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New York Times: Effort Afoot to Start U.S. Climate Registry

By REUTERS
Published: March 21, 2007
Filed at 1:19 p.m. ET

Skip to next paragraph  SANTA BARBARA, California (Reuters) – Thirty-three states have informally agreed to create a registry for companies and organizations to log early actions on cutting output of gases linked to global warming — and possibly get credit for them if future limits on the gases are passed — state officials said.

The log, known as The Climate Registry, could spawn a wider national registry and perhaps help pressure the federal government to regulate heat-trapping gases, the sources said.

The United States, the world’s top emitter of greenhouse gases, has no national laws regulating them. But many companies that have already cut emissions — especially multinational ones that have to cut emissions to meet laws in other countries — are eager to log their early actions on a registry that verifies the reductions.

No state has formally joined the organization, which is at this point still an abstract entity without a charter, offices or a single employee, said the officials speaking on the sidelines Tuesday of the annual conference of the California Climate Action Registry, the first U.S. climate action log.

California’s log will form the “backbone” of much of The Climate Registry’s early work, said Joel Levin, its vice president for business development. The California registry is a nonprofit with 242 members.

Companies like Shell Oil Co. and office services provider Xerox Corp., have signed California’s registry. The state is one of several on both coasts that have formed their own greenhouse gas limits in the absence of federal ones.

Last week, a steering committee that includes a handful of state officials sent invitations to the 50 U.S. states to a May 23 founding meeting in Chicago, said representatives from California, Illinois, North Carolina and New Mexico.

Trade in permits to emit greenhouse gases is booming. Trade on the European Union’s climate exchange doubled to more than 20 billion euros ($26 billion) in 2006, showing how big business can play in fighting climate change.

The Climate Registry is intended to support state emissions-cutting programs rather than create a federal program, at least at its start. The registry will set standards for counting greenhouse gas emissions and establish a single database, but will remain “policy neutral,” said Brock M. Nicholson, deputy director of the North Carolina Division of Air Quality.

Still, the group could eventually help form minimum standards for a federal emissions standard, said Ron Burke, associate director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. “Some of the states in the steering committee see this as a way to ‘move the ball downfield’ in Congress,” said Burke.

Levin said it’s likely that regional offices will open in the Northeast, Midwest and West staffed with as few as one or two.

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