An Overview Of Carbon Trading Environmental Sciences

Essay add: 28-10-2015, 18:00   /   Views: 129

Carbon or emission trading is an approach put forward by United nation Kyoto protocol to keep in check global emission by providing economical incentives. It is done with the help of central authority usually local government which set a limit or cap on the pollutant that can be emitted. Presence of life on earth is due to green house gases, which was present before life prevailed on earth. This help in stabilizing the earth's temperature making it suitable for living organism by the mechanism known as green house effect. Green house gas traps the heat energy from the sun which helps in maintaining the earth temperature. With the excess in emission of green house gases from rapid Industrialization, Automobile, Power sector and many more factors led to the increase in the total proportion of green house gases which is trapping more heat energy than required leading to global warming. So Carbon trading is measure taken to reduce the emission of green house gases.  Greenhouse gases manly constitute of water vapour (the main greenhouse gas), methane, ozone, carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide and CO2 which trap solar energy and emit back to earth as a result making earth surface 34 degree Celsius warmer. The use of fossil fuel such as coal and petroleum in the current Industries emitting all the pollutant in the atmosphere is the major reason for unnatural rise in green house gases making earth's temperature warmer. So to cut down emission Kyoto protocol was made which have three main mechanism emission or carbon trading, clean development mechanism (CDM), joint implementation (JI). These mechanism help to increase the green investment and help parties to achieve emission target in a cost effective way. By the use of renewable energy the whole domestic and industrial energies need can be met as it is inexhaustible whereas fossil fuel are exhaustible in nature and is about to saturate in near future. Renewable energy such as hydroelectricity, wave energy, wind energy to name a few provide a clean, inexhaustible source of energy which does not contribute to pollution does cutting down the global emission rate.


Global warming is the most complicated issue that the world today is facing. On one hand there is warning from the scientist about the rapid heating of the earth and on the other hand there is demand of technological and economical advancement which need to be addressed. In the past few years the world has faced major devastating disaster, due the forced climatic change because of pollution caused due rapid industrialization.

Global warming is the term used to illustrate the temperature rise of earth due to excess production of green house gases. One the major reason for global warming is human activity, as all countries around the world increasing their production to get economically stronger, which produces excess of green house gases in the atmosphere and result in the climate change. In recent years the temperature fluctuation have intensified the debate throughout the world how urgently we need the address this issue .In the recent years freezing weather in Florida and snowstorm in Washington show the sudden climatic change and the heat wave, drought in the summer taken by most of the researcher to show the weather is getting worse. This climatic change is having an adverse effect on the agriculture and for developing countries like India and Pakistan whose economy is largely depended on its agriculture is having a huge economical set back. Pakistan is going through its one of the biggest natural disaster in the recent years where many part of the country is submerged in the flooded water destroying the crops, taking life and will have a long term effect in getting the life of the people back to normal. According to World metrological department 1998-2007 was recorded as the warmest decade and the global mean temperature was 0.41 degree Celsius higher that the temperature recorded between the years 1961-1990 and has also recorded the lowest arctic sea ice extent. According to the assessment of intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) there is an average rise 0.6 -08 degree Celsius in the recent century and human activity is the largest factor which is effecting it. The shrinking of world forest land, rise in sea level due to melting of ice are few adverse effect that the global warming is having on earth. By recent years deforestation to increase agricultural land area the whole sinking area for the green house gas is decreasing and are left in hand of the nature.


Green house gases are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in the earth atmosphere which act as a blanket or envelope which keep the earth 33 degree Celsius warmer. Over the past century there is a rise 05 degree Celsius in the earth temperature due to increase in the concentration green house gases due to human activity. If the human activity is not controlled the fear is that this climatic change will have a severe effect and will result in more floods, drought, snow storm in the near future and will make life difficult on earth. However there are few scientists which suggest that it's a natural process from which earth is going through. The world is emitting green house gas at a very high rate and not a single major step has been taken until 1997 when Kyoto protocol was proposed to cut down the total global emission.

This graph shows the distribution of GHG in Earth's atmosphere. Carbon Dioxide is clearly the OF GREEN HOUSE GASES.

The effect of heating of the earth due to the presence of green house gases is known as "Green house effect". As the shorter wavelength of the sun passes through the earth and is absorbed by the surface of the earth keeping it warm. The absorbed sun rays is radiated back to the atmosphere as long wavelength infrared rays which cannot pass through the earth atmosphere as it is absorbed by the green house gases and a little of this radiated rays escape in to the space. Green house gas absorbs some quantity of sun rays enough to maintain the earth normal temperature. The green house gas re-emits the absorbed rays back to lower atmosphere keeping it warmer. The earth average temperature would have been around -18 degree Celsius instead of 15 degree Celsius if the green house gases were not present in the atmosphere.

