Environmental marketing – part III

In one more example of financial innovation and the monetization of a previous intangible, it looks like California may be creating a new market in green house gas emissions, according to this morning’s Wall Street Journal:

Leaders of the state legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced a deal yesterday under which California will mandate a reduction in the state’s emissions of gases contributing to global warming to 1990 levels by 2020. The cut would target the state’s biggest industrial emitters of greenhouse gases, such as power plants, oil refineries and cement factories. California already has passed a law requiring greenhouse-gas-emission cuts from cars and light trucks sold in the state.
. . .
The measure still must pass both houses of the state legislature to become law, but the agreement by Gov. Schwarzenegger and the majority leaders of both houses all but ensures that outcome. “We can now move forward with developing a market-based system that makes California a world leader in the effort to reduce carbon emissions,” Gov. Schwarzenegger, who is running for re-election this year, said yesterday, when the agreement was announced.

The emphasis, however, is on “may”:

Business representatives wanted a guarantee that the state would include a mechanism allowing companies to buy and sell carbon-dioxide-emission permits among each other as needed, to soften the potential financial blow. But some environmentalists argued that would make it too easy for California businesses to avoid cleaning up their own operations. The final legislation says the state “may” include such a trading mechanism in its final plan.

I would think that they could create a market involving credits for reductions only within California. This would satisfy the environmentalist concern and be true to the Governor’s goal of a market-based system.
Stay tuned.

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