The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI, pronounced “Reggie”) is the Northeast’s innovative regional program to limit carbon pollution from power plants. RGGI is a cooperative effort among nine states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
RGGI sets a mandatory limit on the total amount of carbon pollution power plants are allowed to emit each year within the region, and power plant owners must purchase allowances for the carbon they’re emitting. These allowance purchases generate revenues for participating states to invest in energy efficiency, clean energy, and supporting impacted communities.
Each year the regional carbon limit is lowered, so less and less pollution is created. As the carbon limit, or “cap”, gets lower every year, buying allowances to pollute gets more expensive. According to a recent report, lowering the carbon emission limit by 5 percent each year would help the region to achieve the states’ 2030 climate goals and generate more than $25.7 billion in total economic savings.
RGGI has already been a powerful force in cutting air pollution, lowering energy costs and driving the clean energy economy across the regions, and making RGGI stronger by lowering the pollution cap will only make the states stronger.
WHAT EFFECTS HAS RGGI HAD ON THE REGION?
To find out how RGGI has benefited your state specifically, click here.
Since 2005, power sector carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in RGGI states have dropped 45 percent, this is equivalent to 1.3 million short tons of CO2 avoided or or the pollution spewing from the tailpipes of 245,000 cars.
Since 2009, RGGI has generated over $1 billion in clean energy and energy efficiency investment for the nine participating states. These investments have spurred local economic growth and job creation.
Energy bill savings:
Programs funded by RGGI investments in the region have generated $395 in savings on energy bills for homes and businesses in the participating states. RGGI investments through 2014 are projected to return $4.67 billion in lifetime energy bill savings to more than 4.6 million participating households and 21,400 businesses.
WHAT DO RESIDENTS OF RGGI STATES THINK OF THE PROGRAM?
There is strong support for the RGGI program among residents in participating states. A recent poll found that 77 percent of voters in the participating RGGI states support their state’s involvement in the program, with 47 percent noting that they strongly support it. Even more, 79 percent of residents polled said they support reducing the RGGI carbon cap to 5 percent.
WHY DO WE NEED RGGI?
Driven by fossil fuel pollution, climate change is well underway and the impacts are accelerating more rapidly than expected. On average, the Northeast has warmed 2° F over the last century. Sea level has risen by approximately a foot, doubling the risk of coastal flooding on the scale caused by Superstorm Sandy. The changes we’ve seen so far are just the tip of the iceberg. If we continue using coal, oil and gas, the nation could be as much as 10° F warmer by the end of the century – with widespread impacts, including more severe weather, inundation of low-lying cities, acidified oceans and damaged ecosystems.
We know exactly what we have to do to prevent the worst impacts of global warming. The Paris Climate Agreement, agreed upon by 195 nations in Paris last December, forcefully articulates the path forward. To reach the goals of the agreement, the world must immediately reduce emissions of dangerous carbon pollution and transition to 100 percent clean energy – keeping most of our coal, oil and gas reserves in the ground. Every community must play a part.
One of the biggest opportunities to take a step forward this year is to further strengthen the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, so that it cuts more pollution, faster. In November, the states began a formal Program Review to evaluate the performance of RGGI and update the policy. This process provides an opening to extend and strengthen the program to better align it with the goals laid out by the Paris Climate Agreement, and the states’ own commitments to cut carbon pollution economy-wide.