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Carbon Trading and the Effect of the Copenhagen Agreement
Carbon Trading and the Effect of the Copenhagen Agreement: Technical options and economic drivers to a low carbon future
Projections, based on current and forecast future emission levels, suggest that such a target is unlikely to be achieved. The interaction between economic growth, consumer demand and new technology is complex, and prediction is uncertain. However, a strong consensus now exists that without more concerted action that target will be exceeded at some point between 2030 and 2050, with most pessimistic assumptions outlooking ranges in excess of 800ppm by the end of the century.
The potential for reducing emissions using state-of-the-
Key features of this report
• A review of the current threat to the environment from carbon emissions
• An overview of the nature of that threat by primary energy source (e.g., coal, oil, gas) and by end-use sector (transport, buildings, power generation, etc.)
• A summary and review of the main technological solutions available to reduce emissions: alternative strategies, including Carbon Capture and Sequestration and Land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF)
• The theory underpinning economic initiatives to stimulate technology changes: carbon pricing and carbon markets
• Current structures and political critique
Scope of this report
• a quick and comprehensive understanding of the current issues under-lying the climate change debate
• Clear linkage between technological solutions – and the economic framework in which they have to be developed
• Understanding of the barriers to private sector initiatives in tackling carbon emissions
• Understanding of the political dimension that is currently hampering efforts to reach international agreement (e.g., the ethics of offsetting, the inclusion of REDD within offsetting schemes)
Key Market Issues
• Core Issue: Action is needed on carbon emissions: a variety of technological approaches have been identified – but in the absence of any economic incentive for implementation, progress on this front is stalled.
• Theoretical Approach: The international community, at Kyoto in the 1990’s, and at various conferences since, have attempted to create an economic incentive for private action by instituting measures that:
- reflect the environmental cost of carbon emissions through a system of carbon pricing
- Formalise carbon trading through a number of international carbon markets
• Critique: A number of critiques have been put forward in respect of this approach, including the view that the theory itself is unjust (a form of “new colonialism”)
- More seriously, it is argued that the current price of carbon is too low to achieve its objective.
Key findings from this report
• Action is required to reduce carbon emissions
• The range of technologies available to mitigate carbon emissions is wide and many technologies are capable of being implemented now: the main obstacle to implementation is cost
• The economic theory underpinning a solution to carbon emissions is based on the allocation of the carbon cost to different activities by means of a worldwide carbon pricing mechanism – and leaving the detailed working out of solutions to market mechanisms.
• The current price is half or less what it needs to be for effective technological solutions to be sought by the business community. Current forecasts suggest that targets initially set for 2020 and 2030 in terms of carbon emissions will not be met.
• This issue has been exacerbated by the failure of the most recent international conference on CLimate Change, at Copenhagen in December 2009, to come up with more than a statement of general principles. The international business community is looking for guidance and direction on specifics, as well as some re-assurance of carbon price stability into the short and medium term future.
Key questions answered
• What is the scale of the challenge facing the world in terms of carbon reduction?
• What are the key technological mechanisms available for dealing with these challenges?
• What non-technical solutions (CCS and LULUCF) are available?
• What are the main economic drivers put in place to stimulate technological change (carbon pricing, trading, markets)?
Table of Contents :
Carbon trading and the effect of the Copenhagen agreement
Executive summary 10
Global warming: current status 10
The principal components of CO2 emissions 11
Global warming – primary technical solutions 11
Global warming – further technical approaches 12
Global warming – political and economic approaches 13
Global warming – politics and economics in practice 14
Global warming - the likely outlook 16
Chapter 1 Introduction 20
Chapter 2 Global warming: current status 24
Global warming 25
Current situation: global CO2 generation 27
Drivers of CO2 generation: economic, social and technological trends 28
Emission trends for CO2 generation 32
Overview of recent history 32
CO2 emissions 36
Fossil fuel usage 38
Electricity consumption 40
CO2 intensity 41
Energy intensity 42
Electricity intensity 43
Chapter 3 The principal components of CO2 emissions 46
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