At last! MPs have backed suggestions that the government should go ahead with a system of personal “carbon credits”.
The Environmental Audit Committee said the scheme would be more effective than taxes for cutting carbon emissions. Under the scheme people would be given an annual carbon limit for fuel and energy use – which they could exceed by buying credits from those who use less. Those who do not use all their carbon credits would be able to sell their credits. Ministers said there were practical drawbacks to the proposal but they were looking at other initiatives.
Committee chairman Tim Yeo said it found that personal carbon trading had “real potential to engage the population in the fight against climate change and to achieve significant emissions reductions in a progressive way”. He said “green” taxes, such as a petrol tax, cost poor people more because everyone – “billionaires and paupers” – paid the same amount. “Under the personal carbon trading, someone who perhaps doesn’t have an enormous house or swimming pool, someone who doesn’t take several holidays in the Caribbean every year, will actually get a cash benefit if they keep a low carbon footprint.” He also believes it could be administered by the private sector, following the model of supermarket loyalty schemes in which a complex computer system is accessed by a “single plastic card”.
But Mr Benn believes there could be many problems with the plan: “It’s got potential but, in essence, it’s ahead of its time, the cost of implementing it would be quite high, and there are a lot of practical problems to overcome.” Mr Benn said that the report found the cost of introducing the scheme would be between £700 million and £2 billion, and would cost £1bn-£2bn a year to run.
Environmentalist George Monbiot applauded the scheme. “It’s more progressive than taxation, it tends to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor; it’s transparent; it’s easy for everyone to understand, you all get the same carbon ration. t also contains an inbuilt incentive for people to think about their energy use and to think about how they are going to stay within their carbon ration”
Biome Lifestyle is a huge fan of the personal carbon credits scheme. Apart from the implementation costs, the scheme appears to have a good balance between not penalising the poor (which could happen with some of the suggested with the Green Car Tax, whereby tax is higher on second hand, higher emitting cars) and making the wealthier consider their carbon footprint. Biome Lifestyle thinks it will be a long time before such a radical scheme will be in place, but it will be welcomed with open arms on the day that it does! Fingers x…