Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Carbon rationing/trading/offsetting

In efforts to limit carbon emissions, schemes have been developed which aim to allocate a ‘fair share’ of GHG emissions to individuals, businesses or nations. When the allocated allowed emissions are priced, permits to emit can be traded for entities in a carbon market at global, local or industry-wide scales. Some carbon markets are already in place. The EU Emissions Trading System, for example, follows the ‘cap and trade’ principle whereby a total amount of certain GHGs within the system can be emitted is limited and reduced over time. Companies receive or buy permits and can trade these among themselves. In theory, this should result in a situation where emission reductions are made where they are cheapest to accomplish. Offsetting of carbon emissions involves balancing a certain quantity of emitted GHG with an equivalent reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere via mechanisms such as planting forest, avoiding deforestation, or putting in place energy-saving technologies. Carbon markets have been criticised by those who argue that the total carbon budget is often set too high (and the consequent price of carbon too low), that the risk of fraud is significant, and that these markets may give rise to complex financial derivatives which can lead to speculative booms and busts. Proving ‘additionality’ – that the forest planting, avoided deforestation or energy saving technology – would not have occurred in the absence of carbon financing is also difficult. The ‘contraction and convergence model’ of carbon rationing follows  a ‘fair shares of less’ principle – whereby people in developed countries would need to reduce their emissions (contract) and those in developing countries may increase theirs to the point where everyone emits equally (converge).

Photo: Jason Jacobs, “Fields of green”, Flickr, Creative commons licence 2.0
21 June 2017

This paper discusses EU climate and agriculture policy instruments and analyses how these can motivate farmers to adopt soil carbon sequestration projects. 

20 April 2016

In a guest post for Carbon brief University of Leeds professor of population ecology and FCRN advisory board member Tim Benton and Dr Bojana Bajželj of WRAP conclude that food related emissions will take up our entire carbon budget by 2050 if we don’t change our diets and the way our food is produced, so destroying any chance of meeting the raised ambition of the Paris Agreement.

Sorghum (Photo credit:  U.S. department of Agriculture, Flickr, creative commons)
10 March 2016

In this Nature Comment, Phil Williamson of the Natural England Research Council and the University of East Anglia, argues that in order for the climate goals agreed at the COP21 in Paris last year to be achieved, a full assessment must be made of the methods for removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.

3 February 2016

This report by Ecometrica summarises the five key agreed outcomes of the recent 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) held in Paris and highlights their implications for businesses.

11 September 2015

In this comment piece in Nature, a group of researchers argue that putting a price on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to curb emissions must form the centrepiece of any comprehensive climate-change policy.

They point out that the current price of carbon remains much too low relative to the hidden environmental, health and societal costs of burning a tonne of coal or a barrel of oil. The global average price is below zero, once half a trillion dollars of fossil-fuel subsidies are factored in.

22 May 2014

In 2013, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) helped advance climate-smart agriculture in 20 countries around the world, through close collaborations with farmers, civil society, governments and researchers.

16 July 2013

This book by Michael I. Brown presents a major critique of the aims and policies of REDD as currently structured, particularly in terms of their social feasibility. With deforestation being a key source of greenhouse gas emissions and of climate change, and forests representing major sinks for carbon initiatives such as REDD, reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, have however been widely endorsed by policy-makers.

19 November 2012

This paper, produced by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), explores the opportunities for climate change mitigation in the agricultural sector through the use of carbon markets. Carbon markets have not yet brought the technical potential for agricultural mitigation to fruition due to constraints on both the demand and supply side in terms of limited market opportunities and constraints to project implementation.

2 July 2012

A paper published in the International Journal of Critical Accounting looks at the effects of the EU’s emission trading scheme and Scandinavia’s carbon tax scheme.  It finds that neither of these schemes have made any significant impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

9 May 2012

Mexico is the second country in the world to have to have instituted legally binding targets on GHG emission reductions.  The law mandates a reduction in CO2 emissions by 30% below business-as-usual levels by 2020, and by 50% below 2000 levels by 2050 (note that this is a relative target – the UK’s target is an absolute one)

6 December 2011

The UK Government’s Carbon Plan was published in December 2011. It sets out how government’s proposals and policies for meeting the first four carbon budgets - legally binding limits on the amount of emissions that may be produced in successive five-year periods, beginning in 2008.

1 May 2008

Published by the International Trade Centre in April 2008, Organic Farming and Climate change concludes that organic agriculture has much to offer in both mitigation of climate change through its emphasis on closed nutrient cycles and is a particularly resilient and productive system for adaptation strategies. It also raises the issue of whether organic agriculture should be eligible for carbon credits under voluntary carbon offsetting markets and the Clean Development Mechanism.