The major lobby group for the California oil industry has launched a new, and particularly dimwitted, effort to denigrate California’s climate change policies. Californians for Affordable and Reliable Energy, or CARE, one of the Western States Petroleum Association’s front groups (as reported in Streetsblog several years ago), started a new website that purports to show how the state is wasting its money on efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
But its thesis makes no sense.
Right up front, the website declares authoritatively that the cost per ton of carbon is $12.80, and that therefore any higher amount paid to remove greenhouse gases from the air is a waste of money. It even provides a handy chart comparing what California pays for greenhouse gas reductions through programs like the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program to the site’s definition of the “actual cost” of that pollution. Its inevitable conclusion: California is wasting huge amounts of money.
Except that the comparison makes no sense. As Bruce Mirken of the Greenlining Institute puts it, “This isn’t comparing apples to oranges. It’s comparing apples to building new orchards.”
The figure of $12.80 reported on the website is, give or take a few cents, the current price paid per metric tonne of carbon by industries that emit greenhouse gases under California’s cap-and-trade system. Cap-and-trade works by putting a cap on total allowable emissions, and then charging industries actual money for the pollution they emit. The price is set by auction, which means it’s driven by demand, and depends on how many “credits” are available for purchase and how many industries want to buy them. It has nothing to do with the actual cost of carbon in our atmosphere—it’s just the current going price, at auction, of the credits.
So it’s a little disingenuous to pretend that California only needs to spend $12.80 per ton to remove greenhouse gases. In fact, more than disingenuous, how about deeply cynical. Evil?
It’s not as if you can go to the store and buy a carbon reduction. Read more…