Cap and trade

Here’s how I’d work carbon trading if I were appointed Grand Emperor of the World, based on my ten minute assessment of the situation.

I’d set an emissions cap on the world, starting in say 2010, based on the total emissions output of the world as of 2009. Each country gets a share of this, not based on their current emissions, but based on how many people they have.

The countries can trade. So the rich and polluting but under-populated countries (like Australia, 9th per capita) would have to pay to buy the right to pollute up to the levels they’re actually doing. The poor countries with a lower per-capita output would get an income stream, and can continue to industrialise if they want, up to their cap, but they’d have to stop things like deforestation (which is what’s pushing PNG and Zambia and other poor countries into the big league at the moment). Countries like China are painted as the bad boys, but per capita they’re currently well below the average. India is way below.

Polluting industries would be forced to adapt or die. For a little while they could buy their right to pollute…

Measurable, confirmed offsets could be used, but they won’t help for long, because most of them aren’t very scalable, and…

Every year, the cap would reduce by 2 4%. So get a move on reducing your emissions. The faster you do it, the more you can trade to someone else for moula.

So by 2060 2035 the world would be carbon neutral.

That’s my plan. Go ahead, poke holes in it. I don’t care — I’ll never actually be Grand Emperor of the World.