POLITICS

Cap and trade fails again

|
Politics,Beltway Confidential,Conn Carroll

We may be stuck with Obamacare for the next four years, but at least conservatives succeeded in blocking President Obama’s carbon cap and trade plan, which has been a total failure everywhere it has been implemented. The Washington Post reports from Europe today:

Green-friendly Europe has a dirty secret: It is burning a lot more coal.

Europe’s use of the fossil fuel spiked last year after a long decline, powered by a surge of cheap U.S. coal on global markets and by the unintended consequences of ambitious climate policies that capped emissions and reduced reliance on nuclear energy.

One big part of the problem, experts and officials say, is Europe’s cap-and-trade system, which aims to reduce European Union-wide industrial greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020. The system is the centerpiece of Europe’s green policies. But the program, which charges industries for permits to emit greenhouse gases, no longer serves as a major disincentive to pollute. Industrial production fell dramatically during the economic crisis, so overall greenhouse gas emissions remain well underneath the cap, and they are still falling. The price per ton of carbon emissions is barely more than a tenth of its 2008 peak. Energy companies, who must plan decades in advance, have shied away from investing in gas-fired power plants because they are not profitable in comparison to coal.

California’s cap and trade policy is not even a year old and it already is failing to meet expectations too. The Sacramento Bee reports:

A low price for credits and minimal demand for future offsets suggest California will see a mere fraction of the $1 billion that Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers estimated the state would receive this fiscal year.

If demand remains similar in two forthcoming auctions, the state would generate only about $140 million, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated Wednesday.

That would strain the $91 billion state budget and disappoint environmentalists who wanted to spend the money on efforts to reduce pollution and improve energy efficiency.

View article comments Leave a comment