Ecovolution·Saturday, 22 April 2017
Introduction – Getting the Global picture on carbon consumption.
Every few years, our governments gather to “discuss” climate change. Reports on the effects of our greenhouse gas emissions are published and possible “end of the world” scenarios are talked through. Before the weather was a light subject to discuss; nowadays it is a source of controversy. There are the ones who “don’t want to believe” in climate change, the ones who don’t really understand why it is so much a problem (“ Earth has been here for millions of year and will survive us anyway”) and even the ones who are “against” it. There have been so many excuses mentioned mainly for these two reasons:
– No one wants to give up a comfort that they were not entitled to have in the first place.
– No one wants to believe that we have to make efforts to change things. Most of the people hope to be able to go on with our lifestyle without trouble.
As a result the whole responsibility (because people want to be reassured politically) rests with our political leaders in this instant.
They are paid and elected to make promises on carbon reduction schemes for which they have not the remote idea how they will implement it. Policies are drafted and discussed without a realistic way or plan to implement it. They will relay their promises to the executives of the industry and the head of the different departments and this will be all. A screen of smoke in the face of the electors. They can make some progress for sure; but they can’t switch a whole economy; from fossils fuel to renewable energy, with the time they have; about twenty years. Certainly not when the vast majority of the people is engaged in a race to consume more, to consume worse, cheap and to discard without second thought.
So, in order to give everyone a bit of clarity, I propose that we should all be informed of what is our tab in carbon emissions at the individual level and understand how it plays a role at the national level .
We should know what businesses produce more CO2 and see measures scheduled and implemented to reduce it. We should ask for constants reports of the progress and expect results to follow.
If we unify a movement behind the values of a responsible quantifiable commitment toward our environment, we will sail out of the storm wet but safe. Preparing ourselves to achieve a sustainable future is the biggest bet that the human civilization has had ever to face. This is a non negotiable step since the rise of modern medicine if we want to assure the conservation of our modern evolved and complex societies.
New Concept: How to save the planet, a model of consumption for a carbon diet.
Consuming is a hard habit. Our society is built on this. But there is a limit. Only a hundred years ago, each household item was carefully catered and quality was primordial over quantity. The manufacture of goods was expensive and the renewal of equipment occasional. We are now into an economy promoting goods with short lifespan. We have to replace everything on a regular basis to follow the trend, evolution or degradation of the items we buy. The quality is going down as we are scaling our production plants but the prices stay the same or increase. We “all want better” is the motto but what we really have is less quality choice at the same price than before. We also have less time in our hands because we spend it thinking of the next thing to replace. The illusion of choice leads us to more consumption and make us fit into a society where no one is never satisfied. This frenetic use of resources is a Damocles sword hovering over our head because every single item displayed in shops is a carbon hole. To have such prices, they are produced into countries where the labor is cheap. Nothing wrong with this. However the expense of fuel used into logistics to transport all these products is terrifying. Also is the amount of packaging employed to avoid the spoiling of the products during the transfer defy comprehension. Some fruits and veggies are even transported by plane!
The manufacturing of products itself is a frenzy of unnecessary carbon emission wastage from the various heating required for processed food to the synthesis of chemicals such as preservatives, colorants, emulsifiers, enhancers, acidity corrector and so on…
Finally, the result of such efforts to produce food is used in only a small percentage as the vast majority finishes in the bin.
There is something that an alert consumer should be able to ask for each product:
The Carbon Emission Index (CEI) also commonly “carbon footprint”.
On the same principle that we know how much nutrition there is in our processed food, we should be able to know how much carbon dioxide has been released into the atmosphere during the complete process of producing, manufacturing, packaging and delivering each product. This should be measured in grams and displayed clearly onto the packaging. Then the consumer could choose to spend more money or less in carbon efficient goods. After all, each product has been using a parcel of the carbon available on our planet and we should be able to ponder the value of it against the price of the product to make our choice.
On the next step, we could be to be able to quantify our carbon print in our everyday life and have the ways to reduce it. When I says quantify, I am thinking of an electronic wallet of Carbon Units. Everytime you buy anything; the carbon balance is updated with the carbon emission index (CEI) value of what you just bought. You can keep track exactly on how your daily choices influence the balance, publish it, compare and compete with your friends.
