Thursday, November 06, 2008

Environmental Justice Meets Cap & Trade

Writing in Capitol Weekly on behalf of the Coaltion for Clean Air, Shankar Prasad sounds the Environmental Justice alarm and offers the CCA's two cents on how a Cap & Trade system should be weighted against companies doing business in disadvantaged communities.

The CCA suggests that CARB should make a list of economically challenged communities and then charge any company/facility that emits greenhouse gas emissions in those communities a premium for the purchase of offsets. The CCA's theory is that this will curtail the use of offsets in these communities and prevent increased greenhouse gas emissions.

At the heart of the CCA's position is Prasad's notion that:

"When it comes to climate change, low-income communities are at a disadvantage. They are ill-equipped to prepare for or recover from acute climate change episodes, such as heat waves, droughts, flooding, fires or an increase of infectious diseases. On a global scale, low-income communities are increasingly unable to cope with heat episodes, as observed in the recent past in France and Chicago. In 2006, a heat wave crashed over California, killing 145 people and hospitalizing 2,537. "

But Cap & Trade is designed to be a market based solution to GHG problem. Once you start overregulating the market with all sorts of central planing, the market ceases to work. This is a policy question that surely will get more complicated and convoluted as the process grinds on.