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How Do You Regulate Carbon Emissions?

The regulating of carbon emissions is not a straight-cut or one-magic-solution issue for the release of the billions of tons of GHGs we as a global community put up into the atmosphere each year. Indeed many possible solutions working in tandem can produce the desired effect of feasible reduction in GHG emissions! So what are these ideas? I will present three of the policies that I see working most effectively and which answer the original question best from three selected readings. These readings act to PARTIALLY aid in the answering of the question of regulating GHG emissions.

1) “Put a price on carbon that increases over time.”

Sawin-Moomaw propose that this can be done by, “… to apply a “bottom tax” that sets a floor under fossil fuel prices, and that increases each year.” Then, this new revenue can be placed back in the adapting and creation of new technologies to further more energy efficient development! Examples of the successful presentation of this strategy were given through the use of Denmark in both the Stern and Sawin-Moomaw article.


2) “Develop a strategy for phasing out inefficient, carbon emitting capital stock (such as old, polluting power plants) that includes the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies.”

Once again Sawin-Moomaw propose that this can be done by the replacement, and subsequent introduction of new higher-efficiency technologies. “Within the next decade, many power plants in developed countries will reach the end of their technical lifetimes, and it is imperative that they be replaced with renewable options” This idea, combined with the “re”-subsidizing of renewable energies, transferred from the now subsidized oil, gas, and coal sectors, will decrease the price and increase the appeal of cleaner energy, so that these renewables become more attractive to the general market and further subsidizes increase to these expanding markets! Once again, further examples are provided in the section documenting China’s growing shift to these new technologies.

3)”Lending can play an important role in supporting energy efficiency (Stern).”

Another market-based approach to ultimately reducing GHG emissions is the creation of new mechanisms by which finances can be given to those with the most need for reductions (i.e. developing countries). Two models proposed for this in the articles were the The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) <> and the Clean Development Mechanism.<>.




Sawin & Moomaw, Renewable revolution: low-carbon energy by 2030, Worldwatch Institute, 2009.

Newell, R. 2007. “Climate Technology Research, Development and Demonstration: Funding Sources, Institutions, and Instruments,” in R. Kopp and W. Pizer, eds., Assessing U.S. Climate Policy Options, Resources for the Future, Washington, DC., pp. 117-132.

Stern, N. 2007. Supporting the transition to a low-carbon global economy. In: The Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change. HM Treasury, London, UK. (chapter 23; pp. 1-25).


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One Response to "How Do You Regulate Carbon Emissions?"

  1. Christine Burns says:

    Hey Elena, I definitely think you hit the three important suggestions right on the head!! Unfortunately, I don’t know how likely it is that we will move towards the second one, because as they said in the article, people in the United States prefer to continually put a bandaid on old decrepit plants than invest in revamping them, so why would the revamp them sustainably which will cost even more money??? (That’s just my pessimistic self talking) Naturally, I would love to see all three of these happen, and sooner rather than later!! Nice work!

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