By Amy Flick
“I’m looking for data on carbon trading and cap-and-trade, preferably with graphs. I’m doing a paper on California’s cap-and-trade program, and I’m looking for data on international carbon trading programs for a comparison.”
The reference department at MacMillan Law Library gets an increasing number of requests for data in recent years. Some law libraries have added a specialist librarian or social sciences expert to support empirical research, but at Emory we rely on the expertise of the Data Librarian in the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship, part of the main Woodruff Library, to assist our faculty and students with complex data and statistics projects. I am not qualified, at all, to do empirical analysis. I went to law school because I was told there would be no math – and then I went into bankruptcy law. Nicholas Kristof is right, I should have taken a class on statistics.
I am also only barely familiar with carbon trading.
But we do get statistical reference questions, so I will see if I can find a publication with tables, or a likely database, for the student to use for his project, leaving the interpretation of the data up to him. I’m with him on wanting graphs; if I’m looking at data, I want some visual interpretation.
California’s Air Resources Board has data on its Cap-and-Trade Program, with publications on market transfers, offset credits issued, and compliance reports. It even has video presentations on using its compliance data. The student was hoping to find graphs to include in his project, and publications like California Greenhouse Gas Emissions for 2000 to 2017 summarize years of data with multiple graphs.
California’s Cap-and-Trade program is also a revenue source, so data is also available in the California Legislative Analyst’s Office 2019-20 Budget for Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, which includes Cap-and-Trade revenue tables and graphs.
The student mentioned Canada as a possible jurisdiction for a comparison. Canada as a whole isn’t the simplest choice for him to work with, although Ontario or Quebec might be, since they also have cap-and-trade systems, linked to California’s. Canadian provinces have their own carbon pricing systems, with a federal carbon pricing system for provinces that haven’t enacted one or that don’t meet federal benchmarks. The publication Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change was helpful for explaining the Canadian system, and it includes some data and graphs. More current data is available in the Annual Reports on Canada’s Climate Plan and other greenhouse gas reports.
Another possibility for comparison is the European Union. Its Emissions Trading System is a Cap-and-Trade system operating in all EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. The European Commission’s climate action pages include tables and graphs on emissions monitoring and progress, auction revenues, and individual member state emission profiles. The European Environment Agency has downloadable data on emissions and allowances. Getting away from EU sources, Business Insider even tracks CO2 European Emission Allowances as a commodities market.
There are some good sources for comparative research with data from multiple countries. The Canadian and EU reports led me to the National Communications to the secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. These include Greenhouse Gas Emissions data and projections, along with summaries of initiatives for emissions reduction.
The World Bank has a Carbon Pricing Dashboard on regional and national initiatives, with graphs, types of initiatives (carbon tax or emissions trading system), and revenue, with data starting at 1990. It includes California’s Cap-and-Trade system with many other systems for a possible comparison. The World Bank also has data on CO2 emissions. And its report on State and Trends of Carbon Pricing 2019 is filled with maps, graphs, and tables.
The International Carbon Action Partnership also has a 2019 Status Report on Worldwide Emissions Trading with summaries by country (and for the U.S., Canada, and China, by state or province) that include descriptions of ETS systems and infographics. ICAP also has an ETS Allowance Price Explorer. The ICAP ETS Map can be used to find factsheets by jurisdiction, including emissions, GHG reduction targets, carbon price, caps, and other information.
The statistical and data sources we found are complex, but there is data to be found on carbon trading systems. I found it all overwhelming, but the student was confident that he could find the data points he needed for a comparison with California and recommendations on alternative systems.