STEP 1: Educating the consumers, a Carbon Emission Index for all products (2 YEARS)
In our everyday life, we are fairly well educated beings. We take thousands of decisions a day whether we drive our cars, exchange with our friends, do our jobs and for sure; choose the products we buy. When it comes to shopping, it’s almost an art for many people. Getting the right product in the right quantity at the right time with the right image we want to attach to it.
Marketing teams thrive on this and most of them are pretty good in making us believe that the values we defend are exactly (why not?) the ones they stick on their products. It’s a delirious display of colors, material, images and clever sentences.
There is one thing which largely drives our decisions when buying something: the price. However, more and more, values and ethic are a growing advantage in regards to the average consumer. Most of us would spend the extra dollar to get in their trolley the brand of oats they used to have as a kid or the packaging which promises that the chicken has been running “free range,” making friends. The “something” Free has become a trend so strong that they even promise you the obvious. For example “permeate free” on the milk makes as much sense as selling eggs guaranteed with natural shells. Therefore, you have to decide if you want either the organic, the fair-trade product, the branded product, the cheap generic one. This is paired with how you identify yourself: respectively a greenie, someone who care for social fairness, someone who trust brands and ads or someone who just wants the cheapest whether it’s because they can’t afford the other products or because they have no concern for value attached to products.
Is it worth more to have the warranty that the brand has been on the market for 50 years or that they don’t use this and this chemical? Would you go for the GMO Free or the preservatives Free or the Organic version (which could be GMO!)? Is it especially suitable for children? Are you sure that no slave labor has been use in its manufacturing? Why does it have to come all the way from Finland? And so on…
Then you have the combination of one or several factors and promises. But six months later, the product changes again, it gets a new packaging, a new set of promises more fantastic, the price drops a bit and the quality is not as it used to be. In this shemozzle of choice the tricks are many and the honesty of some labels doubtful. It’s often that you would see leaves, green packaging and healthy looking people on products which are neither organic neither chemical free.
Even Coca-Cola and Macdonald followed the trend these last years with their new green logo for the fast-food company and their green label for the famous beverage corporation. They haven’t changed their product one inch but somehow their marketing teams got the feedback that “green “was good. It reflected a positive image in people minds being widely associated with healthy sustainable natural progressive values. Where does the scam start and where does the bullshit stop?
I mean, they are the same people who consciously, out of economical reasons, decided to feed cows with flour originated from fish… Therefore creating the mad cow disease out of disrespect for the more basic evolutionary laws: the separation of herbivores and carnivores. How could they care less for the potential consequences on their consumer health in a twenty years period? How should they feel concerned about their way of production wasting the resources of the planet when they are playing smoke and mirrors with the continual change of products? They are only operating a seduction process rapidly coupled with a mass production profit.
Their company image is all about promising what they can achieve and no one is here to assess what they can deliver. They sell more on fairy dust, they win, and they change and so on… Who actually cares in getting the right message, the right information to make a change?
It’s YOU and only YOU;
At the moment you grab the package from the shelf and you put it in your trolley (or your recycled reusable bag). YOU (your children, your loved ones) will be the one eating what you purchased, wearing what you elected, and driving what you have been saving for. And at the present day you are missing a very important piece of information each time you make a decision.
You are missing a key indicator on how much damage you are doing to your environment (or not, but let’s admit it we are all consumers). You don’t know for sure how a product is better for our environment than another. You need a number on each product you are considering buying, it’s the Carbon Index. Or more precisely the Carbon Emission Index (CEI). How much CO2 has been emitted during the full life cycle of the product. How many volumes of carbon have been released in the atmosphere during the design, prototyping, production, packaging, transport and disposing/recycling of the product.
This information should be calculated per unit of product (packet, loaf, brick, bottle) based on an average taken from the energy consumption of the company producing it, the energy (CEI) involved in the process of each components including packaging, the amount of fuel (CEI) burned over the number of miles travelled and finally the estimated carbon release (CEI) for the disposal of it (burning or burying) or for the recycling at the end of the product’s lifetime.
