Somewhat off-topic when it was posted on the Solstice thread, in response to a comment from @hungryhalibut regarding a Bentley somethingorother’s cabin emissions:
296g/km of CO2 is an absolute outrage. There is no place for these things today. Why people fawn over something that should be banned
what is needed is a carbon budget for each person to ‘spend’ as they see fit
To which @LindsayM replied:
Not sure how you’d administrate that. And would I suggest work against the less well off who depend on older vehicles etc.
It’s an interesting issue.
We price goods and services on perceived value. On the whole, environmental impact does not have a substantial influence on that value.
Globally, we must now calculate a finite carbon budget for the world in order to avoid climate catastrophe. This is not meaningful to individuals unless they can understand their own impact. The simplest way to achieve this is to divide the global budget by 8 billion (put in extremely simplistic terms), and allocate this budget to each person. There would be some trading between people so that the rich can spend more carbon, but it would be based on a finite supply. This model already exists in some form as carbon credits but has lacked a useful calculation of carbon cost, plus a failure to consider other environmental concerns beyond simply carbon output.
Society already considers how to support those who need financial support and the carbon budget could be similarly managed by countries. Some countries subsidise certain goods for example so we already have a precedent and model to redistribute some of the budget accordingly.
Calculating the carbon cost of an item or service is considered by some to be too complex or inaccurate. It is complex, but so is pricing any good or service and yet the market shows us that (with some regulation) we are capable of valuing items, we just haven’t been required to consider climate impact as part of it.
Once that was a mandatory consideration suppliers and consumers would be motivated to solve this issue. Naim, for example, could calculate the carbon cost of its products if the carbon cost of contributing parts and processes was known. It’s no different in principle from calculating a build cost, which has to consider cost prices for parts, transportation of parts, warehousing, manufacturing labour, production costs, etc. Consumers could then usefully compare products based on climate impact. It would require a calculation on the complete supply chain to be a useful comparison, but this is possible.
Everything a person pays for would have a carbon cost associated with it (just as everything has a price.) I could choose to spend my carbon budget or sell it for someone else to spend. I know deep down that buying records has a climate cost and cycling to work instead of driving helps offset this, but I don’t know how much. Consumers need an accurate way to know their individual impact, and the best way to ensure this is accurate is to base the economy on it.