chapter  4
21 Pages

Carbon pricing in practice

ByRebecca Pearse

This chapter discusses the processes of instituting new carbon property rights, in the domestic cap-and-trade emissions trading scheme, and related offset schemes, as well as the replacement Direct Action Plan. Carbon reduction targets are hotly contested distributive decisions taken by states. There is an enduring problem in climate policy – national governments continue to pledge carbon targets that are too weak. Carbon offsets materially displace the abatement task and are a key mechanism through which the state avoids limiting capital's access to fossil fuels onshore. Global carbon trading and the availability of international abatement were a necessary condition for increasing ambition. Emissions trading has proven to be a limited political tool to enable governments to commit to higher carbon targets, as has the institutionalisation of expert independent advice as a factor in allocative decisions. Energy consumption is inelastic, meaning low-incomes households pay proportionately more out of pocket for carbon prices.