The SO2 Allowance Trading System and the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990: Reflections on Twenty Years of Policy Innovation
By Gabe Chan, Research Fellow, Energy Technology Innovation Policy research group, Robert N. Stavins, Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government; Member of the Board; Director, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, Robert C. Stowe, Executive Director, Harvard Environmental Economics Program; Manager, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements and Richard Sweeney
The introduction of the U.S. SO2 allowance-trading program to address the threat of acid rain as part of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 is a landmark event in the history of environmental regulation. The program was a great success by almost all measures. Ironically, cap and trade seems especially well suited to addressing the problem of climate change, in that emitted greenhouse gases are evenly distributed throughout the world's atmosphere. Recent hostility toward cap and trade in debates about U.S. climate legislation may reflect the broader political environment of the climate debate more than the substantive merits of market-based regulation.