Representing Carbon Property Rights

International Federation of Surveyors (FIG)
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
The XXIV FIG International Congress 2010: Proceedings, 2010, pp. 1 - 18
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The reduction of carbon emissions is considered fundamental in the mitigation of a global rise in temperature and severe climate change events. A market approach has been adopted by several countries to efficiently reduce national carbon emissions and fulfil Kyoto Protocol obligations, and emergent sequestration rights in carbon have gained distinction from the archaic bundle of rights metaphor. In this respect, rights in carbon follow rights in water and biota as emerging property rights that must be independently managed, measured and represented visually. The distinction of carbon from rights in land, biota and water does not preclude the necessity of managing all land system rights as interdependent entities. We suggest that key to managing land and property rights holistically is an adequate representation of the relationships and interdependencies between land elements, the rights, obligations and restrictions, and the multiple stakeholders with an interest. Existing methods, such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), fail to display systems holistically and comprise only visual elements with limited interactivity that risk compromising understanding and uptake by amateur users. In addressing the above, this paper will first explore areas of contested meaning significant to the unbundling of rights in real property and the management of land at the system level. These areas comprise land and property, representation and visualisation, and property rights themselves. We will then introduce the key requirements and base design of our proposed virtual representation of complex real property rights, specifically designed for a better interpretation of carbon property rights. This research is a work in progress, and is presented as a merging of ideas and concepts to provoke thought and cooperation on a subject that is integral to climate change discussions.
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