California Air Resources Board Approves Cap and Trade Program

On Thursday December 16th, with a 9-1 vote, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved a cap and trade program aimed at reducing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Jeanne Merrill, CalCAN’s Policy Director, testified at hearing.  Among the issues we commented on was CARB’s recommendations to the legislature on how future funds generated from the program could be spent.

CalCAN, joined by 15 farms and sustainable agriculture organizations, called for CARB to recommend a portion of future funding go towards research, technical assistance and financial incentives for California farmers and ranchers to cope with a changing climate.

Board member Dee Dee D’Adamo and Chairman Mary Nichols championed adding language to CARB’s recommendations to the legislature that includes calling for a portion of revenue going towards agriculture.  It is anticipated that in the early years of the program (2012-2015) millions of dollars will be generated through the auctioning of allowances (i.e. permits to emit greenhouse gases), and billions of dollars in the later years of the program.

The room was packed with the hearing beginning at 9:00 am and finishing about 7:00 pm.  Governor Schwarzenegger made a surprise appearance urging a yes vote on the cap and trade program.

In another significant development, ARB will create a Community Development Fund and put 10 percent of the allowances in the fund to pay for it.  The Fund will support activities to help low income and disadvantaged communities to adapt to climate change (e.g. cooling centers in the valley for seniors, etc.).

Meanwhile there was a call for quickly developing more agriculture offset protocols, including protocols for soil carbon sequestration, nitrogen fertilizer reductions, reductions in methane emissions for rice, etc.  CalCAN will monitor this and push for protocols that take a whole farm systems approach to avoid rewarding single practices that may not lead to real GHG emissions reductions.

The cap and trade program will begin in January 2012.

For more on the cap and trade program, see:

http://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/capandtrade/capandtrade.htm

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