A Preliminary Environmental Equity Assessment Of California’s Cap-and-Trade Program

USC  Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) | UC Berkeley | San Francisco State Univ. | Occidental College / by By Lara J. Cushing, et al.

…Key findings from our analysis indicate that:

  • Regulated GHG-emitting facilities—including those that emit the highest levels of both GHGs and PM10—tend to be located in neighborhoods with higher proportions of residents of color and residents living in poverty. This suggests that further emissions reductions from GHG emitting facilities could enhance the public health and environmental equity co-benefits of cap-and-trade.
  • In-state GHG emissions have increased, on average, among several industry sectors since the advent of cap-and-trade. One particular driver of the pattern is the electrical sector in which GHG reductions were largely due to reductions in imported electricity (and in the GHG-intensity of those imports) while in-state GHG emissions actually rose.
  • Many high-emitting companies have used out-of-state “offset” projects to meet compliance obligations. California’s largest GHG emitters were more likely to use offset projects to meet their emissions obligations under cap-and-trade.
  • Of the top-emitting facilities in terms of both PM10 and GHGs, 61 percent reported increases in localized GHG emissions in 2013-14 relative to 2011-12, versus 51 percent of facilities overall. The neighborhoods near the top-emitting facilities that increased emissions were poorer and had a higher share of people of color than neighborhoods near top-emitting facilities that decreased their emissions…

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