The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: Winners and Losers

By: Marc Legrand

24th April, 2013

Created in 2009, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (“RGGI”) was the first mandatory carbon cap and trade regime in the United States.’ It regulates energy producers within member states Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.’ The program places a cap on the total amount of carbon dioxide produced by fossil fuel-fired power plants of twenty-five megawatts and above.’ These producers must purchase carbon allowances at quarterly auctions, and are awarded a partial offset for implementing certain measures that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.4 RGGI is structured to operate in two phases. From 2009 to 2014, the cap will remain fixed at 165 million short tons of carbon dioxide emitted per year. From 2015 to 2018, the cap will be reduced by 2.5% each year for a total 10% reduction by 2018.’ The nine RGGI states are currently undertaking a review of the first three years of the program

On October 22nd, 2012, the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School hosted a forum to discuss the future of RGGI. The speakers gave a wide range of assessments of the impact of RGGI, from Mr. Snyder arguing that “by just about any measure, [RGGI] has been a success,” to Mr. Stavins stating “I don’t think it deserves credit for much.” This Field Report will discuss the perspective of the various speakers to determine who the winners and losers have been under the program, its effectiveness as a tool against climate change, and its future.

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