Sunday, January 20, 2013

Viewpoints: Cap and trade should look to broader goals
This is another discussion of California's cap-and-trade program that I think I have read a while back.

Although it is great that California is a leader in reducing carbon dioxide emissions, no one should kid themselves into thinking that AB 32 will make a difference in limiting climate change.  I think that someone at the conference said that California and Australia produce the same amount of GHG emissions, just over 1% of the world's total.  Even eliminating our emissions would barely make a dent.

There is not much substance to the piece; it is mostly a call for conservatism and moderation.  If California shows that it can significantly reduce GHG emissions while maintaining a thriving economy, then perhaps the rest of the world will be more willing to undertake market-based climate policy (eg a carbon tax or cap-and-trade).  In addition, California can collaborate with other nations and develop a collaborative carbon price.

The key here is that other countries need to follow our lead in developing a policy that will reduce emissions. If California screws up and cripples its economy or just creates massive leakage, there is little prospect in advancing the case for action.  Fortunately, there did seem to be a realization at the carbon pricing conference at the need for cooperation.  Hopefully California will be fairly successful, although even the best-designed carbon pricing schemes have (British Columbia's revenue-neutral carbon tax) failed at getting majority support.

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