Emissions trading, equity, and sustainability: the case for allocating entitlements to "individuals-in-community"

Ton Bührs
2010 Local Environment : the International Journal of Justice and Sustainability  
Given the likelihood that a post-Kyoto climate change agreement will include provisions for trading greenhouse gas (GHG) emission rights (carbon credits), it is timely and important to look more closely into the merits (or otherwise) of emissions trading systems (ETS), in particular with regard to the issue of the allocation and distribution of entitlements. Thus far, ETSs and other tradable permit systems have allocated entitlements to those historically responsible for emissions or the
more » ... sions or the exploitation of resources (the "grandfathering" principle). There are, however, strong reasons for challenging this practice, and for advocating the allocation of entitlements to all people, in line with the per capita distribution principle. This article argues that GHG emission rights, if they are to be granted, should be distributed on a globally determined equal per capita basis, but collectively managed by community bodies (Community Carbon Trusts) on an "individuals-in-community" basis, instead of being granted or sold by governments to (big) emitters. The approach advocated here is not only ethically more justified, but also strengthens the capacity of communities to deal with climate change and to advance sustainability. It offers an example of how a significant environmental challenge can be met in a more positive way than by the prevailing approaches based on narrow, mainly economic, considerations.
doi:10.1080/13549839.2010.521143 fatcat:lqqanj5fhjcx5pmjr6j6iacb5a