From: Peter Henderson, Reuters, SACRAMENTO
Published December 17, 2010 07:05 AM

California Carbon trade plan approved

California on Thursday approved rules for a multibillion-dollar carbon market, in what proponents hope and detractors fear will be a turning point for the United States toward building a national program to address global warming.

After Congress failed to pass a climate change law last year, California is the vanguard of the nation's effort to address global warming and its bid to build alternative energy and related industries.


California has mandated that a third of its electricity come from renewable sources like solar and wind. It is also encouraging "low carbon" auto fuels, like some biofuels and natural gas, and on Thursday approved rules for the carbon market.

"This is what makes us the leader," Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who signed the state's climate change law in 2006 and helped convince voters to crush a ballot box challenge to it last month, told regulators.

California is struggling with a budget shortfall, but it is creating "green" jobs and garnering the lion's share of venture capital investment thanks to its environmental efforts, he said.

The rules adopted by the Air Resources Board, the state's climate change regulator, limit emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases and let power plants, factories and eventually refiners and others to trade permits to pollute in a program generally known as cap-and-trade.

California will become the second-largest carbon market in the world, following a European system. Point Carbon, a Thomson Reuters company, forecasts the market will grow from $1.7 billion in 2012 to nearby $10 billion in 2016, with prices rising from $10 a metric ton in 2012 to $18 per ton in 2016.

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