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Consumers’ Carbon Footprint Limited by Emission Trading Systems


Contrails460An economist from the University of East Anglia (UEA) claims that greenhouse gas emission trading schemes prevent people from reducing their carbon footprints.

Dr Grischa Perino, many of the recommendations by governmental officials and environmental NGOs within the European Union cap emissions from electricity production and aviation through the Emissions Trading System (EU ETS).

The scientist published a paper today, showing that advices commonly given to consumers, including flying less, using energy efficient lightbulbs and eating less red meat, have no impact on total emissions.

According to the scientist, the only recommendation, which does not cause relocation of emissions to other sources, is the consumption of red meat, because emissions from agriculture are not covered by the EU ETS.

Dr Perino states that by using energy efficient appliances people do save money, but they do not reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If a person wants to reduce their carbon footprint, he or she has to understand what EU ETS policy cover.

He advises consumers to focus on reducing emissions from transport, agriculture, or make their homes sustainable- in other words focus on sectors that are not covered by EU ETS.

The EU ETS is one of the biggest systems for greenhouse gas emission trading allowances, and it is a part of the EU strategy to fight climate change. This design of trading is also adopted by the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and the Western Climate Initiative in North America, and is soon to be implemented in Australia.

Dr. Perino urges people to pressurize politicians to reduce the cap of the EU ETS. In addition, he points out that following governmental recommendations to reduce carbon footprint can actually do the opposite.

The publication already received the support of Prof Ian Bateman, director of CSERGE. Prof Corinne Le Quéré, director of UEA’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, also agreed with the findings and urged people to reduce their carbon footprint on individual basis.

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