Emissions trading programs are designed to bring down pollution by regulating the amount of emissions any single company can emit. Different programs work in different ways. Under some systems, if a company is under its pollution limit, it may sell the difference between its actual emissions and its allowed emissions to companies that are over their emissions limits. Such a program allows companies to bring down their emissions however they choose and offers incentives to companies to do so, but these programs have also been criticized for being ineffective at combating pollution. Other programs, like the one President Obama has proposed, puts emissions on auction to the highest bidder, thus raising money for the government. The consensus on whether or not such a program will help the economy is still out, but it’s unlikely any cap-and-trade system could be put into effect before 2012 so an immediate economic boost or plummet caused by emissions trading is impossible.
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