North American (United States and Canada) policy generally favors low energy prices, with low taxes, production subsidies and other types of energy industry support. As a result, North Americans are energy rich: an average worker can purchase more fuel per hour of labor than almost any other time or place. In response North Americans have developed energy intensive lifestyles and industrial practices, have failed to implement many energy conservation practices common in other parts of the world, and consume more energy per capita than most other times and places.
Last week I attended the NREL Energy Analysis Forum, where leading North American energy analysts discussed current thinking concerning greenhouse gas emission reduction strategies, much of which involves emission cap and trade programs (as summarized in the report by Resources for the Future, "Key Congressional Climate Change Legislation Compared"). Similarly, a recent report, "Reducing U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions: How Much At What Cost" evaluates emission reduction strategies according to their cost effectiveness.