A Chance to Lead on Climate in the Northeast

July 24, 2017


Governors in 9 Northeastern states are poised to set the carbon emission trajectory for our region through 2030 as they decide on key provisions in an update to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

AMC is calling on these Governors to set the strongest emission reduction targets possible. Join us!

Since 2009 the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) states have seen meaningful greenhouse gas emission reductions while also enjoying economic growth in areas such as clean energy and related technologies. Since its inception, RGGI state leaders have demonstrated success in this market-based cap and trade program to encourage greenhouse gas emission reductions from power plants.  Now, these same states need to again show leadership by embracing the most ambitious path forward for RGGI in this program update.

As part of a planning process for RGGI’s next phase through 2030, AMC is urging RGGI states to set an ambitious emissions reduction target of 5% each year. However, RGGI states are currently focused on what is considered a “status quo” annual reduction goal of 2.5%, but have modeled up to a 3.5% annual reduction scenario.  The more ambitious approach of a 3.5% reduction is expected to result in an additional 99 million short tons of carbon pollution reductions by 2030, which is equal to one year of 19 million fewer cars on the road.  AMC will continue to urge these states to select the most ambitious declining cap along with other important program provisions that will help achieve deep emission reductions while maintaining a robust program.

AMC supports the following program features:

  • a cap correction in 2019 that reflects the best estimates of current emissions;
  • future cap reductions of 5%, or at least 3.5%, annually through 2030;
  • an adjustment downward of the RGGI cap to account for all existing banked allowances;
  • a higher price floor to provide market certainty and ensure a minimum carbon value;
  • a new Emissions Containment Reserve to capture future low-cost emission reduction opportunities; and
  • adjustments to the Cost Containment Reserve (CCR) provision to avoid flooding the market with excess allowances.

The importance of these decisions today will make a difference for decades to come.  The climate is changing across the AMC region with warmer temperatures, more intense rainfall, and shorter snow seasons. AMC maintains a robust scientific program with staff and citizen-scientists that have been documenting these changes in the White Mountains for over 80 years, beginning with Joe Dodge’s record keeping at Pinkham Notch. We stand with the scientific community in understanding that human activity is the driving force behind the major changes to the climate we have seen since the Industrial Revolution and it takes human action to address these changes. Learn more about AMC’s Climate Change Research & Policy on this recorded webinar from June 2017.

A changing climate will have dramatic impacts on the mountains, rivers, and trails that you care about:

  • Snow pack will be diminished as winter temperatures continue to warm on average.
  • Rivers will be less predictable for paddlers as the typical timing of snow melt/runoff will decrease over time, yet storm intensity will increase.
  • Our trails will be more at risk and require more frequent reconstruction as stronger storm systems will lead to greater erosion.
  • Fragile alpine eco-systems face an uncertain future as winter precipitation patterns continue to change.

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Georgia Murray

Conservation and Nature Notes blogger Georgia Murray has been AMC's Air Quality Staff Scientist since 2000. She has an M.S. degree in Earth Sciences from the University of New Hampshire and currently oversees the AMC's air quality and climate monitoring programs.