States Go It Alone with Cap & Trade Plus Wind & Solar

States Go It Alone with Cap & Trade plus Wind & Solar

States don’t have to wait for Federal Government to mandate it. A cap-and-trade program already exists in the US. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) involves 10 Northeastern states and a US$2 per ton on carbon emissions from power plants. Meanwhile, a Nobel Prize-winning US scientist says the world could soon enter an era in which renewable wind and solar power will be the globe’s main sources of energy.

UPI News Track Health and Science News (24 August 2010):

Scientist: Wind, solar energy is future

A Nobel Prize-winning U.S. scientist says the world could soon enter an era in which renewable wind and solar power will be the globe’s main sources of energy.

Walter Kohn, who shared the 1998 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, told a meeting of the American Chemical Society that total oil and natural gas production, which today provides about 60 percent of global energy consumption, is expected to peak about 10 to 30 years from now, followed by a rapid decline, an ACS release said Tuesday.

But ongoing research and development of alternative energy could lead to a new era in human history in which two renewable sources — solar and wind — will become Earth’s dominant contributors of energy, Kohn said.

Global photovoltaic energy production increased by a factor of about 90, and wind energy by a factor of about 10, during the last 10 years, Kohn said. He expects vigorous growth of these two effectively inexhaustible energies to continue.

Kohn, from the University of California, Santa Barbara, cited students on his campus who spent their own funds to convert an athletic building to total solar power.

“When it comes to providing leadership by young people in the area of energy conservation and energy efficiency and global warming — they are fantastic,” he said. “It is a major social commitment for our times.”


Gina Marie Cheeseman for Care2 (23 August 2010):

US States and Regions Taking Up the Charge to Reduce Carbon Emissions

As prospects for Congress to pass climate legislation this year dim, states are taking up the charge to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Take last week’s hearings in New Mexico to create a cap on GHGs as an example. New Mexico’s Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) held five days of hearing testimony on a proposal by New Energy Economy (NEE). The EIB will hold more hearings to listen to testimony from groups opposed to the NEE proposal.

In 2008, the NEE petitioned the EIB to regulate the state’s GHG emissions. The NEE’s proposed cap on GHGs would be phased in, and first applies to gas and oil industry and energy generation sources that emit over 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year, and would be required to reduce emissions by three percent a year from 2010 levels, beginning in 2012.

“I think with the failure of federal action on climate change, it is going to be incumbent on states to lead, and having an opposition witness notice that, that’s pretty important,” NEE executive director John Fogarty said in an interview.

A cap-and-trade program already exists in the U.S. It is called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), and 10 Northeastern states participate. The program consists of a $2 per ton on carbon emissions from power plants. Although the cap is small, it will increase. Furthermore, carbon permits are auctioned off by state governments “which has allowed states to raise about $88 million for efficiency and renewable-power programs,” according to The New Republic.  

An analysis by Point Carbon estimated that the RGGI and the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), a cap-and-trade system for seven Western states and four Canadian provinces that will begin in January 2012, could meet about 41 percent of the Obama administration’s 2020 target of reducing carbon emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels. The two programs expected to bring in about $100 billion until 2020 for public investments in renewable energy.

The WCI will require regional GHG emissions to be reduced by 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. It will be completely implemented in 2015, and will cover almost 90 percent of the GHG emissions of its participating states and provinces.

Nobuo Tanaka, executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) said that the U.S. “certainly has to introduce carbon prices either by cap-and-trade or carbon tax” to meet the 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 target. Until that happens, expect regions and states to implement their own emissions reduction programs.


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