The display of such crucial information should help the customer to get a better picture of the impact of his choice. After all, we have been fed for years with the nutritional value on packets and a clear mandatory display of the price per kilo for each product. These two measures have been essential tools for most of us to decide which product to choose as per we are favoring an honest price or a reasonable diet. Many of our households are familiar with budget restrictions requirements or either special diet due to intolerances, allergies or health issues. We already pay a special attention to the price per kg when we want to avoid tricky packaging. We already read (less common) the nutritional value to monitor our fat/sugar/sodium intake.
Our planet, our human race, our country, needs to go on an even more important diet. The carbon diet is the bet that our generation can achieve. It is the goal that most of the people around at the moment have their eyes fixed on. But the question we often hear is HOW? And the answer which is the most heard is that it will be hard, it will be almost impossible, that we need to feel guilty, that the change will probably never happen, that it is too late, that we are not even sure it is needed and so on… When we hear this despair and denial, it’s easy to go on with our life and forget about it.
It’s even more a betrayal to our environment to donate money to a green association and continue our life as a carbonivore. So many people say that they support green ideas but they continue to buy new cars, to consume frenetically and they would not change their lifestyle or switch their energy consumption pattern because it would put them out of their zone of comfort. They still book planes tickets for remote exotic destinations without worrying on how their carbon footprint grows the size of a mountain. And how could they change? There is nothing clear to help them look ahead, no way of measuring their results after sacrifices to the consumption habit.
A Carbon Emission Index on each product would change this. It would be a lead light to guide us in making better choices for every single item we look at; absolutely EVERYTHING should have a CEI displayed on it. We could compare, we could judge, we could understand, we could elect or we could sanction.
Even more, each individual would know for sure how responsible he/she is toward the planet. There would be then, no excuse as we didn’t know how much our consumption habits can be regulated to ensure our lifestyle while we are conscious that the environment doesn’t suffer from it. Some would say that human nature is devoted to vice; therefore you witness people with grave heart issues (and a medical need for a diet) who still continue buying sodas and fast food. Out of the same principles, would the human specie be doomed and create their own abnegation while they were completely conscious of it and didn’t act?
Would the lemming law prevail?
Many, nowadays are solving the issue with their conscience by answering yes to that question. They even mention that after all, we would surely deserve it. Why? Out of the guilty trip so well propagated by religion? Should be all be punished for our sins? I’d like to stand and say it clearly,
“NO, WE DON’T DESERVE TO BE PUNISHED, WE CAN EVOLVE.”
We have the unique chance of being able to communicate our ideas widely, fast and we can implement radical solutions thanks to our technologies and internet. What we need is a little discipline and a lot of commitment for our environment and the generation to come.
We all have that, surely? Then a measured sacrifice of our needs should do the trick if everyone does it, keep it simple, keep it informed. You are the one driving the business activity and not the reverse. A Carbon Emission Index on each product would educate everyone and help for a rational conscious choice. It would force the companies to be more inventive and efficient in supplying products. And we would see the arising of a new consciousness in this world: we don’t need to destroy to consume, we can also produce at an individual level, we need to achieve better steps toward self sustainability. Greediness is the worst evil; wisdom comes out of balance; the middle way; it’s time for humans to rise above their social image issue and focus on enjoying a meaningful life linked with a healthy environment and future.
STEP 2: Implementation of Carbon (CEI) Accounting (2YEARS)
Getting clear and meaningful information of our impact at the personal level on the planet will be a major step to help us to choose better products, fresher products and from more genuine origins. The Carbon Emission Index would be the fairest way to do it, a number related to the actual impact that a product has on our environment. It would be exact and accurate in the same way than we are getting the nutritional value of product. It has to be a calculated number and not flags, ratings or logos.
The Carbon Emission Index being a number ensures that one could learn how everything adds up at the end of the month. You can have a clear idea of how much a bag of shopping which will last you 2 weeks actually worth in CEI Units. If a majority of people were to be informed on this, we would have then a solid start to actually bring the change.
At the moment, the tool is not here to guide us in the right direction. As a result we care somewhat but we have no way to measure our improvement or to be rewarded for our achievement on driving our energy consumption down. We should know, we should try, we should compare and even one day we might compete to drive our carbon emissions down. After all, most of us already know about KPI’s, Key Performance Indicators, commonly used in the workplace to enhance commitment and efficiency.
