In what may be viewed as a striking fracture to a unified approach to climate change, 18 environmental justice groups have announced their opposition to any type of carbon trading or even carbon offset approach, preferring use of carbon fees instead.
Environmental justice groups unlaunched a campaign on Feb. 19 "to ‘fight at every turn' any global-warming regulation that allows industries to trade carbon emissions, saying it would amount to ‘gambling on public health'. The groups stated that they "favor carbon fees on polluting industries, a strategy endorsed by many economists as simpler and more transparent, although politically tough to enact."
The groups believe that trading schemes would cause low-income communities to "disproportionately bear the negative economic, environmental and health impacts of the fossil fuel economy". [See declaration].
"The global warming legislation (AB 32) requires the (Air Resources) board to consider cap and trade, and the governor's strong advocacy of the system makes its adoption likely... One issue is whether to auction off carbon emissions permits or simply give them to polluting industries."
"Notably absent (from the signatories) were any of the big mainstream environmental groups, such as the Natural Resources Defense Council or the Sierra Club, both of which declined to comment publicly on the environmental justice declaration.
For the most part, national environmental groups are backing cap-and-trade plans, even though many of them would prefer the politically unpalatable carbon fee or tax. The proceeds of auctioning off credits, some groups argue, could be distributed to low-income communities.
Angela Johnson Meszaros, director of the California Environmental Rights Alliance, said she didn't trust an auction system. "We're concerned that proceeds from an auction won't be applied to transitioning us to a zero-carbon future With budget shortfalls in California, proceeds from an auction are going to be sucked into filling the holes."
Thanks to Gladwyn d'Souza