Will California’s carbon market spur cleantech growth?

Before California regulators announced they unanimously approved regulations for a cap and trade market on Thursday, the chair of the California Air Resources Board made much ado about the impact it would have on the development of clean technology in the state.

Chairwoman Mary Nichols said in her opening remarks : “Cap and trade sends a policy signal to the market and guarantees that California will continue to attract the lion’s share of investment in clean technology.”

Unlike a public meeting last December, when there were less than a handful of opposing voices, opponents of cap and trade from steel unions and oil refineries attended in great numbers this time.

BP America and the Western States Petroleum Association were among those who lined up for their 3 minutes in front of the board to complain about the “10 percent haircut” for oil refineries because the benchmarking gives free allocation for only up to 90 percent of emissions.

The board has this year introduced a best in class benchmarking system so that at least one installation in each sector will be allocated 100 percent allowances.

While examples were given for the cement and glass sectors, perhaps many of California’s refineries fear they will flunk the class, even though, as board staff pointed out the benchmarking in the EU system had been set at a more “ambitious level”.

Chris Riley described himself as a “concerned citizen employed by Valero” which attempted to spike the cap and trade scheme last year through the ballot box with Prop 23.


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