The Carbon Emission Index would be a KPI of well living in accordance with our resources.
It will refrain us for being carbon gluttons without making our capitalist/consumption driven society crash down. It will stimulate our local economy and diversify our jobs offers.
So this second step would require some systems to be implemented. The supermarkets should be active actors of it by allowing the Carbon Emission Index to be entered in their database for each product they sell. Each Carbon Emission Index would be communicated to the shops as being the result of the production to which the shop would add the transport and storage.
For the transport, average values rounded to the next 100 kms would be calculated and the energy consumption for storage would be included. Due to the complexity of some solutions (production and logistics), the level of detail and exactness on how the Carbon Emission Index is calculated has to be defined by a norm. Norms already exist and are widely applicable.
We can setup a system of standard values for each 100 km travelled as well as standard values for packaging solutions depending on the volume and the amount of plastic used. Committees of audit would be created and they would ensure by sampling and control that the Carbon Emission Indexes are in agreement with the rules of calculations defined by the norm. ( ISO/TS 14067:2013 based on International Standards on life cycle assessment ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 )
There is nothing new in all of this; most of the businesses apply quality norms already (ISO 9001 for example) to answer a requirement from their customers. The nutritional value is required for any food product. This is just a new way to look and measure the true impact of our activity and report it at a personal level. It would be relatively easy to implement given the technologies we have nowadays.The benefit from it would be huge: we would know for sure how each of us can drive his effort to reduce our impact on the environment. This carbon accounting could be linked as a data with our credit cards or be registered separately on a special carbon consumer card attributed to each person. We could use apps to manage it. We could see our impact in a year and why not be rewarded for it through tax returns?
This idea might scare a great amount of people as it looks complex and it would point out how our lifestyle and ecological convictions are working sometimes against each other. This idea was born out of the observation that many of us today would like to do more but lack the direction or the discipline to do it.
For example, many of my friends are proud of saying that they support all sort of green movement financially, they buy all their food organic so they consider themselves already doing their maximum. However, if you start mentioning their 4×4 that they change every two years, the fact that they crank up the air con in summer, their holidays on the other side of the planet, they get all defensive. We are not ready to sacrifice our own comfort to some extend and the “green” image is a nice façade useful to socialize. The carbon accounting would help us to realize what important changes we can makes if we use common transportation, get better isolation or a house more efficient energetically, buy our furniture made locally and go to some paradisiacal place in our own country for holidays.
This very system is designed to give you power to enforce rationally and gradually balanced habits of consumptions. I can already hear the cries of despair from the ones still believing in the traditional opposition between social development and free market. We are not talking of this yet but the common idea that carbon economy is bad for business is largely overdue by now. These old concepts opposing drastic communism against blazing capitalism are from another time when we were not able to think out of the box. Now with our technologies and our ways of communication, the movement should grow and prosper. It should be the incentive of growth in reasonable volumes and would help to reduce the gap in social classes. This would particularly be the case with the implementation of the very next step.
STEP 3: Setting the limits, an average objective to control our emissions. (3YEARS and beyond)
I understand that the following description might raise a fair amount of protest and incredulity from the opponents to any ecological change. It is developed to explain how to bring back the consumption system into control without over regulation of the market, without over protection and a complicated set of laws to protect our economy. The idea itself is self regulating and pushes the consumer to limit and plan its resources use in a better way.
Once the step 1 (information and education) and the step 2 (accounting) are implemented, we have good hopes that the step 3 will be asked by the large conscious majority when it becomes mandatory for the change to happen due to an increase of difficult economic conditions linked to the climate.
We are talking of limitations.
A simple calculation of the average over the country of the current Carbon Emission consumption per inhabitant per year would show where we are at presently. This could already be estimated over the industrial activity of the country but it wouldn’t be as accurate or have as much impact than if each one of us knows where he is standing compared to the actual average. It makes sense to consider that the average should be calculated by age bracket.
Then an environmental study would provide the actual value what the average should be for us to limit our Carbon Emission at a reasonable level and therefore ensure a foreseeable future. The climate summit in Paris already define a limit: we have to limit our emissions limit global warming by 2C.
