One of the dreams of radical environmentalists is that, in order to control carbon emissions, an authority would issue each individual with a ration of “carbon points,” such that each activity that has a carbon emission associated with it–purchasing goods, using electricity, filling up the gas tank, seeing a movie, etc.–would count against that ration. People who used up their ration, by flying to Australia to see relatives, for instance, would have to buy more points. Anyone who didn’t use up their ration (college students spring to mind) would be able to sell them. Essentially, the issuing authority would be engaged in a massive wealth-redistribution program, and would have a massive command and control role over the economy.A green fantasy, you might say. Sadly, Britain’s ambitious new Environment Minister, David Miliband, often mentioned as a future Labour Prime Minister, doesn’t think so:
[R]egulators must eventually tackle pollution by individuals, he said, who account for 44 percent of Britain’s emissions chiefly through driving, flying, electricity use and home heating.
“Imagine a country where carbon becomes a new currency,” Miliband said in a speech to the Audit Commission. He described a future where Britons “carry bank cards that store both pounds and carbon points.”
I can imagine that country. I can also imagine the role the Carbon Police would have in it.