26 May 2008
Carbon Credits are not enough.
Mps have decided that personal carbon credits are the best way of fighting climate change. The idea, which is Green Party policy, is that each of us would hold a kind of carbon credit card. This would record how much CO2 we use. Once we had reached a limit, like a real credit card we would have to pay to get more credit. It is seen as simple, fair and easy to use. Under ‘Contraction and Convergence’ Aubrey Mayer’s scheme, the amount of carbon we are allowed could be reduced, with richer countries converging over time with less developed.
Many Greens love the scheme, we Greens who use less carbon could sell credits to more wasteful folk. Those who are more environmentally friendly would gain cash and the wasteful would be fiscally whipped, so to speak.
On its own, I think sadly the carbon credits would not work. One of my big worries is structure. Unless there is a huge investment in low carbon alternatives, it would be difficult for most people especially the poorest to cut their carbon budget. Transport is the most important source of CO2 for most people in Britain, but unless there is good public transport, stronger local economies, etc….most of us will be locked into a system of waste. I can’t drive so this restricts my mobility, there are no buses into my nearest local town after 7pm. In many parts of Britain there is virtually no public transport.
Positive solutions are actually being dismantled due to neo-liberalism. Boris Johnson the ‘Go green, vote blue’ new Conservative Mayor of London is doubling fares for those on low incomes in London but will make it easier for well off drives to use their cars.
Local schools, local health services and local Post Offices are being shut at an astonishing rate. The Post Office will soon cease to function as a universal service, Thatcherite neo-liberalism has made the European Union open up postal services to competition. They have to make a profit, to make a profit in Britain we have seen deliveries cut from twice to once a day, the end of collections on Sunday and a big programme of office closures.
As Post Offices close people have to travel further to use the postal service and this tends to increase their use of carbon.
Another danger with the scheme is that the well off will buy the right to waste and the poor will suffer, with pensioners suffering from worse fuel poverty.
For carbon credits to work, a major distribution of wealth and power is necessary and all the structures from insulation to public transport to food localisation have to be in place. This to me is what Green politics is about, carbon credits on their own would simply lead to energy apartheid.
Carbon trading is deeply flawed.