The Week Ahead: Focus Turns to California Cap-and-Trade Program


California on Nov. 14 will hold its first quarterly auction of greenhouse gas emission allowances under its cap-and-trade program.

The program is a key element of the California Air Resources Board's plan to implement the Global Warming Solutions Act (A.B. 32), which requires the state to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

As covered in an Aug. 30 World Climate Change Reportarticle, CARB successfully ran a test of its Internet-based platform for the auction during which 60 million vintage 2013 and 2015 allowances were auctioned at a minimum price of $10 each.

The three-hour auction Nov. 14 will begin at 10 a.m. (PST) with the highest bid and will proceed to successively lower bids. Bid quantities will be available in multiples of 1,000 allowances.

CARB expects the allowance auction system to bring in $500 million for the first two years, and anticipates that revenue could rise to as much as $8 billion after 2015.

EPA Decision on Biofuels Expected

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to make a decision the week of Nov. 12 on which states will receive waivers from complying with the renewable fuel standard for ethanol in gasoline owing to the drought that has affected corn crops in most of the Midwest. 

Larry Elworth, chief agriculture counselor to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, has said five states have asked EPA for waivers for ethanol in gasoline and one state has sought a waiver for biodiesel. Details of the pending decision are covered in an Oct. 3 article

National Climate Assessment

The federal government's National Climate Assessment Advisory Committee will hold a public meetingNov. 14-15 in Silver Spring, Md. An assessment of current and future climate change impacts on the United States is scheduled to be released in late 2013.

A national assessment is due to Congress every four years under the Global Change Research Act of 1990. Only two reports have been completed since the law passed, one in 2000 and one in 2009. The 2013 report is expected to focus on adaptation and mitigation strategies.

Global Environment Facility

From Nov. 13-15, the Global Environment Facility will  meet in Washington, D.C., to provide an update on efforts to enhance climate change resilience in GEF projects. GEF, which was established in 1991 to provide environmental grants to developing countries, has 182 member nations and serves as the financial mechanism of the Convention on Biological Diversity and other environmental conventions. An article published Oct. 17 covers GEF goals, which include promoting the value of natural capital, encouraging biodiversity, and helping mobilize resources to expand programs that support global environmental goals.

EPA Webinars

EPA will hold three webinars in the week ahead:

Other Climate, Energy Events

The Natural Resources Defense Council will hold a discussion Nov. 14 in Baltimore on "Political Climate: What the Elections May Mean for Climate and Environmental Policy." Potential impacts on climate change regulation and policy are covered in a Nov. 7 article

The economics of carbon taxes will be the subject of a forum Nov. 13 in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, Brookings Institution, and Resources for the Future. As detailed in an Oct. 30 article, Brookings released a report that found any congressional deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff looming over the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts next year could include a carbon tax in exchange for replacing or repealing existing taxes.

On Nov. 14, the Union of Concerned Scientists will hold a webinar on the release of a new report, Ripe for RetirementThe Case for Closing America's Costliest Coal Plants. As discussed in a July 27 article, almost 27,000 megawatts of U.S. coal-fired electric generating capacity will be retired over five years from 2012 through 2016, according to data from plant owners and operators compiled by the Energy Information Administration.