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What the US Can Learn From Europe's Pollution Credit System 425

Al writes "Technology Review discusses what a US carbon trading scheme could learn from the flawed European experience. Advocates of carbon-trading schemes like to point to Europe's cap-and-trade program as a model worthy of emulation, but the reality has been less than perfect. A glut of pollution credits, distributed without cost during both the first, transitional phase of the program and the current working phase, drove down the value of the EUAs. As a result, Europe's carbon dioxide emissions remain priced well below 20 euros per ton. With the price of pollution so low, economists say, industries that generate and consume energy have no incentives to change their habits; it is still cheaper to use fossil fuels than to switch to technologies that pollute less. Establishing a carbon price in the US system now, and tightening the system later, could send a dangerously wrong signal to financial markets looking to invest in new energy technologies."

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