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Climate Change Expert: Illinois Can’t Trade Its Way Out of Pollution

March 4, 2008

Chicago, IL – A climate change expert is in Illinois this week to talk about "cap and trade" systems aimed at reducing greenhouse gas pollution, something several Illinois cities have considered. Larry Lohmann, who has written several books tracking the history of carbon trading, says that while it's politically popular, carbon trading doesn't really work because the industries that pollute the most don't have to make any meaningful changes to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.

"These are the sectors in which the most serious structural change is going to have to happen. These guys will be the ones who actually will be able to delay their actions."

Lohmann says there are big losers in carbon trading that Americans don't see, especially in eastern and southern countries.

"There are a lot of destructive projects going on in the name of offsets. For instance, hydroelectric dams being built in India will get carbon credits, but actually they're destroying people's livelihoods."

At best, Lohmann says, carbon trading keeps greenhouse gas pollution levels steady, but scientists have repeatedly pointed out that is not enough to avert climate change.

Lohmann is in Chicago today talking about carbon trading systems and how a more diverse mix of regulations and rewards is needed to successfully reduce pollution. He speaks at DePaul University, Loop Campus, DePaul Center at 1:30 p.m. and will be in the Lincoln Park Student Center at 6 p.m.

Deborah Smith/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - IL