Emissions trading may help Skico
The Aspen Skiing Co. might soon be in the business of selling greenhouse gas emissions in addition to lift tickets.The Skico has joined the first program in North America to reduce and trade greenhouse gas emissions. The Chicago Climate Exchange’s program is voluntary, but once corporations join they must sign a contract that legally binds them to reduce their emissions.Members that reduce their emissions below a specific standard can sell that “savings” as a credit. Corporations that don’t meet their reduction goal must buy those credits.”This is a way for us to make money from reducing our emissions,” said Skico Environmental Director Auden Schendler.Chicago Climate Exchange’s program isn’t just for idealistic greens. Its website indicates that multinational corporations such as Ford Motor Co., DuPont and Motorola have joined.Schendler said the U.S. government started regulating sulfur dioxide emissions some years ago because of the connection to acid rain. Credits are bought and sold like commodities.The Chicago Climate Exchange wants to demonstrate that a similar model will work for carbon dioxide emissions.”People believe carbon will be regulated just like sulfur in 10 years or so,” Schendler said.The Chicago Climate Exchange requires members to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 4 percent from a baseline amount established from averaging emissions from 1998 through 2001.In the Skico’s case, a different baseline might have to be adopted. The company stopped managing the Aspen Institute and Aspen Meadows in 2000 so its annual greenhouse gas emissions plummeted.Since then it has also steadily reduced its emissions. Schendler said the company reduced its carbon dioxide output from 30,925 tons in 2000 to 27,931 tons last year. That’s a reduction of nearly 10 percent.Although carbon dioxide emissions will plateau for the Skico at some point, Schendler believes further reductions are possible through more efficient use of electricity and purchases of alternative energy. He fully anticipates the Skico will have “credits” to sell to companies that didn’t achieve their targeted savings.Schendler likened the program to farming. Farmers who grow more crops than their families need can sell the excess. When they don’t produce enough, they must buy more.Selling credits won’t be a huge money maker since credits go for about $1.25 per ton right now. While that price will go up once a standard must be met by all exchange members in 2006, it still won’t be a huge profit center for the Skico, Schendler said. But the participation in the pilot program and the symbolism of reducing emissions are what counts, he said.The Skico symbolically enlisted in the program on Feb. 16, when most countries adopted the Kyoto Protocol, a global plan to reduce greenhouse emissions. The United States was among a handful of countries that refused to ratify the treaty.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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