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Scale and benefit of global carbon markets under the 2 °C goal: integrated modeling and an effort-sharing platform


Global climate change mitigation needs all countries’ efforts under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s guideline of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. The medium-to-long term regional emissions pathways simulated by integrated assessment models with global mitigation costs minimized to achieve the 2 °C goal might be very different from the regional emissions allowances allocated based on effort-sharing principles. Global carbon trading is a cost-effective mechanism to bridge the gap. Insight of previous papers has mainly focused on the impact of a single effort-sharing scheme on global carbon market, while this study attempts to explore the scale and benefit of global carbon market under different effort-sharing principles to achieve the 2 °C goal, with the application of a consistent modeling framework, consisting of an integrated assessment model and an effort-sharing platform. The results indicate that scale of global carbon market would be highly related with the effort-sharing principles. The global trading volumes would change from 1.8 Gigatons (Gt) carbon dioxide (CO2) to over 12 GtCO2 per year and largely peak between 2030 and 2040 under different kinds of effort-sharing principles. Correspondingly, annual global finance flows in the carbon market would increase gradually and reach the scale of hundreds of billions United States (US) dollars since 2020. Global carbon market would lower the abatement costs of developed countries, and the overall global abatement costs would drop by 0.4–2.6% during 2011–2050. The developing countries would not only acquire revenues from global carbon trading but also be provided with an opportunity to accelerate their domestic low-carbon energy transformation, local environmental improvement, job creation, and economic development. Linking national and regional carbon markets to develop global carbon market will be critical to maximize the utility of the market mechanism.

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This research is supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (71690243) and Ministry of Science and Technology of China (2012BAC20B01). Pan X. would also like to thank National Natural Science Foundation of China (71703167).

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Correspondence to Wenying Chen.

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Wang, L., Chen, W., Pan, X. et al. Scale and benefit of global carbon markets under the 2 °C goal: integrated modeling and an effort-sharing platform. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Change 23, 1207–1223 (2018).

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  • Global carbon market
  • Effort-sharing platform
  • Integrated assessment model
  • The 2 °C goal
  • Consistent framework