NACW 2012 Videos & Highlights

Thank you for attending and supporting the Navigating the American Carbon World (NACW) 2012 conference in San Francisco, California. The event featured the most forward-thinking minds that are driving action to address global climate change and advance carbon markets. The conference provided key information, insights and collaborative resources for 600 active and pioneering leaders in the climate policy and carbon management landscape.

Below are videos and quote highlights of the NACW keynote and plenary sessions:

NACW 2012: Welcome by Gary Gero and Linda Adams

NACW 2012: Diane Wittenberg Interviews Mary Nichols

Mary Nichols quoting Gov. Jerry Brown: “When we examine something as common and basic as the air we breathe, we are confronting not only an environmental issue or even an economic issue, we are confronting a basic moral question about our own values, our social definitions and the values we project to the rest of the world.”

Mary Nichols quoting Gov. Jerry Brown: “I see the clean air debate and the global warming debate as a great opportunity to deepen our commitment as a people to values that benefit us all and that benefit generations that follow…Most of the opposition to taking action on global warming is based on the cost. Problems of red tape, problems of regulation. We hear that is just too expensive and that we ought to allocate our money to something else; that something else is producing more goods for people. But what about the air we breathe, the common resource on which all human beings depend. Shouldn’t they have a pre-eminent value? Our society is the richest in the world. Certainly, we must take the lead in setting the proper balance between individual comfort and our long term survival and social values.”

Mary Nichols: “Our scoping plan under AB 32 shows that most of the emissions reductions – about a little over 80 percent of all the carbon and other GHGs that we are working to take out of the atmosphere – are gonna come from specific targeted regulations with our vehicle emission standards at the very top of the list, but also including low carbon fuel standard, mandatory efficiency audits and a host of very specific regulations on things like refrigerants. So we’re doing everything we can think of to do that makes sense in regulation. The cap-and-trade program, which is the thing thats most talked about because its the newest and therefore its easy to scare people about or misinterpret, is in many ways the last piece of the pyramid that we’re building here, but its also one that affects everything else because by setting the cap obviously we have our target in place, we know how many tons we’re trying to get, we know what the absolute limit is.”

Mary Nichols: “If by 2020 we don’t have a government in the United States and I would say a government in Canada as well that have stepped up to the plate and adopted some form of national commitment to reduction of greenhouse gases and joined in some sort of an international program to accomplish this goal, then I would say our claims of leadership are not all that they’re cracked up to be. We clearly – our intent here is to be superseded, to be lapses, to be incorporated into something bigger.”

Mary Nichols: “We need offsets in order to moderate the price of allowances under our program. As the cap gets tighter, the number of allowances is reduced between now and 2020, we know that there’s going to be a need for offsets in order to help keep the prices of allowances in line and keep the participants in the market in compliance. So we worry about whether there will be enough offsets. On the other hand, if there are too many offsets and they flood the market, that isn’t good for the offset sellers and it isn’t good for the market either. It just discredits the whole program. So our path in this direction has been to keep very tight control over the quality of the offsets that we will accept. I mean everybody sort of throws around the word additionality and enforcement, but we have taken that to a degree of rigor that we think people would expect of California. We want our offsets to be the prime offsets.”

Mary Nichols: “The fact that a bunch of California elected officials with the support of a lot of segments of the private sector including companies like Chevrolet and PG&E and so forth have been able to do this really just does make me feel proud being a Californian.”

NACW 2012: Tim Profeta and William Reilly

William K. Reilly: “The cap-and-trade program here if it is successful can have a profound influence on the readiness of the rest of the country and the rest of the world to follow suit.”

William K. Reilly: “I’m not aware of a CEO in today’s American economy who doesn’t expect that we will eventually get carbon regulation and isn’t preparing his or her company to deal with it.”

William K. Reilly: “This is a profoundly consequential moral issue. I think the United States is sleeping through climate change. The nearest analogy I can think of is the British population in the 1930s when they knew that Germany was re-arming but found other things to preoccupy themselves with.”

NACW 2012 Plenary: Guide Stars: State and National Leadership Across the Globe

James Mack: “Climate change is actually a big issue in British Columbia so it is a top of mind issue for British Columbians. A couple of things to understand that is we have a relatively small economy, relatively small population, but a lot of land and a couple of things that have happened is over the last 20 years we lost over 10 percent of our glacier mass in British Columbia. In some areas, that’s as high as 20 percent. We’ve had 16 million hectares of pine destroyed by the pine beetle, which was due to 10 years of unseasonably warm winters and we’re now in the process of looking at our coast communities and seeing the impacts of extreme weather and sea level rise.”

Dirk Forrister: “We’re in an era where experimentation is good and real world examples are good and actually collaboration between a state like California & Quebec is a good thing that we would all learn from and potentially it could blossom into a model thats good for others.”

Linda Adams: “AB32 has some very strong language that we took to heart and it requires that protocols ensure that offsets are real, permanent, quantifiable, verifiable and enforceable. It was very controversial to even allow them, but there is a recognition now that yes we can meet these goals, and in fact the Climate Action Reserve has I believe the highest standards in the world and the most stringent protocols in the world. and I think that’s why the ARB allowed them into the market.”

