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California court upholds low carbon intensity rule for transport sector

19 Sep 2013 18:04:50 | edcm

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A California court has ruled that the state’s law to promote low carbon fuels, known as the Low Carbon Fuels Standard (LCFS), should remain in place.

The ruling knocks back a legal challenge launched by fuel producers and clears the way for California to continue to use several policies to curb emissions.

This means that the emissions cap set under the state’s carbon trading system, run by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), is unlikely to be tightened to keep overall emissions reductions on target.

The cap in the CARB scheme is flexible and can be tightened if other climate policies, like the LCFS, do not deliver expected emission reductions.

LCFS

The LCFS precedes the cap-and-trade system and limits the average carbon intensity of California’s transport sector along a declining cap.

The standard requires fuel producers to reduce the carbon intensity of fuels by at least 10% from a 2010 base year by 2020.

Transport is excluded from the CARB-run cap-and-trade system, which started in 2012 and covers emissions from stationary installations in the electricity, steel, paper and cement sectors.

The notion of multiple climate policy tools has proven problematic in the EU, where moves to adopt renewable energy or energy efficiency targets on top of its binding greenhouse-gas cap have sparked criticism, as it undermines cap-and-trade as the bloc’s key policy instrument to meet its climate targets.

The EU has already included emissions from air transport into its cap-and-trade system and could include shipping at a later stage, but is not considering expanding the scope to road transport. Ben Lee/Marie-Louise du Bois

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