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Legal Aspects of Carbon TradingKyoto, Copenhagen, and beyond$
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David Freestone and Charlotte Streck

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199565931

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199565931.001.0001

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Offsets in the Emerging US Cap-and-Trade Programmes

Offsets in the Emerging US Cap-and-Trade Programmes

(p.423) 19 Offsets in the Emerging US Cap-and-Trade Programmes
Legal Aspects of Carbon Trading

Kyle W Danish

Oxford University Press

As the United States moves forward from voluntary efforts to the establishment of mandatory cap-and-trade programmes for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, offsets have become a central issue of policy. Offsets can help minimize the total costs associated with GHG regulation; offsets can also provide other benefits, such as economic development and reduced pollution. However, incorporation of offsets into a cap-and-trade programme requires careful attention to policy design. This chapter begins with a brief background on offsets, including a discussion of their value within a cap-and-trade programme, the use of offsets in various policy contexts, and different types of offset projects. It then discusses the most important design issues for an offset project programme: additionality of GHG emission reductions made, quantitative limits on offsets, addressing the risk of reversal of sequestered emissions, providing credit for early action offset projects, incorporating international offset projects, and projects aiming to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Each section highlights how leading proposals for US federal cap-and-trade legislation have addressed these issues. The final section discusses the use of offsets in state and regional cap-and-trade programmes.

Keywords:   greenhouse gas regulation, emission trading schemes, cap-and-trade schemes, environmental regulation, United States, offsets

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