One idea for controlling co2 emissions is to make it personal – give people a quota, and charge them for going over it, or reward them for emitting less. People who don’t drive could sell their carbon credits to those who drive a lot, and so on.
It’s not an impossible system. It fixes one of the basic problems of reducing emissions, which is that there is no price on co2. It’s just out there, and nobody feels particularly responsible. It’s an externality, as economics would have it, an unaccounted for factor that affects all of us in pollution and global warming, but is not factored into our daily transactions at the petrol pumps, travel agent or supermarket.
Personal carbon trading has been championed by some, and ridiculed by others as totally impractical, or even an invasion of personal rights. But it may not be as impractical as originally thought. To prove it, the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) launched a pilot scheme this week, using Sainsbury’s Nectar card.
Volunteers, just 1000 to start with, can use their nectar card when they buy fuel, and then keep track of the co2 they are then responsible for. Those who come in under the quota can then trade the rest of their credit on the CarbonDAQ website.
Obviously its a very limited experiment at the moment, but it’s something to keep an eye on.