chapter  1
10 Pages

Historical background: from sustainable development to carbon management

While the phenomenon of global climate change is largely responsible for the current focus on carbon management, one must be mindful of the wider implications of carbon emission to sustainable development and the role the built environment plays in this interaction. In spite of all the attention on carbon management in recent years, the fact remains that global greenhouse gas emissions and the global carbon intensity (measured as carbon emission per unit of economic output) have continued to rise (Pielke, 2010). The world emitted twice as much carbon dioxide per marginal unit of economic activity in the decade leading to 2008 than in the previous decade (Prins et al., 2009). It seems that global economic output is unable to extricate itself from carbon dependency (99 per cent of the variations in carbon emissions can be explained by the changes in the approximately USD 50 trillion global economy – Pielke, 2010), and the trend is unlikely to reverse. This is made clear by the ‘Kaya Identity’ (Kaya, 1990), which is composed of two primary factors: economic growth and technology changes.