RGGI helps to address the threat of global warming to the Northeast.
- Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012 demonstrated that the Northeast has much to lose from global warming. Hurricane Irene was responsible for 45 deaths and more than $6.5 billion in damage, while Hurricane Sandy was responsible for 72 deaths in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. The storm caused $65 billion in damage in the U.S. and other affected countries. Should current emission trends continue, scientists anticipate that the Northeast will be vulnerable to more extreme storms, rising seas, higher temperatures and other threats from global warming.
- The Northeast can make a meaningful contribution to reducing the impacts of global warming. In 2010, the 10 Northeastern states then participating in RGGI emitted 533 million metric tons (MMT) of carbon dioxide pollution from energy use. Were the Northeast its own country, its emissions would rank 10th in the world, ahead of the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Brazil and France. (See Figure ES-1.)
Figure ES-1. The Northeast Can Make a Meaningful Contribution to Reducing Global Warming (Carbon Dioxide in the Northeast vs. Selected Countries, 2010)
- RGGI is already reducing global warming pollution. Clean energy investments driven by RGGI through 2011 are expected to reduce global warming pollution by 12 million tons over their lifetimes, the equivalent of taking 2 million cars off the road for a year.
- Strengthening RGGI would cut emissions further, avoiding 86 to 91 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution (78 million to 83 million metric tons) between 2013 and 2020 according to an analysis conducted by RGGI, Inc. That is the equivalent annual emissions from 16 million cars. Re-investment of RGGI allowance auction revenues in programs to reduce direct consumption of fossil fuels would lead to further emission reductions.
- RGGI provides an effective model that can be adopted by other states and regions and eventually expanded to other sectors of the economy. In the last year, the state of California and the Canadian province of Quebec have both implemented cap-and-trade programs.