The statement came Saturday following German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s inaugural visit to the White House. Merkel, along with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, have been stressing the issue of emissions control in recent meetings with the President. The President said that the focus of U.S. energy emissions policy will be on “technological developments that will enable us to be good stewards of the environment, and enable us to become less dependent on oil and hydrocarbons from parts of the world that don’t like us.”
The “cap and trade” system is a provision of the Kyoto Protocol that went into effect in February of 2004, and is currently the method of emissions control espoused by E.U. member nations. Cap and trade is a system in which an environmental regulation agency sets a limit on the net amount of pollutants a specific industry can release. Companies within the industry, such as power plants, then buy permits from the regulatory agency, which permit them to expend a set amount of a pollutant. The system works as a sort of incentive for companies to make technological changes that decrease their emissions. Companies that either cannot afford to make such changes, or are unwilling to, buy up permits from companies that have streamlined their operations and no longer need them. The United States does not adhere to the Kyoto Protocol.
Answering speculation that any cap-and-trade measure will be introduced in the president’s State of the Union address next Tuesday, White House Press Secretary, Tony Snow, said: “I want to take you back from the whole carbon cap story… The carbon cap stuff is not accurate. It’s wrong.”