The Obama Administration failed to pass legislation in 2009 that would implement a carbon cap and trading system, marking a big early blow to the president’s climate agenda. But there are plenty of places that have gone ahead with carbon pricing in some form, whether through a cap-and-trade system, a carbon tax, or a similar structure.
There are 39 systems in all, according to the World Bank. Collectively, they now cover 12% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
That isn’t bad, all things considered. While there may be problems underlying many of the systems (for being “leaky” or unbalanced), it’s undoubtedly good the process of pricing is happening at all.
This new animated map from the Sightline Institute shows how carbon pricing systems have spread:
Europe’s EU ETS, which applies to 28 nations, is the biggest system in the world, covering 2,000 million metric tons (MMT) of carbon emissions. Next is Japan’s covering 800 million metric tons. The crucial question is what happens when China comes on-board in 2016. According to the report, it’s “rolling out a cap-and-trade program…that will dwarf both the EU and Japan’s programs, probably covering about 5,000 MMT of pollution”–13% of all its emissions.
Cap and trade isn’t on the agenda in the U.S. these days. A carbon tax that sends all the proceeds back to taxpayers (rather than keep the money in government coffers) stands more chance of bipartisanship. Sightline shows these systems need not be punitive. Several of them are “revenue neutral” overall–for instance British Columbia’s successful carbon tax.
Oregon and Washington leaders are discussing carbon pricing. And Sightline’s in favor: “Almost a quarter of all greenhouse gas pollution being spewed around the world is being, or soon will be, driven down by a price. I mean, Kazakhstan is doing it! Maybe it’s time for Oregon and Washington to join the post-carbon transition.”