No state has done more to study the nitty-gritty of reducing emissions than California, and the California Air Resources Board recently revealed some of its thinking on how to achieve the state’s ambitious emission goals. Its conclusions should spark some serious discussion among those who — like John McCain — think cap-and-trade is going to be a magic wand to cure all our ills.

What CARB has determined is that carbon trading is only going to produce about 40% of the reductions the state needs. The other 60% will be produced by old-fashioned sector-specific regulations.

Yeah, regulation — the mousey girl no one notices while everyone moons over the cap-and-trade ingenue. It’s a She’s All That situation.

CARB Chairwoman Mary Nichols explains the balance in a recent ClimateWire piece (sub rqd):

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"I would say that more than half, probably 60 percent of the CO2 reductions that we’re going to achieve in California will come from programs that are aimed at particular sectors," Nichols said. "Which doesn’t mean that there wouldn’t be some trading or shifting allowances back and forth within that sector, or market-type compliance mechanisms that allow the flexibility of banking … but in terms of a broader, economy-wide cap with trading, I think it’s going to be more aimed at the areas that you can’t effectively control with a more targeted regulation."

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“I know that [about 40 percent trading] will sound like too much to people who think that all trading is evil, and it will sound like way too little to the carbon-trading enthusiasts, but that’s realistically where I think we are,” Nichols said.

She also, most hearteningly, says that land use and transportation will play a large role:

“I don’t know that there’s anything new under the sun in the area of transportation and land use planning, but I think the packaging is different under climate,” Nichols said. “I think climate really gives you the rationale for embarking on a more ambitious effort to try to pursue a smart growth agenda for land use and transportation because you have to operate over a timeframe where you can really see measurable results.”

“I think it’s the first time that we really have a … legal tool to use to get transportation planning established, to acknowledge the need for more compact roads, reducing growth and VMT,” she said.