Carbon trading on the west coast

This is a fascinating story arising out of BC’s newfound religion on climate change. It seems to me that the devil is in the details when it comes to carbon trading. A hard cap must be set and must be enforced with strong penalties. Allocating emission rights based on past performance is problematic, as it rewards those who are the worst violators. I’d rather see a system that allocated rights on an equal per capita basis, then creates the market for those over their limit to purchase from those who are not.

We’ll see how this one develops. I was recently told by Berkeley’s George Lakoff (of issue framing fame) that Arnie fought the California climate change law tooth and nail, but the Democratic house pressed it through and then let him take the credit after the fact. So Mr Hummer’s green street cred is really just smart politics.

B.C. joins Schwarzenegger’s ‘carbon credits’ trading market

British Columbia’s government announced Tuesday it will be the first Canadian province to join an emerging international system to fight global warming by creating a carbon trading market that lets polluters buy “carbon credits” from cleaner and greener companies.

The province is joining five U.S. western states that in February formed a bloc, first proposed by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, that will set aggressive targets for greenhouse gas emissions in California, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and Arizona.

… But announcing a carbon market is easier than making it work.Mark Jaccard, Simon Fraser University’s internationally respected global-warming expert, noted that B.C. politicians declared their support for a similar carbon trading system about 15 years ago. It quickly foundered because the New Democratic Party government never took the tough step of actually capping greenhouse gas emissions, meaning there was never a real incentive to buy carbon credits.

“We’ve already had governments make these announcements, but then they never come through with the greenhouse gas caps,” said Jaccard. “In the absence of the government setting caps that are serious, an announcement of a trading system is meaningless. So why would this be any different?”

The B.C. government, however, insists that this time, the policy will have teeth. … But environmentalists remain cautious, saying the test will be what greenhouse gas emission caps and penalties are set.

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