California’s largest electric utility joined with a coalition of about 30 other companies and environmental groups today, in taking the wraps off a proposed national climate strategy. After two years of talks, the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, which includes PG&E, is ready to put its muscle behind it’s Blueprint for Legislative Action, just in time for Inauguration Day.
The program uses a trading program for carbon credits, much like the Western Climate Initiative, a collaboration of several western states and Canadian provinces. The goal is to roll back greenhouse gas emissions to:
> 97%‐102% of 2005 levels by 2012
> 80%‐86% of 2005 levels by 2020
> 58% of 2005 levels by 2030
> 20% of 2005 levels by 2050
While stated a little differently here, the targets reflect what has become the broadly accepted goal of cutting GHGs 80% by 2050.
A thorny question surrounding carbon trading programs is always whether pollution credits will be auctioned off or given away free to major emitters. According to the group’s “blueprint:”
“USCAP recommends that a significant portion of allowances should be initially distributed free to
capped entities and economic sectors particularly disadvantaged by the secondary price effects of a
cap and that free distribution of allowances be phased out over time.”
This would appear to conflict with the stated goals of the Western Climate Initiative, whose representatives have committed (at least verbally) to making companies pay for most credits up front. And yet the USCAP plan carries the endorsement of major environmental organizations, such as The Nature Conservancy and the NRDC, both of which are members.
As one corporate executive put it at the plan’s unveiling, “We simply think you have to give away a significant portion…and then phase them out over time.”
The USCAP plan also offers emitters the chance to buy approved carbon offsets and gives special allowances to companies that have already achieved verifiable reductions in GHG emissions–or plan to do so.