Fri, Oct 17, 2008 - Page 7 News List

California draws up plan to reduce its emissions


To reach its global warming goals, California must cut greenhouse gas emissions by about 4 tonnes per person, which would require cleaner cars, more renewable energy and a cap on major polluters, a state plan released on Wednesday showed.

It’s the first comprehensive effort of any state to reduce greenhouse gases in the absence of federal regulation. The plan to be voted on by the California Air Resources Board in December builds upon an earlier draft on ways to meet the global warming law signed by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger two years ago.

“Despite a difficult economy, it is important that we move forward on our environmental goals, which is why I am pleased that in California we have put together a plan for reducing our greenhouse gas emissions that also boosts our economy,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement.

California will implement the plan over the next few years through lengthy regulations that have yet to be written, so many details remain unknown. An analysis released by the board last month suggested California’s economy would grow faster under the proposal than if the state did nothing to cut emissions blamed for global warming.

One of the most contentious proposals is a cap-and-trade program to help power plants, oil and gas refiners and other major polluters lower their carbon emissions. The idea is to allow businesses that cannot cut their emissions because of cost or technical hurdles to buy credits from cleaner businesses.

Many embrace a trading scheme as cost-effective, but some worry businesses could shirk their responsibilities and continue polluting the air. The latest plan suggests firms could get some emission credits for free, but polluters eventually would have to buy into the market.

Local governments will also be asked to build residential developments near public transportation, shops and businesses.

Regulators said decisions would be made later. Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols explained that regulators first wanted to think through the implications of such a plan before addressing the specifics.

Some businesses have criticized the board’s analysis that California’s economy would grow under the plan. They also say requiring firms to initially buy their way into a carbon trading market would amount to a tax on struggling businesses.

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