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Call To Ration Personal Carbon Offsetting

September 10, 2009Article by Ray Withers

Rationing carbon emissions and setting up personal carbon offsetting by trading credits may have to be introduced in the UK if climate control measures fail, urges a new think tank report.Carbon offsetting schemes may not be the best way to reduce greenhouse gases produced by cars, powering our homes and taking flights, but if other measures fail, then they may be the last resort, says a report “Plan B? The Prospects For Personal Carbon Trading,” by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).

The UK’s first carbon budget period ends in 2012, and if carbon emissions have not reduced, then the IPPR proposes everyone in the country should have a quota of free ‘carbon credits’ to buy electricity and gas for homes, fuel for cars and holiday flights.The proposal says these credits should be tradable so people with a low carbon footprint can sell their spare credits to others who consume a lot of energy.

Lastly, the report suggests the government should reduce the free credits over time so everyone is forced to reduce their carbon footprint.The UK has legally binding targets to reduce greenhouse gases by at least 34% by 2020 and at least 80% by 2050 – compared to 1990 levels.

However, some forward thinking companies are already setting up schemes for carbon offsetting.
One example is a scheme handled by Property Frontiers, an international property consultant based in Oxford.

The investment strategy is simple:

* Investors pay U$12,000 for a rainforest stand in Costa Rica that guarantees 200 carbon credits each year

* The investor then calculates their carbon footprint and retains an equal number of carbon credits each year.For instance, an average UK family outputs 18 metric tonnes of carbon emissions annually. An investment in 200 carbon credits equals creating 200 metric tonnes of ’clean air’ a year, leaving a British investor with a balance of 182 credits.

* The remaining credits can be traded on global markets.

* Besides the advantages of having a renewable and tradable investment each year, the scheme also means the investor is guaranteeing the protection of a stand of rainforest at Limon, Costa Rica.

By preserving the forest, not only is a carbon offset manufactured but the flora and fauna living there is also protected.The IPPR report suggest carbon offsetting schemes may be too expensive to run, but currently they are backed by the United Nations and many eco-friendly organisations.Of course, the IPPR may be correct in considering the scheme is imperfect, but at least it is a step in the right direction in reducing carbon emissions.


Ray Withers

Ray has over 17 years’ experience in the international property market and bought his own first international property investment back in 2002. Aside from running Property Frontiers, Ray has been involved in residential, hotel, student and commercial property investment and development in both the UK and overseas and co-wrote "Where to Buy Property Abroad - An Investor's Guide". As Founder and Trustee of the Frontiers Foundation, Ray is directly involved with many of its projects to ensure they have a direct and tangible impact in individual communities across the globe. He is passionate about property, travelling, scouting out new opportunities and finding time to spend with his young family.
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