Some US States act Locally on Carbon Emissions

Phil Wilcock
Feb 04, 2011

With the UK Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) currently in a state of flux, and US congress fighting over whether or not to block the US Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon emissions, what’s happening at a more local level. Is the real answer to tackle our emissions at the state level or do we have to wait for government to lead us by the hand?

The UK’s ftenergysource blog reports on the efforts by 23 US states to take the bull by the horns and institute their own cap-and-trade schemes.

Ten north-eastern and mid-Atlantic states capped and began reducing carbon dioxide emissions in January 2009. That Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is working to reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector 10 per cent by 2018. In California they claim to have on of the most comprehensive schemes which kicks off in 2012.

Another group of six states and one Canadian province have been working since 2007 in the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord to form their own system. And then there is the Western Climate Initiative of seven states, including California, and four Canadian provinces.

It’s the Californian scheme that seems to be attracting attention at the moment, as it’s one of the most aggressive. At the moment it seems to be running into trouble. Just today a San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled that the California Air Resources Board violated state environmental law in 2008 when it adopted a comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gases and again last year when it passed cap-and-trade regulations. Although only a tentative decision, if it is made final, California would be barred from implementing its ambitious plan to combat global warming.

So as you can see there is much resistance to thee types of schemes even at the local level. In fact the states that not yet moving to cap-and-trade are those most dependent upon fossil fuels and major carbon emitters – the southeast and the lower Midwest. That includes states like Texas, which not only are not moving on cap-and-trade but are among those actively fighting to prevent the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions within their borders.

As governments across the world prevaricate over which scheme to implement (if at all), and the economic downturn provides fuel to those who argue that carbon reduction legislation may damage fragile recovery, we seem to be at a point where nothing much is happening. Hopefully though we will see more action at the state level and in some cases even city or town. Just because the world is waiting doesn’t mean that you have to. We really don’t have too much time to waste..

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