Environmentalists Split On Cap & Trade Approach To Climate Protection

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

Full Story: Groups vow to fight carbon emissions cap-and-trade plan

Comments

Comments

They Offer No Positive Alternative To Cap-And-Trade

Their declaration does not support any specific positive alternative to cap-and-trade (such as a carbon tax). It just says:

"the California Environmental Justice Movement will support conservation, regulatory, and other measures to address greenhouse gases only if they directly and significantly reduce emissions, require the shift away from use of fossil fuels and nuclear power, and do not cause or exacerbate the pollution burden of poor communities of color in the United States and developing nations around the world"

Of course, a cap-and-trade can directly and significantly reduce emissions. If we put a cap on CO2 emissions that reduces the emissions allowed by 10% a year, that rule obviously would directly and very significantly reduce emissions.

Also, a carbon tax that increased every year would still allow fossil fuel plants to be built in poor communities. It could allow more to be built than a cap and trade, depending on the amount of the tax and on the amount of the cap.

I myself think a carbon tax is better than a cap-and-trade system, for the reasons that I detail in http://www.preservenet.com/studies/CarbonTaxShift.html.

But I also think it is vital to act as soon as possible to reduce CO2 emissions, and it is irresponsible to circulate this sort of negative resolution that opposes cap-and-trade without supporting anything.

The most important environmental justice here is the fact that America's huge carbon emissions will cause mass famine in the developing nations if they are not reduced quickly. The Environmental Justice movement seems to ignore this urgent issue.

Charles Siegel

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $245
Planetizen Courses image ad

Planetizen Courses

Advance your career with subscription-based online courses tailored to the urban planning professional.
Starting at $16.95 a month

Wear your city with style!

100% silk scarves feature detailed city maps. Choose from six cities with red or blue trim.
$55.00

Stay thirsty, urbanists

These sturdy water bottles are eco-friendly and perfect for urbanists on the go.
$19.00