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Time for Climate Plan B: with the Recent Political Rejection of Cap-And-Trade Carbon Policies, The Nation Needs A New Approach That Pushes The Development Of Energy Technologies and Fosters Markets for Them (Climate Change) (Company Overview)

Issues in Science and Technology 2011, Wntr, 27, 2

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Policymakers in the United States and else where have assumed for 15 years that putting a price on carbon would be an effective strategy for addressing climate change. Nations would price carbon emissions, cap carbon production levels, ratchet down the cap over time, allow carbon emitters to pay for their continued use of carbon but at an ever-increasing cost, and use this market mechanism to price carbon emissions into a steep decline. This market-forcing would spur the introduction of innovative new technologies into energy markets, displacing fossil fuel technologies. The approach derived from the successful use in the United States of cap-and-trade against acid rain under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. At the Kyoto Framework Convention in 1997, the United States persuaded participating nations that the approach would work worldwide against carbon emissions. The subsequent Kyoto Protocol eventually obtained enough signatures to, in theory go into effect, and Europe has enacted a cap-and-trade program. However, the biggest carbon emitters--the United States and China--have been AWOL. Concerned policymakers have continued to assume that the United States would adopt carbon cap-and-trade over time and then lure in China and other emerging economies. During the most recent session of Congress, they came close. The House passed cap-and-trade legislation in 2009, but the Senate in 2010 came up short of the votes needed to break a filibuster. In one of those periodic tidal shifts in congressional politics, cap-and-trade worried coal and manufacturing states suffering job losses from the recession and became anathema to many conservatives, indefinitely postponing the legislation.