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UK May Start Carbon Credit Trading For Individuals

Instead of charging taxes to be used to cut carbon emissions, the British government may issue personal carbon credits. Members of Parliament are suggesting that individuals be issued annual limits for their fuel and energy use. If they want to use more, they can buy the credits from the more frugal users. The plan would reward conservationists.

The proposing committee of parliament admitted that the public would not eagerly jump on board with the program. But, the committee could not ignore the benefits. The chairman said:

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.

Proponents also note that unlike a gas tax, which falls heavier on the poor, this would effectively redistribute money from the wealthy to the poor.

Does the government have a responsibility to advocate unpopular laws that are in the public interest? Personal carbon trading could be the key to getting the public invested in and aware of their impact on the environment. But, is it also unfair intrusions by the government? Should governments be focused on major producers, like corporations, instead of acting like an individual's morality managers?


Join The Conversation
kh61582 kh61582 9 years
This would never happen in the United States, at least I would hope not, and for the people of the UK I hope it doesn't happen there either. Let me put it this way, I'm a hot natured person and I HATE summer because of it. I use my AC pretty much around the clock because I get sick easily if I don't. I have a right to use my AC as much as I feel a need to and should not have to pay extra because Al Gore said so after he invented the Internet.
sarah_bellum sarah_bellum 9 years
This is just the Labour government frantically trying to appear as if they are in any way effective after the recent beatings they've taken at the polls. I doubt it will happen.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
I remember during the drought in the 80s in California, the rates on water usage increased dramatically after you had used what was considered "typical" for your family size. So charging more as consumption increases isn't really a novel idea. However, the extra money wasn't redistributed to people who went under budget. That part certainly seems interesting. I don't know how the implementation details would be set out and I could definitely see how it could get complicated. But still, people seem to enact change out of necessity, not out of the goodness of their hearts. This could be fascinating to watch to see how it goes.
stephley stephley 9 years
My guess is this would very quickly end up being as useful as income tax rules - filled with loopholes for the rich and pitfalls for the poor. It's responsible to keep track of your personal environmental footprint, but if for a government to have an impact it should focus on big users.
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