Climate Change Legislation Now Likely to Occur at Some Point

Carbon market participants from around the world today listened to a panel of five U.S. experts discuss climate change policy during a Carbon Market Expo Roundtable in Cologne, Germany. The roundtable participants, including Hawthorn Group Senior Vice President John Shanahan, provided insights on the prospects of the United States Congress enacting climate legislation in the coming years.

Roundtable participants agreed that while final passage was unlikely during the next two years, climate change legislation is now likely to occur at some point and that this year's Senate debate on the Lieberman-Warner Bill would be the practice session for the real game starting next year.

The participants said the legislation, however, could take many forms. Hawthorn's Shanahan, who until recently served as senior counsel on the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, cautioned that organizations advocating that the U.S. become part of a global carbon trading market faced a tough uphill battle on Capitol Hill.

"Many U.S. legislators -- especially moderate to conservative Republicans and Democrats -- are uneasy that cap and trade legislation could result in a transfer of wealth from the United States," Shanahan said. "That is just one obstacle that those in the finance and trading community will have to overcome in order to benefit from an eventual carbon market."

The conference participants expressed frustration that the United States has not imposed cap and trade legislation, as well as optimism about new market opportunities in the U.S. when legislation is passed.

Many conference attendees and the conference organizer said the discussion was the most interesting and insightful they had seen on the prospects and shape of climate legislation in the United States.

More than 1,500 people attended the three-day annual event, which concludes today.

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