Multiple states within the United States and other countries have emissions reduction targets. This morning, I listened to a story where the university of California San Francisco achieved their carbon neutral goal, mainly, by simply purchasing offsets. Are there any states or countries where carbon offsets are specifically mentioned in the legislation for reducing emissions?
The global carbon market is dominated by the European Union, where companies that emit greenhouse gases are required to cut their emissions or buy pollution allowances or carbon credits from the market, under the European Union Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS). Europe, which has seen volatile carbon prices due to fluctuations in energy prices and supply and demand, will continue to dominate the global carbon market for another few years, as the U.S. and China—the world's top polluters—have yet to establish mandatory emission-reduction policies.
On the whole, the U.S. market remains primarily a voluntary market, but multiple cap and trade regimes are either fully implemented or near-imminent at the regional level. The first mandatory, market-based cap-and-trade program to cut CO2 in the U.S., called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), kicked into gear in Northeastern states in 2009, growing nearly tenfold to $2.5 billion, according to Point Carbon. Western Climate Initiative (WCI)—a regional cap-and-trade program including seven western states (California notably among them) and four Canadian provinces—has established a regional target for reducing heat-trapping emissions of 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. A component of California's own Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, kicked off in early 2013, requires high-emissions industries to purchase carbon credits to cover emissions in excess of 25,000 CO2 metric tons.