Plan for 'credit cards' to ration individuals' carbon use

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The Independent Online

A limit could be imposed on the carbon each person pumps into the atmosphere under proposals being considered by the Government to combat global warming.

A credit card-style trading system would ensure that people pay for air travel, electricity, gas and petrol with carbon rations as well as cash, under the plans to be floated today by David Miliband, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in aspeech to the Audit Commission.

Mr Miliband will point to the expansion of emissions trading schemes for business and the public sector and suggest a similar system for individuals. Government estimates suggest that individuals' use of gas, electricity and transport accounts for 44 per cent of Britain's carbon emissions, with the average Briton responsible for around 4,000 kilograms of emissions a year.

Under the proposals, all citizens would be given a personal carbon allowance, based on national targets for cutting CO2 emissions. People who take measures to cut the pollution they produce could sell their surplus. Those who continue to produce pollution above their personal cap would have to buy credits on the open market.

Mr Miliband will suggest banning products such as inefficient light bulbs and electrical appliances which waste power while on standby. He will suggest new environmental taxes to shift the cost of pollution on to consumers and propose that consumers might make automatic payments to offset pollution.

He will say: "In the short term it is likely that a mixture of the above tools will be needed. But in the long term, we should look more radically at the option of tradable personal carbon allowances. Imagine a world where carbon becomes a new currency. We all carry carbon points on our bank cards in the same way as we carry pounds. We pay for electricity, gas and fuel not just with pounds but carbon points."