Vice President Todd Schatzki, Affiliate Rob Stavins Release White Paper on Post-2020 Climate Policy for California

February 11, 2014

Vice President Todd Schatzki and Harvard University professor and Analysis Group academic affiliate Rob Stavins have released a white paper on key issues to consider for post-2020 climate policy for California. Having taken aggressive steps to reduce its emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020, California is now beginning the process of considering possible next steps for the state's climate policy beyond the 2020 emission target mandated in the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32).

In "Beyond AB 32: Post-2020 Climate Policy for California," Dr. Schatzki and Professor Stavins identify and assess the key international, national, and in-state realities facing California in going beyond these 2020 targets. On an international level, they consider challenges for California to have a meaningful impact on global climate change, including the state's small share (less than one percent) of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and hurdles the international community must overcome to achieve consensus on meaningful emission targets.

Within California, the state's current approach to climate policy -- which relies heavily on complementary policies that overlay the state's economy-wide GHG cap-and-trade system -- risks significantly raising the costs of meeting more stringent GHG targets. Already, there is a significant variation in costs of achieving GHG reductions across sectors and activities, with GHG allowances priced currently at about $12 per MTCO2 and reductions under other programs over $100 per MTCO2e. More importantly, as further reductions are pursued, costs in targeted sectors may rise disproportionately. Within the electricity sector, evidence is emerging that the continued push for higher penetration of renewable electricity will lead to continuously rising GHG emission reduction costs. Along with higher costs, these higher penetration levels are necessitating significant regulatory actions in the electricity sector to address various operational and reliability issues that arise with higher levels of renewable penetration. Instead, the authors recommend that the state increase its reliance on the GHG cap-and-trade system, which provides the least costly means to achieve emission targets and is the best approach to balance the economic costs of climate policy across sectors.

Read the white paper