Media coverage of COP17, the latest United Nations climate conference in Durban, South Africa that wrapped up on Friday, was sparse in the United States. With no national legislation in this country to address limits on greenhouse emissions, the state of California has taken some steps ahead of the federal government. Last week, NPR aired a two-part series looking at the effect of emission caps on the economy in California. Here is a brief wrap-up of the stories.
Tuesday’s story began with an overview of California’s attempt to limit greenhouse gases. For more on California’s Cap and Trade legislation, see our earlier article on the law. According to NPR’s report, “Paying a price for emissions has many Californians worried about what they’ll have to pay for electricity and fuel and everything that takes energy to make. But the state’s argument is that this will be good for the economy.” This viewpoint coincides with this op-ed from last Sunday.
Wednesday’s story looked at “Carbon Ranching.” The idea is to sequester carbon in plant life, namely young forests or grasses. These sites act as carbon sinks, taking in more carbon than they emit. The idea is akin to offsets, but a local version, as opposed to those offered in far off lands like the REDD program. Instead of potentially expensive retrofits or new equipment to capture carbon, sinks provide a natural way to reduce the amount of CO2 by absorbing and storing it through photosynthesis. The grassland idea – as reported in the NPR story – would return some agricultural land to its original state, while potentially reducing food production.