Radical new solutions to reduce climate change are being discussed by scientists from all over the world at a conference in Cambridge.
Every man and woman in the country could be issued with a fixed number of permits to pollute the atmosphere under an idea from government-sponsored researchers. It's been proposed by academics at the Tyndall Centre - one of Britain's top institutes for climate change policy.
They say it's the best way of helping Britain hit its long-term target of cutting by 60% the emissions thought to be changing the climate. People living simple lifestyles could make money by selling their excess pollution permits to those wanting to live in the fast lane.
The idea is based on the principle that as climate change may affect everyone, we should all share ownership of the resource presented by the earth's ability to absorb pollution. That would mean giving every adult in the country equal pollution quotas which could then be traded on an electronic market. Poorer old people who live in small homes and don't travel much could sell some of their quota to rich people who want several holidays abroad. The system might be run on a future ID swipecard controlled by a pin number.
The researchers say the idea's in the blue skies phase and admit that many problems need to be overcome. But they hope it will appeal to Labour's sense of social equity because it offers a better deal to poor people than an alternative proposal - the carbon tax. They hope it will appeal to the Conservatives because it offers a market solution that does not involve any tax take for the government.
A government spokesman said climate change presented a very serious challenge. Although this idea seemed extreme, it was a welcome contribution to the debate.
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