Benchmarking for the California Cap-and-Trade Program

Ecofys was leading a consortium helping the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to achieve California’s goal of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020. This is equivalent to a 30% reduction in projected emissions. Ultimately, the goal was to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050.

Together with the University of California, Berkeley and Northwestern University, we helped the California Air Resources Board to establish output-based benchmarks for industrial processes. These benchmarks were used for the distribution of free emission allowances facilities covered by the California Cap-and-Trade Program, which is one of the policy instruments the state has adopted to reduce emissions cost-effectively.

One of the main results of the project was the development of output-based benchmarks for selected sectors, for which such benchmarks did not yet exist (mainly food processing). Another major part of the project focused on the benchmarking approach for refineries in the period after 2015.


Maarten Neelis
Climate Strategies and Policies
Refinery in California, USA