Julia Hailes MBE

Sustainability Pioneer


Personal Carbon Allowances (May07)

In principle personal carbon allowances seem like a good idea. Everyone in the country would be allocated a certain amount of carbon that they could emit from their homes and for travel. If they exceed this limit they would have to pay someone else who has not used so much. This is called carbon trading.

Having attended a number of workshops exploring the potential of this idea – and looking at how it might be trialled – I’m not so sure it could ever work in practice. Just look at the fuss the public and the papers have been making over fortnightly bin collections. Having your carbon emissions monitored and effectively being fined if you emit too much is far more intrusive.

But it has its attractions too. On the social front, it might be an effective way of re-distributing wealth. The richer you are the more energy you’re likely to be using – so you’ll be paying over money to someone with a less affluent life style. A scheme of this sort could also make us much more aware about the choices we are making. Do we really want to holiday in India and use up our carbon quota for the year or shall we make do with taking the ferry to Biarritz?

I went to Oxford earlier this week to talk to the Environmental Change Institute who are preparing a report into the potential for trialling a Personal Carbon Allowance Scheme. The work is being led by Brenda Boardman and carried out by Catherine Bottrill and Tina Fawcett.

Followed this meeting with a trip to London to talk to a market research company about a green product launch they were planning. It was all highly secret so I won’t elaborate!

Train journey home late at night was marred by having to transfer to a bus for the last part of the trip. Climbed into bed at 1am… glad to be home

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