On 17th July 2017, Democrats and Republicans set aside their differences to vote for the extension of “Cap and Trade” plan in California Legislature. With 55-21 votes in favor of plan which would have expired in three years, is now extended until 2030.
Cap and Trade
Cap and Trade is an efficient approach in reducing pollution. It works on the scientific principle of imposing a cap on emissions of greenhouse gases and pollutants by companies and factories. A penalty is imposed on the companies who exceed the cap. The trade principle allows companies to buy and sell their permits on emissions. The Cap and Trade approach ensured that the companies do not exceed their emission limits, which in turn limits the carbon footprint.
The extension of Cap and Trade plan attempts to reduce greenhouse gases by 40% from 1990 levels by 2030. This move by the Californian Legislature was met with both positive as well as negative opinions.
Jerry Brown Governor of California stated that Democrats and Republicans have taken a “courageous action” which will benefit the environment.
Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley) Assembly Republican leader said that “California Republicans are different than national Republicans,” and added on that “Many of us believe that climate change is real, and that it’s a responsibility we have to work to address it”.
National advocacy organizations, such as the Environmental Defense Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council also backed the legislation.
On the other hand, California State Senator Andy Vida criticized the legislation and called it “regressive”. He further stated that "We could shut down the entire state of California and it would have no effect on the global climate”.
Some environmentalists criticized the legislation for giving too many concessions to the oil companies.
Our assessment is that California has adopted a progressive legislation in addressing climate change. The policy has gained both the attention and appreciation of several global leaders as it is in sync with the Paris Climate Accord. Adoption of this legislation will pose some challenge to Trump’s current environmental policies. Such a bipartisan approach is required by other states to ensure that the threat of climate change is mitigated.