Since the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) launched in 2009, low allowance prices have been frequent and precipitated important design adjustments at the first program review. As a part of the ongoing 2016 program review, RGGI is considering a new provision, known as an emissions containment reserve (ECR), that would incorporate a minimum price for specified quantities of allowances under the cap and thereby introduce steps into the allowance supply function. This report uses simulation modeling and economic experiments to explore the implications of introducing an ECR and varying its design parameters. Whenever the ECR is in effect it allows advantageous changes in the demand for emissions allowances to be shared between the economy and the environment. From a behavioral perspective we find the ECR does not hinder price discovery in allowance markets.
- An emissions containment reserve (ECR) is a mechanism intended to support the program by reducing the number of emissions allowances that are sold at low prices.
- An ECR shares the risks and benefits of changes in the demand for emissions allowances between economic and environmental interests.
- It helps preserve the incentive for state and local government action and individual efforts to address climate change goals by enabling additional emissions reductions when prices are low.
- An ECR is transparent and can be expected to reduce price volatility, providing a more predictable market environment.
- Implementation of an ECR under RGGI would not eclipse the importance of regular program reviews, but it may make those reviews significantly easier to accomplish.