Florida to release tough climate action plan
The state government of Florida is set today to release its action plan on climate change, which includes significant reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions and indicates that the state stands to reap $28 billion in net economic savings by 2025 if it moves forward with cutting carbon.
A draft summary [PDF] of the plan from the state’s Action Team on Energy and Climate Change includes 50 policy recommendations, and notes that if all of these were acted upon, the state could reduce emissions 64 percent by 2025. That would mean a reduction of 33 percent below 1990 levels — a much larger cut than Gov. Charlie Crist (R) called for last year when he created the “Action Team.” The summary was posted on the state’s Department of Environmental Protection website yesterday (as David Sassoon pointed out on SolveClimate), and a final version is due out shortly.
“Early action to address global climate change has significant energy security benefits for Floridians, while positioning the state to become a regional and hemispheric hub of green technology innovation and investment,” the report concludes.
The measures proposed in the report would reduce the state’s dependence on fossil fuels drastically, cutting petroleum use by 53.5 billion gallons, coal use by 200.2 million short tons, and natural gas use by 6.394 billion cubic feet over the period from 2009 to 2025.
“While it may be assumed by some readers that the current economic environment would hamper Florida’s progress toward a low-carbon economy, the Action Team firmly believes that current economic conditions precisely sharpen the ‘call to action’ first issued by Governor Crist in 2007,” says the report. “Now is the time for strategic investment in Florida’s low-carbon energy infrastructure if we are to be successful in diversifying the state’s economy, creating new job opportunities, and positioning Florida’s ‘green tech’ sector as an economic engine for growth.”
The Action Team, which Crist created by executive order last year, consists of 28 members, including environmentalists, business leaders, four members of the state legislature, and representatives from the utilities sector. It was headed up by the secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, Michael W. Sole. The team approved each of the 50 proposed measures unanimously.
The plan also calls for the state to look at regional cap-and-trade programs like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and the Western Climate Initiative, and evaluate whether to link up with those programs. But the report states that a cap-and-trade program will be only a portion of the plan: “The cap-and-trade program is intended to be implemented concurrently with other recommended policy actions, to guarantee that emissions targets are met within the covered sectors, and, potentially, to generate additional reductions and cost savings.”
Meanwhile, progress on putting in place a renewable portfolio standard for the state seems to be lagging. Crist has said he wants the state to produce 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, but a proposal from the state’s Public Service Commission wouldn’t meet that goal until 2041. Though three of the PSC’s five commissioners agree that the 2020 goal is possible, the recommendation that came from the commission’s staff laid out significantly lower targets — 5 percent renewables by 2017, 10 percent by 2025, and 15 percent by 2033.
A recommendation from the commission was expected yesterday, but instead regulators directed the staff to reevaluate their proposal. There will be another public hearing on the proposal on Dec. 3, and a vote is scheduled for January. The commission is supposed to have its proposal ready to send to the state legislature for approval by Feb. 1.