Friday, July 21, 2006

Personal carbon trading?

The British government is considering a radical climate change policy: personal carbon trading:

Under the scheme, all UK citizens from the Queen down would be allocated an identical annual carbon allowance, stored as points on an electronic card similar to Air Miles or supermarket loyalty cards.

Points would be deducted at point of sale for every purchase of non-renewable energy. People who did not use their full allocation, such as families who do not own a car, would be able to sell their surplus carbon points into a central bank.

High energy users could then buy them - motorists who had used their allocation would still be able to buy petrol, with the carbon points drawn from the bank and the cost added to their fuel bills. To reduce total UK emissions, the overall number of points would shrink each year.

This is simply insane. While cap and trade schemes can be useful policy tools, there's no benefit here that you couldn't get with a simple carbon tax or a business-level emissions trading regime in which the costs are passed on to consumers. Either of those options would be easier, less intrusive, and cheaper, as there would be no requirement for an enormous investment in infrastructure for monitoring and policing.

So why is this insane scheme being advanced? To be cynical, it looks like they have a solution - universal smart cards and transaction monitoring - in search of a problem. How long until personal carbon trading is used to justify Blair's Orwellian ID card scheme...?


That is madness. Crazy

How do you run a pilot study of a scheme that only works if everybody participates? Mad

Can you imagine trying to explain its operation to the the elderly, for instance. Mad

And the cost, the cost! I wonder what happens to the small cash businesses, the street vendors etc. Mad

Doesn't a well resourced place like Britain have policy advisors to veto loopy ideas before Ministers embarress themselves?

Presumably they'll have to close off the Northern Ireland - Ireland border too.

Ah well this was good for a laugh. Cheers

Posted by Anonymous : 7/21/2006 06:54:00 PM

Orwell has a lot to answer for spreading all his anti-government paranoia.

But nevermind, in the long run you have basically no chance of resisting (stick on your silly bar code tattoos all you like). One day (maybe in a century, might have to wait for the US to slip out of power) we will all be chipped and so forth and people won’t be able to commit any assaults or dodge tax or whatever and get away with it.

Posted by Genius : 7/21/2006 07:05:00 PM

Anon: you use the Isle of Wight. In a lovely example of understatement, Miliband says "I'm not sure how happy they would be with that".

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 7/21/2006 07:38:00 PM