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Our carbon emissions/absorptions should be taken into consideration in everyday decisions; this does that by locally monitoring them!


Executive summary 

As Carbon Concentration becomes increasingly important as a key element for world stability, monitoring carbon emission and absorption will be crucial. Cheaper and faster standard methodologies to do this will evolve in the next 30-50 years and become part of the government functions in the next 50-70 years. This will allow bringing carbon emissions/absorption controls to a state level allowing for everyone to identify the most important carbon emitters and absorbers. 

Taxes will incentive emitters to reduce their emissions and absorbers to increase its absorption. In a similar way to the way currently economic indicators are monitored every day and taxes are used by governments to balance public services with personal economic development, and to the way we all make our decisions based in its economic cost. As everyone will be taxed by their net carbon emission, the environmental impacts of everyday actions will be increasingly taking into consideration in everyday decisions pushing society to a greener more responsibly future.



Sayel Cortes, Mexico City.


By 2100, carbon in the atmosphere will either be very close to the safe CO2 concentration limit or over it. In either case, the need to limit the emissions with absorption is inevitable. The key basic element to do this is a net carbon emission monitoring tool that would give information to the whole world in a timely manner in a way similar to current economic indicators such as GDP

In the same way that income and outcome has to be continuously monitored by any business, each state will have to evaluate its carbon emissions and absorptions each year using a standard methodology.

This methodology will be mostly automated using Geographic Information Systems linked to satellital data to evaluate absorption potentials and using standard formats that each industry will be obligated to fill. Personal carbon emissions will be evaluated thought the public services they use and the fuels they consume. Even if this methodology doesn't include 100% of the carbon emissions or absorption, accounting for more than 75% of them is enough to keep this state's carbon accounting system.

Carbon will follow a similar process that currently money is following in relationship to the government. Both business and individuals now you get taxed for all the income you have as long as you don't justify its spending with an expense. In the same way, in 2100, the carbon emissions you generate should be taxed as long as you don't complement them with carbon absorption.

Some states will obviously be net carbon emitters, such as those places where services are generated for a broader region (for example, the state where a facility that produces electricity for a whole region of the country might most probably produce more carbon than it absorbs). However, this should be compensated by states being net carbon absorbers. The taxing system will make sure both states have incentives to control their carbon emissions or to keep absorbing them.

While rules can be included in the same way that different industries are taxed differently, the general idea is that everyone's carbon emissions should be compensated either with carbon absorption either locally or taxed. The tax that comes from carbon emissions will be used by the state to fund carbon absorption projects somewhere else. In the same way, if you absorb more carbon than you emit (which might be the case for rural residents or people living in super-highly carbon efficient buildings/neighborhoods) you will get tax money returned.

Why: Rationale for the proposal

Carbon concentration is a key element for climate stability and thus plays a key role in the stability of the whole economic and social system in the world. As we get closer to the safe carbon concentration limits a more detailed monitoring of this is needed and getting closer to net zero carbon emission or even a negative carbon emission becomes a must. Bringing the carbon accounting system to the state level allows identifying clearly main carbon emitters individually. This scale level also allows everyone to clearly see carbon emitters and absorbers. Having a transparent and periodically evaluation tool will allows to follow the net carbon emission in the same way we are constantly monitoring economic development all over the world. 

How: Feasibility of proposal


Carbon monitoring tools are currently available in a wide range of ways, from national inventories to web services where you can estimate your carbon footprint easily and quickly. In the next 25-50 years, carbon will become a critical variable to foresee economic and social stability, so its measurement will have to evolve creating automatized algorithms and institutional processes to evaluate net carbon emission periodically in a similar way to which current economy indicators are followed constantly (this might be something similar to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), probably called Net Carbon Emission (NCE) which globally should be close to zero or even negative).

Due to the need to monitor Carbon emissions, the methodology and techniques to do it will quickly evolve into standardized repetitive methods. At the same time, governments will ask for more information to estimate carbon emissions/absorptions to industries and will be constantly evaluating carbon emissions from the public services to estimate carbon emissions at a personal level.

I would expect that a "Carbon accounting system" will be in place at least by 2070. Following trends in this carbon accounting system and developing a carbon emission market that is quick and flexible enough to support the proposed interchange of carbon emissions/absorptions thought taxes shouldn't take more than 5-15 years (depending on the technological level of each country economic system) which would make this proposal feasible by 2100.


Vision of the future under this proposal

In the same way people use a lot of tricks to decrease the taxes they pay, and at the end everybody pays the taxes he/she should, methods to increase carbon absorption and to decrease carbon emissions will quickly develop once carbon taxing is a periodic, local, standardized process. My vision is that as long as this is implemented and carbon emissions surplus and deficits are periodically publicized, states will start to control their net carbon emissions and to see the value of having net carbon reductions so that they can get increased income from taxing other areas. Even if this works in a similar way to carbon markets, having it institutionalized as part of the government process makes it an everyday unavoidable action, just as taxes currently. This will allow people to better understand the environmental impact of their actions and will move the whole society towards a more responsible, greener future.