How To Personalise The Struggle Against Climate Disaster

Deirdre Kent writes: ‘Have you ever wondered why so few people spontaneously raise the topic of climate change in a conversation?

Deidre Kent

It’s rare. Someone recently gave me a tiny badge to wear which is supposed to say to people, “Yes you can talk to me about climate change” and I wondered why this was such a taboo topic when our council and even our government have declared a climate emergency.

Yet a recent UN study of 1.2 million people in 50 countries found two thirds think climate change is a global emergency. Weird. 

Actually nobody has much of a reason to raise the topic. They are leaving it up to government to act.

The future for all of us?

‘Behanving like children’

While we wait for government to “DO SOMETHING” we are behaving like children waiting for an order from our parents.

While a few lead the way there are no rewards for low carbon footprinters. Citizens don’t have to cut their emissions. I guess we privately think the government will have to make us.

Frankly we need a scheme that is going to tap the creativity and intelligence of all our population. For something we all want to happen – a liveable climate for our children – it’s time.

Our ETS isn’t working. New Zealand’s net emissions have grown since 1990 and no matter what is done to improve the ETS, it still leaves out ordinary citizens. 

Here’s an idea

In 1996 Dr David Fleming came up with the ground-breaking idea of TEQs or Tradable Energy Quotas. (And of course the unit can be denominated in emissions, but that needs more work.)

Under the system, the government would set an annual carbon budget, which would be reduced every year until we reach our target of emissions.

TEQs involves every citizen’s active participation, providing the means to achieve emissions reduction targets, while ensuring fair access to energy for all.

High energy users would have to buy units from low energy users. We get a managed energy descent not chaos.

High-energy users would have to pay

Every adult is allocated an equal number of units whereas the government and industry have to bid for theirs at a weekly tender.

The low-carbon card

Everyone has a card, like a Flybuys card, which must be produced every time energy is purchased. Your account is then debited accordingly.

Trades happen electronically, with the minimum of hassle. The number of units available is set out in our energy budget, which shows how every week they get slightly less, in keeping with the budget. 

Everyone would become, quite literally, environmental-stakeholders, carrying their share of national emissions on their card.

Then hear us all talk and collaborate about how we are going to reduce!’

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