While campaigning for the White House, Barack Obama and Joe Biden promoted the goal of reducing carbon emissions from the United States by 80% by the year 2050. The plan proposed an economy wide cap-and-trade program to reduce emissions, making the U.S. a leader in climate change. It concurs with scientists around the world that say this level of reduction is needed to begin restoring the atmosphere.
Washington has not yet fully embraced cap-and-trade, though legislation is pending in Congress. (See “60″ above.)
The Energy and Commerce committee will hold legislative hearings on The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. The legislation would attack energy and global warming issues from many angles, creating millions of clean energy jobs, a path to energy independence, and a reduction in global warming pollution.
Cap and trade programs are the policy approach to controlling large amounts of emissions from dirty industries, like coal, oil refining and others. According to EPA, the cap is set at the limit at which emissions are allowed in order to produce a desired environmental effect. The cap is tightened over time, as industry improves its ability to capture or reduce emissions.
The trade part of the equation allows polluters to literally buy time to retrofit by purchasing “credits” from clean companies that are outperforming.
Cap and trade creates economic incentives for releasing less carbon, and economic consequences for continued emissions that exceed limits, and leaves this all to the marketplace in the belief that free trade — within government guidelines — will drive up the cost of pollution and reward cleaner approaches.