Tag Archive for ‘Cap-and-Trade’
“Cap-and-trade,” whereby big polluters must pay to emit greenhouse gases against a capped total amount that is reduced over time—has been in effect across the European Union (EU) since 2005. Meanwhile, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, Kazakhstan and South Korea have each set up their own national cap-and-trade programs to varying degrees of success, while regional versions have popped up within Japan, Canada and the U.S.
The best hope to date was 2009’s American Clean Energy and Security Act, a bill that called for the implementation of a “cap-and-trade” system to limit carbon dioxide emissions. That bill failed to pass, and most experts say it’s inconceivable to think the next Congress – or President Obama – would even contemplate strong climate or clean energy legislation.
For decades environmentalists have argued that economics should take into account the costs borne by such externalities in order to discern the true overall value to society of any given action or activity. The company or utility that operates the polluting factory, for instance, should be required to compensate the larger society by paying for the pollution it produces so as to offset the harm it does.
The only hope for a new carbon-cutting law from the U.S. Congress in 2010 could involve what has long been thought of as the least politically viable approach: a tax on carbon. But achieving that might very well require an alliance of strange bedfellows – including environmental advocates and ExxonMobil, long a chief climate change skeptic.
The CEO of a leading socially responsible investment firm thinks it’s curious that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which ostensibly represents the business community, “has not only chosen to oppose climate change solutions but continues to advance the specious argument that we face a stark choice between the environment and the economy – that addressing climate change will somehow be bad for business and cost us jobs. The opposite is the case.”