Carbon Limited: What Would Personal Carbon Trading Look Like?

Almost nothing raises the emotional debate around climate change like a discussion of personal carbon rationing. You only have to look in the comments section of our post on UK government plans for carbon credit swipe cards to see the widely differing views that this topic generates. While some inevitably see it as yet another example of big government and erosion of our 'liberties', others see it as a necessary feedback loop giving folks a fair and transparent way to understand their climate impact, and to take responsibility for their emissions without the need to ban any one activity or product (like patio heaters, for example). The UK has even seen an online petition submitted to the government from citizens who are calling for a personal carbon ration, so there is certainly some support out there. However, whatever your views on the rights and wrongs of personal carbon quotas, there is no doubt that any such system will be more popular if it is well designed, fair, and efficiently managed. This is where Carbon Limited comes in, a project of the UK-based RSA, or Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce (who are also responsible for the youth-based Carbon Control program which we reported on earlier this week).

Carbon Limited is essentially a project aimed at generating ideas for a personal carbon allowance, and how this can be implemented in the most effective, and fair, way possible. The focus of the scheme is broad ranging, looking at a wide range of questions, from the technological, to the socio-cultural and economic: "i.e. What information technology would be needed to do this? What would it cost? How might individuals react and interact with it? What could it mean for the economy?" Those who remain vehemently opposed to personal carbon trading are not likely to be comforted by Carbon Limited, given that the project seems to start out with the premise that personal rationing is necessary, possibly even inevitable, as this quote from the RSA website shows:

"In the search for a way of achieving cuts in greenhouse gas emissions quickly, personal carbon trading is rapidly gaining a great deal of support as a potentially fair and effective tool. It could provide us all with a real financial incentive to reduce our carbon emissions through more intelligent use of energy. Will [sic.] be carrying around a carbon credit card in the not too distant future."

The project's web page includes a discussion section, information on news and events, as well as links to a number of studies and proposals on the subject, and suggestions of books for further reading. While we don't expect personal carbon trading to be welcomed by everyone any time soon, we are very pleased to see some serious, rational thought and research going on as to what such a system would look like, should it be implemented. ::Carbon Limited::via The RSA Journal::