In part II of our Air Update we address the following recent developments related to the regulation of greenhouse gases:

  • Massachusetts became the ninth—and most recent—state to adopt stricter air standards under the RGGI.  We wrote about New York’s adaptation earlier this year.
  • European Parliament froze the number of pollution allowances in order to increase the prices of carbon credits on Europe’s Emissions Trading System.
  • The Chinese Government released its first climate change adaptation strategy, which provides strategies for coping with the effects of climate change (but not strategies to avoid it).
  • Stanford survey shows most Americans believe in climate change and want the government to do something about it.

Massachusetts Amends Regulations to Further Reduce Carbon Emissions

On December 6, 2013, Massachusetts became the latest member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (“RGGI”) to adopt new regulations seeking to reduce carbon emissions.  The amendments seek to reduce carbon emissions cap from 165 million tons to 91 million tons in 2014.  The cap will be reduced 2.5% each subsequent year until 2020.  The other RGGI members include Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.  We wrote about New York’s similar RGGI efforts in April.

EU Freezes Carbon Credit Allowances in Order to Raise Prices

European Parliament voted to freeze the auctioning of carbon credits, thereby reducing the number of credits traded on the EU’s European Trading System (“ETS”).  The European Commission (“EC”) is expected to grant final approval of the measure within a week.  Although the freezing is expected to help raise the price of credits, it is unlikely to significantly affect the price without further measures.  The EC is rumored to propose more sweeping changes to Europe’s cap-and-trade system and ETS in early 2014.

China Releases Climate Change Adaptation Strategy

The Chinese Government released its first climate change adaptation strategy, which provides a blueprint for coping with the effects of climate change.  The strategy intends to stem the effects of extreme weather conditions, presumably caused by climate change, which the Chinese government estimates caused an average of more than 2,000 deaths and up to 200 billion yuan ($32.8 billion) of direct economic loss every year since the 1990s.  It does not address the causes of climate change.  China, the world’s largest emitter of carbon, has pledged to address the causes of climate change by cutting its carbon intensity by 40-45 percent by 2020 from its 2005 base.

Stanford Survey Shows Americans Want the Government Curb Climate Change

Stanford University’s Jon Krosnick presented to the congressional Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change in Washington, D.C. recent state level research on the opinions of Americans regarding global warming related issues.  A previous report by Krosnick revealed that a majority of Americans are concerned with global warming and support legislative action to address the issue.  The Task Force also hosts a map of state level data.  Members of the Task Force hope the data will dispel myths about Americans’ views on climate change and spur congressional action.  Krosnick’s presentation to the Task Force can be viewed here.