California considers trading carbon with like-minded states

The USA's two strongholds of action on carbon emissions, California and a cluster of north eastern states on the Atlantic seaboard, have spoken of plans to join forces in the hopes of making their individual efforts more effective.

While the Bush administration is notoriously ambivalent on the issue of climate change, and espouses technological solutions over cutting carbon, there have been many moves at city and state level in the USA to address the problem at source by tackling emissions.

California recently announced its intention to begin carbon trading within its own borders, using the model of the European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), and the New York led north eastern and mid Atlantic states already have a fledgling cap-and-trade market as part of their Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

The week the Governors of New York and California, George E Pataki and actor-turned-politician Arnold Swarzenegger, met to discuss the possibility of linking the two schemes.

“I recently signed legislation giving California the most ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goal in the country,” said Gov Swarzenegger.

“But no one state can do it alone. It truly is a global problem where states, regions and nations must work together to find a solution.

“So I am happy to announce today that as we implement our new law we will form a greenhouse gas trading partnership with RGGI, the multi-state greenhouse gas cooperative spearheaded by Gov Pataki.”

Gov Schwarzenegger also announced an executive order directing California Secretary for Environmental Protection, Linda Adams, to coordinate state climate change policy and work out the details of how an inter-state market might work.

Such an arrangement would help to build a large, robust carbon trading market that will dramatically reduce emissions, according to the Governor’s office.

The states already fully signed up to RGGI are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Vermont. Maryland is expected to become a full participant in the process by June next year while the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, the Eastern Canadian Provinces and New Brunswick are observers in the process.

But the interest shown by California, a state with huge financial and industrial clout, will be seen as a coup for the pro-environment lobby in the USA.

Sam Bond

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