Yes, I figured you meant something like that. It still seems unnecessarily complex. Rather than issuing everyone carbon credits worth 10 metric tonnes a year of carbon or whatever number you have in mind, why not simply mandate steady and significant increases in fuel economy standards with the goal of eliminating all transportation related carbon emissions by date X? Likewise, mandate the phasing out of all coal powered electricity plants, followed by natural gas. At the individual level, a government can mandate improvements in home and building construction that will render structures carbon neutral as well. To the degree these changes drive up costs for the lower income consumer, carbon tax revenues can be used to help offset them.

It seems to me before you could truly implement rationing you would have to do this anyway. The carbon credits would at first have to reflect current economic reality, and then gradually be reduced over time. In an economy that is currently emitting 20 tonnes per capita, we can’t just announce as of tomorrow there will only be 10 available. That’s just asking for a revolution. So industry will have to gradually improve its efficiency in response to declining credits either under a credit scheme or a tax and regulatory scheme. All things being equal, the question is which approach is the easiest to both administer and sell to the public.

As for carbon taxing being politically feasible, we’ve been doing it here in BC for years and as of April 1st a carbon tax was imposed in all provinces in Canada that didn’t already have one. It’s easy to make quarterly payments to those below a certain income level or living in areas that require people to drive greater distances. It’s also a pretty simple thing to provide tax credits for electric cars ($6,000 here in BC, I believe) and to provide other incentives or subsidies to speed up change. I don’t think any government has implemented rationing, or even considered it.

Written by

US citizen residing in British Columbia, Canada. Degrees include anthropology and environmental studies. Activism, politics, science, nature.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store