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RELEASE: 12/16/99
CONTACT: Peter Page or Amy Collings
609-984-1795 or 609-292-2994


Governor Christie Whitman's "Sustainable New Jersey" initiative received a major boost from a written understanding negotiated by State Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Shinn with the government of the Netherlands this month.

Under the landmark understanding, called an "Aide Memoire," the Netherlands and New Jersey will, by the end of 2000, identify avenues for developing a pilot project to trade emission reduction credits for carbon dioxide, the primary gas causing global warming.

"Initiatives and technologies that reduce emissions of carbon dioxide nearly always reduce other air pollutants, and clean air is essential to our quality of life in New Jersey," said Governor Whitman. "This agreement has the promise of harnessing the economic incentives of emission trading to improve air quality both here and in the Netherlands."

The Aide Memoire adopts a work plan to develop a prototype emissions trade that may be the foundation for similar sustainability initiatives both within the U.S. and internationally.

The Aide Memoire was signed December 7 by the Netherlands Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment, Kees Zoeteman, and by Commissioner Shinn during his four-day visit to The Hague. The Commissioner led the New Jersey delegation that negotiated this far-reaching agreement.

"We have formed a partnership with the Netherlands to develop economic incentives that have a positive impact on New Jersey's air quality. This is another step toward the Governor's goal of making New Jersey a better place to live, work and raise a family," said Shinn. "The Netherlands and New Jersey both have sizable coastal communities and significant industrial facilities that contribute to global warming. It makes sense that we work together to curb the long-term threat to coastal communities posed by the sea level rise resulting from global warming."

"We are entering a new era in the history of environmental policy that requires thinking beyond the traditional borders," said Zoetman.

The agreement is a follow-up to a Letter of Intent signed by Shinn and the Netherlands' Environment Minister in June of 1998.

"This is a landmark step that creates the potential for U.S. companies to sell emission credits, which lowers the cost of addressing climate change and brings additional environmental benefits to both New Jersey and the Netherlands," said Ned Helme, Executive Director of the Center for Clean Air Policy, who helped forge the original agreement and participated in The Hague meetings.

The parties will establish a standing committee to develop the pilot project for greenhouse gas emissions trading. The initial members of the standing committee representing New Jersey will be Commissioner Shinn; Michael Hogan, Counselor to the Commissioner; Michael Winka, Administrator of the DEP Office of Innovative Technology and Market Development; Ned Helme, Executive Director of the Center for Clean Air Policy; Sue Gander of the Center for Clean Air Policy, and Eric Svenson, Director of Environmental Policy for Public Service Enterprise Group.

On Earth Day 1998, Commissioner Shinn announced plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in New Jersey 3.5 percent below 1990 levels by 2005. New Jersey is the first state to commit to a specific reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. In 1999, through a climate change workgroup representing the state's business and environmental communities, a sustainability/climate change plan of action was developed.

New Jersey produces about 2 percent of the nation's greenhouse gases, or more than 129 million tons a year, predominantly from the burning of oil, coal, and other fuels for heating, cooling and motor vehicles.

Shinn is vice chair of the Board of Directors for the Center for Clean Air Policy, an environmental think-tank based in Washington D.C. and the Czech Republic. He also co-chairs a climate change committee formed jointly by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Environmental Council of States.


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