Sustainability Reads: December 30- January 4

California’s cap-and-trade program now covers cars
The state’s cap-and-trade program was extended on Jan. 1st 2015, on schedule, to cover companies that sell fuel to drivers (transportation fuel). That means fuel retailers will have to either provide lower-carbon fuels or buy permits for the pollution their products put into the air. Although oil industry warns of an increase in gas prices as high as 76 cents per gallon, state government and independents economists disagree with the high estimates (and recognize the incentives to overstate). The increase is expected to be 10 cents per gallon -if that. There is no doubt that eyes will be on California for this new stage of the cap and trade system which is possible under AB32. On Grist.org.

Power-boosting NGO Performance
With better data and the right incentives, even the most complicated organizations can be more effective. That’s the message of this article and we completely agree. Guidance and support highlight the power of data itself, how tools can address uncertainty, that simple is better, and variation produces learning opportunities. On the incentives side, small incentives can have outsized benefits, supporting change works better than imposing it, and funders of organizational change need to accept risks and longer timelines. Definitely worth the read, especially if you work or volunteer at an NGO. By Lee Green and Nathan Huttner on SSIR.

10 solar trends set to dawn in the New Year
We keep hearing about record solar PV installation, but this article does a great job of breaking down other factors in the solar industry that will continue to develop in 2015. More specifically, new financing models are making it possible for more people to go solar and the price of rooftop solar is getting closer to price of electricity from the grid; however, the U.S. federal tax investment credit for renewable may decrease from 30% to 10% by end of 2016. Industry struggles include the high cost of battery systems to store solar energy and the ability of utilities to shift their models towards renewables. Additionally, soft costs (everything from permitting to customer acquisition) and tariffs on Chinese and Taiwanese PV imports keep solar more expensive in the U.S. compared to other countries. Solar manufacturers could also do better on pollution and other sustainability concerns. Interesting to see developments in 2015.

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