Renew On Line (UK) 64

Extracts from NATTA's journal
Renew, Issue 164 Nov-Dec 2006
   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         

1. Energy Review and the RO

2. Scotland Accelerates
3. Micro power doubts
4. UK’s first combined PV and wind system
5. Marine Power - wave and tidal ups & downs
6. Tyndall say 90% CO2 cut needed
7. Local Biofuel growth stalled
8. Ramblers fear wind farms
9. Carbon Rationing
10. Planning for Decentral Power
11. UK funding for sustainable energy
12. UK Roundup
13. Renewables in Europe
14. World Renewables
15. Nuclear News

9. Carbon Rationing

In a speech to the Audit Commission in July, David Miliband, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, floated the idea of introducing a credit card-style trading system based on the carbon emissions associated with consumers use of energy for air travel, as well as electricity, gas and petrol. Government estimates suggest that individuals’ use of gas, electricity and transport accounts for 44% of Britain’s carbon emissions, with the average Briton being responsible for around 4,000 kilograms of emissions a year. Under the proposals, all citizens would be given a personal carbon allowance, based on national targets for cutting CO2 emissions. Points would be deducted at point of sale for every purchase involving the use of non-renewable energy. To reduce total UK emissions, the overall number of points would shrink each year. People who can get below the limit could sell their surplus to those who couldn’t. So the carbon credits would have would a market price.
Miliband also suggested banning products such as inefficient light bulbs and electrical appliances which waste power while on standby. He said: ‘In the short term it is likely that a mixture of the above tools will be needed. But in the long term, we should look more radically at the option of tradable personal carbon allowances. Imagine a world where carbon becomes a new currency. We all carry carbon points on our bank cards in the same way as we carry pounds. We pay for electricity, gas and fuel not just with pounds but carbon points.’

The idea was mentioned in the governments energy review, which said a new cross-departmental group ‘will examine what new policy options, such as tradable personal carbon allowances, could be deployed to stimulate local action’. A pilot project is being considered.

Miliband commented: ‘It is easy to dismiss the idea as too complex administratively or too much of a burden for citizens. But in the long term there may be potential to make a system work effectively and in a way that is arguably more equitable, more empowering and more effective than the traditional tools of information, tax and regulation.’

Colin Challen, Labour chair of the all-party parliamentary group on climate change, which has called for carbon rationing, said: ‘it will inevitably have to be introduced so that consumers, along with other sectors, take responsibility for what they do’.

It certainly would lead to rapid education on your personal use of energy, but there could be problems. Milliband argued that ‘People on low incomes are likely to benefit as they will be able to sell their excess allowances’. But unless policed very tightly, it could be socially divisive, regressive and inequitable. The rich will presumably try to keep using as much energy as they think they need by buying credits off the poor. And since the value of the credits will presumably increase dramatically as the rich find they don’t have enough, there will be major incentives for the poor to sell every credit they can- and buy in energy for themselves from wherever they can, maybe illicitly outside the system- thus potentially increasing net emissions. Or they may just do without- thus increasing fuel poverty. The potential for corruption and black markets in dodgy high carbon fuel is certainly worrying.

NATTA/Renew Subscription Details

Renew is the bi-monthly 30 plus page newsletter of NATTA, the Network for Alternative Technology and Technology Assessment. NATTA members gets Renew free. NATTA membership cost 18 pa (waged) 12pa (unwaged), 6 pa airmail supplement (Please make cheques payable to 'The Open University', NOT to 'NATTA')

Details from NATTA , c/o EERU,
The Open University,
Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA
Tel: 01908 65 4638 (24 hrs)

The full 32 (plus) page journal can be obtained on subscription
The extracts here only represent about 25% of it.

This material can be freely used as long as it is not for commercial purposes and full credit is given to its source.

The views expressed should not be taken to necessarily reflect the views of all NATTA members, EERU or the Open University.

We are now offering to e-mail subscribers a PDF version of the complete Renew, instead  of sending them the printed version, should they wish.