There the limit should be set. Whether gradually or in a hurry; it would be for the citizens to vote for when the plan is designed for implementation. There are good chances that by then, tragic weather events would show how limited time we have to go on our carbon diet.
And this is when things would start to get interesting: we would ALL be a part of this commitment and the carbon monitoring would be part of everyday life. The same way that we started brushing our teeth, that we stopped using lead based products, stopped using CFC gas, monitor our diet, we would together operate the change to save the planet.
How would this happen? Well, each one of us would have a Carbon Account setup (thanks to step 2) with the little difference that it would be limited to a maximum corresponding of the average value needed to operate the change. A little bit like when you have prepaid credit on your phone, every year, each resident would be allowed the same amount of carbon (the average value) defined per age bracket. Once the account consumption reaches that value, the account owner would not be allowed to purchase anything else, his ways of payment would be temporally suspended whatever amount of money he has on his account. But that’s not the end.
The beauty of this is in the ability to trade CEI at a micro-level via network platforms accessible from your phone. Let’s say, some student or single mum knows already that their way of life allow them to use a very small amount of CEI (they don’t own a car, are in a shared apartment, buy second hand clothes, and use low CEI food). Therefore they can offer their estimated surplus to buyers and the market laws would do the rest. The Carbon Emission Unit would then have a value and the market would be self regulating. Even better, you would be rewarded financially for having less impact on the planet but everything you would buy with this extra money will also cost you carbon emissions. So a careful watch for the best quality you can have for money AND carbon emissions, would be necessary. You will push our system to produce better quality lasting products not just cheap disposable junk.
What’s in for the ones who want to have it all? The sport car, the mega mansion, the swimming pool? Well they will have two choices: either they self regulate themselves and opt for solutions less hungry in carbon, either they pay for the surplus they can’t help but consume. It will cost you a lot more to live an irresponsible life toward the planet. It can be fair enough given that threatening the future for the next generations, carbon wise, might be considered as a crime one day. Who knows?
Some might cry against it as an authoritarian way to restrict our liberty to consume and burn carbon in a frenzy debauchery of consumption. There are so many things that could be answered to that cry, but the main ones are the following:
– When the action of an individual or a group of individuals endangers directly the living conditions of the rest of the group, we have to regulate upon it in the interest of the majority. In this case, our debauchery in carbon emissions is now life threatening for the human race. So get on with it.
– People take for granted their right to exploit and abuse the resources of our environment. This could go on so long as we didn’t have the knowledge of our impact, the proof that the planet was sensible to it and technologies to fix it. We now have all the three of the latter and more. The fact that you want to believe it or not, is one of the last barrier and it is mostly linked to your refusal of giving up some of the comfort you had for free. Please Evolve.
– We are utterly powerless against the consequences of an exponential climate change. The only way to avoid the worst would be to act now before it is too late. You are the only one who can do it, a human being.
STEP 4: Carbon trading at micro level, consequences of a balanced system. (within 10 YEARS)
Selling the carbon you don’t use is not a new idea. This has already been implemented between companies in a worldwide regulated carbon market. This was an idea to regulate the emissions and the easy way to implement it was to deal with businesses. The main problem is that not everyone complies with it. It was based on good will. Businesses have thousands reasons not to be inclined toward a consequential effort on their carbon print. This would change if you are the one driving the request. And also, in our beautiful capitalist societies, the demand has to be answered. The demand comes from the consumers who are completely uninformed of the carbon levels used to produce the goods they choose. They go following their fancies (and the TV that tells them what to get) and the businesses follow. In a delirious cost reduction scheme to win the market, producers have implemented solutions extremely cheap but also extremely carbon hungry. Let’s reestablish the balance.
Mass production on the other side of the planet for complex items requiring a great amount of components and a fair amount of plastic involves convoluted logistics chain. Some of them requiring parts to cross three or four border each, using a different way of transportation every time. Some products have gone twice around the globe before they get served to the consumer. They travel more than you. Do you think this is normal? Is it reasonable to have strawberries produced in Australia, send to Thailand for processing (cleaning, sorting); packaged and then send them back to Australia to be sold? Apparently it makes sense in a pure economical way, because petrol is so cheap as well as labor cost overseas. However with a CEI index, the company would need to find a more efficient solution and bring back a bit of good old logical sense in its supply chain.
