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POLITICS/ENVIRONMENT: California carbon-trading program ("cap-and-trade"), enforcement to be delayed until 2013....  

* Los Angeles Times:  "California delays its carbon-trading program until 2013" - "The cap-and-trade program, which would force industries to cut greenhouse gases by the end of the decade, continues to be challenged in court."

   Facing continued litigation, California officials will delay enforcement of the state's carbon-trading program until 2013, state Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols announced Wednesday.

    The delay in the cap-and-trade program, slated to take effect in January, is proposed because of the "need for all necessary elements to be in place and fully functional," she said. But in testimony before a state Senate committee, Nichols said the postponement would not affect the stringency of the program or the amount of greenhouse gases that industries will be forced to cut by the end of the decade.

    Carbon-market executives mostly shrugged at the news. The air board "has given firms a breather, not a pass," said Josh Margolis, chief executive of CantorCO2e, an emissions-trading company. "Companies will need to make the same reductions, but they will face a steeper slope." Ricardo Bayon, a carbon-market expert with San Francisco-based EKO Asset Management Partners, said, "This is still a green light on cap-and-trade. The program still begins in 2012, but regulated entities would not need to prove compliance until 2013. It is like giving students more days to turn in their homework for the year."

   The cap-and-trade program, championed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, is a centerpiece of the state's landmark effort to cut planet-warming gases to 1990 levels by 2020. It accounts for a fifth of the planned cuts under the state's 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act.


  In the wake of the failure of national climate legislation in Congress last year, California's program would be North America's biggest carbon market, three times larger than a utility-only system in the northeastern U.S. By 2016, about $10 billion in carbon allowances are expected to be traded through the California market, which is slated to link to similar markets in several Canadian provinces.


    Scientists say that carbon dioxide and other gases, mainly from burning fossil fuels, are trapping heat in Earth's atmosphere, leading to dangerous climate change, including rising sea levels, longer droughts, floods and melting glaciers.