How Carbon Allowances Make a Difference

Who would willingly be rationed? Surely this is meant to be the age of plenty? Yes but global warming has thrown a pretty big spanner in the works of that particular concept. However there are ways to solve it. But does it have to be difficult?

It doesn’t. Here’s the EcoCore way – start off with your own carbon footprint, join others, help the creation of a convenient app that keeps it simple, help push for action in your local area. Then we scale it up once the ball starts rolling.

If everyone on the planet reduced their carbon footprint to the sustainable amount, then that carbon amount is what everyone should aim for, fair and square. How can we do that though in the industrialised countries when our footprint is 10 to 20 times the fair amount?

Individual

If you watch your carbon footprint or have even a modicum of what is known as ‘carbon literacy’, then great stuff, you are already managing your own carbon allowance. Knowing what your footprint is is a bit of pre-requisite if you want to reduce it.

There are numerous carbon footprint calculators. Most of them will tell you how many tonnes of CO2 you emit and then try to get you to offset the amount – I wrote here why offsetting is a sticking plaster that doesn’t really address the long term problem: https://ecocore.org/offsetting/

To make it convenient though, we want a carbon footprint app that runs on our mobile phones. Maybe even better would be one that can be connected to things like our energy provider or our supermarket till receipt. That’s the kind of technology that EcoCore has got in the pipeline.

Local

The problem with carbon footprints is that it is difficult to work out what to do once you’ve nailed the low hanging fruit – air travel for instance. By joining a local eco- & sustainability group, you can share the knowledge and experience with like-minded people and boost your efforts and personal satisfaction at your progress. We are setting up a local group in North London with the charity EcoCounts, which started out mid-2020 with the goal of supporting local eco/sustainability groups in the UK, in particular by providing ways of finding out where all your CO2 emissions are happening.

Only if you know what the carbon footprint of the products you buy or the services you use are, will you be able to work out where you can best and most conveniently reduce your own footprint.

Regional or City-based Emissions Reduction Schemes

Local groups of voluntary low emissions people aim to get local businesses and town or city councils involved as well. This is where it really gets interesting – there are so many different facets to carbon allowances or personal carbon trading as it is also known. It has great potential for CO2 emissions reduction.

In the city of Lahti, Finland, the city council has set up a voluntary carbon rationing scheme called “Citicap”, referring to the citizens’ cap-and-trade scheme, all possible over their mobiles. They give their participants 25kg CO2 rations per week and offer rewards if people keep under that.

National

Climate change will not be sorted once and for all if only half of us are interested. Governments, prompted by grassroots action by EcoCounts groups, can make it mandatory for everyone and they would be putting their nations on the straight and narrow path to zero emissions. We’ve used rations before during wartime and now, faced with threats of a similar magnitude due to climate change, we can do even better with carbon allowances.

If voluntary regional or city-based carbon allowance schemes have great potential, then at a national scale, the possibilities are fantastic. Using a carbon currency based on the carbon tokens in our carbon allowances (see our policy), citizens could drive the energy transition through the whole economy, resulting in comprehensive CO2 emission reductions in all products and services. It makes the targets and goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement look achievable again.

The article here outlines the policy proposal for a Carbon Currency that shows how.

Global Carbon

Getting the world to set a global carbon budget in carbon allowances that matches the climatological global carbon budget is an awesome yet worthy endeavour. This is exactly what the United Nations Climate Conventions up until Copenhagen 2010 were all about (the UN Framework Conventions on Climate Change COPs or “Conference of Parties”).

This UNFCCC plan for multi-national emissions reduction was called the Contraction and Convergence Initiative or “C&C”, a plan based on fair allocation of intended emissions reduction for each person on the planet.

It was never implemented though. After 20 years of trying, the UN climate convention in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2010 failed to reach unanimous agreement. The UN realised how doomed its attempts were to create a top-down agreement between all nations on a radical, planned, step-wise energy transition away from CO2-emitting fossil fuels.

Instead, the UN sought only unanimous agreement on a global goal – which they achieved with the Paris 2015 Agreement: to aim to keep total global warming to 1.5°C / 2.7°F, with no specific mandatory agreement over how much and how soon CO2 emissions would be reduced.

The UN C&C initiative is still there though, and this is how it would work – in a world which decided it was necessary.

Contraction stands for the steady reduction in CO2 emissions that each nation would agree to. The richer countries would take on more responsibility for reducing their emissions faster. The countries with the largest historic emissions would also take on more responsibility, maybe through sharing and subsidising investment in green infrastructure with other countries.

Convergence stands for the way that all nations’ per capita emissions would gradually converge to equality. There would be a date set in the future at which point all citizens in all countries would be allocated the same CO2 emissions allowance, or at least their government would be on their behalf.