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Can the states make a real dent in climate change?

Brad Plumer investigates:

Already, ten states in the Northeast have put their electric utilities under a cap-and-trade system known as RGGI. Eleven Western states and Canadian provinces are now laying the groundwork for their own cap-and-trade system, known as the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), which would begin in 2012 and could well expand further. Right now, there's a lot of cooperation between RGGI and WCI, Tamminen said—so that in the future they could be linked up, possibly with Europe's system, and possible with offset projects in, say, China and India. (Relatedly, Schwarzenegger is putting together an "R-20" for various subnational governments, modeled after the G-20, to get together and coordinate these sorts of regional efforts.)

Okay, but what sorts of cuts are we really talking about? The WCI, after all, includes some hefty states and provinces—California, Ontario, Washington, Arizona—but it doesn't include some of the heaviest polluters, like Alberta and Texas. Unfortunately, no one's done a full tally of the total impact on U.S. emissions—it's still too early for that. But, Tamminen notes, when you add state efforts to the hundreds of cities that have pledged to reduce their emissions, suddenly we're talking about a big swath of the United States. "Eighty percent of the country's emissions come from cities and industrial areas that are often located near those cities."

And, Tamminen adds, other states will have plenty of incentive to buy into these climate plans. For instance, some of the RGGI states have used revenue from selling carbon permits to help fill in their budget shortfalls ($100 million in New York's case)—an option that may increasingly look attractive to many governors around the country.

By Ezra Klein  |  January 27, 2010; 7:09 AM ET
Categories:  Climate Change  
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You lost me at "offset projects." Offsets = loophole of doom. Aside from that, if enough states can act on their own (collectively), more power to them!

Posted by: JonathanTE | January 27, 2010 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Are the states involved capping emissions from energy they produce or energy they consume? Most of the states listed are net importers of energy, so unless they are basing their numbers on total consumption regardless of source, all they're doing is shifting the responsibility outside their borders.

Texas, Louisiana, etc. would be examples of the opposite. Much of their emissions come from producing oil and refined products that will ultimately be consumed elsewhere.

Posted by: tl_houston | January 27, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

i'd say more of a ding than a dent. Now if we got the entire world involved then we can have an 8 car pile up.

You see that to me is the problem with climate change legislation. If everyone's not involved (including the most heinous polluters) (US, China, India) then how can individual groups make more than a ding while simultaneously damaging their economies while others don't have to deal with the financial impacts of carbon taxes. i'm all for climate change legislation if there was a way we could legislate everyone in the world to do it.

The other issue I have is all the profiteering that's to come with all these green initiatives. If its not alright to profit on healthcare then why is it alright to profit on the saving of the planet? Shouldn't we have GLR's for green energy too??? It can't and shouldn't be when its convenient or INCONVENIENT to profit from it.

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 27, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Alberta? Seriously? Why cause of cow farts?

Posted by: jercary | January 27, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Climate Change(Global Warming) is FALSE science, so the article is just bulldung to begin with. Throw this article in the round file and mark with a "G" for garbage!!

Posted by: sarasota1 | January 27, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Climate Change is a scam. Global Warming is a Scam. Carbon Foot printing is a scam. Mother Nature and Mr. Sun are in control of this planet;not a bunch of wacko environmentalists ..

Posted by: yokohlman | January 27, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

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