The UK Government should push ahead with a “radical” system of personal “carbon credits” if it wants to meet emissions targets, MPs said yesterday.
They said people would be able to engage with the scheme, which would see everybody given an annual carbon limit which they then ‘spent’ on items such as fuel and energy bills. Anyone who wanted to spend more than their limit would then be able to buy extra credits from low-carbon emitters.
The environmental audit committee said such a system of carbon trading “could be essential in helping to reduce our national carbon footprint”. It would be more effective than green taxes at driving down emissions, and would promote behavioural change, the MPs said.
The committee admitted that there was likely to be strong public opposition to the idea but urged the government to be “courageous”, saying the need to reduce emissions was “simply too urgent”. It added: “Persuading the public depends on perceptions of the government’s own commitment to reducing emissions, and of the priority given to climate change in it’s own decision-making.”
In a report entitled Personal Carbon Trading, the committee criticised the government for its decision to abandon the idea following a pre-feasibility study.
It concluded: “Personal carbon trading could be essential in helping to reduce our national carbon footprint.
“Further work is needed before personal carbon trading can be a viable policy option and this must be started urgently, and in earnest.
The group of 16 MPs heard evidence from a range of experts last July. It said that if the government wanted to “stand the slightest chance of meeting its 2050 carbon emissions target” it could not afford to ignore the domestic and personal sector.
Sheila Rainger, the deputy director of the RAC Foundation, said motorists would be concerned about any move towards personal carbon trading. She added: “The RAC Foundation is very concerned that motorists are actually being targeted for tax rises which are disguised as environmental penalties but they are actually simply revenue raisers.
“There is no environmental case for higher taxes, because the government’s own Stern Review revealed that road users are the only energy users currently covering their carbon costs. The full cost of greenhouse gases from transport is around 14p a litre and yet motorists are currently paying 75p a litre in fuel duty and then there is vehicle excise duty on top of that.”