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What Is Carbon Management?

Emission credits are used as an incentive to reduce carbon emissions.
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  • Written By: Ray Hawk
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 29 August 2014
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Carbon management is a broad-based method toward reducing climate change by the reduction of carbon emissions into the atmosphere, which have scientifically been proven to contribute to the process of global warming. The primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to global warming is carbon dioxide (CO2), a common byproduct of industrial processes and the burning of fossil fuels. Several approaches to carbon management aim to reduce the emission of CO2. Some of these include financial incentives for industry to upgrade pollution control technology, national climate legislation to regulate CO2 levels, and various global market initiatives promoted by the World Bank to offset the increased costs of compliance for developing nations.

One example of carbon management taking place internationally is that of a 2010 memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the United Kingdom (UK) and China, with a follow-up UK-China Low Carbon Cooperation Committee and Action Plan in 2011. This agreement focuses on two efforts to cut carbon emissions, which are seen as mutually beneficial. First, it promotes the development of low carbon emission technology in China, which the UK later plans to import to upgrade its own industry. Secondly, it involves the exchange of carbon credits between the UK and China. China benefits in the short term through carbon trading or carbon sharing as it allows its coal fueled industry, which produces more CO2, to buy up “credits” from certain UK industries that produce less than allowed CO2 emissions.

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The idea of carbon offsets and carbon finance between industries has often been criticized as not reducing the net production of CO2, but instead merely shifting around the blame for the worst polluters. To more comprehensively deal with such objections in the carbon management process, there has been an international push to institutionalize the idea of a carbon tax. Whereas a modern industry would be taxed for its carbon emissions, a “dirty” industry would be given a pollution credit to produce CO2 above desired limits, until it could economically modernize. Developing nations have stressed the need for such a balanced approach in light of the fact that modern nations were given a chance to industrialize in cheap, “dirty” fashion themselves during the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th century.

Climate change is likely to continue to accelerate as more and more nations industrialize to raise their standards of living. Carbon management is a necessary process for trying to control pollution of the environment during these changes in the global market. Increasing cooperation internationally to regulate carbon emissions through carbon credits, a carbon tax, and encouraging innovation and fair legislation is seen as essential to the process of carbon management and long-term protection of the environment.

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