Dean Gus Speth on the Efficacy of the Cap and Trade System

Cap and trade legislation is in Congress: we will see what it looks like when it gets out.
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TRANSCRIPT

Question: Will a cap and trade system reduce greenhouse gasses?

Gus Speth: Well, I think we need to do two things. We desperately need a cap and trade system. I agree with that very much and, you know, glad that most of the proposals in the Congress now for action on climate are cap and trade proposals. I think the design of that system matters, as much as the general concept does. So I would hope that we would have a system that went very far upstream, so to speak, to right when the carbon entered the economy that it covers essentially all of the carbon and other greenhouse gases as they–- you know, their sources; that we auction the allowances of the right to emit carbon and take that money and use it for good purposes. And if we do it the right way with-- you know, and have tough phase down goals, it can make a huge difference. The risk is that Congress will come along and do its usual, you know, death by a thousand cuts to this proposal-- these proposals, and will end up with something which is not nearly as effective as it ought to be. That's a very real risk, which is another reason why we need a real grassroots political movement in the country. There's a group called One Sky, which is working with young people around the country and using well-established techniques of community organizing to engage people on the climate issue. And I am very proud to have a small association with them and I'm–- I think that's what we need. I'd also say though that this regulatory approach of cap and trade needs to be supplemented by a real expenditure of federal resources to be sure that the program's not regressive, that communities that need help get help, that new industries are created, that green collar jobs are created so that it becomes basically a program to sustain our communities and promote social justice in our country, at the same time that it's an environmental program.

Recorded: 3/23/08