Participants of the United Nations Climate Change Conference walk past a globe at the Bella Centre in Copenhagen.
Participants of the United Nations Climate Change Conference walk past a globe at the Bella Centre in Copenhagen. - 
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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: A voluntary market for buying and selling greenhouse gas credits will shut down at the end of the year. The Chicago Climate Exchange started trading carbon emissions in 2003. The program was intended to play a major role in a national strategy to reduce global warming pollution.

From the Marketplace Sustainabilty Desk, Sarah Gardner reports.

Sarah Gardner: Four hundred and fifty companies participated in the Chicago Climate Exchange's carbon trading program. Corporate giants like Ford and American Electric Power agreed to a limit on carbon emissions. Those that polluted less could then sell their emissions credits. The companies expected that Congress would soon make such a system mandatory. But it didn't and won't anytime soon, especially since Republicans now rule the U.S. House. Conservatives like Nick Lorris at the Heritage Foundation say cap and trade is deader than dead.

Nick Lorris: A lot of people are saying this is another nail in the coffin. I think it's even further along than that. I think the coffin's already buried and people are shoveling the dirt on top of it right now.

Dan Esty: This is really a sad day where a market approach to solving an environmental problem looks like it's falling by the wayside.

That's Yale's Dan Esty. He says it's ironic that conservatives are cheering the demise of a market-based solution to global warming. But analyst Emilie Mazzacurati at Point Carbon thinks it's too early to write the obituary.

Emilie Mazzacurati: Because you have carbon markets at the regional level.

Mazzacurati notes that Californians recently voted to continue with plans for an emissions-trading program in that state. And don't forget 10 Northeastern states have been doing it under a regional program since 2008. A recent study, though, criticized the Northeastern program for setting its emissions targets too low.

I'm Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.

Follow Sarah Gardner at @RadioGardner