By Marc Lifsher
California's air quality officials soon may be adding a new phrase to their bureaucratic vocabulary: "le rechauffement climatique."
That's French for global warming.
The California Air Resources Board on Friday linked its program for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and curbing climate change with one in the French-speaking, Canadian province of Quebec. The merger starts Jan. 1.
On April 8, Gov. Jerry Brown certified the two cap-and-trade systems as compatible. As a result, Quebec's permits that let polluters emit carbon dioxide can be purchased and used by California oil refineries, food processors, cement plants and other facilities. And California-issued pollution permits will be valid in Quebec.
The tradable credits earned by planting trees and other actions that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere could be used by California companies to help them meet a state obligation to cut emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
Last fall, California emitters began purchasing the permits quarterly at state-supervised auctions. The free-market mechanism, authorized by the state's landmark global-warming law, AB 32, puts a price on carbon-dioxide pollution. Expanding the program to Quebec creates a laboratory for broadening the trading system to other U.S. states, Canadian provinces and nations, said Dave Clegern, an Air Resources Board spokesman.
But skeptics say they're unimpressed with California's program and its new partner.
"In 2006 we passed AB 32 in order to lead the country and other states to join a viable climate change program," said Jack Stewart, president of the California Manufacturers & Technology Assn. "That seven years later we have only Quebec, a distant Canadian province with no trade ties with California, as a partner for our cap-and-trade program should be a red flag for anyone who cares about manufacturing jobs and the success of AB 32."
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