The release of a substance (usually a gas when referring to the subject of climate change) into the atmosphere.
A limit placed on companies regarding the amount of greenhouse gases (or other polutants) it can emit.
This is a concept often used by policymakers in reference to the problem that emissions abatement achieved in one location may be offset by increased emissions in unregulated locations. Such leakage can arise, for example, in the short term as emissions abaters reduce energy demand or timber supply, influencing world prices for these commodities and increasing the quantity emitted elsewhere; and it can arise in the longer term, for example, as industries relocate to avoid controls.
This is an economic incentive-based alternative to command-and-control regulation. In an emissions trading program, sources of a particular pollutant (most often an air pollutant) are given permits to release a specified number of tons of the pollutant. The government issues only a limited number of permits consistent with the desired level of emissions. The owners of the permits may keep them and release the pollutants, or reduce their emissions and sell the permits. The fact that the permits have value as an item to be sold or traded gives the owner an incentive to reduce their emissions.
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Emissions trading or cap and trade is usually a government-mandated, market-based approach to controlling pollution by providing economic incentives for achieving reductions in the emissions of pollutants.
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