Letters to the Editor

Readers write about a cap-and-trade policy for CO2 emissions, why the West shouldn't lecture China about greenhouse-gases, the need for Afghanistan's neighbors to help contain the volatile country, and mandatory service in the US.

Cap-and-trade works for other effluents, why not CO2?

Regarding the Feb. 13 Opinion piece, "To slow climate change, tax carbon": Author Nick Schulz's advocacy for a carbon tax rather than a cap-and-trade approach fails to acknowledge several advantages to cap-and-trade.

First, cap-and-trade is not a "volatile financial instrument." Carbon allowances are not derivatives; they are units of regulatory compliance that would be used by the capped sources to achieve their respective CO2 reduction requirements. The fact that carbon prices in Europe have fallen simply means that it will be less expensive for companies to comply with their carbon caps.

Second, in the US, we not only have a taxation mechanism in place, we also have a cap-and-trade mechanism in place. The EPA began administering the sulfur dioxide cap-and-trade program in 1995, pursuant to Title IV of the Clean Air Act. The efficient market for SO2 allowances that resulted has been part of the inspiration for the cap-and-trade provisions of the Kyoto Protocol, as well as for a domestic nitrogen oxide trading program that began in the Northeast in 1999. [Editor's note:

Recommended: US climate change report: What lies ahead for your region?
The original version misidentified the date of the trading program's debut.

We have an abundance of cap-and-trade expertise in place in our federal and state governments. Given the extent of the greenhouse-gas reductions that are needed, we should deploy every tool available where it can work most effectively. In some cases, a carbon tax may be appropriate, but cap-and-trade will also be essential to achieving these goals cost-effectively.

Donna Boysen

West can't lecture China on carbon

Regarding the Feb. 13 Editorial, "Hillary Clinton's climate-saving voyage": Unfortunately, this editorial comes across as another bossy American lecture to the Chinese.

On a per capita basis, the US emits a vastly greater volume of greenhouse gases than does China. Also, the West accounts for the lion's share of greenhouse-gas emissions. The idea of the Kyoto Protocol was for the West to take the first steps in CO2 emission reduction, but the US abandoned Kyoto. The West has to make major steps in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions while allowing emerging economies, including China, room for growth out of poverty. Instead of lecturing the Chinese, the West should lead by example.

David Crane

Afghanistan's neighbors must step up

In regard to the Feb. 17 Opinion piece, "A reality check for Obama in Afghanistan": Author Walter Rodgers's commentary is brilliantly informed and convincingly written. Centuries of tribal domination in Afghanistan have thwarted any nation that has attempted to control or even have a significant influence there. The United States and others may have the reach, but none have the grasp needed to shape the mercurial Afghanistan. It is best influenced, contained, and made manageable by vessels of more compatible composition. Mr. Rodgers suggests simply engaging its regional neighbors in the task. I ask, "Why not?"

David K. McClurkin

Beachwood, Ohio

Mandatory service is un-American

In regard to the Jan. 26 Opinion piece, "Obama can instill civic responsibility – through a mandatory Youth Corps": In a democracy such as ours, the word "mandatory" has little worth. Our hard-won freedom to make individual choices must not be infringed upon by would-be Constitutional reformers. Mandatory programs in a democratic society will "fly" about as well as a lead balloon, and for good reason.

Provide programs that work and proper incentives for participation, and there will be no need for anything to be made mandatory.

Kip Mauldin

The Monitor welcomes your letters andopinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.CSMonitor.com. Mail letters to Readers Write and Opinion pieces to Opinion Page, 210 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. E-mail letters to Letters and Opinion pieces to OpEd.

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