The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
Happy New Year’s Eve!
Over the past two years, we’ve written periodically on the Paris Climate Accord — namely, what it is and the United States’ withdrawal from it. But what are states doing to uphold America’s commitments under the Paris Climate Accord? One course of action has been the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
What is the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative?
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is the first market-based program in the United States to reduce greenhouse gases. They were pretty straightforward with the name. Started in 2009, RGGI specifically targets CO2 emissions from the power sector.
Which states participate in RGGI?
Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. New Jersey was an original RGGI member. Governor Chris Christie decided to withdraw the state in 2011.
RGGI is set to expand: New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy will return the state to the RGGI as of January 1, 2020. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf began the process to join RGGI on October 3, 2019, and the process is expected to be completed within two years.
Pennsylvania’s membership is significant, given that it’s the United States’ No. 2 gas producer and No. 3 coal producer and that it’s “electricity market is larger than most of the other northeastern states combined” (Inside Climate News).
What impact has the RGGI had?
The nine RGGI states have reduced CO2 emissions by 47% over the past decade. That’s 90% faster than the rest of the nation, according to a study by clean energy nonprofit Acadia Center. Moreover, “economic growth in the RGGI states has outpaced the rest of the country by 31%” (Acadia Center). How ‘bout that?
What comes next?
To build on the RGGI, twelve northeastern states will try to finalize plans in early 2020 to launch the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI), which will tackle carbon emissions from cars and trucks.
The TCI will auction pollution allowances to fuel suppliers, and each year the cap on the number of allowances will decline. The proceeds from the auctions will be “invested in electric vehicle infrastructure, mass transit, and other improvements designed to curb carbon emissions” (Inside Climate News).
The TCI has bipartisan support and will be chaired by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.
“The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative,” RGGI, Inc., 2019.
“The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: Ten Years in Review,” Acadia Center, September 17, 2019.
Lavelle, Marianne, “A Major Fossil Fuel State Is Joining RGGI, the Northeast’s Carbon Market,” Inside Climate News, October 3, 2019.
Lavelle, Marianne, “States Vowed to Uphold America’s Climate Pledge. Are They Succeeding?” Inside Climate News, December 24, 2019.