NACW 2012 Plenary: Full Steam Ahead: WCI Update

James Goldstene: “The rule in California has been completed, the rule in Quebec has been completed, and we’re planning to bring to my Board in June of this year a linking regulation to link our two programs together and then after that, we expect that the province of Ontario, and then the province of British Columbia will follow. And then of course, depending on what happens after the election in November, maybe we can get some more states to join us back.”

Tim Lesiuk: “The reductions – as long as the quality is there and they’re real, it doesn’t matter where they actually occur to have an effect on the climate. So they can occur in other states. It’s ensuring that you have a way to guarantee the quality of the offsets that matters. And the WCI and jurisdictions are figuring out how that works in the offset programs and the rules and regulations that they’re writing right now. The supply and demand for offsets, by their very nature, they’re not included in the system. They’re not capped sources. you got pretty comprehensive whether its a carbon tax in British Columbia or a cap-and-trade program in Quebec or California, the coverage of those programs doesn’t leave a lot of emissions outside of the capped sectors. So those can’t become your major route to compliance. There aren’t enough of them to do that, and so its inherent that those offsets get used to moderate the price early on until people figure out what their abatement costs are and their options and their technologies and there the industries will start to take action.”

Jean-Yves Benoit: “In terms of offsets, I think we have quite a rigorous design criteria to develop our protocols which we’re going to be working together and try to really set a new standard in terms of stringency, making sure that an offset credit is really a reduction, a real one that happened, that it cannot be turned around.”

Tim Lesiuk: “We don’t have a central regulator and the UN approach and the European approach both have a central regulator that can make some rules and then all of the jurisdictions participate by those rules. We don’t have a central regulator, we are linking the programs and maintaining the sovereignty of each jurisdiction, that was important in our design.”

Michael Gibbs: “We are each doing our programs under our own authority, so we have our own processes and our own way of writing rules. We also have a set of stakeholders that we’re being responsive to and working together with, so in addition to our own individual jurisdictional process, we also had the WCI process on top of that.”

NACW 2012 Plenary: California Serving as a Beacon

Secretary Matt Rodriquez: “Everybody knows about our cap-and-trade program and I’m reminded on a daily basis of the significance of that program by the number of inquiries and calls I get from literally all over the world. What are we doing with our program – the whole world is watching what California’s doing to address climate change and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And as I tell the folks at ARB, there’s no pressure, we just can’t make any mistakes, we’ve gotta make this program work.”

Secretary Michael Peevey: “I think across the board almost, California has done a remarkable job. In energy efficiency we’ve been able to hold per capita usage at about the same level it was 30 years ago. That is a dramatic thing. No other state has done that, probably no other nation has done that.”

Secretary Karen Ross: “We have almost 2 million cows in the state and it is a renewable resource, cows eat, it comes out, it is a huge potential source of energy for us. And more important, unlike wind or solar this is not intermittent; this is all around the clock. It can be stored, we can figure out how to transport it. So yes that’s been the place where we’ve worked across cabinet to really figure this out: how to get more dairy digesters. And in fact its a place where we’re not the leader. We have the most cows in the state, we have less than 8 operating dairy digesters. Wisconsin has 1.2 million cows, they have 24 digesters. Vermont has less than a million cows and they have 12 digesters. So I think there’s a real opportunity to seize this as part of our renewable portfolio.”

Secretary John Laird: “I was a mayor in the 80s when the legislature enacted a goal of diverting 50 percent of what went into landfills. They said we’re going to do it in 10 years. And I remember us local elected officials we said that’s nuts, that will never happen, that’s a great goal, we will work toward it. And we are now diverting 60 percent out of landfills of what we put in in 1989… because we’ve done recyclables, because we’re recycling plastic and wood and many different things at levels that weren’t anticipated 20 years ago. The harder nut is the last 40 percent.

Secretary Matt Rodriquez: “Offsets are a necessary component in any cap-and-trade program. So we’re going to obviously oppose the lawsuit… I wouldn’t be too concerned. We’ll press ahead and keep looking at offsets. They’re an important part of any cap-and-trade program.”

Secretary Michael Peevey: “They’re not only an important part, they’re an absolutely critical part. You can’t have an effective cap-and-trade program without them … In all these precedent setting efforts you’re going to find litigation and challenges, and its our job just to overcome them, grounded as best we are with facts and the history and legislation and so forth.”

Secretary Michael Peevey: “Its not enough for us to congratulate ourselves about California doing this and that. We also have to proselytize a bit in other states and other places about the seriousness of all this and why it should not be seen as a sharp political issue as evolution was 50, 60 years ago… We have to try to talk about this in a non-ideological way and to point out the economic benefits, social benefits and environmental benefits.”

Secretary Matt Rodriquez: “Internationally, a lot of people are looking at what California is doing and its not at all lonely on that level… the rest of the world is literally watching what we’re doing.”