Under a cap and trade system for controlling pollution, every polluting industry has a certain number of “carbon credits” – basically the quota for how much pollution they may produce. However, some companies may reduce emissions by more than is required, and sell the credits they don’t need to other corporations that are having trouble keeping their pollution within required limits. Beyond this, cap and trade proposals vary widely, and there is much debate about how to make them as effective as possible. Many environmental groups favor auctioning off carbon credits to polluting industries, ensuring that companies have to pay to pollute. The cap and trade package currently being considered in the US, however, would give out many carbon credits for free to industry – an approach that is obviously favored much more by large energy-consuming companies.
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