May 20, 2020 – Today, California is conducting its quarterly auction of pollution allowances under the state’s cap-and-trade program. Due to the massive drop in fossil fuel demand, analysts expect the auction to generate substantially less revenue than anticipated.

In response, Food & Water Action Policy Director Mitch Jones released the following statement:

Today’s carbon pollution auction exposes more problems inherent to market-based approaches to reducing emissions. When a state relies on pollution to generate revenue to fund environmental programs, those programs are endangered by a drop in pollution.

This paradox lies at the heart of pollution trading: Instead of making the political decisions to drastically reduce these emissions, many leaders opt to monetize pollution under the assumption that the marketplace will eventually drive us towards these goals. This approach has been a colossal failure; to make matters even worse, the program that covers California’s power plants has actually increased air pollution in already overburdened communities. The time for ineffective market-friendly climate policies has long passed. They have utterly failed to reduce pollution, and now they are undermining other environmental programs that rely on pollution for their funding.