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During the first three years of California's five-year-old cap-and-trade program, the bulk of greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions occurred out of state, thus forgoing in-state reductions in harmful co-pollutants, such as particulate matter, that could improve air quality for state residents, according to a new study led by San Francisco State University and University of California, Berkeley researchers.
The study assessed how patterns of greenhouse gases and associated air pollutants changed through time and with respect to environmental equity between 2011 and 2012, prior to the start of California's cap-and-trade program, and from 2013 through 2015, after carbon trading began.
California - World - Leader - Greenhouse - Gas
California is a world leader in adopting ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets and boasts the world's fourth-largest carbon-trading program.
Under cap-and-trade, regulated industries must hold tradable emissions permits or "allowances" equal to the amount of GHGs they emit. The total number of allowances in circulation among regulated industries is based on a cap that is lowered slightly each year. Companies can also offset their GHG emissions by purchasing credits through forestry or agriculture projects, which can be located in other states. Between 2013 and 2015, 75 percent of the offset credits purchased by regulated companies were outside of California.
Addition - Half - Facilities - Percent - Increases
In addition, slightly more than half of the regulated facilities (52 percent) reported increases in annual average in-state GHG emissions after the initiation of the cap-and-trade program. The cement, electricity generation and oil and gas production industries saw particularly large increases in their in-state GHG emissions.
The study also found that the neighborhoods that experienced increased emissions from regulated facilities nearby had higher proportions of people of color and low-income, less educated and non-English speaking residents. This is because those communities are more likely to have several regulated facilities located nearby. However, California law requires 25 percent of the revenue from the state's cap-and-trade program to be...
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