There would be many consequences in micro trading carbon. First, it would probably create carbon banks: you sell them your surplus of carbon credits and they offer them to the market and the bidding. We can imagine carbon banks actually purchasing land and planting trees back to create more carbon credit available. This already exists but it would become common practice and some farmers might find more interesting to plant a forest than growing wheat. People could even live in these forests (as long as they don’t cut too many trees) in fully sustainable units. The carbon local trading scheme would enhance local economy, promote handmade goods and revalue the second hand market.
A little word on second hand goods: it would become advantageous to use and re use second hand goods as their resale carbon weight would be close to zero. They already have been produced and bought, therefore the CEI cost has already been paid by the first buyer. Exception for one little thing remaining: the CEI required for disposing of the item (carbon emissions to recycle or dispose the item). This last part of the CEI could be transferred from the second hand buyer to the first buyer if they agree upon it. Therefore, you would save your CEI credits by buying second hand goods compared to new goods and the seller of second hand items would find in its actual possessions a mine of CEI credits.
It is really important that when a second hand transaction happens, only the CEI cost to dispose the product would be passed onto the new owner. Why not pass the entire CEI cost to the second hand buyer? Well, this is debatable but one of the obvious consequences if we were to transfer the entire CEI cost form one buyer to the other would be the following: someone would stay stuck with the rotten apple. In other terms, the second hand market would include a certain number of risks and people would not care about the system. They would then buy always new items, use all their carbon credits and the whole country could be carbon broke.
It’s a bit like when you buy something and then you sell it on gumtree: you buy a saucepan 100 dollars and then you might sell it used on gumtree or ebay for 30 dollars. When you sell something second hand, you are prepared to bear a cost. It is just the same with CEI cost. If you buy an item new, you should bear the weight of the carbon emitted through their production, transportation, packaging. After all you are the one who commanded and justified the production of this item; information that you give to the company producing it by buying it new. They will plan their production numbers accordingly as per the demand requested for new items bought. Their energy bill (and carbon emission) will follow this trend.
However, the next person who will buy your used item will only take advantage of an already produced good available to the market. His action of acquiring it will not produce a hint to companies to make a new one, therefore, he is not responsible for any production/transportation/packaging cost but he will be theoretically the one responsible to dispose of the item (unless he resell it on the second hand market). This justifies the fact that he should bear in advance the CEI cost of disposal and refund this amount to the seller of the second hand item.
What about the cost of life, then? Well, we might expect an inflation of prices as the total of CEI credits of a country would be a fixed quantity defined for the year, with exception of how many carbon banks decide to repopulate areas with trees. On the other hand, the economy being localized, there would be a lowering impact on prices as the logistics cost, storage, import taxes, complexity would decrease.
We might see an inflated CEI market toward the end of the year when everyone would run out but then, people could still resort to neighborhood production which would be almost carbon free. They would be forced to take their bicycle more often instead of driving their car a couple of kilometers to the supermarket.
We might see more local initiatives and people producing some of their basic food like bread, milk, yoghurt, cheese, butter, eggs, and vegetables. The handmade market would surely be flourishing and things like timber work and sewing/knitting/crocheting might come back in fashion. All of this would happen because everyone will want to save their CEI credits for a fancy holiday, a car (however these might as well disappear soon, leaving the place for electrical shared vehicles) and electronics.
If you plan to make an investment and buy a TV for example, or something that is extremely CEI costly, you will be able to plan over a certain number of years the use of your CEI cost. It would be your role to choose a compromise between a low CEI and a long estimated product life.
The industry of services might do very well. They are virtually carbon free businesses: marketing, health practitioners (the drugs have all a carbon cost though), counselors, consultants, teachers, council workers and politicians (as long as they cut down on helicopter trips). Basically the principle of this system is that it would cost you more to spend more, but only on carbon hungry solutions.
