30 May 2008
Introducing personal carbon allowances – with credits that individuals could spend on electricity or petrol – would do more to reduce climate-changing emissions than green taxes, a committee of MPs has claimed.
In a report published on May 26, the Commons environmental audit select committee expressed its 'regret' that the government had 'decided to wind down its work' on a personal carbon trading scheme, following a pre-feasibility study.
Ministers had cited public resistance to the concept and high implementation costs as reasons for dropping the idea.
But the MPs argue that personal carbon trading 'could guarantee a reduction in emissions because it places a ceiling on the carbon available for consumption, rather than seeking to reduce demand'.
A carbon allowance might offer greater incentives for people to change their behaviour and reduce emissions than 'the price signals resulting from green taxation', the report, Personal carbon trading, says.
The report acknowledges the barriers to introducing a personal carbon scheme, but argues that debate should be shifted from detailed consideration of how a scheme might operate 'towards the more decisive questions of how it could be made publicly and politically acceptable'. This would 'ultimately decide the viability' of the mechanism, it says.
Committee chair Tim Yeo said: 'We found that personal carbon trading has real potential to engage the population in the fight against climate change.'
He urged the government to lead the debate on personal carbon trading and to co-ordinate research.