-Trade Rule
Summary of California Cap-and-Trade Rule
Western Climate Initiative
C2ES Regional Initiatives Page
Association of Irritated Residents, et al. v. California Air Resources Board
In December 2010, a number of environmental justice associations, including the Association of Irritated Residents (AIR), challenged the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) selection of a cap-and-trade program as a major element in reaching AB 32’s emission target . AIR’s lawsuit alleged that CARB violated key requirements of AB 32 and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). In March 2011, a Superior Court of California judge ruled that CARB had not sufficiently considered alternatives to a cap-and-trade program and had approved and implemented its plan before completing the necessary environmental impact review (EIR) in violation of CEQA. CARB was ordered to revise its analysis of cap-and-trade alternatives, but was found not be in violation of AB 32. In June 2011, a California Court of Appeal granted CARB a stay to continue implementation of its cap-and-trade program. After the March decision CARB further analyzed alternatives to cap-and-trade, and in December 2011 this revised analysis was accepted as sufficient to fulfill the trial court’s March order. This leaves CARB in the clear to continue implementation. However, AIR has pledged to appeal the March decision that cap-and-trade does not violate AB 32, claiming it does not provide the maximum feasible and cost-effective greenhouse gas reductions.
Other AB 32 Elements
Prepare a Scoping Plan
- CARB was required to prepare a scoping plan to achieve the “maximum technologically feasible and cost-effective” reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
- In December 2008, the Air Resources Board approved a scoping plan that will achieve emission reductions through regulations, market mechanisms, and other actions geared toward the emissions of several economic sectors.
- AB 32 required CARB to determine 1990 greenhouse gas emissions levels to serve as the 2020 emissions reduction target.
- In December 2007, 427 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2e) was established as the 1990 emissions level and 2020 reduction limit.
- California emitted 474 MMTCO2e in 2008 and would be projected to emit 507 MMTCO2e in the absence of AB 32.
- AB 32 mandated the reporting of greenhouse gas emissions throughout the state.
- In December 2007, the California Air Resources board adopted regulations requiring the state’s largest industrial sources to report and verify their emissions.
CARB Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting Home Page
Early Action Measures
- AB 32 authorized the California Air Resources Board to identify discrete early action areas that could be enforced by 2010.
- In 2007, CARB identified nine early action areas and proposed regulations for motor vehicle fuels (through the low carbon fuel standard – see below), landfill methane capture, mobile air conditioning, semiconductors, the fuel efficiency of heavy-duty tractors, tire pressure, and high global warming potential (GWP) gases in consumer products.
CARB Early Action Items Home Page
Low Carbon Fuel Standard
- With the transportation sector accounting for 40 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions and with petroleum-based fuels meeting 96 percent of transportation needs, Governor Schwarzenegger issued Executive Order S-01-07 on January 18, 2007, authorizing a Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS).
- The LCFS calls for at least a 10 percent reduction in the carbon intensity of California’s transportation fuels by 2020.
- The LCFS was challenged in court and was blocked on December 29, 2011. CARB appealed the decision and is allowed to enforce the LCFS while the appeal is pending.
- Ensure voluntary early reductions receive appropriate credit.
- Establish an Environmental Justice Advisory Committee (EJAC) to advise CARB on implementing AB 32.
- Establish an Economic and Technology Advancement Advisory Committee (ETAAC) to make scientific and technical recommendations on greenhouse gas reduction measures.
November 16, 2011
On E&E TV's OnPoint, Eileen Claussen discusses goals of the newly-launched Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) and assesses the current state of energy policy talks in Washington. Claussen also gives her views on the Obama administration's handling of energy policy. Click here to watch the interview.
Click here for additional details on C2ES.
November 17, 2011
Contact: Tom Steinfeldt, 703-516-4146
NEW PAPER DETAILS OPTIONS FOR CLEAN ENERGY STANDARDS
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions and the Regulatory Assistance Project
Explore State & Federal Policy Alternatives
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A well-designed clean energy standard (CES) can create new industries, diversify U.S. electricity supplies, and reduce air pollution, according to a new paper released today by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) and the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP).
The paper, Clean Energy Standards: State and Federal Policy Options and Implications, examines issues and options in designing a clean energy standard – a policy that requires electric utilities to deliver a certain amount of electricity from clean energy sources. The paper’s aim is to help policymakers, utility regulators, and other stakeholders better understand how a CES works, its potential benefits, and the implications of different national- and state-level policy options.
“We stand at a crossroads in America’s energy landscape,” said Eileen Claussen, President of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. “Transitioning to a cleaner, more diverse energy supply is necessary to grow new energy industries at home, limit our exposure to fuel-price volatility and regulatory risk, and reduce the greenhouse gases contributing to global climate change. A well-designed clean energy standard can help drive a major shift toward innovative U.S. energy solutions.”
