By Julie Bonnin

The U.S. energy policy may be in flux and economic uncertainty at an all time high but a “cap and trade” policy on greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. is likely to be a major initiative not long after the upcoming presidential election.

While emissions offset trading is active in Europe and Asia, and some voluntary trading has begun in the U.S., American energy corporations are anticipating tougher emission reduction regulations and a corresponding need for traders, lawyers and other business people to work within the system as it evolves.

Thus far no one’s come out with “Carbon Trading for Dummies.” But the University of Houston, through a joint program of the C. T. Bauer College of Business and UH Law Center, will offer what is thought to be the country’s first comprehensive carbon trading course in spring of 2009.

The school expects to have about 50 business and law graduate students in the class, but has fielded a number of inquiries from traders and energy executives outside the school. Since the school disclosed its plans to offer the class, and before it announced it would only be open to UH graduate students, it received at least 50 calls from people from around the country who wanted to sit in, says Dr. Praveen Kumar, Executive Director of UH-Bauer’s Global Energy Management Institute.

“As far as I know, this is the only course of its kind, looking at the trading, legal, market design, and policy aspects of carbon trading,” Kumar said. “I know of no other university where the law school and the business school are joining forces to deal with this very important and complex issue. There may be private executive training companies that have specialized offerings related to carbon trading—but they will not have the scope of our course.”

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