With international leaders meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, recently to discuss climate change, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency exerting pressure on Congress to address greenhouse gases in national legislation, climate change is likely to reach national prominence in 2010.

For California, however, climate change legislation is already under way. The Air Resources Board this year begins implementing AB32, the state law that calls for California to reduce its carbon equivalent greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent within the next 10 years.

The Air Board, in late November, issued the nation's first blueprint for the cornerstone of that legislation — a cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions. Its proposed system sets GHG emissions caps for the state's largest polluting sectors, while allowing those who reduce emissions below prescribed levels to sell emissions credits to companies within that sector who cannot achieve required reductions.

What all this means for California agriculture is still under debate. But most immediately, it will mean higher prices for California Almond growers, handlers and processors who rely on fossil fuels as a basis for energy, fertilizer and other areas of their operation.

California Almonds Outlook, http://www.almondboard.com/outlook/2010/january/eNewsletter-january2010.asp, will run a series of articles over the next few months on climate change and greenhouse gases, highlighting current legislation, what it means to California Almond growers, and what some in the industry are doing to prepare for the effects of greenhouse gas regulations in California.

For more information on air quality issues, visit almondboard.com/airquality.