1

California holds first auction of pollution permits

The AES Corporation natural gas-fired power station in Long Beach, California. Six years after enacting its own law to fight global warming, California conducts its first auction of carbon permits.

Today California starts a new chapter in its efforts to fight climate change. At 10 a.m. Pacific Time, more than 60 million tons of carbon go up for auction.

There's no gavel. It's all done on computers. On the virtual auction block? Millions of permits. Each one covers a metric ton of carbon dioxide emissions. The carbon trading system only applies to the state's biggest emitters -- think utilities. Any company that emits carbon dioxide beyond its state-imposed limit has to get permits to cover the extra.

"Another cost has been injected into the business world," says Lawrence Goldenhersh, CEO of Enviance, a software company that helps businesses track how much they emit, "and in order to remain competitive these companies need to effectively manage their carbon costs just like other costs, like inventory."

Goldenhersch says those most affected have invested heavily to track emissions, even as they've fought the law.

Patrick Pfieffer follows carbon trading for the company Eos Climate. He says the auction will help heavy-emitting businesses, "help them determine the price of carbon in their operations, and whether certain upgrades make sense now."

The California state budget assumes a billion dollars in carbon auction revenue in the next year.

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.
Log in to post1 Comment

"Today California starts a new chapter in its efforts to fight climate change. "

False as always.

Corrected version:

"Today California starts a new chapter in its efforts to make the world safe for monopolistic multi-national corporations, and to maximize the profits of speculators, and to kill pesky small and mid-sized businesses."

With Generous Support From...