1. Carbon (energy)

Submitted by admin on 28. April 2022 - 19:51
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1. Carbon (energy)


Working group on Global Systems Accounting

Accounting for the full carbon cycle including both the release of fossil carbon and the capture and sequestration of excess atmospheric carbon would both monitor global heating and climate change, and the flow of solar energy and carbon sequestration through photosynthesis supporting all life on the planet, aiming to bring carbon accounts back into balance.

Working group members:


Carbon-currency accounting can advance the effectiveness of adaptation and mitigation solutions e.g. developing nations gain no benefit from natural sinks, yet many are most at risk. Carbon in the ground is carbon capital, that’s where it belongs. Carbon in the atmosphere is carbon debt. Carbon is the currency. We need incentives for putting carbon in the ground and disincentives for putting it in the atmosphere. We need an accounting system that rewards the good things instead of just punishing the bad things. Global carbon system accounting with associated tax on emissions (or biomass destruction) and benefits for sequestration (and environmental regeneration) incentivises effective solutions. Counties with high per capita fossil energy use would pay the most.


Link to the section of the background paper

Ideal state

The ideal state would be the return to pre-industrial levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and temperature and climate return to the previous state. However this is not possible and realistic.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the most positive scenario if humans put their efforts into it:
- A State where the earth climate is well regulated with a global temperature rise of maximum 1.5° where climate change is limited
- GHG concentrations including CO2 are stabilised at around 450-500 ppm by 2050- 2100
- Ecosystems including forests, grasslands, rivers, mountains, ice caps, marshland are restored and functional
- Natural cycles are well regulated including the water and carbon cycles
- The carbon is well stored into living organisms organic matter, including fossil fuels
- Humans use natural resources including living and nonliving with respect to the planetary boundaries and humans themselves

Ultimately this could be extended to energy accounting for the flux of solar energy in the planetary system and through biological systems, complemented by planetary energy sources (geothermal and radioactive)

Non-financial currency

Carbon can be the global non-financial currency
Carbon in the atmosphere is carbon debt
Carbon kept within living ecosystems and in the ground is carbon credit

Positive indicators

IPCCs strong scientific knowledge, research and experience in climate change
Valuable guidance provided by the IPCC 
Advanced global collaboration with UNFCCC
Paris Agreement and commitments made by many states
Carbon tax introduction (partial)
Increased in natural protected areas and ecosystem restoration
Subsidies for renewable energy sources
increased synergy within international environmental agreements, especially with the UN Convention on Biodiversity and the UNFCCC

carbon absorption by nature
carbon capture and sequestration
taxes on emissions and historic emissions
benefits for natural and additional absorption
subdivided by geographic areas, ecosystems, major actors

Negative indicators

Global average atmospheric temperature
CO2/all GHG concentration in the atmosphere
Number and intensity of extreme events such as storms, hurricanes, floodings, droughts, extreme heat
Ice cap size and volume in the poles and glacier, size in mountains
Sea level rise
Ecosystem health and its biodiversity
Phenology (seasonal rhythm of living organisms)
Planting and harvesting season climate related

Current economic system strongly dependent on fossil fuels
Prices do not represent the real cost of natural resources
Harmful subsidies to fossil fuel and other polluting industries
Limited carbon tax
Growing world human population, inequalities, insecurity, extreme poverty
Increasing consumption and demand for energy
Cosmetic Greenwashing
Deforestation, degradation of habitats and ecosystems
Weak delivery and implementation capacity on global commitments within the UNFCCC
UNFCCC commitments are not sufficiently implemented

Climate justice indicator (the poor are the most affected)
Climate migrants and refugees
Degradation of ecosystems
Crop production affected
Migration of agriculture production (climate migration)
Lack of water availability, droughts, lack of food

Carbon inflow to atmosphere (release of fossil carbon, destroying biological resources)
subdivided by geographic areas, countries, ecosystems, major responsible actors
Atmospheric carbon stock (historic emissions and excess atmospheric carbon) allocated to responsible parties

Action needed

Education and research on energy, climate change, the carbon cycle and natural ecosystems
  Individual and business development on the use of renewable energy sources
Joint local actions to protect natural ecosystems and their biodiversity
Permaculture and organic farming
Planting trees and restoring ecosystems
Encourage moderation in fossil fuel driven travel (air) and consumption (meat)

A new and more united global climate governance
A world climate agency with authority over countries to ensure that carbon follows its natural cycle and stays within its capital
A robust and effective financial mechanism to prevent burning carbon and fossil fuel and reward natural carbon cycle process and living ecosystems
Tax and prevent harmful industries including industrial farming practices/meat production
More synergy is needed between International Conventions UN CBD & UNFCCC
More research and data needed on the carbon cycle and natural sequestration of carbon (role of oceans, soils and microorganisms)

Current state of the art

Extensive information on carbon emissions, much less on carbon sequestration, especially by natural systems
accounting for full carbon cycle far from complete, not properly valued


Project Drawdown https://drawdown.org/

VCS (Verified Carbon Standard) Program https://verra.org/project/vcs-program/

Return to Global Systems Accounting page

Last updated 30 April 2022