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Sunday, July 03, 2005

Britain Considering Carbon Rationing

According to the Telegraph, Britain is considering rationing energy useage by its citizens, and creating markets where energy misers can sell their credits to energy gluttons.

Under the scheme for "domestic tradeable quotas" (DTQs), or personal carbon allowances, presented to the Treasury this week, everyone - from the Queen to the poorest people living on state benefits - would have the same annual carbon allocation.

This would be contained electronically on a "ration card", which could be the proposed ID card or a "carbon card" based on supermarket loyalty cards.

It would have to be handed over every time a form of non-renewable energy was purchased - at the filling station, or when buying tickets for a flight - for points to be deducted.

Think about that. You like to drive, so you use up your carbon ration fuelling your Opel. Then you decide that you want to take your family on a holiday overseas. You would not only have to pay airfare, but you would first have to pop into the carbon market, and buy enough credits to pay for your jet fuel.

It would certainly have the intended effect--people would be much more careful about how much energy they use. But why not just let the real markets work? When the markets think that oil is becoming scarce, the futures prices shoot up. Eventually, things cost more, and people use less.

Global warming? 1) Not proven to be due to human activity. 2) Will Britain invade China, India, and Brazil, and force them to join the carbon market?

(HT: Captain's Quarters)

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why not let the "real markets" work? Because there isn't any mechanism in the "real market" to charge you when you put CO2 into the atmosphere. One could imagine such a thing, but it would be hard to arrange. The price of oil is the price of oil, not the price of carbon emissions.

Big Ford Fan said...

This is ridiculous, rationing how much each person can petentially polute or by living contribute to polution. This type of program should only be applied to corporate entities. I work in a powerplant at a private facility, do you have any idea what our emissions are like?

Hopefully this type of lunacy will be confined to Europe. I always thought the Brits had their heads fairly well screwed on, obviously I gave them too much credit.

Big Ford Fan said...

This is ridiculous, rationing how much each person can petentially polute or by living contribute to polution. This type of program should only be applied to corporate entities. I work in a powerplant at a private facility, do you have any idea what our emissions are like?

Hopefully this type of lunacy will be confined to Europe. I always thought the Brits had their heads fairly well screwed on, obviously I gave them too much credit.

Anonymous said...

A carbon tax at the production point or port-of-entry is easy to compute, cheap to collect, and hard to evade.

Despite these advantages nations continue to devise schemes to limit use at the consumer point. This has no advantage whatever. It invites corruption and evasion with phony permits, is expensive to collect, and the funds collected are hard to audit.

When governments insist on taxes and policies that lead to corruption and poor results there is one reason - government employees profit.

porchwise said...

I also hear they're testing the butt-o-meter so they can tax fart emissions.

getpoor@getpoor.com said...

I keep a little blog about gas mileage and hybrids... etc...

Drop by sometime.

www.getpoor.com

-Steve

The Angry Engineer said...

Wow, not an easy problem to solve. The first question revolves around whether or not carbon emissions are a problem. I'm inclined to believe so, but I'll admit there's a lot of conflicting evidence so any sort of consensus on this issue won't be reached until we find ourselves in a lot of trouble (just as was the cause with smog-forming pollution a few decades ago).

And if carbon causes global warming, will the markets react with sufficient speed? I find it darkly amusing that the vast majority of Americans profess to support environmentalism, and yet there's been few voluntary attempts to reduce pollution within the various transportation industries. Sadly, it's always taken the threat of EPA action to get companies to clean up - the American consumer has rarely been a factor.

Assuming that carbon emissions cause global warming and if consumers fail to react accordingly, then how to properly regulate them? If not done through a dedicated carbon tax, then funding to repair the damage done will come through other means, such as from the general tax pool. That actually changes it from a regressive tax to a progressive tax, which might mean tha the right and left have both lined-up on the wrong sides of this issue (to be fair, US politicians on both sides are splitting the middle on this issue, spending billions on everything from EPA mandates to foreign wars without levying the taxes required to fully fund those activities).