Diagram to help explain the process of global warming and how greenhouse gases create the "greenhouse effect" CONCERN.

Rapid change in the world climate due to climate is having a large affect on biodiversity. Arctic is very sensitive to climate changes and has seen lots of changes. There is also an effect on ocean biodiversity. Species on earth largely depend on climatic factor and with the change in environment species come and go and with this rapid changing environment it will very difficult for the species to adopt and there will be loss in bio-diversity. From human perspective rapid climate change and change in bio-diversity will have a adverse effect on human existence on earth. According to the secretariat of convention of biodiversity (2010) "Climate change is already having an impact on biodiversity, and is projected to become a progressively more significant threat in the coming decades. Loss of Arctic sea ice threatens biodiversity across an entire biome and beyond. The related pressure of ocean acidification, resulting from higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, is also already being observed. Ecosystems are already showing negative impacts under current levels of climate change which are modest compared to future projected change. In addition to warming temperatures, more frequent extreme weather events and changing patterns of rainfall and drought can be expected to have significant impacts on biodiversity". The most important constitute of green house gas is carbon which proportion is largely increasing since 1900 through advancement of globalization. Industrialization, automobile, deforestation for agricultural land and other such factor are responsible for adding 6 billion ton of carbon to the atmosphere each year excess to the amount present in the atmosphere already. Carbon is responsible for 60% or more green house effect and it still added to the atmosphere through burning of fossil fuel. The proportion of carbon dioxide continues to grow at this rate by 21st century it will double or may be triple the amount that is present today.


A framework was developed by United Nation in United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC )in the year 1992 held in Rio de janiero to cut down the global carbon emission accepted and was signed by more than 150 countries, which is now an International law. The convention addressed to cut down green house gas emission which will prevent any future harm to the environment due to human activity. The countries that agree and signed the treaty has to develop program to slow down total green house emission, share technology and cooperate to reduce green house emission and Develop a greenhouse gas inventory listing national sources and sinks. From the convention it was addressed that the developed countries hold the major responsibility as they are contributing a greater proportion green house gases to the atmosphere and they should cut down their emission rate and should provide guidance to the developing nation in achieving better energy efficiency. As this was very initial step to prevent the climatic change it doesn't provide any limitation to emission rate for individual nation, so there was a need for a new system which set some limitation for the emission rate for individual nation. So the countries that met at UNFCCC in Rio dejeniero in 1992 reunited in Kyoto, Japan in the year 1997 and a new treaty was signed known as Kyoto protocol which placed a limit in green house gas emission to cut down the total global emission. The protocol identifies that the developed nations are major contributor to world GHG emission in the atmosphere for past 150 years of industrial activity so it put lot of burden of cutting down emission on developed nations under the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities". The major highlight of this protocol is it set binding target for industrialized nation and European community. The major difference between convention and protocol is that while convention encourages them to cut down their Green House Gas (GHG) emission, where as protocol commit them to do so. The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005. The detailed rules for the implementation of the Protocol were adopted at COP 7(conference of parties) in Marrakesh in 2001, and are called the "Marrakesh Accords."

The countries under the treaty must achieve its goals through national awareness and following it three main mechanisms are

Emission Trading also known as "carbon market".

Clean development mechanism(CDM)

Joint implementation.

Emission or Carbon trading.

Emission or carbon trading is one of mechanism that is proposed in Kyoto protocol to cut down the GHG emission. The country that has given commitment in Kyoto protocol has set a target to reduce or limit emission. These targets are expressed as level of allowed emission or "assigned amount" within the commitment period of 2008-2012. The assigned amount is divided into number of "assigned amount unit". So Emission trading allows country to sell their unused quota to a country which has already used their emission quota. In emission trading a cap or limit is set by the government on GHG emission if a industry or firm exceed its given limit they need to buy credits from the firm which has unused limit of emission quota. The overall aim of the emission trading plan is to lower the GHG emission. It is the most economical way of achieving environmental objective as the other technique deals with the emitting source. It is the most efficient way of cutting down the total GHG emission where environmental regulator first establish the acceptable emission and then divide it equally into tradable unit. Source that emit must obtain sufficient tradable unit to compensate their emission and those which are left with tradable unit can sell their units to the firm which reached their cap or emission limit.


As Carbon trading is incentive based where a company lower down it expenditure by monitoring its emission and will be beneficial for both the company which is lowering it emission and the environment gain where less pollutant is release by the company in turn it will have a financial gain. The GHG emission will become an internal cost of the company so the firm producing GHG will have to lower its emission and will have to look for an alternative and better way of operation otherwise the total expenditure of the company will rise.

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