Extending Cap and Trade Cements California as Leader in Climate Change Fight


Cap and Trade, Salon photo credit, climate change, environment, AB617

With strong support from Governor Brown, legislators from both parties joined together to pass AB 398 last week, extending California’s cap and trade program until 2030. California is on track to meet its goal of reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, in large part due to cap and trade which has proven to be an invaluable tool since its implementation in 2013.

Created as one mechanism to meet the pollution standards set by the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, cap and trade is a market-based approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions that was set to expire in 2020. By allotting carbon emission allowances to polluters, who must purchase additional permits if they exceed their allowance, the Air Resources Board has been able to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions while generating revenue to fund other pollution reduction programs.

Instead of “command and control” policies, such as cutting back operations or mandating the use of cleaner equipment, cap and trade encourages firms to reduce their emission footprint while respecting their autonomy. Firms get to decide how to meet their emission goals, meaning that their overall footprint is reduced without causing an undue burden to their business.

The Legislature also passed AB 617, which seeks to remedy the disproportionate air quality burdens faced by disadvantaged communities. Specifically, it requires the Air Resources Board to identify and monitor stationary sources of pollution, such as manufacturing and industrial sites, that produce toxic particulates linked to dangerous health conditions, including asthma, lung cancer, and developmental disorders.

The League of Women Voters of California has long supported measures that establish air quality standards that will protect the public health and welfare, and the development of effective enforcement and implementation procedures at each level of government. We are proud to join a broad coalition of groups in the fight against climate change and to secure cleaner air.

Read more about our advocacy work on these bills.