December 2023
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How will you spend your ‘carbon budget’?

Sunday/Monday/ Tuesday blog

(Back to more serious subjects)

A few times I have recommended journalist Ross Clark’s satirical novel “THE DENIAL”

In the novel, Ross Clark describes a future dystopian world in which everyone has their own personal carbon budget. This means that everything they buy, every trip they make and every holiday they take will have a carbon value. In order to ‘save the planet’ from the supposed ‘climate crisis’, these personal carbon budgets will be very limited and nobody will be allowed to exceed their carbon budget.

This was meant to be a satire. This was meant to be an absurd and unlikely extrapolation of the current obsession with the imagined ‘climate crisis’.

At least it was satirical until a couple of weeks ago when this article appeared in the Independent:

Here’s what the Independent and its ‘climate experts’ are seriously suggesting:

Your home, sometime in the next decade.

You click the heating on and receive an app notification telling you how much of your carbon allowance you’ve used today. Outside in the drive, your car’s fuel is linked to the same account. In the fridge, the New Zealand lamb you’ve bought has cost not just pounds and pence but a chunk of this monthly emissions budget too.

Welcome to the world of personal carbon allowances – a concept that is increasingly gaining traction among experts as a possible response to the climate crisis.

Each month, it would see every person or household in the country given a limited emissions quota to spend on heating, energy, travel, food and possibly consumer goods. Those who wish to expend more could buy top-ups. Those who require less would be able to sell their left-overs back to the ‘grid’.

Such a scheme, advocates reckon, would get more of us making the link between our own behaviour and global warming. Because consumers would seek greener energy, fuel and goods to stretch their allowance further, it could also help fundamentally restructure the economy in favour of low- or no-emission businesses.

“Individuals accounts for about 45 per cent of the UK’s carbon emissions,” says Dr Tina Fawcett, acting leader of Oxford University’s energy programme and a researcher who has spent almost 20 years studying this concept. “Personal budgets could be a relatively simple, straightforward tool for reducing that.”

Now, in the wake of Cop26, many feel the concept – radical, perhaps, but demonstrably do-able – has never been riper for consideration. So, could this be our future?

Personal carbon allowances are not, it should be said, a new idea.

Academia started exploring the possibilities of such schemes in the late 1990s, while between 2006 and 2007, the then environment secretary David Miliband commissioned two reports into their potential use. The concept, he enthused, had a “simplicity and beauty that would reward carbon thrift”. In those days it was not an app that was envisaged but a carbon credit card.

In the intervening years, a number of local authorities, including Oxford City Council, have explored if such schemes could work regionally. In the Finnish city of Lahti, a voluntary scheme for transport use has widely been praised. Crucially, amid rising concern about global warming, studies suggest there is anecdotal evidence of a growing public willingness to embrace personal limitations.

“They two key issue for people tend to be: can it be implemented fairly and can it be implemented effectively,” says Fawcett. “If both those questions can be answered yes, the idea that people can then manage their own allowance in accordance with their own priorities does appear to have appeal.”

While there is no real agreement on how a UK-wide scheme would work, proposals tend to share certain common characteristics. it would be mandatory, it would cover energy and transport at the very least and possibly food and consumer goods; allowances would be tradable to reward lower use; and the quotas would, ultimately, be reduced over time to reach net zero.

Technologically, most agree the idea is achievable. It may be more difficult than creating, for example, a vaccine passport – but not hugely so.

This perhaps means the whole idea comes down to a question of political will.

For Fawcett and other supporters – which includes the Green Party – this should be a no-brainer. CPAs, they say, would drive our behaviour by appealing to both our self-interest – that is to say our pockets – and to our sense of community.

“By establishing an equal monthly budget for everyone, you create a sense of a shared effort to address a shared problem,” says Fawcett.

According to the Independent, most of us are enthusiastic about having such totalitarian, Orwellian Big-Brother controls on our lives pointlessly impoverishing us while the rest of the world laughs at our stupidity.

I guess Ross Clark’s satirical novel wasn’t so satirical after all.

6 comments to How will you spend your ‘carbon budget’?

  • twi5ted

    Apparently Natwest have already introduced this and send a statement each month advising on how much you heated the planet from buying a loaf of bread. Don’t even think about beef or similar protein just eat your bugs.

    Note the rich can always buy more allowance which is of course the way with all these schemes. The wealthy can swan around London in a v12 Ferrari as long as they pay. And that is the Davos agenda driven by the rich to confine the poor so they can enjoy the planet in peace and safety.

    Think their little bubble is about to pop. The euro will be under huge pressure this year from fed. Fingers crossed.

  • A Thorpe

    I’ve been wondering if this is a return to the old normal of the working classes having nothing, living close to poverty and under close control. One wrong step and Victorians could be in the workhouse. When I was younger my mother often mentioned the workhouse and she was born in 1919 and still talking about it 30 years on.

    I suspect the elites lost control after two world wars when they needed the masses to work hard to restore everything, and the masses knew they had to do this. Wars always bring new technology and there was a huge expansion after WWII. Automation brought demands for more leisure time and freedom was this was the price the elites paid to get back their lifestyle. The elites gave in and lost control. Now they want it back. They will not use force because it is too obvious and fear works better together with using children to support the messages, as we are witnessing. The masses are queuing up to to give away their freedoms, but the elites really want the money we have and that is vanishing in subsidies for renewable energy, to the big Pharma for pointless vaccines and devaluation of our currencies through printing worthless paper money. We will soon have nothing which has been normal for most of human existence, but this time the elites will go down with the chaos they are creating.

  • A F Fanculo

    ‘According to the Independent, most of us are enthusiastic about having such totalitarian, Orwellian Big-Brother controls’
    I doubt the elite will risk another referendum to find out our true opinion.

  • Marc Ager

    You should be able to see where the following intention and the intention to ban protests, brought on by Insulate Britain, are heading. – Mandated personalised mRNA “vaccinations”?

    Apparently the vaccines are already coded for expected outcomes. One of them is said to be a saline solution for VIPs.

    No.10 courts plan would be ‘tyranny’ and end of democracy, says former attorney general –

  • Jeffrey Palmer

    Most of the opinion poll results that allegedly show how enthusiastic we all inevitably are about each and every proposal for yet another erosion of our few remaining freedoms, come from a polling organisation called ‘YouGov’.

    ‘YouGov’ was founded in 2000 by Tory politician and Iraqi Kurdish immigrant Nadhim Zahawi, MP for, God help us, Stratford-on-Avon.
    Who currently serves as National Indoctrination chief – sorry, Secretary of State for Education – following on from his time as State Enabler for the International Pharmaceuticals Industry – sorry, Under-Secretary of State for Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment.

    It’s remarkable how few people comment about the ‘gov’ part of the name of this organisation when discussing the alleged polling ‘results’ it conveniently comes up with.

  • Marc Ager

    The following action looks as if it is the next step to partner banning protests.

    Government courts plan would be ‘tyranny’ and end of democracy, says former attorney general –

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