Agricultural Economics Department


Date of this Version



Published in Cornhusker Economics, 01/15/2003. Produced by the Cooperative Extension, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.


According to a recent Washington Post article, Senators McCain (R-Arizona) and Lieberman (D-Connecticut) plan to hold a hearing early on in the new Senate proceedings about proposed legislation that would be introduced later this year to establish a “cap-and-trade” system for greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Several other countries are already involved in developing cap-and-trade systems, generally trading in carbon equivalents. Somewhat ironically, in that the current Bush Administration has opposed any kind of mandatory caps (although it has encouraged voluntary trading), the model for such a system is the U.S. sulfur emissions allowances market that was initiated during the previous Bush Administration. The U.S. sulfur emissions trading market is arguably the most successful public policy experiment on the planet earth to use markets to enhance environmental quality. Will we see this kind of system put in place for greenhouse gases in the U.S. anytime soon? Will there be agricultural opportunities to store carbon? In order to speculate in a reasonable way, we need to place this in a world-wide context.