Helping Speed the Revolution

Globally the acknowledgement that action is needed to combat Climate Change is growing and being endorsed by some of the greatest powers on earth. But will this be fast enough to limit the damage being done before the consequences of rapidly changing climate has a devastating adverse effect on our environment?

Today the message is spreading through the domestic sector fuelled by media campaigns to switch off lights and standby electrical goods. Also through educating young people to do the switch off at home and at school and to badger their parents to living a more sustainable lifestyle for the sake of all our futures.

It is industry where the most radical changes are needed to address the need to reduce emissions. In Europe this is being done by capping emissions and creating a market in reducing emissions. The theory is that the cap delivers a reduction in emissions which is the desired outcome – the market offer incentives to investors, companies and ultimately individuals to reduce emissions. It works via a system of permits that have been created to allow emissions to continue up to the level of the cap and no further. These permits can be traded within the industrial and commercial sectors effective giving a licence to pollute.

Now a not-for profit group called Sandbag have looked at the strategy of carbon credits and have determined that whereas it might be good theory, the progress of the green revolution may not be moving fast enough. In an inventive plan they have set up an organisation that trades in the emissions permits by buying them and taking them out of circulation. Fewer available permits mean less permitted emissions and greater incentives for industry to cut their pollutant production by investment in clean technologies and working practices.

On their website you can help by purchasing 1 metric tonne emissions permits and taking it out of circulation. They offer four levels of membership’ where they cancel 1, 5, 10 or more tonnes a year on your behalf. ‘By buying a permit for one tonne of emissions and taking it out of a market we take it out of the hands of would-be polluters and force them to invest more in cleaning up their act. The market contains many millions of permits so each individual action has only a small effect but it does genuinely mean one less tonne of permitted emissions’ say Sandbag

They have a website that fully describes the process and actively encourages people to join by purchasing permits. They manage the process and are accountable for showing that the emissions permit is no longer in circulation. They acknowledge that balancing the process is crucial saying: ‘Traded markets in pollution rights can be hugely important forces for change if they are designed and implemented correctly. Produce a low number of permits and the world emits less and the cost of permits rise. Produce too many and nobody has to do anything and prices fall to zero. Pollution markets are created by Governments. They come under pressure from emitters to keep the number of permits generous. They also worry about higher prices pushing up the cost of living. This makes them very, very cautious. By applying pressure in the other direction – by showing we are prepared to pay for fewer permits to be in circulation we can help to ensure trading really delivers change at the scale and pace necessary to tackle this problem.’

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