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German climate researcher Schellnhuber proposes limiting amount of CO2 to 3 tons a person per year & enabling private emissions trading

Via The Globe World news:


Three tons of CO2 per year per capita

If one were to apply a fundamental principle of justice, each person would have around three tons of CO2 a year at their disposal by the middle of the century, explains climate researcher Hans Joachim Schellnhuber from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). However, people in Germany are a long way from that.

Currently, each individual in this country causes about ten tons of CO2 per year. People with higher incomes emit significantly larger amounts of greenhouse gases. According to data from the Paris “World Inequality Lab”, many millionaires in Germany emit more than 100 tons of CO2 per person per year. Worldwide, several hundred thousand super-rich cause even more than 2000 tons of CO2 per capita annually.

Anyone who causes more emissions would have to buy rights

Schellnhuber therefore demands in an interview with the ARD magazine Panoramato introduce an individual CO2 limit and at the same time to enable private trading in CO2 rights. “Everyone gets three tons of CO2 per year, but if you need more, you just have to buy it,” explains the climate scientist – from others who consume less.

According to Schellnhuber, this would mean respecting the three tons as a “planetary guard rail” within the framework of a free society, but at the same time accepting the leeway that a market could provide. Because here two property rights are opposed to each other: the right to spend one’s money on something that is associated with high CO2 emissions and, on the other hand, the property right of all people, which consists in the fact that “we have an environment worth living in”. And there the common good must be higher, demands Schellnhuber.

In order to achieve an average of three tons of CO2 emissions per year, nobody would have to comply with this limit immediately. However, individual emissions would have to fall quickly from now on – initially to three tons by around 2030 and then further to zero by the middle of the century. 

From the point of view of climate researcher Schellnhuber, there must be radical clarity about what is necessary to stabilize the climate. This also means that it must be clear what each individual has to contribute. If you really take the climate crisis seriously and want to stop global warming below two degrees, then every citizen of the world would have three tons of CO2 at their disposal every year by the middle of the century.

The idea itself is not new

In principle, the idea of ​​private emissions trading is not new. The British government already discussed introducing individual CO2 certificates in the early 2000s, but then rejected the proposal. Climate researcher Schellnhuber was already working on the concept back then.

In 2009 he proposed the idea as chairman of what was then the “Scientific Advisory Council on Global Change” to the federal government under Chancellor Merkel – without success. “It was a missed opportunity,” says Schellnhuber today.

It is now time to re-examine this idea, wrote scientists from several renowned institutes in Great Britain, Sweden and Israel in an article in the journal “Nature” in 2021. They argue that such a system would provide incentives for behavioral change. A visible price for emissions influences purchasing decisions and energy consumption. In addition, he could raise awareness of the problem.



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