California and Quebec held a joint cap-and-trade auction earlier this month, selling all of the current and future vintage greenhouse gas emission allowances and garnering about $813 million for the state's GHG reduction fund that supports climate mitigation programs statewide.
A total of 78.8 million current allowances and 9.4 million advance allowances were sold at a joint auction organized by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and Quebec's Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MELCC) on Nov. 14. It was the seventh consecutive CARB auction to sell out.
The latest auction included current allowances for 2016, 2017 and 2018, as well as vintage 2021 credits. Winning bids came in both U.S. and Canadian dollars, and auction proceeds will be distributed Dec. 13. An independent market monitor recommended that the state and the Canadian province approve the November auction results.
Based on the successful auction, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) said addressing climate change is now "an integral part of doing business" in California. "Cap-and-trade compliance is at 100%, and emissions are falling [statewide]," an EDF spokesperson said.
CARB sold 45.07 million current and 8.02 million advance allowances, while MELCC had 9.66 million current and 1.38 million advance allowances sold.
Auction reserve prices were $14.53 (C$19.24) per allowance for both current and advance allowances, while settlement prices were $15.31 (C$20.27) for current and $15.33 (C$20.30) for advance allowances.
The $14.53 price was the floor and 26 cents more than the August auction allowances fetched. According to a CARB spokesperson, the floor will increase for future allowances in the next auction. Some observers think the prospect of a higher floor price starting next year may have added to the demand for the November auction.
Last year, California lawmakers extended the much-debated multi-billion-dollar cap-and-trade program for another decade. The carbon emissions trading system was set to expire in 2020.
At the end of last year, a discussion paper by the Brattle Group predicted California's cap-and-trade carbon emissions program could experience significant price spikes for the carbon credits over the next 12 years. Near-term (through the early 2020s), the paper predicted prices "will remain near the floor" in the program that is participated in widely by operators in the oil and gas industry.
Among the U.S. participants in the auction were BP Products North America Inc., Chevron USA Inc., Macquarie Energy LLC, NRG Power Marketing LLC, Shell Energy North America, and all the major private sector and public utilities in California and Quebec.