With our knowledge of environmental issues like climate change and resource depletion growing every day, it's hard to ignore the impact we're having on the world in which we live. In the hopes of lessening that impact, policy makers are continually brainstorming effective solutions to these problems. One such solution -- the cap-and-trade policy -- seeks to decrease the amount of pollution emitted into the air by large corporations by capping the amount that can be released in a particular area.
Basically, a cap-and-trade program works like this: A maximum allowance, or cap, is placed on the amount of pollution that can be released in a certain region (sometimes called an "airshed"). A cap is also placed on the emissions allowed by each individual company or facility in that region. The individual players may also buy, sell or trade their emissions allowance with other parties in the region.
This emission trading -- also called a carbon exchange or a carbon trade -- lets each party increase or decrease their individual allotment of a region's overall emissions limit, while the group as a whole stays within the region's limit. That overall limit may, over time, be decreased. Thus, an overall reduction in emissions (especially greenhouse gas emissions) is achieved.
Not a new concept, cap and trade is similar to the policies enacted in the early 1990s to reduce the pollutants that cause acid rain. By regulating corporate output and production, this policy affects industries far and wide. Realizing that ways of doing business are now changing, certain schools have begun expanding their curriculum to better prepare students for the changing energy and emissions market.
Some notable educational programs -- primarily at the graduate level -- that promise to give their students a taste of how this system will affect business, government and society are listed below:
John Hopkins University
For those seeking to understand the science behind it all, John Hopkins University offers a master's of science degree in Energy Policy and Climate. In addition to covering topics such as energy supply and consumption, the program also offers graduate students an in-depth look at how policies and initiatives like the cap-and-trade policy fit into the big picture. One course, Climate Change Policy Analysis, strictly focuses on the intricacies of these varying approaches and how they affect markets and industries as a whole.
Harvard Business School
Faced with running the companies of the future, it's important for the MBA candidates of today to understand what all of this means for them. At the Harvard Business School, students are given the opportunity to see how the cap-and-trade system works firsthand. Two different courses put students in the driver's seat when it comes to controlling this market-based process. Forced to make decisions as if they were industry-leading executives, this educational experience allows students to better understand the process as a whole and how it interacts with an overall business model.
University of Arizona—Law School
With so many rules and regulations to enforce, there's no doubt that the legal system must get involved from time to time. Seeking to keep the next generation of lawyers and legal analysts up-to-date on current issues, the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law offers a course covering strictly Global Climate Change and the Law. The curriculum covers the ins-and-outs of the cap-and-trade approach at both the local and international level, and discusses possible difficulties it may cause, thereby preparing the lawyers of tomorrow for whatever might come their way.
As our world continues to evolve, so must our education system. It's important that schools continue to incorporate changes and updates to their curriculum to provide our nation's students with only the best, most relevant information. From scientists to businessmen, teachers to lawyers, our changing approach to the environment and how we interact with it is an all-around game changer for everyone, regardless of industry or specialization.
Amanda Watson is business blogger with a keen interest in how people earn their MBA online. She believes that web entrepreneurship is critical to success in business. She can be reached at email@example.com.