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Emissions trading policies initially relied on 'squatter's rights' principles granting emissions allowances to existing polluters for free. Recently, however, policy designers have largely abandoned this approach, requiring polluters to buy allowances from the public through auctions. Given the high financial stakes, this is a momentous shift. Given how skeptical experts and decision makers have been of the political viability of allowance auctions, and the opposition of powerful economic interests, it is also a remarkable political development. This presentation will document the surprising emergence of a new paradigm of public resource ownership, as well as offering some thoughts on why this paradigm suddenly gained political traction. The presentation will also explore an ongoing tension between two competing visions of public ownership. How this tension may be resolved remains a vital question for future emissions trading policies.
Leigh Raymond is Associate Professor of Political Science at Purdue University and a founding member and Associate Director of the Purdue Climate Change Research Center. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from U.C. Berkeley and a B.A. in Philosophy from Yale University.. His most recent work on emissions trading is a chapter on 'The Emerging Revolution in Emissions Trading' for a forthcoming (2010) book from Brookings Press: Greenhouse Governance: Addressing American Climate Change Policy.