It was nice to receive an email from 10 Downing Street, in response to an e-petition I signed recently on the theme of personal carbon disclosure of ministers. Whilst the response from Number 10 did not directly respond to the petition, the response is none the less very interesting:
Following an initial scoping study conducted by the Centre for Sustainable Energy, the Government is now undertaking a work programme designed to assess whether or not a personal carbon allowance is a realistic and workable policy option.
The work programme will address high-level questions such as public acceptability, technical feasibility, cost, and whether/how such a scheme could interact with other emissions reduction policy instruments. It is being designed to complement the work being undertaken by researchers and academics, such as The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, the Environmental Change Institute and the Royal Society for Arts.
The Climate Change Bill contains enabling powers that would allow the government to set up trading schemes to either limit activities producing greenhouse gas emissions, or to encourage activities leading to the reduction/removal of greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere.
In theory it should be possible for government to introduce a personal carbon trading system using these powers. However this would be right on the edge of what these powers are designed for and, in practice, it is unlikely that government would do so. What is clear is that a personal carbon trading scheme could not, and should not, be introduced without a comprehensive period of public engagement and debate.