Carbon trading begins in USA

Carbon has officially became a tradable commodity in the USA, with New York Governor David Paterson presiding over the launch of the nation's first ever auction of CO2 allowances.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) covers ten states in the North East of the USA and mirrors Europe’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

The scheme covers more than 200 fossil fuel power plants, requiring owners to buy credits to cover their carbon emissions.

Proceeds from the auction will go towards energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in the participating states.

“Global warming is the most pressing environmental issue of our time, and unfortunately the federal government has failed to take comprehensive action to address it,” said Governor Paterson.

“But by coming together with nine other states, New York is showing that we can take our own bold action in reducing greenhouse gas emissions,”

“With the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, we are attacking global warming in three ways: reducing emissions, fostering energy conservation and stimulating development of a clean energy economy and green jobs.”

Pete Grannis, commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, said older, less efficient power stations would have to buy more credits than those employing newer, cleaner technology.

“Dirty power plants will be at a competitive disadvantage and there will be more incentive to reduce emissions, make upgrades and build cleaner plants,” he said.

California is also a vocal advocate for carbon trading, and is spearheading efforts to establish the Western Climate Initiative, a similar cap-and-trade system with seven western states and a number of Canadian provinces set to start trading in 2012.

“Florida is also studying a cap-and-trade system, as are several Midwest states.”

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said: “I applaud the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative for taking action to slow the dangerous impacts of climate change through innovative market solutions.

“These types of solutions hold polluters responsible, create a financial incentive to reduce emissions to the maximum extent and spur the development of innovative technologies.

“Like our partners in the Northeastern states, we’re committed to taking action locally and regionally in our fight against global warming.

“I am optimistic that the ground we are laying with the Western Climate Initiative, alongside RGGI, is key to the future development and success of a national climate policy.”

David Gibbs

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