Carbon dioxide for sale

Dave Wilson describes the glamour and easy charm of a future where trading in carbon emissions has become the norm.

Along a 300-yard section of the Holloway Road in Islington, London, at least 30 people were openly selling rolling tobacco and cigarettes. They had all types of cigarettes selling at a price of £2.50 per packet.’ – National Federation of Retail Newsagents.

Every time I hear the word rationing, my heart skips a few beats. Maybe it’s due to the fact that I was born just three years after food rationing ended in England. Or more likely it’s because the whole idea conjures up unpleasant visions of American servicemen trading stockings, chocolate and cigarettes to purchase the favours of young, but not so naïve, English girls during the second world war.

So when scientists at UMIST’s Tyndall Centre recently devised a new carbon ‘rationing’ system to combat climate change, you can imagine that I was more than a little concerned by the news.

The UMIST scheme itself is pretty straightforward. It’s the complete antithesis of today’s carbon tax system, where folks can burn as much taxed fuel as they can afford to buy and emit as much carbon dioxide as they like.

The UMIST scheme proposes that each adult in the UK would be given an equal greenhouse gas ‘ration’ that he or she could ‘spend.’ And the details of the ration would be contained on a ‘smart card’ that individuals would carry around with them.

So when folks went to buy petrol, for example, they would have their smart card swiped by the petrol station attendant and the carbon units corresponding to their purchase would then be transferred back to the government.

A huge computer database would hold the carbon unit accounts for all citizens and it’s through that system that energy transactions would be electronically carried out.

Tyndall Centre’s Dr. Kevin Anderson thinks that the proposed scheme is the best and fairest way of reducing greenhouse gases. He believes that it’s an equitable system that should appeal to the ‘fair-minded British public (as a way) to reduce greenhouse gases’.

I couldn’t agree more. Especially if this fantastic idea were to be adopted on a global scale. Hopefully, the special relationship that we have with our buddies over the pond might leverage the eco-friendly President Bush into adopting the idea in the United States too.

Just suppose for a moment what the UK would be like if the Tyndall fantasy did come true! Just imagine how folks would behave in the energy rationed UK of the not so distant future. Especially if citizens from other countries, like the US, were given much bigger energy rations than we were, which they undoubtedly would be.

I can see it all so clearly, can’t you? That array of Super-Jumbos landing at Terminal 6 in Heathrow just bursting at the gills with excited young American tourists. Yes, there they are now, disembarking from the aircraft clutching those heavily laden US energy swipe cards in their perspiring palms! Eagerly awaiting the moment that they can make their first trade in energy credits with the few English people that haven’t already emigrated.

And look again! Wouldn’t you just have guessed it? There are some young, but not so naïve, English girls waiting at the terminal to greet them.