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Brown Calls For EU Climate Partnership, Linking Cap-And-Trade

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

California Gov. Jerry Brown, left, responds to a question while testifying in support of Assembly Bill 398, by Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, one of two bills to extend state's cap and trade program.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

California Governor Jerry Brown and heads of the European Union are pledging greater cooperation on climate change.

 “Climate change is a threat to all of humanity, to all species, and it can only be solved by a global cooperative effort that must be far greater than it is today,” Brown told the European Parliament at a clean technology conference in Brussels on Tuesday.

European Parliament president Antonio Tajani called California a model.

“We talked about technological matters, investment, economic development, and how to take forward this partnership,” Tajani said through a translator.

One specific measure of coordination Brown advocated for: He says the state should link its signature climate-change program, cap-and-trade, to its European counterpart. That could make it less expensive for businesses to cut emissions, but also introduce more risk.

 “We’re not there yet, and I can’t tell you exactly what all the technical hurdles are, but yes that is a goal,” Brown said in a video recorded by the Sacramento Bee. “And the goal ultimately is to have a large, worldwide carbon trading system—with California, in some way, linking with the European Union an immediate goal.”

Cap-and-trade creates a market for greenhouse gas emissions, allowing businesses to decide if it’s less expensive to cut pollution or to pay for a limited number of emissions credits.

Larger markets mean more liquidity and stability. They can run more efficiently.

California, Quebec and Ontario have all teamed up for one, linked cap-and-trade market. But New York University environmental professor Jessica Green says what Brown’s suggesting is far more challenging.

“We’ve never had a market or a set of markets where they’ve evolved totally separately with all different kinds of rules and procedures, and monitoring and verification and so forth, and then linked together,” Green says.

Climate change policy researchers warn that, because each government participating in a linked market sets its own separate climate change goals and renewable energy requirements—which effect demand for credits—linking creates risks of market contagions. Should one government make a major change to climate policy, it could cause fluctuations in demand across the entire cap-and-trade market.

The EU and California have announced they will begin holding regular meetings to discuss cooperating on cap-and-trade, including, presumably, these challenges.

The governor is in Europe until next week, where’s he’s focusing on the climate actions state and regional governments can take. Later this week, he will attend the United Nations annual climate change conference.

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