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The Real Story of Cap and Trade

In the wake of the Copenhagen talks and the passage of a climate bill in the U.S. House last year, the debate over cap and trade will likely intensify as we move 2010.

Unfortunately, the debate in the halls of Congress, on the blogosphere and on the television talk shows is often tainted by bad information and oversimplified characterizations of the policy. So, in the midst of this ever-growing (and sometimes deafening conversation), we decided to dig into the real story of cap and trade ourselves.

Oscar Wilde once said: “People know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

In this podcast, we'll examine the societal, environmental and financial value of putting a price on carbon.

Join us as we take an hour long journey into the world of carbon cap and trade and explore the history, effectiveness, and cost of the program. Given the inevitable complexity of such a program, we'll also ask if it's the right policy to put in place as we create a carbon-constrained, clean-energy future.

Seth Kaplan, vice president for climate advocacy at the Conservation Law Foundation, describes the history of cap and trade as it rapidly evolved from an academic proposal to an international policy for limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

Phil Adams, president and chief operating officer of World Energy Solutions, talks about the differences between the primary and secondary carbon trading markets. He'll also talk about how his company's carbon exchange, the World Green Exchange, works as a driver for those markets.

Tim Healy, CEO and chairman of EnerNOC, tells us how he's built a business around using less energy, not more. He'll also talk about the company's new CarbonTrak software and how it can help businesses realize the financial value in reducing emissions.

Milo Sjardin, head of U.S. carbon markets for New Energy Finance, compares the size and scope of the EU and U.S. carbon trading programs.

Erin Craig, CEO of TerraPass, describes the make-up of the “pure” voluntary market in the U.S. and how it may blend together with a compliance market in the future.

Michelle Chan, senior policy analyst with Friends of the Earth, warns about the potential downside risk in creating new derivative markets based on carbon. She talks about how investors could be creating “subprime carbon,” as they devise new financial products based upon bad offset projects.

And Peter Fusaro, chairman and founder of Global Change Associates, talks about how carbon markets will be regulated in the U.S. He'll also discuss how Americans can learn from the European experience with cap and trade.

Our music this week came from Stefan Girardet, off his new album, “Are We Here Yet.”

Inside Renewable Energy is a weekly audio news program featuring stories and interviews on all the latest developments in the renewable energy industries.

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I am a reporter with, a blog published by the Center for American Progress. I am former editor and producer for, where I contributed stories and hosted the Inside Renewable Energy Podcast. Keep in to...


Volume 18, Issue 4


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