Emissions reduction efforts to address the issue of climate change focus on two primary greenhouse gases: CO2 and methane. CO2 is released when fossil fuels – oil, coal and natural gas – are burned to power our cars, produce electricity or heat our buildings. Methane is emitted in urban areas when garbage and waste products decompose, primarily in landfills. Local and state governments can play a key role because they directly influence and control many of the activities that produce these emissions. Decisions about land use and development, investments in public transit, energy-efficient building codes, waste reduction and recycling programs all affect local air quality and living standards as well as the global climate.
An important initiative has been spearheaded by the city of Seattle – the U.S. Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement. As of January 2009, Mayor’s in 910 cities have signed this agreement and commited their communities to meet the greenhouse gas reduction goals of the Kyoto Protocol (7 percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2012).
In 2009 a vigorous debate is taking place about the best way to reduce carbon emissions. There are two leading proposals: a carbon cap and emissions auction with revenue returned to Americans as a dividend, and a carbon tax with revenue returned to Americans in the form of lower taxes or a dividend. In the mid 1990s Minnesota debated a carbon tax and dividend bill designed by ILSR. Several studies were done about the impact on various sectors of such a policy. Continue reading
In 2006, California enacted a "Million Solar Roofs" law. The bill reiterates and supplements the California Public Utilities Commission’s$2.9 billion California Solar Initiative. The new law extends the PUC solar energy incentives initiative to publicly-owned utilities -municipal and cooperatives. Including the publicly-owned utilities, the PUC must limit the cost of the California Solar Initiative to $3.35 billion over the next 10 years. Continue reading
With aims to inspire renewable energy generation at the local level, in October 2003, Merton became the first local authority in the United Kingdom (UK) to adopt a policy requiring new non-residential developments to generate a portion of their energy needs from on-site renewables. Continue reading
This resolution is targeted specifically at those communities that have signed on to the U.S. Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement. It will require that construction projects in a community funded with municipal bonds will result in no net increases in global warming pollutants within the community. The resolution can be modified to suit the needs of other communities and could be the basis for state legislation. Continue reading
In 2000, Aspen and Pitkin County in Colorado launched the Renewable Energy Mitigation Program (REMP). The program charges new homeowners one fee if their homes exceed 5,000 sq. ft. and another fee up to$100,000 if they exceed the "energy budget" allotted to their property by the local building code. As of Fall 2002, REMP has raised more than$2 million for local energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. REMP’s goal is to keep three tons of carbon out of the air for every excess ton of carbon put into the air. Continue reading
The passage (60 percent in favor) of a city-wide referendum in November 2006, establishes a charge on electricity users based on how much energy they use. The money will go to support Boulder’s Climate Action Plan to reduce global warming pollution. The passage marked the first time in the nation that a municipal government will impose an energy tax on its residents to directly combat climate change. Continue reading
In April 2001, Portland City Council and the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners adopted a joint Local Action Plan on Global Warming with a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2010. Continue reading
In July 2001, Seattle Mayor Paul Schell and four members of the City Council announced support for the Kyoto Protocol and called on other local governments to adopt policies to combat global warming. TheSeattle City Council voted on resolutions supporting the goals of the Kyoto Protocol and committing Seattle City Light — the city’s public electric utility — to a policy of zero net greenhouse gas emissions. Continue reading
Enacted in 1997, the Oregon law requires any new power plant to reduce net carbon dioxide emissions 17 percent below the level of the best existing combustion-turbine plant anywhere in the United States. The standards are periodically updated as more efficient power plants are built in other states. Continue reading
In January 2007, the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC)adopted an interim Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Performance Standard(EPS) in an effort to help mitigate climate change. The standard is a facility-based emissions standard requiring that all new long-term commitments for baseload generation to serve California consumers be with power plants that have emissions no greater than a combined cycle gas turbine plant. Continue reading
Californiais the only state empowered under federal law to pass stronger air pollution standards than those set by the federal government. Other states can then choose California’s standards, but cannot be the first to surpass those set by the federal government. Thus, the passage of a California law leading to regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from cars eventually could spark changes in the design of automobiles sold across the country. As of 2009, at least 16 other states had passed legislation adopting California’s "clean cars" standard (pending waiver being granted by the EPA). Continue reading
Many proposals addressing climate change advocate for a cap on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or carbon content of fuels. The limiting and lowering of carbon or GHG emissions will create a new market value for carbon. Many agree that there should be a 100 percent auction of carbon permits, and estimates indicate that carbon allowance auctions could raise $50-$200 billion annually at the national level. However, there are many different opinions as to how this money should be used. We believe that carbon cap with universal dividends on a per capita basis is the best solution and be the most politically acceptable solution. It will inspire substantial investment in clean energy technologies while protecting tens of millions of households from the impact from potentially steep increases in energy prices resulting from the cap Continue reading
In May 2002, New Hampshire became the first state in the country to adopt rules to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power plants. The new law establishes a multiple pollutant reduction program. In addition to CO2, the final version of the new law (HB284, NH Laws of 2002, Chapter 130) establishes caps on emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides by existing fossil fuel electric power plants and also requires a reduction in mercury pollution. This law permits the banking and trading of emissions reductions credits to achieve compliance with the caps. The NH Department of Environmental Services is directed to establish an integrated strategy to reduce emissions, including the use of energy efficiency and renewable energy. The new law went into effect July 1, 2002. Continue reading