Northeasterners Think Globally, Act Locally

Nature Conservancy | Summer 2006

States Lead the Way in Curbing Carbon Emissions

Taking the issue of global warming on themselves, seven Northeastern states have established the landmark Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).  In December the governors of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont agreed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from their states’ power plants by 10 percent by 2019.

The Nature Conservancy advocated for the signing of the RGGI and for it to include conservation projects as one way to offset emissions.  Under the agreement, each power plant is allowed to emit a set amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide.  Power plants can offset some of their emissions by, for example, planting trees to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.  Every year, deforestation constitutes 20 percent to 25 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions.  (Trees and plants take carbon dioxide out of the air; destroying them releases carbon.)  Companies that reduce their emissions below the specified level can sell their extra allowances to other facilities.

The Conservancy brought to the discussion its expertise in carbon-sequestration projects in Bolivia and elsewhere.  “We feel strongly that carbon sequestration and land-management practices need to be part of the solution,” says Sarah Woodhouse Murdock of the Conservancy’s Global Climate Change Initiative.