Personal Carbon Trading
The Proposed UK Personal Carbon Credits Scheme
The UK House of Commons committee has proposed creating a set "carbon emissions allowance" for each individual, who can then trade carbon credits s/he amasses on a designated carbon market. It would allow people to buy extra credits if they choose to do something that exceeds their allowed emissions limit, such as riding a plane.
Where Carbon Credits are Sourced
Agencies purchase fully certified carbon credits from forests. NGACs (National Greenhouse gas Abatement Certificates) are the most trusted and wide-spread certification. Also known as the New South Wales Greenhouse Abatement Certificate, it includes Kyoto Protocol measures but also goes beyond them. The certification process ensures the following:
- That each NGAC represents one ton of carbon dioxide stored for at least 100 years.
- That the trees have been planted since 1990.
- That the trees weren't planted on old growth forest cleared land (the land must have been clear prior to 1990).
- That should the tree from which your carbon credit came come to any harm within 100 years of your purchase, e.g. due to fire, disease, logging, etc., that carbon credit will be replaced immediately from another source.
Most forests’ carbon pool is audited annually to ensure that every carbon credit issued corresponds to the promised amount (mostly one ton) of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere for 100 years. The agency then permits the public to buy these credits and transfers ownership of the credit to the individual. With the received money the agency can purchase more credits in bulk, and in turn, more trees can be planted in the certified forests.
Benefits of Personal Carbon Credits
- They encourage every man, woman, and child to make low-carbon choices everyday.
- Unlike Green Taxes, which impose a levy on disadvantaged households for energy choices they can not help, carbon credits could actually offer cash rewards for eco-friendly decisions
Disadvantages of Personal Carbon Credits
A system of personal accountability would place many individuals at an instant disadvantage for no fault of their own. For example a recent study showed that people in large American cities had smaller carbon footprints than rural residents. The average footprint of metropolitan residents in the United States in 2005 was 2.24 tons, compared to 2.60 tons for the average American. This was because of the availability of eco-friendly civic amenities like good public transportation.