George Monbiot’s Solution to Emissions Trading

I previously posted about Interesting Ideas from George Monbiot, one of which was to establish individual emissions trading.

Gyros Geier disagrees with this and cites the current emission trading schemes as evidence. There are several fundamental differences between George’s idea and the current implementations of emission trading.

The biggest flaw in current emission trading schemes is that the emission credits are assigned to the worst polluters. George is proposing that an equal amount be assigned to all citizens. Assigning credits to the worst polluters is another form of Rent Seeking by the polluting industries. The way to solve these problems through emission trading is to start by fairly assigning the credits (and what better way than to equally distribute them among all citizens) and to then reduce the amounts assigned over time.

Gyros claims that emission trading which allows people who use little emissions to get large credits will cause people to have resources used in their name which they would not otherwise use. The solution to this is to assign to each citizen in a country a set of credits that is equal to the use by someone on the median income. Note specifically that setting credits equal to average use is not the right thing to do, the vast majority of the population produce significantly less emissions than average. The result of such a policy would be that people who produce median emissions (and most of whom would be close to the median income) would reduce their emissions as much as possible so that they could sell the credits, they would even have an incentive to spend money to reduce their emissions (for example by installing better insulation in their home) as it would be an investment. Then people who produce more emissions than the median would be forced to buy credits to support their extravagant lifestyle. This would give a significant reduction in emissions (the median income is about half the average income and I presume that the emissions produced are in line with income).

Gyros also makes the startling claim that emissions trading increases emissions. I can’t imagine that being possible, in fact I can’t imagine how the coal industry could do more damage to the environment if they tried.

Finally, taking a positive approach to blogging is a really good idea. I welcome discussion with people who want to claim that my ideas (and the ideas that I quote) are bad, but if you are going to do this please describe something that you consider to be better.

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