The Nature Conservancy Applauds States for Strengthening the Successful RGGI Program and Stepping Up the Region's Leadership in Fighting Climate Change
Arlington, VA | August 23, 2017
Today, in a much-anticipated bipartisan agreement, the governors of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont – the nine states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – announced that they will extend and strengthen the nation’s first CO2 cap and trade program to ensure greater consumer benefits and reduce even more pollution through 2030. The RGGI states’ show of leadership is a breath of fresh air as the federal government continues to stall on climate action.
Sarah Jackson, Climate and Energy Policy Manager for The Nature Conservancy’s northeast chapters, said, “We at The Nature Conservancy want to thank the RGGI state governors for recognizing the clear and urgent threat that climate change presents to the people and places we hold dear and for making this important decision to step up actions to address this global crisis.”
Today’s decision extends the RGGI program to 2030 and lowers the cap on pollution from the electric power sector by increasing the rate at which CO2 emissions must decline annually from 2.5 percent to approximately 3 percent starting in 2021.
The states also agreed to adjust the cap to fully account for banked allowances and to make adjustments to the existing Cost Containment Reserve (CCR) that will reduce its size and increase the price at which the CCR is triggered going forward.
Finally, the states (except for Maine and New Hampshire) are implementing a new mechanism – the Emission Containment Reserve – that will lead to the permanent retirement of a percentage of allowances if the cost of emission reductions after 2020 is significantly lower than projected.
These updates to the RGGI program are expected to lead to an additional 30 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from 2020 to 2030 and billions of dollars in additional energy cost savings for the region’s consumers.
Since the RGGI program began in 2009, CO2 emissions in the region have gone down by 40 percent. The auctioning of pollution allowances has raised nearly $3 billion, most of which has been re-invested by the states in energy efficiency, community-based renewable energy projects, assistance to low-income customers, and other greenhouse gas reduction measures. These investments are saving consumers across the RGGI region an estimated $4.7 billion on their energy bills and have already created more than 30,000 new job-years (a job year is one year of full time employment) in the RGGI states. The region has also experienced significant public health benefits (recently valued at $5.7 billion) from the reduction of co-pollutants like nitrogen oxides, particulates, and sulfur dioxide. All of this has occurred as electric rates have gone down by 3.4 percent since RGGI’s inception, and the region’s economy has grown by 25 percent.
“We are thrilled to see the success of RGGI continue and the program’s tremendous benefits expanded,” Jackson said. “We hope to see additional states join RGGI in the coming years. And as the electric power sector continues to get cleaner because of important decisions like this one, we hope that this success can be replicated in other sectors, such as transportation, which remains the number one source of greenhouse gases in the northeast.”
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.