Carbon Trading: A Desperate Plea

With the advent of the twentieth century and the prevalent technological advancements, life had become simpler and faster. Everything around us was about comfort. More efficient appliances, better paying jobs, higher standards of living, connectivity to around the world via the internet and mobile phones, etc. Nothing was impossible anymore. However in such intricacies came in complex environmental issues. While mankind was going for the sky, the ecology had started to fumble.

Widespread ice- cap meltdowns, rampant decrement in marine life, and reduction in agricultural productivity, warmer climates, extensive amount of species under the endangered radar, the list could go on. Since, the world is adamant on multiplying productions and escalating industries to heights that goes beyond nature to withhold, world leaders have finally concluded, that it’s high time.

The emission of green house gases, especially in the better off countries, has caused vehement repercussions on the atmosphere. Hence a treaty called the Kyoto Protocol, which came up in the Earth summit held in 1992, was formulated by various leaders as yet another desperate attempt to curb pollution. It is an agreement between countries, for carbon trading to stop global warming caused extensively due to the emission of carbon particles. It has been ratified by 140 countries but restrictions are only on 35 countries. Carbon trading is an effort to induce lower levels of carbon emissions, by those who can afford to inculcate necessary infrastructure in their industries, basically the ones operating in the developed world. A company in Annexe I can give money to a company in Non-Annexe I to buy the necessary technology and in turn own the carbon units generated by bringing that technology change and thus meet the targets set by their governments. The agreement divides the world into two sectors, Annexe I (the developed nations) and non-Annexe I (developing and underdeveloped nations). Once the KP enters into force, Annexe I countries (developed countries) are required to reduce their average GHG emissions by 5% by 2008-12. A country or company wishing to reduce their green house emissions or meet their targets can do so by investing in environmental friendly projects, which would contribute towards compensating their GHG emissions, but would also earn the investor some “credits” which would go all be directed towards net carbon reduction to be achieved. A typical clean development project, as is called, would be substituting fossil fuel-based power generation with renewable energy or a project that would improve existing energy efficiency levels. Or, as in India, by investing in forestation or community tree planting projects, called “carbon sinks”.