Thirty-one states now have some form of renewable or alternative energy portfolio standard. Yet in the absence of significant new policies, according to the paper, the share of U.S. electricity coming from clean energy sources is unlikely to increase more than a few percentage points in the next 25 years. At the national level, Republican-sponsored CES bills were introduced in the last Congress and President Obama called for a federal CES in his 2011 State of the Union address.
“The CES idea is relatively new, and this paper will facilitate a broader and better-informed discussion of a CES at the state and federal levels,” said Richard Sedano, Director of U.S. Programs for the Regulatory Assistance Project. “Cleaning up the electric power sector is a challenge of monumental proportions, but we’ve already seen the power of renewable portfolio standards and CES policies in many states and feel certain that even more progress can be made.”
Among the key issues for policymakers is defining “clean energy.” Options include renewables; highly efficient natural gas combined cycle generation; fossil fuel generation with carbon capture and storage (CCS); nuclear power; and electricity savings from efficiency and conservation. By allowing utilities flexibility to choose among energy sources, the paper notes, a CES can minimize cost impacts on electricity consumers. A CES can also limit utilities’ and consumers’ exposure to fuel-price volatility by diversifying electricity supplies, and spur growth and jobs in clean energy industries.
For more information about the climate and energy challenge and the activities of the C2ES, visit www.C2ES.org.
The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent non-profit, non-partisan organization promoting strong policy and action to address the twin challenges of energy and climate change. Launched in November 2011, C2ES is the successor to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, long recognized in the United States and abroad as an influential and pragmatic voice on climate issues. C2ES is led by Eileen Claussen, who previously led the Pew Center and is the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.
About the Regulatory Assistance Project
The Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP) is a global, non-profit team of experts focused on the long-term economic and environmental sustainability of the power and natural gas sectors. We provide technical and policy assistance on regulatory and market policies that promote economic efficiency, environmental protection, system reliability and the fair allocation of system benefits among consumers. We have worked extensively in the US since 1992 and in China since 1999. We added programs and offices in the European Union in 2009 and plan to offer similar services in India in the near future.
Written in conjunction with the Regulatory Assistance Project, this discussion paper examines the policy options and implications for a clean energy standard (CES).
A transition from conventional fossil fueled electricity generation to clean energy offers several benefits—particularly the growth of new clean energy industries and associated jobs, diversification of energy supply, and reductions in the public health and environmental damages (especially from air pollution) associated with conventional electricity generation.
The current status of clean energy generation depends on how one defines clean energy. While there is no universally agreed upon definition of clean energy in the power sector, various stakeholders endorse some or all of the following as at least partially clean energy options: highly efficient natural gas combined cycle generation; fossil fuel use coupled with carbon capture and storage (CCS); nuclear power; renewables; and electricity savings from energy efficiency and conservation. These generation sources provide about half of U.S. electricity today. While market dynamics and current state and federal policies have led to recent growth in clean energy generation—such as the growth in renewable generation driven in part by state renewable electricity portfolio standards—projections for the power sector indicate that, absent significant new policies to promote clean energy, the status quo in terms of power generation will continue largely unchanged for at least the next quarter century.
Given the benefits of clean energy and the dependence of substantial growth in clean energy generation on new policies, policymakers have lately turned their attention to the idea of a clean energy standard (CES). A CES is a type of electricity portfolio standard that would set aggregate targets for the level of clean energy that electric utilities would need to sell while giving electric utilities flexibility by: (1) defining clean energy more broadly than just renewables, and (2) allowing for market-based credit trading to facilitate lower-cost compliance. As a concept, a CES builds on the successful experience of the majority of states that have implemented renewable and alternative energy portfolio standards and draws on a history of federal policy deliberation regarding national electricity portfolio standards.
States could pursue new CES policies singly or jointly to create multi-state programs. State CES programs could complement existing state renewable portfolio standards, and a CES may be a promising option in states where more narrowly defined renewable electricity policies have had less appeal. A handful of states have already enacted electricity portfolio standards that have many of the attributes of a CES.
The federal government could also enact a national CES. A federal CES has recently received bipartisan support, with several Republican Senators sponsoring federal CES proposals in the last Congress and President Obama endorsing a federal CES in his 2011 State of the Union address. While the prospects for near-term enactment of a federal CES are uncertain, a federal CES has received substantial attention and warrants close consideration by stakeholders.
This paper introduces stakeholders to the concept of a CES, explains how a CES works, describes the benefits that a CES can deliver, and explores federal and subnational options for CES policies. This paper also explores some of the nuances of CES policy design and the implications of different design choices. This discussion can help both state and federal policymakers, utility regulators, and other stakeholders decide whether a CES is an appealing option and to help state stakeholders understand the potential impacts of a federal CES on their states so that they might formulate and communicate federal CES policy design preferences.
