On December 16, the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) voted 3-1 to establish a statewide Climate Protection Program. This measure puts Oregon on track to cut its current fossil fuel emissions, roughly 30 million metric tons of CO2-equivalents, in half by 2035 . By 2050, the CPP mandates a 90% cut in statewide emissions to 3 million mt CO2e. The CPP makes Oregon the second state in the US to enforce GHG emissions reductions, after California launched its cap-and-trade program in 2013.
Oregon’s CPP works by issuing compliance instruments, permits representing 1 metric ton of emissions, to companies that supply fossil fuels for use in Oregon . Oregon will progressively reduce the number of compliance instruments issued to these companies each year. Fossil fuel suppliers can comply with the CPP by reducing emissions and trading permits with other suppliers. Companies can also satisfy part of their obligation by contributing to a new Community Climate Investment (CCI) fund which generates CCI credits representing an average of 1 mt CO2e each by investing in actions that reduce emissions. The CCI fund prioritizes investments to the communities most vulnerable to climate change, including rural communities, tribes, and communities of color. The CCI credits are offered for $107 each in 2023, and prices are set to increase to $134/credit by 2050 (in 2021 dollars) . Fossil fuel suppliers may use CCI credits for 10% of their compliance obligations at the start of the program, although the allowable percentage increases to and remains at 20% by 2028.
The decision to use CCI contributions instead of traditional carbon offsets ensures that environmental justice takes center stage in these emissions reductions. However, The Climate Trust has observed that, as proposed, the CCI fund lacks stringent, science-based requirements for quantifying and verifying emissions reductions, potentially reducing the program’s effectiveness and leaving it open to subjectivity and criticism . Leveraging the expertise of the existing carbon offset marketplace could help Oregon supply CCI credits that are real, additional, and cost-efficient. The cost of implementing this program has been a major concern for some groups, who argue that the new policy burdens consumers, farmers, and other industries .
Oregon’s CPP addresses both
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