The US congress is debating a framework for greenhouse gas emissions trading. The most likely mechanism is a cap-and-trade programme whereby a limited (capped) number of carbon emissions permits are released and auctioned. This paper argues that the range of bills being discussed will not induce the investment in long-lived technology that is needed to achieve a 50-80% reduction in CO2 emissions by the mid century.The authors recommended that the cap and trade regime should be complemented with strategies that address electric power, buildings and appliances and cars. These will include:
a tradable carbon emission portfolio standard (CPS) that gradually reduces the amount of CO2 emitted per KW-hour for the electricity that companies sell to end users
promotion of strategies that separate utility profit from the amount of electricity it sells so that utilities can earn profit from increasing energy efficiency
higher and more inclusive efficiency standards for building design and construction, appliances, equipment and lighting
federal incentives to induce localities to adopt building codes that lower the annual energy use in new buildings by at least 50% compared to conventional buildings
efficiency standards that at least double the miles per gallon of cars and light trucks over current vehicles
reducing the number of miles driven through road pricing, pay as you drive insurance, and by encouraging transportation alternatives.
It is also suggested that rapid analysis is required before Congress takes action. To avoid the risk of instituting policies that cost more than more efficient alternatives, an engineering-economic analysis is suggested before actions are taken. Such an analysis would be so rapid (within 90 days) that it would not delay legislative and executive processes and would thus not be an excuse for delaying action.