Personal carbon trading in UK ‘possible by 2013’

The British government could be in a position to introduce a personal carbon emission trading (PCT) scheme as early as 2013, according to thinktank the Royal Society for the Arts (RSA)

Under the RSA’s proposals, UK citizens would be allocated a free carbon allowance. If they wanted to emit more than their cap, they would have to buy “carbon credits” from other citizens who had emitted less.

The scheme would initially be voluntary and individual caps would be set by the independent Committee on Climate Change proposed in the draft climate change bill.

The interim research findings from the first year of a three year PCT trial were released on Monday.

They suggest that the IT infrastructure – such as credit cards, loyalty and pre-pay cards – is already in place to develop an effective scheme, and would “cost relatively little to re-use”. This would also remove the need for a central government database.

The RSA says that PCT would be fairer than carbon taxes “which would disproportionately affect the least wealthy”.

Concern nevertheless remains over the types of emissions to include, the possibility of ‘double counting’ – and the possibility that if the UK took this initiative alone it would end up at a competitive disadvantage.

However the RSA attests that “climate change can feel disempowering when individuals contrast the enormity of another nation’s growing emissions with the triviality of changing a light bulb”.

It maintains that the rationale for such a scheme is strong – and that with public awareness of and concern about climate change amongst the UK public at “exceptionally high” levels this scheme could be a way to translate awareness into action.

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