In the continuing battle against global warming, climate change and that same battle to reduce our personal carbon footprint, U.S. President Barack Obama continues pushing for a cap-and-trade program for U.S. businesses. A new study from the Charles River Associates says that Obama’s proposed cap-and-trade program would have substantial impact on both the oil and gas industries.
The study finds that the program may raise costs and cut jobs. It is interesting to look at spin here—Yes, if we work to cap and reduce our oil and gas use and those caps and reductions work, then people will lose those jobs. The crucial thing is to create new jobs so that displaced workers will have new skills and new areas to cultivate. Industrial carbon footprint reduction necessitates scaling back our fossil fuel use right now- and this will mean difficult transitions. For now it could mean enforcing things like carbon offsetting or the cap and trade system.
Reducing your personal carbon footprint can require sacrifice and a change in both priorities and outlook. Reducing your carbon footprint inherently means just that- reducing. For an economic model based on perpetual growth rather than sustainability, reduction is still a taboo word. Doing what it takes to become carbon neutral or create a low carbon footprint will be a dramatic shift for greenhouse gas burning industries who are used to getting their way in the U.S. government.
“The projected increased costs imposed on US-located refineries to cover facility [greenhouse gas] emissions under the Obama administration’s proposed cap-and-trade provision would not be faced by many refineries outside the US, which would put US refineries at a competitive disadvantage,” said the Charles River Associates report.
“Overall, the cap-and-trade proposal in the Obama administration’s fiscal 2010 budget is designed to raise the cost of using conventional energy by requiring emission allowances for the use of that energy, effectively restriction [its] use in the US economy. Higher energy costs would likely reduce total consumption, employment and economic output,” the study said.
The plan is generating debates in the U.S. capitol with many in Congress vehemently opposed to the entire plan, viewing it as destructive to an already fragile economy. Obama’s supporters, however, see it as a bold move forward for an agenda that includes national carbon footprint reduction, from personal to industry.
The transition from fossil fuel burning economy to a low-carbon economy will be difficult and will require many difficult changes along the way. How governments and industry deal with those imminent changes will determine the future.