California signs linkage agreement with Quebec, Releases updated AB 32 Scoping Plan draft

On October 1, 2013, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) made two announcements regarding state efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. First, CARB and the Government of Québec signed an agreement to officially link each jurisdiction’s cap-and-trade program beginning January 1, 2014. Second, CARB issued the first draft of its updated AB 32 Scoping Plan following the original 2008 Scoping Plan. The updated draft, which is available for public comment, details the state’s overall strategy for meeting the target to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, as defined by the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, or AB 32. Both announcements fulfill AB 32 provisions that require CARB to pursue regional linkages within the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) and update the Scoping Plan every five years.

Linking California’s cap-and-trade program with Quebec’s

Following CARB’s two-year review, California and Quebec officially agreed to link their cap-and-trade programs. Beginning in 2014, covered entities in both California and Québec may acquire tradable emissions allowances from the same pool to satisfy compliance with each jurisdiction’s cap-and-trade program. The agreement requires both jurisdictions to hold joint auctions of emissions allowances and harmonize regulations for reporting greenhouse gas emissions and managing their respective cap-and-trade programs and offset protocols. The agreement also provides for continued coordination with the WCI in administering and monitoring allowance credit and offset transactions. Both jurisdictions expect the linkage to maximize greenhouse gas reductions and provide greater compliance flexibility to entities that need emissions allowances.

Updating California’s AB 32 Scoping Plan

The updated draft Scoping Plan finds that the state is on target to meet its 2020 emissions reductions goals thanks to the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, Renewable Portfolio Standard, and cap-and-trade program. The draft suggests additional options to reduce emissions, such as widespread improvements to energy efficiency in the transportation and buildings sectors, increased use of combined heat and power, and the use of carbon capture and sequestration for the state’s natural gas generation.

The new draft plan addresses the state’s long-term target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 as called for in Executive Order S-3-05 in 2005. Without providing a specific emissions target, CARB acknowledges the significance of 2030 as a midpoint to achieving the state’s goal in 2050, and references existing 2030 targets in other jurisdictions, such as Germany  and the European Commission. The updated scoping plan draft is open to public comment until the end of 2013, and is slated to be considered for approval by CARB in spring 2014.

For more information:

C2ES: California Cap-and-Trade Summary
Québec Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment, and Parks: Press Release
CARB Updated Scoping Plan Draft: Press Release