Thursday, July 20, 2006

Authoritarianism: ID card's through the 'green' door

Everytime I talk about 'green' authoritarianism, I'm constantly told that I'm exaggerating the extent of any authoritarian streak environmentalists may have. Well... I say don't take my word for it, take a quick look at what the environmental secretary, David Miliband (pictured right) has in store for us all. He's proposing a scheme that would force people to carry a swipe card, that would have to be presented whenever you make a purchase. Apparently, everyone from the 'Queen down' would be expected to account for their carbon 'footprint' by being allocated a 'personal' and annual carbon allowance.

David Adam, environment correspondent for the Guardian, made a very important point about this 'green' scheme; "The move marks the first serious step towards state-enforced limits on the carbon use of individuals". Adam's also mentions that the scheme "extends the principle of carbon trading - already in place between heavy polluters such as power companies and steel makers - to consumers, with heavy carbon users forced to buy unused allowances from people with greener lifestyles".

Just in case you thought you might still have some individual choice in the matter, Colin Challen, Labour chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on climate change, added that "it will inevitably have to be introduced so that consumers, along with other sectors, take responsibility for what they do". So now it looks as if we will have no choice but to accept the governments draconian measures to 'fight against climate change', and the Isle of Wight looks set to be 'green' guinea pigs for Milibands pilot scheme - apparently, it's the 'obvious' place for a pilot (only because it's an island, so you can't get off). Funny thing is, Challen seemed apprehensive about testing this scheme on the people of the Isle of Wight - indeed, he moaned that he was "not sure how happy they would be with that". Well.. If they wanted to make people 'happy', they should first stop trying to sneak in compulsory ID cards through the 'green' door for a start.


At 9:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hiya Courtney,
Did you see the blog address of a certain Environmental secretary named David Miliband in the Guardian today?

At 8:40 AM, Blogger Courtney Hamilton said...

Hi Lucy,

I'm taking a quick look at it now - might have to leave a comment (and a link), and see if he replies.

Did you know he spends some £40,000 on maintaining his blog? Apparently, it works out at £1 per word - I'm not quite sure whether it's worth it or not.

Best wishes.


At 11:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

£40,000 maintaining his blog?? He could get John Prescott to do it seeing as 2 jags has little else to do now.

At 10:51 AM, Blogger Courtney Hamilton said...

Sorry - forgot to post the link for the £40,000 per year blog...

At 6:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Courtney,

I am also against the introduction of ID cards. But don't make the mistake of thinking that a 'carbon allowance' card would necessarily be an ID card. It would only need to contain the same info as a bank card - no extra ID. If the government tried to link carbon allowances to ID we should campaign against that, but that's no reason to be against carbon allowances altogether.

Secondly, you say that David Milliband wants to force us to carry a swipe card that would have to be handed over for every purchase. Not true. You would only have to use carbon points for purchases of home energy (eg. gas and electricity bills) and transport (eg. petrol and flight tickets). What's more, if you didn't want to use your carbon allowance card, you wouldn't be 'forced' to. You would simply sell your whole *free* carbon allowance every year when you received it (by setting up an order with the bank) and then, when you wanted to buy petrol or anything else with a 'carbon point' price attached, you would pay the retailer for the carbon points needed as well as the price of the goods, instead of handing over your card to have points deducted. You would never even have to touch your swipe card!

Thirdly, you quote comments by David Adam. It's important to note that although this does represent an attempt by the government to limit individual carbon emissions, it's not an absolute limit. The fact that carbon points would be tradable means that individuals will still have a choice about how they want to respond. If someone wanted to continue flying to New York for regular shopping weekends, they could do so, as long as they bought the extra carbon points they would need from someone who is using less carbon.

If you only use your fair share of carbon, you should be happy about the idea of carbon allowances, because you will find that for many years you will have some allowance spare that you can sell - making money where you weren't able to before. But if you use more than your fair share, why do think you should be able to go on doing so without paying?? Do you think you should have the freedom to take any other resource without paying? I doubt it - and I doubt you would be happy if someone else was taking more than their fair share at your expense, without paying. That's what we in the UK and other rich countries are doing - taking more than our fair share of the Earth's ability to cope with our pollution, without paying for it, and the carbon allowances idea is just a way of ensuring that in future we either stick to our fair share or pay for the extra. Why should we in the UK continue to emit so much carbon dioxide that people in Africa will end up suffering even worse droughts, and people in Bangladesh even worse floods?



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