Basically, if you have a comfortable level of life and already consume in accordance with caution and monitoring your carbon print, there will be no change for you. You might even find that at the end of the year you might be able to cash some rewards for the extra CEI you haven’t used.
If you are struggling at the end of the month but you know how to get things locally and limit your energy needs to what you can afford, then you might be able to increase your income by reselling the CEI units you don’t need to use.
If you drive a hummer, spend your week-ends on your motorboat roaring around, have a black brick house with black tiles roof, the aircon cranked at the maximum, eat frozen prepackaged food and book holidays to Thailand, Mexico and the US; then you will see your cost of life certainly double or triple until you figure a way to regulate your consumption like everyone else. After all it’s time to give a fuck about the planet and your co-citizens.
If you are struggling with our income and buy the cheap chinese crap products or imported European rubbish, with the CEI you will not be able to afford them anymore. Instead you will be forced to review your consumption habits and buy local, handcrafted goods. Buy Australian, buy less but buy better.
It would teach you to be carbon wise. Simply because the resources on the planet are not infinite, you should spend only what Earth can spare, only what you are entitled to, as an active citizen of a great nation. And if you know how to live simply, with a very low carbon foot print while you are still enjoying your life, you will definitely be rewarded for it.
Conclusion: On a wider perspective, the YING and Yang of Economy.
The concept of carbon price presented as a “carbon tax” is far from new. It has been applied for the last decade in different forms. The incentive was to address directly the companies and make them pay for the carbon consumed. As a direct consequence, they reflected an increase on the prices on the final product corresponding (theorically) to the amount of carbon used in their supply chain processes.
This had two outcomes: an inflation of prices decried by many as a brake for consumption. They accused the carbon tax to be an obstacle to the healthy development of the Australian Economy. People cried for the injustice made to the companies and the fact that Australians had already to pay to many taxes.
There was another effect more subtle and a lot more disastrous: the companies; forced to compete on the prices; chose to cut the quality in materials of their products because it was less costly instead of investing into more sustainable processes. They went for simpler solutions they could control and preferred to pay out for more carbon emissions than upgrading their production solutions. So the consumer found itself paying more for products which were of a pitiful quality, using resources by the truckload.
This happened because the cost of carbon credit calculation wasn’t treated differently from the global cost of the product. It had been incorporated through complicated estimations including profit percentages and risk assessments. This was completely non- transparent to the final consumer who at the end only saw an increase in price and couldn’t decide in the plethora of labels selling the green image. Smoke and mirrors.
Let’s call a cat, a cat.
The Carbon Emission Index scheme would counter balance the effect of inflation and overgrowth of consumption eventually leading to consuming only the right amount.
Let’s educate widely on carbon dioxide emissions, let’s the people appreciate the weight of impact of products they choose to acquire.
Because the amount of CEI available for consumption at the national level would be finite, it would act as a dampening effect. But it wouldn’t limit the economy. The competition would still be open. I only would be creating an economical climate favorable for the most quality enhanced products.
There are two questions which immediately arise:
1- What if no one cares? And everyone spend a lot more above their average putting the country into a “carbon broke” state?
This is impossible as the limitations when they come in place would be based on the average by age bracket. Also, the implementation of Carbon Consumption ceiling would come after 4 years of educating the consumers and training everyone to monitor their carbon accounting. By then goods habits would already have emerged and hopefully a majority of products would be carbon low.
2- Does it not just sum up as giving to every Australians a maximum budget to spend in their year to ensure their lifestyle? Therefore the complete system of salaries has to be indexed and reviewed to maintain controlled system? Eventually leading to devaluation of the Australian currency and prices inflation?
It’s a budget of a kind, I agree. But it is linked directly to the amount of carbon emission you consume. So if you’re good at it, you can have more useful quality items. Nothing proves that you need more anyway but the capitalist driven society, how about learning some arts? Music? Reading, creating, teaching? Spend more time on this and you will need less “things”.
We have been educated with the black and white scheme of economy. Communism versus capitalism and we all have heard than these two theories are the only ones who could model an economic reality for our societies. There were both wrong in establishing a balanced and fair society.
Communism, while probably very efficient to help a community very disadvantaged at the beginning; is quickly overridden by the greed and the control of a few individuals. It also restricts private liberties and doesn’t leave you the choice to choose for yourself.