Several of the paper’s key points are summarized below.
- Absent significant new policies to promote clean energy, the share of total U.S. electricity generation obtained from clean energy sources will likely not increase by more than a few percentage points over the next 25 years.
- Substantial increases in clean energy generation can offer important benefits, including:
- Growth of new clean energy industries and associated jobs—e.g., wind turbine manufacturing, solar panel installation, and nuclear power plant construction;
- Diversification of energy supply to limit electric utilities’ and ratepayers’ exposure to fuel price volatility and regulatory risk associated with particular energy sources;
- Mitigation of environmental and public health impacts from electricity generation—including criteria and hazardous air pollutants, greenhouse gases emissions that contribute to climate change, and other impacts.
- A CES is a promising policy for spurring a transition to clean energy in the power sector.
- As a type of electricity portfolio standard, a CES sets requirements for the percentage of electricity sales that must be supplied from qualified clean energy sources and allows electric utilities to demonstrate compliance via tradable credits that they earn themselves for their own generation or buy from other electric utilities or clean energy generators.
- As a market-based policy, a CES can effectively increase clean energy generation and achieve associated benefits while offering substantial compliance flexibility for electric utilities thus minimizing impacts on electricity consumers.
- By broadly defining clean energy, a CES provides opportunities for utilities, states, and regions to exploit their unique mix of clean energy options.
- A CES program can build upon the success of existing electricity portfolio standards that a majority of states have already implemented, provided that the percentage targets are increased in proportion to the potential of newly eligible resources. If additional clean energy resources are allowed to qualify for an existing portfolio standard without increasing the targets, the mix of resources used to meet the standard and the resulting compliance costs may change, but the total amount of clean energy generation will not increase and the goals of the policy may not be furthered.
- At the state and federal levels, CES policies have attracted bipartisan support, including CES proposals from President Obama and Republicans in Congress.
- CES programs enacted by the federal government or by states singly or in coordination could spur incremental clean energy generation and deliver associated benefits.
- Federal CES proposals have attracted bipartisan support in previous years, but it is not clear if or when legislation to create a federal CES will move forward.
- States have already proven themselves to be policy innovators with respect to renewable electricity portfolio standards, and states may seek to reap the benefits of clean energy for themselves by implementing new CES policies—either singly or as part of multi-state programs.
- At least four states (Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia) already have electricity portfolio standards that credit cleaner, non-renewable energy sources, and Indiana has a similar but voluntary program. These states offer several lessons for future state or federal CES programs, including:
- Utilities tend to comply with electricity portfolio standards by deploying the lowest-cost qualified resources, so policymakers may need to include special provisions in a CES if they hope to provide a meaningful incentive for less commercially mature and higher-cost technologies.
- Policymakers can design CES programs that have very modest impacts on electricity rates.
- A combination of factors—including the policy’s target and the types of energy sources that qualify—determine how much incremental clean energy generation a CES program will deliver beyond “business as usual,” and policymakers should consider the interaction of such factors in developing a CES to ensure the program can meet their goals for additional clean energy generation.
- The net effects of a CES policy are a function of interrelated policy design decisions. Policymakers and stakeholders should understand CES policy design options and their interactions and implications. Policymakers and stakeholders might usefully evaluate a CES in terms of key criteria and think about implications of different policy design decisions in light of these criteria.
- Effectiveness – What is the magnitude of the policy’s desired impacts?
- CES targets set the requirements for overall clean energy generation.
- The degree to which a CES delivers the benefits associated with clean energy depends on how policymakers define qualified clean energy under the program.
- Certain policy design options (e.g., exemptions for certain utilities and alternative compliance payments) can have the effect of reducing a CES program’s effective target for incremental clean energy deployment.
- Policymakers may include provisions in a CES to provide particular incentives to certain technologies—e.g., less commercially mature or higher cost ones—in order to reap particular clean energy-related benefits.
- Cost-effectiveness – how efficiently does the policy achieve its intended aims?
- As a market-oriented policy, a CES is an inherently cost-effective program.
- Policymakers have several options for providing electric utilities with compliance flexibility under a CES (e.g., banking and borrowing of credits).
- In general, the more flexibility that utilities have for meeting clean energy targets (e.g., the more broadly clean energy is defined), the more cost-effective a CES program will be.
- Fairness – does the policy lead to any undue burdens or unearned windfalls for particular utilities, power generators, or regions and customers?
- Owing to a variety of factors, different electric utilities supply their customers with electricity from widely varying existing generation mixes. In addition, utilities, states, and regions have different cost-effective options for increasing clean energy generation (e.g., because of different renewable resource endowments).
- How policymakers set CES targets, treat new vs. existing clean energy generators, and define qualified clean energy sources determine how the effects of a CES program vary among different utilities, power generators, or customers.
- Effectiveness – What is the magnitude of the policy’s desired impacts?