Policies & Politics industry smoke stacks

Published on December 5th, 2011 | by Tom Cranford

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California Cap-and-Trade Plan Sets National Example

industry smoke stacks

Americans are becoming ever more aware about the problems associated with human-caused greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. And positive changes have been made over recent years with this shift in public awareness. It’s now possible to drive an efficient, all-electric vehicle, such as the Nissan Leaf. Energy-inefficient light bulbs are being phased out by more efficient models. And solar powered consumer electronics are no longer a rarity.

However, our industrial processes and massive fleet of vehicles is still causing a lot of problems on a large scale. California is leading the way in putting caps, or maximums, on greenhouse gas emissions with some of the nation’s first cap-and-trade laws.

This is a wonderful precedent for environmentally-oriented laws. If handled correctly, this could be a path that the entire nation could follow, creating a more sustainable and clean environment. The cap-and-trade plan was voted through with no nay-sayers.

The goal is to reduce emissions in the state to the levels seen in 1990 by the year 2020. This means that industry will either have to cut its emissions or purchase additional “units” in order to remain compliant with the new law.

California is a large state with a lot of industry, and it has continued to be at the forefront of progressive, environmentally-sound rules and regulations that the rest of the nation can take inspiration from. This law creates clear-cut goals and it will be less expensive for industry to reduce its emissions than purchase expensive carbon offset credits — which is what will be required in order to remain compliant with the cap-and-trade policy.

In other areas of the country, where industry is a big part of the local economy, this policy could help to reduce the emissions produced in these areas as well. It remains to be seen how industry will respond to this law, but if an overall reduction in emissions is seen, then it will have been a success.

The government is finally putting laws into place that protect our environment and put forth concrete goals to help ameliorate the problems caused by greenhouse gas emissions. California’s progressive cap and trade laws can be a good blueprint for how other areas of the nation can help to reduce industry emissions in a way that works.

These laws will have the potential to help reduce the overall level of emissions while putting hefty penalties on companies who fail to meet the reduced emissions standards. This should put priority on the reduction of these emissions, lessening our impact on the climate.

image credit: Michel Banabila




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  • Michael R.

    This seems to be good news. My only concern with cap and trade systems is that they are market-based approaches and can reinforce the status quo (someone makes money from the purchasing of ‘off-set credits’). Whomever brokers the cap and trade, carbon off-set credit purchases, such as a large/international bank, may have an incentive to “keep the business going” by investing in other carbon-emitting industries. Supposedly, the World Bank acts as such a broker and also invests nearly a quarter of its income in carbon heavy industries (some of which will choose to purchase credits, rather than cut emissions — although in theory, this is what the C and T system is supposed to curtail).

    • http://importantmedia.org/members/zshahan/ Zachary Shahan

      yep, i personally would prefer a carbon tax. but i’ve seen some pretty good arguments for C&T OVER a carbon tax. i used to be quite opposed to C&T, but have turned around on it. i DO think there are opportunities for scandal there, but there almost always are..

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