Carbon Trading: A Critique

Clive L. Spash

in The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199566600
Published online January 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations

Carbon Trading: A Critique

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This article explains the complexities involved in pollution control and aspects of vested interests in Carbon emissions trading schemes (ETS). As this article explains, there are two broad sets of concerns over applying economic pollution control theory to mitigating GHGs. First, a simple pollutant model assuming known impacts between a limited number of known source point polluters proves inadequate for capturing the essential characteristics of the problem. Second, a lack of realism in terms of market structure and a total absence of anything in the economic model relating to power in society, mean analysts implicitly adopt the existing political economy without awareness as to the consequences for public policy. Using the examples of GHG accounting problems and permit allocation, this article criticizes the idea that ETS can be redesigned to make it better and eventually all problems with the approach can be solved.

Keywords: carbon trading; economic pollution control theory; emissions trading schemes; GHG reduction; regulatory instrument choice

Article.  5344 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Public Policy ; Comparative Politics

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