Carbon rations

My friend Tim has had a good idea.  One of his many, it must be said.  He suggested that we should all have carbon vouchers or rations, and that these should be tradeable.  The levels of our carbon consumption would have to be set by the government, but, once set, government involvement would cede to market forces (which the government would surely like).

How would this work?  It’s surely possible to have a carbon credit card, which you would have to produce alongside any monetary payment.  So my full tank of petrol would cost me x pounds and y carbon credits.  My gas bill would charge me in pounds and in carbon credits (hereafter CCs).  Part of my train fare would be a carbon payment.  (In these two cases, the CC would have to be set by the government – a bit like VAT.)  I’d have to pay for both with money and my CC card.

Misers amongst us would suddenly see the attraction of cycling up hills in the rain.  More seriously, those living carbon neutral lives could profit from us less green individuals, as they could sell their CCs.  No doubt there would be a healthy black market in CCs and little old ladies would be robbed by joyriders for their CC cards, but a huge plus would be the rapid decline of the Chelsea Tractor.

We each of us need to take responsibility for our environment and our impact on it.  This seems a good and fair way of doing it.  As I write this, I admit that I’m using a computer in a room with lights on and a radiator wafting warm air – I wonder how many CCs that’s cost me.



Filed under Streams of Consciousness

4 responses to “Carbon rations

  1. Anna

    Most people won’t bother if it costs them – has to be proved to save money here and now. Government decisions can make a difference – look at the lightbulb thing! Whatever the pros and cons, it did actually happen. And supermarket plastic bags. For instance – insulation (sorry, my soapbox), water meters, ever-increased recycling facilities and real reuse of materials, fuel-efficient cars (why shouldn’t they all be?), recycled and unbleached toilet tissue only, reduced packaging esp plastic use, industrial emissions filtering, mandatory A-rated appliances, improved (fuel-efficient) public transport services to decrease need for use of cars…

  2. Ah yes, lightbulbs – a false economy, full of mercury and other nasties, and what the hell do you do with them when they’ve broken? Anyway, the point is that you can sell CCs, so the money-saving or even money-making possibility is there. Recycling is interesting, as people do it ‘to save the planet’, and not for financial gain.

  3. Phoebe

    Good article about this here:

    Essentially it’s a great idea.. but would shed so much light on the disparity of lifestyles within and (especially) between countries that it would be politically very difficult to implement.

    • Political difficulties are just a matter of marketing and PR (something the current government doesn’t seem to be aware of). After all, if you pointed out that bankers would be stung and that the ordinary people would be benefitting from their greed, I’m sure the measures would achieve tremendous popularity. I think that more of a problem is what you’d count as carbon-ration-worthy – where do you stop?

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