In an explainer on California’s new cap-and-trade bill, SB 775, Vox’s David Roberts was ecstatic about the bill. While working on the article he spoke with Near Zero’s Danny Cullenward, who advised the California Senate on the bill.
The changes that SB 775 proposes for the state’s carbon trading program are dramatic — and, to my eyes, amazingly thoughtful. I know some environmental groups have reservations (on which more later), but in my opinion, if it passes in anything close to its current form, it will represent the most important advance in carbon-pricing policy in the US in a decade. Maybe ever. Yeah, really.
In support of the bill, Roberts said:
I gotta say, if this thing passes, it will be close to a miracle. To my eye, it elegantly balances technical and political considerations in a system that is simple, reliable, and sturdy.
For economists and investors, it has prices that increase steadily and predictably. For in-state industry, it offers the protection of a border tax. For carbon hawks, it promises rising carbon prices as far as the eye can see — an unmistakable signal to utilities, big consumers, energy companies, and entrepreneurs.
For low-income and vulnerable populations, it eliminates offsets and promises more and steadier funding for resilience and adaptation projects in their communities. (Initial reaction from the state environmental-justice community is highly positive. Those groups are also supporting a companion bill, AB 378, which would focus on criteria-pollutant reductions at facilities in vulnerable communities.)
And for every Californian, it provides rising dividends that offset the pocketbook impacts of carbon prices. The higher the carbon price gets, the higher the dividend checks get (and the more fond recipients become of the program). And of course the whole state benefits from investments in clean energy RD&D.
It’s like some Hegelian synthesis of every proposal in carbon-pricing history!
Read the full post, “California is about to revolutionize climate policy … again” on the Vox website.