Cap and Reward

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Cap and Trade and Carbon Taxation won't work, because there is an immediate cost but no immediate benefit. What is needed are Cap and Reward programs that directly reward virtuous behaviour.

Bill St. Arnaud:

"Roger Pielke has argued, as I have, that we need climate policies that provide IMMEDIATE and tangible benefits to the public, but have the added feature of also reducing CO2 emissions. Such policies must also be conducive to our current lifestyle and not demand a sack cloth and ashes solutions. Hence my argument for policies like “cap and reward” where consumers and businesses would receive credits directly to purchase low carbon products or services in exchange for paying a carbon tax or levy on their carbon consumption. Rather than having a carbon levy disappear in the hands of government to be spent on dubious projects heavily influenced by lobbyists, or worse into the hands of unscrupulous carbon offset traders, the money would be returned directly to consumers. The only catch is that consumer is restricted to e spending the returned funds on low carbon products or services, hopefully creating a virtuous circle of low carbon living.

The Internet can play a major role in delivering these low carbon products or services through de-materialization of physical products. The Internet and broadband delivery to the home can also be a leading example, in its own right, of an eligible low carbon product that could be paid for through these carbon credits.

Some would argue that energy efficiency should be part of this equation, as well. But for those of you who follow my blog know that I am very skeptical about energy efficiency in any form as it is tackling the wrong problem. The problem facing this planet is not energy consumption, but the type of energy we are consuming. We need to address the real problem – and that is eliminating energy sources that produce CO2. Smart ICT (Information, Computer, Telecommunication) technologies that eliminate the need for energy produced from fossil fuels directly, rather than trying to improve overall energy efficiency, will have far more greater bang for the buck.

I have cited many examples of this type of approach in my writings and blogs such as powering data centers with renewable energy, mobile charging for electric vehicles, 400 Hz multiplex electrical systems to power all standby electronics in our homes, solar powered cell phone networks, etc. These approaches also enhance and complement today’s modern suburban lifestyle of commuting and conspicuous consumption – which is necessary for consumer adoption.

Although ICT, including the Internet, represents 2-3% of all global emissions and 6-10% of energy consumption, it is doubling every 10 years. Even in our homes, according to the IEA, ICT products and services, in aggregate consume more energy than our traditional appliances such as stove, dishwashers etc. While other sectors of society are starting to address their CO2 emissions, the ICT community has barely started. Given the rapid growth of the ICT industry if we do not do something soon, in a few years we will soon be seen as the bad boys of CO2 emissions." (

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