Carbon Credits: They're Getting Personal


In July, we wrote about British environment minister David Miliband's idea for a personal carbon credit card that would require UK citizens to account for their individual contributions of greenhouse gases. We used the word "radical" to describe the plan, but it turns out that government ministers are considering implementing it: a feasibility study of the concept was released on Tuesday. Coupled with news of the recent gathering at 10 Downing Street, we might conclude that the British government is turning its efforts against climate change and environmental degradation up a notch... or, at least, trying to create the appearance that they're tackling these issues.

Brits (and others) who don't want to wait the projected five years for government-issued carbon allowances may have another option. New Zealand firm Celsias bills itself as "...the world's first online community that allows regions, businesses or community groups to be paid for reducing the carbon emissions from their everyday energy use," and plans to take its carbon market concept live in early 2007. According to the company's press materials,

Businesses or communities can go online, enter their energy expenses each month, and the company they buy from, and the system will automatically calculate their total "carbon footprint," or how much carbon dioxide they are releasing into the atmosphere.

"You can create a carbon footprint for your home, your business, your community group or any other entity. You can then create carbon credits for yourself by learning how to reduce your energy use and by using our search service to find more energy-efficient products and services. You can then put your carbon credits on the trading system and when someone buys them, you get paid. It's that easy," explains [director Nick] Gerritsen.

The Celsias model looks an awful lot like the Chicago Climate Exchange, and we'll be very interested to see if a voluntary market for individuals and organizations takes off.

In his new book Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning, British environmental thinker and activist George Monbiot claims that some form of carbon rationing will be necessary to make a real dent in global emissions. Over the next few years, we'll be watching to see if this idea takes hold, and what model (public, private, or some variation thereof) becomes the norm for individual's taking responsibility for their carbon footprint. ::The Birmingham Post via Hoover's

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