This is a statement of general principles and the devil is always in the details, but it’s encouraging to see words like these from the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee:
We will cap emissions according to specific goals, measuring progress by reference to past carbon emissions. By the year 2012, we will seek a return to 2005 levels of emission, by 2020, a return to 1990 levels, and so on until we have achieved at least a reduction of sixty percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050. In the course of time, it may be that new ideas and technologies will come along that we can hardly imagine today, allowing all industries to change with a speed that will surprise us. More likely, however, there will be some companies that need extra emissions rights, and they will be able to buy them. The system to meet these targets and timetables will give these companies extra time to adapt — and that is good economic policy. It is also a matter of simple fairness, because the cap-and-trade system will create jobs, improve livelihoods, and strengthen futures across our country.
The goal in all of this is to assure an energy supply that is safe, secure, diverse, and domestic. And in pursuit of these objectives, we cannot afford to take economic growth and job creation for granted. A strong and growing economy is essential to all of our goals, and especially the goal of finding alternatives to carbon-based technology. We want to turn the American economy toward cleaner and safer energy sources. And you can’t achieve that by imposing costs that the American economy cannot sustain.
As part of my cap-and-trade incentives, I will also propose to include the purchase of offsets from those outside the scope of the trading system. This will broaden the array of rewards for reduced emissions, while also lowering the costs of compliance with our new emissions standards. Through the sale of offsets — and with strict standards to assure that reductions are real — our agricultural sector alone can provide as much as forty percent of the overall reductions we will require in greenhouse gas emissions. And in the short term, farmers and ranchers can do it in some of the most cost-effective ways.