I've been hearing a lot of talk about Carbon Emission Exchange and Carbon Neutrality as of late, and I want to start by saying that I STRONGLY support the idea of an international carbon emmission exchange program. Why is it so important???
Well, in any case if we wish to defeat Global Warming it is extremely important to bring big business and global corporations on-board in the fight to decrease carbon emissions, and if we can't find a way to make it profitable to do so, it will never happen. So your probably wondering just how does this work??? How can a "Carbon Exchange Program" actually reduce the level of carbon in the air?
I'm no scientist or whatever- but I do understand the concept and will try to explain it in the simplest, most easy to understand way I know how. I'll start with the simplest part- the production of "carbon credits"- the "currency" exchanged in Carbon Emission trading schemes.
Carbon Credits are earned through the research, production or development of products which work to reduce the level of carbon, in the air. This can happen in any number of ways, but does include many variables. Here are just a few examples of ways in which carbon credits can be earned.
The creation of "Carbon Sinks" - the earth has natural methods of consuming carbon dioxide, they are the major way carbon dioxide levels are kept neutral by the Earth; and an effective way to earn carbon credits. There must also be carbon sinks other than those which occur naturally; forrests etc. But this is just a basic list:
1) Planting forrests. The tree's consume Carbon Dioxide and turn it into oxygen, storing the Carbon in their physical makeup (a tree trunk is over 50% carbon- so I am lead to believe).
2) Creating products to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and break the atomic structure down into carbon and oxygen seperately, and then put the carbon to use for some other purpose.
Another method of earning Carbon Credits is to research and produce alternative products with a greater level of energy efficiency. Reducing the overall consumption of energy//electricity is a sure-thing way of reducing carbon emission; particularly in Australia and other nations where the majority of energy is still produced from the burning of "Fossil Fuels" such as oil, gas and coal. There are many examples of products with greater energy-efficieny that are priced out of equal competition with those products wich are cheaper to make, but less energy efficient. Carbon Credits become worth money as the supply-demand ratio changes, and as such are a way for those who produce energy efficient products to make extra profit; which then in turn allows them to sell their product cheaper and as allow it to price-match with products that are less-efficient.
Here is a small list of consumer-end products which could earn their producer Carbon credits.
1) Energy efficient light-bulbs.
2) High-efficiency batteries
3) Solar-powered devices (like solar-hot water, solar panels for homes etc)
4) Energy efficient buildings//homes
5) Hybrid cars (which consume much less petrol than average cars).
There are many many things which could go on this list but when producing a carbon emission trading scheme there are more things which must be considered like, when these products pass their expiry date, what will happen to them? Will they loose their efficiency? Will they put carbon back into the atmosphere? Will a better technology arrive and take-over, making this product no-longer considered "efficient", since this is a term relative to what is dominantly used.
Of course then there are the other major ways Carbon credits can be earnt and emissions can be reduced; the use, research and production of products required for finding and making use of alternate, sustainable sources of energy is the feild most important and which would benefit most from any carbon emission trading scheme.
These industries include:
Solar-fuelled Power Stations//Generators.
Wind-fuelled Power Stations//Generators.
Tidal fuelled Power Stations//Generators.
Geothermal Power Stations.
NUCLEAR power technology is one that would be heavily debated since there has been no safe way of getting rid of radioactive waste yet; however it could be used temporarily as a way to reach our short-term goals of drastically reducing carbon emissions.
So there you have it. That's how carbon credits would be produced. All those involved in the aformentioned industries would then have carbon credits, equal to one kilogram of carbon emission into the air (per credit), which they could then sell off to carbon-emitting companies. This also means it would cost the company more for every extra kilogram of Carbon Dioxide they pump into the atmosphere- which, in itself, acts as a deterrant to carbon emission as well as an incentive to increase the efficiency of products and production lines.
I hope this all makes sense to those of you who read all the way to hear. It's a very interesting concept that I think we need to push our governments and the United Nations into creating as a global exchange. Not on a country-to-country basis either; this would be unfair because developed countries can afford to buy up all the credits at the expense of developing countries- it needs to be done on a BUSINESS TO BUSINESS scale on an INTERNATIONAL level.