Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Carbon Trading Gets Personal

From Living on Earth:

Some say that limiting industry’s greenhouse emissions isn’t enough; individuals need to be put on a cap and trade plan, too. Host Steve Curwood talks with Richard Starkey, a researcher with the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in the UK, about a number of personal CO2 trading schemes, and the challenges to putting limits on people’s carbon emissions.

CURWOOD: Big business generates a lot of climate changing gases, but then, so do individuals. In the UK, 40 percent of CO2 emissions come from ordinary citizens who are the end users of fossil fuels. So there are several proposals to give plain folks some direct incentives to reduce their carbon waste. One option is a carbon tax – you use more, you pay more. Another idea would be carbon allowances that people could sell if they didn't use them. At the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in England, Richard Starkey is working on a scheme called the Domestic Tradeable Quota. Each citizen would get a sort of carbon debit card that would record exactly how much fossil fuel they use for transport and in their home. Mr. Starkey joins me now from Manchester, England. Welcome to Living on Earth.

CURWOOD: This sounds a bit like Big Brother.

STARKEY: Well this is one of the objections that people make to this sort of idea. There would be this great big database, everybody would have an account in this database, and that the state would be able to know when you bought your gas, how much you bought, how much you paid. And obviously civil liberties in this country, as in the States, are very important. And so if a scheme like this was ever to be implemented, then there would have to be very stringent safeguards about how much data the government was able to collect on individuals and who was able to see that data. But I think you're absolutely right, any scheme like this, if it's going to work, has to be privacy friendly....MORE

A brief introduction to personal carbon rationing

If you recall, the British government began talking about this a couple years ago.

From The Guardian:
Swipe-card plan to ration consumers' carbon use

From The Independent:
Plan for 'credit cards' to ration individuals' carbon use

From The Telegraph:
Energy ration cards for everyone planned