Getting the price of carbon into cap and trade

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My new column for National Journal looks at the Senate's climate-change bill [the link to the article expires in two weeks].

Carol Browner, the top White House adviser on energy and the environment, recently told a conference hosted by our sister magazine The Atlantic that the president was unlikely to sign a climate-change law before the next big international meeting on the subject, in Copenhagen in December. "That's not going to happen," she said. The American negotiators should have a bill to work from -- quite likely more than one -- but no new law. This will be an embarrassment. It will hamper the Obama administration's efforts to claim global leadership on the issue.

But for those who seek effective curbs on carbon emissions, the news is not all bad. It matters more to get the right kind of agreement -- one around which global cooperation on carbon abatement can work -- than it does to meet the December deadline. And it may be that the United States is inching, after all, toward the kind of measure that could serve this purpose.

Later I refer to a paper for Brookings by Adele Morris, Warwick McKibbin and Peter Wilcoxen. This advocates a "carbon price collar"--a very good idea that Kerry-Boxer has now taken up. If you follow this issue, the paper by Morris et al is essential reading. You can find it here.

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