Feeds

UK ponders personal carbon allowances

Putting the cart before the low-emission horse, say Greens

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

The government is ready to consider introducing personal, tradable carbon allowances, the environment secretary will say this evening, as part of its efforts to persuade members of the general public to reduce their energy consumption.

The move has been described as "a good idea whose time has not yet come" by environmental campaigners. They argue that it is premature to shift this kind of responsibility onto consumers who still have very little choice about the kinds of energy they use.

Environment secretary David Miliband said the scheme would cover people's use of electricity, gas, petrol and air travel. He argued that a trading scheme would be fairer than tax increases, because only those who exceeded their allowances would have to pay.

The idea is that everyone would be set a carbon ration. Those who chose to reduce their emissions could then sell the excess to other people.

However, Charlie Kronik, head of Greenpeace's UK climate team, says personal action, like this, works best when you have a real choice.

He accused the government of sending out mixed messages, pointing out that on the one hand it is encouraging growth in the aviation sector by expanding airports, and refusing to consider taxing aviation fuel, but on the other hand, it wants people to reduce their emissions to combat climate change.

The problem must be tackled at a system level first, he told us. Take road use, for example:

"The government needs to work hard to introduce EU-wide fuel efficiency legislation so that the fleet as a whole becomes more efficient. This would offer people a choice of vehicles - beyond the Prius - that would be more fuel efficient.

"A personal trading scheme now is shifting the responsibility to the individual, without offering them a choice," he said.

A spokesman for Defra said that carbon trading is an idea very much with the long term in mind, but acknowledged that the UK has some way to go on dealing with the emissions from surface transport.

"It needs carrots and sticks," he said. "We need to continue educating peope to have more sustainable lifestyles. We need to change attitudes and behaviours."

He said that for many people, although they are aware of climate change as an issue, they thought it was something too vast for them to make a difference, and that it should be left to government and industry.

Miliband is set to speak this evening at the Audit Commission's annual lecture. He will say that the scheme would give people who want to "do their bit" for the environment a way to "guide their decisions".

The scheme is only one of a number of measure the government is considering. Other approaches that it might take include Carbon loyalty cards, league tables, the use of carbon offsets at point of purchase, and carbon labeling on goods. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
ANU boffins demo 'tractor beam' in water
The current state of the art, apparently
China to test recoverable moon orbiter
I'll have some rocks and a moon cheese pizza please, home delivery
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
Vulture 2 spaceplane autopilot brain surgery a total success
LOHAN slips into some sexy bespoke mission parameters
Another step forward for diamond-based quantum computers
Square cut or pear-shaped, these qubits don't lose their shape
LOHAN acquires aircraft arboreal avoidance algorithm acronyms
Is that an ARMADILLO in your PANTS or are you just pleased to see me?
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.