California hopes carbon market sparks innovation
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 ReutersÂ 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.
â€śI 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,â€ť he said recently. â€śHow 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 — thatâ€™s not easy.â€ť
Three pushes will be needed to put the United States out in front, he said, adding that he thought the signals would be forthcoming.Â â€śThereâ€™s a climate motivation and a(n) (energy) security motivation and a competitiveness motivation,â€ť 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)