On the other end of the scale, Capitalism through an abundance of choices creates enormous disparities within the wealth of the population. A large amount of people have no access to correct healthcare and barely make more than what they need to live; while less than 1% bath themselves in decadent luxury, owning 99% of the wealth.
What if we mix them together into a healthy mix? And for doing this we need to link our monetary system to a value which exists finitely and has a meaning physically: Carbon Emission Index. Its amount is finite on the planet and it goes through a perpetual cycle. But we still allow growth and competition with an underlying limit. As you get a better growth and better fruits through pruning and trimming the dead branches of a tree; you would get a healthier growth in products quality and offer once you regulate to avoid carbon hungry solutions to be sold.
But there is the trick: with the Global Carbon Emission Index Management Plan, you won’t have to regulate against anyone! You won’t have to decide as a rule who is green and who is not, the public will do it for you by choosing the product the most efficient carbon wise. This could mean less norms and complicated Tariff importation codes. No protection needed either than the imperative labeling of CEI on all products.
I call it the Ying and Yang principle of economy because the two opposite most powerful forces would be at work: the law of the market of demand and offer on one side pushing for expansion and the carbon reality of our emissions limiting the consumer in their choices. They are linked together and should bring a stable situation to an empirical sustainable growth.
Should we trust ourselves to go the right way once we have this power of deciding for the planet really given back to us? I think so. I believe that humans can achieve self control and sustainability with the right information and tools. Almost everyone today is concerned by the future of our planet and the wild weather events experienced over the last few years. People know but feel powerless. They are powerless at the moment and need to be given back the liberty to decide for our production systems. They can do it by voting, buying is voting and we love it!
It also a question of control, limits and actively budgeting our carbon emissions needs. Look, thousand of households do it already successfully with money. They know how to save! No one complains that there is a limit of the amount of money you can borrow! Well carbon emissions are just the same, just consider that we borrow from the planet to enjoy our lifestyle but we have to be sure that we don’t borrow too much or, like a very mean mafia godfather, our planet Earth will pay herself in human cost.Some would say ;
“Yes, but we can’t influence on other countries which import goods in our economy”. That’s exactly why the CEI (Carbon Emission Index) accounting scheme, our solution for our future; will help to give an indicative to the neighboring countries on how “carbon clean” we want our products.
The Global Carbon Emission Index Plan could start tomorrow. You could know what you consume and how much your everyday efforts make a difference. Let’s ask to vote for it. Let’s legislate to get it started.
You are the consumer; you are the one to decide where you want to spend your money. In these times it is as important as voting. Let’s face it; you are voting every day, you are giving money to defend principles. Do you want to eat sweet greasy junk food packaged in bright colors or do you want be able to take your son fishing and see him still catching some fish? Do you want to crack up some dollars in a junk shop filling up your house up to the ceiling with dust catching meaningless items? Or do you want be sure that the Great Barrier Reef will still be there to take your grand kids and not just show them a pretty picture?
It is your choice, now. Let’s make understand the big companies that the change is needed for yesterday and that they are late. It should take less than a generation to avoid the catastrophe.
Enough of the preservatives, we want to eat fresh. Enough of the colors and chemicals, we want to taste safe. Enough of the brain washing screens and ads for shampoos, we want to smell less. Enough of a consumption driven society where unhappy people get their will and wallets dictated by brain washing; plundered to their ears by the industrial lobbies.
I call for a Revolution, an Eco Revolution, which would actually be a Human Evolution of our consciousness on how to deal with our surroundings, to fully integrate our development with our planet. AN ECOVOLUTION. Silent and peaceful but effective. We need to bring back the Earth to a balanced diet of carbon; we need to save it, our world. It is essential to have a will; to make every human aware of its own impact, of the emergency and the hope behind each choice of consumption.
Ecovolution is the key for the future, a shared wisdom based on technology for the sake of humanity, a system of balanced needs and workable accomplishments. Ecovolution will reduce the disparities in our societies as well as our stress for development. It will balance the need for growth and reinstate a fulfilling philosophy of awareness. It might be the very next step required by our human race to reach higher levels of consciousness.