An Ecofys-led consortium has helped the California Air Resources Board (CARB) establish product-level greenhouse gas emission benchmarks for various production processes.
The benchmarks will be used to determine the amounts of free emission allowances for individual plants in the California cap-and-trade program, the energy and climate consultancy says.
In addition to Ecofys staff, researchers from the University of California at Berkeley and Northwestern University comprised the team that developed the GHG benchmarks.
Ecofys project leader Paul Blinde says the benchmarks specify an amount of emission allowances per ton of product produced. This creates a “transparent, fair” way to determine emissions associated with particular products, he says. The challenge was to design a method that allows CARB to compare plants that produce many different products.
The project team particularly looked at petroleum refineries and food processors, Ecofys says.
The product-based approach reflects the fact that a “one-size-fits-all approach can’t be applied to the manufacturing sector,” says Eric Masanet, project leader at Northwestern University and associate professor of engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.
The cap-and-trade is one of the policy instruments that California has adopted to meet its goal of reducing GHGs to 1990 levels by 2020. Participants in the program balance their emissions by buying carbon allowances. The total amount of allowances in the program — the cap — is reduced over time, reducing emissions and creating a price signal for allowances.
To protect local industry and facilitate the transition to a low carbon economy, facilities receive a number of emission allowances for free.
California’s carbon emissions will be lower than analysts initially expected, remaining below the allowance cap until at least 2017 with offsets making the market oversupplied through 2019, according to analysis published last week by Thomson Reuters Point Carbon.
Based on a revised emissions model, Thomson Reuters Point Carbon now estimates that emissions covered under California’s cap-and-trade system will decline to 339 metric tons in 2020, 4 percent below 2013 levels.
A surplus of Emissions Trading Scheme carbon permits will require the European Union to cut emissions by an extra 7 percentage points to meet its 2030 climate goals, according to an Ecofys report published in June.
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