CLIMATE CHANGE ROUNDUP: WCI Sticks With First Deliverer Point of Regulation

By Published On: July 24, 2009

The Western Climate Initiative is sticking with its “first jurisdictional deliverer” approach as the point of regulation for power imported from outside WCI partner states as it drafts the details of a planned Western regional carbon cap-and-trade program. In an announcement this week, the WCI said that it considered an alternative approach offered by the power industry, but rejected it due to enforcement complications. Under the first jurisdictional approach--also dubbed the “individual boundary” approach--the compliance obligation to cover carbon emissions associated with electricity lies with the consuming state. The industry proposed a “common boundary” approach, under which the obligation would fall on the power when it first enters any WCI state, even if the electricity ultimately just passed through for consumption in another state. After consideration, WCI rejected that approach noting that the ultimate importer may not have any presence within the state through which the power first flows. WCI stated this could leave the flow-through state in the position of having “to cover the costs of monitoring and enforcing electricity that was generated and consumed outside that jurisdiction.” * * * * The American Meteorological Society July 20 issued a cautionary policy statement on the use of “geoengineering” solutions to climate change. It said that not enough is yet known about the potential effectiveness or detrimental side effects of the grand strategies--such as propagating reflective particles into the atmosphere to shield Earth from solar radiation or fertilizing the ocean to promote growth of more plankton to absorb carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. The scientific body said further study is needed before proceeding with such approaches. The association added that while the strategies could help manage the risk of climate change, it is unlikely geoengineering could “substitute for either aggressive mitigation or proactive adaptation.” * * * * The U.S. Senate Environment & Public Works Committee heard governors and mayors praise the promise of green jobs aimed at developing clean energy and cutting greenhouse gases during a hearing July 21. “California is a national leader in clean energy job creation,” said Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), panel chair. “A June 2009 Pew Charitable Trusts report found that more than 10,000 new clean energy businesses were launched in California from 1998 to 2007. During this period, clean energy investments created more than 125,000 jobs and generated jobs faster than the state’s economy as a whole.” Green jobs are growing faster than state planners initially projected in Washington state, Governor Chris Gregoire told the panel. She said when the state adopted climate change goals in 2007 it projected Washington would see a total of 25,000 green jobs by 2020, but the state already has 47,000 green jobs in less than two years. Mayors and other governors discussed the promise of green jobs too. * * * * Canada’s largest coal-powered generator is seeking to take over a key Canadian alternative power developer. TransAlta Corp. is pursuing Canadian Hydro Developers with a $1.5 billion hostile bid, the former announced July 20. Canadian Hydro renewable resources include 694 MW of hydro, wind, and biomass, with an additional 185 MW nearly developed. In addition, 1,624 MW of renewable projects are being developed, according to the company’s website “This is a big public indication of what’s to come,” MacMurray Whale, an alternative energy analyst with Toronto-based Cormark Securities, told The Star. “It highlights how valuable low-carbon power production is, and it’s a massive opportunity in Canada.” TransAlta announced it intends to make an all-cash offer to acquire Calgary-based Canadian Hydro at a price of $4.55 per share. “This transaction accelerates our current strategy and extends our leadership position to become the largest publicly traded provider of renewable energy in Canada,” stated Steve Snyder, TransAlta’s CEO. Canadian Hydro’s board advised its shareholders not to act on the matter until it “carefully reviews” the terms of the hostile takeover. * * * * The Earth’s atmosphere already is loaded with enough greenhouse gases to raise the average global temperature by 2.4 degrees Centigrade, but the full warming effect is being “masked” by sulfates and organic particles loaded into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, the California Air Resources Board heard July 23. Efforts to clean up sulfates and pollution has the potential to cause a rapid run up in global warming unless there are “dramatic emissions reductions soon” of greenhouse gases and pollutants, said Susan Fischer, Air Board scientist. She urged California to do more to cut emissions of methane and black carbon--the soot produced when fossil fuels are burned--and to cut the carbon footprint of the imported products people buy. Black carbon is a concern because it absorbs sunlight and converts it to heat in the atmosphere and on the surface of the Earth when it settles, particularly on snow and ice.

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