California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) is considering a plan to give out extra carbon credits to businesses affected by the state’s cap-and-trade program, reports The Sacramento Bee.
The state’s program sets industry-wide limits on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, allowing those that exceed those limits to use carbon credits to offset anything above those levels. It will affect approximately 430 factories, refineries and other industrial facilities.
Critics have suggested the plan could cost California companies up to $1 billion in the first year, even though 90% of the credits created in the first two years will be free. The allotment of credits will be reduced by 2%-3% each year, with the goal of bringing down carbon emissions gradually.
The new proposal would not increase the overall number of credits issued under the program, but it would provide for more of them to be given out free saving millions of dollars, reports The SacBee.
“Obviously, we don’t want industry to leave the state, but we want them to meet the emissions requirements,” David Clegern, a CARB spokesman, told The SacBee.
The first auction under the California program is scheduled for November 14, 2012, with the first year of the program – when companies will be held responsible for their greenhouse gas emissions – starting on January 1, 2013. A second wave to industries will be affected in 2015, when Californias oil refineries will be held responsible for the GHG emissions caused by cars and truck on California roads.
CARB got the legal go-ahead for the plan in September 2011, after a challenge that required it to further examine alternatives to reducing greenhouse gases, such as a carbon tax. The original program was announced in November 2010 after four years of development.
Cap-and-trade is a key part of AB32, California’s 2006 landmark climate change legislation that was adopted to fill a gap in federal policy. Under the law, California must reduce GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
An original plan that would have linked the California cap-and-trade system to other Western states failed to materialize, but the state is still planning to link the program to one that has been created in Canada’s Quebec province.
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