California carbon scheme delay “prudent”: EDF

US carbon market

Derek Walker, director of strategic climate initiatives at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), commented on the California Air Resources Board's (ARB) decision yesterday to delay compliance requirements for its carbon trading scheme for a year.

“The recommended schedule will help California maximise economic and environmental benefits and increase the programme's overall effectiveness,” he said.

The EDF co-sponsored Assembly Bill (AB) 32, which requires California to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Under the legislation, ARB developed several initiatives to cut emissions, including a renewable energy standard and a carbon cap-and-trade scheme.

At a June 29 meeting of the California State Senate Select Committee on the Environment, Mary Nichols, chairman of the California ARB (CARB), announced the decision to delay compliance with the scheme. The programme will start as planned in 2012 but compliance requirements will not kick in until 2013. The major details of the programme will remain unchanged.

Walker said EDF still supports cap-and-trade as a way to reduce carbon emissions and will continue to work with CARB to develop a successful programme.

Nichols said yesterday that cap-and-trade would achieve about 20% of the total reductions needed under AB 32. The scheme will place a hard and declining cap on 85% of total state-wide emissions, covering major sources such as refineries and the power sector. The transportation and natural gas sectors are due to come under the scheme's requirements in 2015.

In March, a San Francisco court ruled that ARB had not properly researched the alternatives to cap-and-trade. ARB released a revised alternatives analysis on June 13, which details several alternatives. The document will be open for public comment until July 28, 2011 after which ARB staff will prepare responses to comments raising significant environmental issues.

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