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Australia in Talks With California to Link Emission Programs

Australia said it agreed to work with the state of California to promote global emission markets.

Mark Dreyfus, Australia’s secretary for climate change and energy efficiency, has set up an “ongoing working relationship” with the California Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board, according to a release from his office yesterday. Dreyfus is in the U.S. for clean energy and climate talks, according to the release.

The largest U.S. state has been at the forefront of American efforts to reduce carbon pollution, said Dreyfus, who is attending the Major Economies Forum on Climate and Energy in New York. California’s cap-and-trade program starts on Jan. 1, 2013, and its first auction of carbon allowances is scheduled for November.

Australia began charging about 300 of its largest emitters a fixed price of A$23 ($24) a metric ton for their greenhouse gas emissions on July 1. The country is scheduled to start a cap-and-trade system in 2015. It abandoned an attempt to set a minimum price for carbon permits and announced Aug. 28 it was linking to the European Union market, laying the groundwork for global emissions trading.

‘Share Experience’

California’s air resources board isn’t actively considering a link to Australia’s program that would allow companies in the two jurisdictions to trade carbon allowances and offsets across borders, Dave Clegern, a spokesman for the board in Sacramento, said by e-mail.

“We’re more focused on learning from each other at this point as we inaugurate our programs,” Clegern said. “The ongoing relationship with Australia provides us both with the opportunity to share experience and information as our programs develop.”

California is also in talks with the Mexican state of Chiapas about partnering in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Mary Nichols, chairman of the air board, said during an interview in Bloomberg’s San Francisco office Aug. 13. The discussions probably won’t result in a “full linkage” with the state’s emissions markets, she said at the time.

The air board expects to submit a proposal to California Governor Jerry Brown this year to form joint emissions markets with the Canadian province of Quebec. The province, which releases about one-sixth the greenhouse gases that California does, would become the first jurisdiction to link systems with the state.

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