The California Air Resources Board is set to vote tomorrow on whether to approve the cap-and-trade provisions at the heart of the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32). The program is designed to reduce greenhouse gasses in California to 1990 levels by 2020, by setting caps on the amount of carbon pollution large facilities can emit and requiring companies to buy permits to release those gases. The hope is that companies can reduce carbon pollution by using green technologies that emerge. Businesses could also buy offsets, such as planting trees, to counteract the pollution they create. Critics warn that the new rules will lead to “leakage” – regulation-induced exodus of businesses from California. But recent studies indicate that the economic impact on the state will be minimal, with net benefits in the long-term. Is California ready for this sweeping climate strategy? How will the program work? Will big polluters find greener ways to operate?
Molly Peterson, KPCC’s environment reporter
Gary Gero, President, Climate Action Reserve
Dorothy Rothrock, Vice President of Government Relations, California Manufacturers and Technology Association (CMTA); founding member of AB 32 Implementation Group