Frontiers of Engineering Management

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 5–18 | Cite as

A global carbon market?

  • Michael G. PollittEmail author
Open Access
Research Article


This paper explores the prospects for a global carbon market as the centerpiece of any serious attempt to reach the ambitious goal for greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions set by climate scientists. My aim is to clarify the extent to which we know what policy might best support global decarbonisation. We begin by discussing what we might mean by a global carbon market and its theoretical properties. We then go on to discuss the EU Emissions Trading System experience and the recent experience with the Australian carbon tax. Next, we assess recent carbon market initiatives in the US and in China. My argument is that while establishing the amount of emissions required and dividing it up acceptably between countries requires an enormous scientific and international negotiations effort, the economic instruments to deliver the agreed targets are readily at hand.


carbon market carbon tax EU ETS 



The author wishes to thank Michael Mehling, three anonymous referees, the editors of this special issue and various seminar audiences for their comments and encouragement. He acknowledges the financial support of MIT CEEPR. The usual disclaimer applies.


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© The Author(s), July/2019 2019

Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits use, duplication, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Energy Policy Research Group, Judge Business SchoolUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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