Monday, July 31, 2006

Strange Bedfellows

UK, Calif. to Strike Global Warming Deal

Associated Press Writer

July 31, 2006, 8:02 AM EDT

WASHINGTON -- Britain and California are preparing to sidestep the Bush administration and fight global warming together by creating a joint market for greenhouse gases.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger plan to lay the groundwork for a new trans-Atlantic market in carbon dioxide emissions, The Associated Press has learned. Such a move could help California cut carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases scientists blame for warming the planet. President Bush has rejected the idea of ordering such cuts.

Blair and Schwarzenegger were expected to announce their collaboration Monday afternoon in Los Angeles, according to documents provided by British government officials on condition of anonymity because the announcement was forthcoming.

The aim is to fix a price on carbon pollution, an unwanted byproduct of burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gasoline. The idea is to set overall caps for carbon and reward businesses that find a profitable way to minimize their carbon emissions, thereby encouraging new, greener technologies.
Keeping in mind that California's economy is one of the largest in the world, dwarfing even entire nations, and you can see why this is a fairly important step.

Lest you think this is in violation of some Federal power to enact treaties, this is a commercial deal, meaning the Federal government is going to have to remain hands-off about this, or they'll have to jump through a hoop to stop it (which I don't think they will, to be honest).

Essentially, this deal represents what the Kyoto accords were to produce: a global "carbon credit" market where developed nations would buy excess carbon production credits from less developed (and therefore, less polluting nations), the payments used to generate economic development and to leapfrog the fossil fuel stage of energy production in lesser-developed nations.

How it would work is, a "carbon ceiling" would be set for a nation (or in this case, state), usually based on some recent level of production, say the amount produced in 2000. This ceiling would gradually be lowered on all nations as the treay progressed.

For industrialized nations, this ceiling would be the actual amount produced. For less developed nations, it would be some factor above that level. Nations who produced more than their allotment would be fined, and less, would receive credits for carbon production that they could sell on an open market. The payments to less developed nations would obviously be less than the fines imposed on over-producing nations, so that's where the action would be.

It's interesting that Blair has proposed this, as one sticking point between the US and Great Britain has been Bush idiotic stubborness ignorance intransigence on doing anything about global warming, despite his own admission that it exists, that human activity is responsible for a large part of it, and that Americans are responsible for more than their share of the human addition to it.

Blair has, without fail, raised this issue each year, and each year has been rebuffed by America. Apparently, he's decided to circumvent the White House "brain trust" and utilize the very tool the White House cannot control, the free market.

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