One Carbon Credit Per Person
June 25, 2007
by William P. Meyers

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It is way past time to ration carbon. The only fair way to do it is to allow for one carbon credit per person. The credits should be worked out on a global basis. A villager in Uganda should get the same carbon credit as a business person in China or a soccer mom in Peoria.

I see no reason why United States citizens should get to burn more carbon than people of other nationalities. True, we are used to burning a lot of carbon. We burn it so we can live in suburbs and commute to work. We burn it for heat, then we burn it for air-conditioning. We are the main contributors to global warming so far. But why should that entitle us to more than our share in the future?

Some people, poor people by global standards, might not be able to use their full carbon credit right away. Should they be allowed to trade their unused credit for money? I am of a mixed mind about that. In the past benefits from such trading schemes have largely gone to aggregators. These are people (or corporations) who buy from the poor at a very low price, bundle credits together, and then resell them at a much higher price to those wealthy enough to bid for them. But limited, person to person trading would probably add to efficiency and community solidarity.

Most carbon credit schemes suggested so far have been based on industrial output. That may benefit corporations and privileged people, but it is unfair and it does not benefit ordinary people.

Interests that oppose a fair carbon credit system will attack the one person - one credit system as being impossible to administer. But the U.S. had a very successful rationing system during World War II, and rationing has also been done on a large scale in other countries. Doing it globally is simply a matter of will power.

I might add that since a growing human population is the underlying cause of all trends towards ecological catastrophe, once a carbon credit number is set world wide, the number should remain constant. If more people enter the world than die, the credits should not expand. There are two systems that could be used to distribute credits when the population fluctuates. One is to just take the whole number of people each year and divide that into the total carbon credit allocated. I don't like that system because it awards more carbon to people who breed quickly. I think the carbon credits should be inheritable. Children don't get them. Adults get one each. Couples get two, and their children have to make do on their parents. When the parents die the next generation gets to divvy up the credits. This will provide incentives against large families.

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