California hopes carbon market sparks innovation

February 17, 2011

OBAMA/California’s lonely attempt to take on climate change by setting up a cap-and-trade market for carbon is all about jobs for many in the Golden State — as shown in a Reuters Special Report issued today.

Carbon prices may jump high enough to send companies scrambling for new technology, whether it’s carbon-free energy, efficiency widgets, or something yet to be cleaned up. Longtime clean tech advocate Dan Reicher, who has left Google’s clean energy efforts to run a new Stanford center for energy policy and finance, sees a high price of carbon as great for investors and venture capitalists who back them.

But it’s tough getting the big, big dollars, he argues, and more is needed.

“I think we lead the world when it comes to the innovation end of the spectrum, vis a vis energy technology. Where I think we are losing the race increasingly is on commercialization,” he said recently. “How you get that first plant built that costs a billion or two billion dollars, and then the second one built that costs a billion or two billion dollars — that’s not easy.”

Three pushes will be needed to put the United States out in front, he said, adding that he thought the signals would be forthcoming. “There’s a climate motivation and a(n) (energy) security motivation and a competitiveness motivation,” he said.

The political reality of that was put to a test on Wednesday, though: federal lawmakers blasted Obama administration plans to increase funding for clean-energy projects while cutting back research on fossil fuels.

The Special Report is also available in multimedia PDF format here.

(Picture: U.S. President Barack Obama inspects solar panels at Air Force base/REUTERS/Jason Reed)

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The Least Development Countries(LCDs), especially the countries in the Congo basin, are expecting a lot from carbon trading and REDD. We hope the new innovations precipitate to these countries as well and start a development path not by exhausting their renewable resources but by protecting them. Many organisation like Trafik SI (www.trafficsi.com, http://trafficsi.com/ ) are working to make carbon projects a reality.

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