We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is an Emissions Cap?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
About Mechanics is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At About Mechanics, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

An emissions cap is a government standard which dictates the maximum amount of a particular pollutant which can be produced. The goal of instituting emissions caps is usually to reduce overall emissions levels by setting a standard which forces industries to reduce their output of various pollutants. Emissions caps are usually discussed within the context of a cap and trade system, a technique which can be used to control and regulate emissions.

When an emissions cap is established, government workers determine how much of a particular pollutant is currently being generated, and how much harm that pollutant is doing to the environment. Then, they set a target to reach, and determine how quickly the production of that pollutant can be lowered, taking technological limitations, cost, and other factors into account. If an emissions cap is too radical, it will be impossible to meet, and the system can fall apart. On the other hand, if it is too lenient, there will be no incentive to reduce emissions, and the goal of lowering pollutants will not be realized.

Under a cap and trade system, industries which generate pollutants are given credits which allow them to produce a set amount of a given pollutant. The amount of the credits distributed adds up to the total allowance under the emissions cap. If a company produces less emissions than allowed under its credits, it can sell or trade the excess credits with a company which is producing more pollutants than it has been permitted under the system. By trading credits, companies can help an industry as a whole reach an emissions goal.

Setting an emissions cap is supposed to create an incentive to lower pollution by making it profitable to wind up with extra credits which can be sold or traded on the open market. However, the cap system has a serious flaw, which is that emissions need to be monitored. Monitoring systems can be expensive to put in place and maintain, and this can make it challenging to implement and enforce an emissions cap in the real world. This concern has been raised as a criticism of cap and trade proposals by people who feel that such systems will eventually fail.

The clear advantage of an emissions cap is that it sets a clear goal for emissions reduction, while also providing flexibility which will allow companies to adjust to tightening emissions standards. The system also encourages innovation and competition.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a About Mechanics researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.