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UK, CA join forces to fight global warming

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KAI RYSSDAL: Tony Blair meet Arnold Schwarzenegger. Governor Schwarzenegger meet John Browne. He’s the CEO of British Petroleum. Strange bedfellows all the way around out here in Southern California today. The topic du jour was climate change. Greenhouse gases and how to control them. Marketplace’s Amy Scott reports.

AMY SCOTT: Blair and Schwarzenegger are expected to announce a plan to study ways to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions associated with global warming. One possibility would be an emissions-trading exchange. Polluters who exceed their emissions limits can buy the right to do so from companies that fall below their own limits.

Steve Howard is CEO of The Climate Group and a host of today’s meeting. He would confirm only that Britain and California plan to collaborate on climate change. But he also says a global market for emissions is inevitable.

STEVE HOWARD: Already, there’s projects being developed in India and China where they’re reducing pollution and then selling credits into the European market. It’s only a natural thing that the US will be a part of this.

Perhaps under a future administration. The President’s top environmental advisor skipped today’s meeting due to a scheduling conflict. The Bush administration opposes caps on carbon dioxide emissions and some called today’s meeting an end-run around the White House. If California were to strike its own deal, former Interior Department official David Hayes says it would face some obstacles. He says many emissions in the state come from energy produced outside its borders.

DAVID HAYES: That’s why many folks believe that these state-by-state approaches — and one is developing in the Northeast — are going to be overcomplicated and why there is significant interest in a national program.

It also remains to be seen how effective emissions trading might be. An exchange is already underway in Europe, but the reductions mandated by the Kyoto Protocol don’t kick in for more than a year. Of course, the US didn’t sign that treaty. By teaming up with California, some say Tony Blair may be pressuring the Bush administration to change its stance.

In New York, I’m Amy Scott for Marketplace.

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