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Re: [Fsfe-uk] ZDNet Carbon-neutral PC runs Vista (not Free software)

From: Robin Green
Subject: Re: [Fsfe-uk] ZDNet Carbon-neutral PC runs Vista (not Free software)
Date: Sat, 15 Sep 2007 12:01:46 +0100

On Sat, 15 Sep 2007 11:33:05 +0100
"Jon Grant" <address@hidden> wrote:

> Will be interesting to see what politicians come up with, probably
> some free-market system, where we pay for CO2 output rather than for
> KWH like at present?

Such a system has some (putative) advantages over your suggestion:

* buyers have an incentive to reduce CO2 emissions during the lifetime
of the product by using it more efficiently and/or using it less, not
merely when they choose which one to buy. On the other hand, some might
argue that nudging people to buy more efficient products is more
effective than nudging them to use them less - and
that could be true, at least for citizens as opposed to businesses.

* taxes on half-a-dozen different things are a bureaucratic and
piecemeal solution which encourages people and businesses to distort
their behaviour in "irrational" ways (e.g. buying an energy-efficient
computer and then blowing all their carbon savings many times over by
taking loads of flights and driving the car to the supermarket round
the corner). By contrast, theoretically, taxing the "root problem",
carbon emissions, should optimise the speed of reduction of
emissions, by encouraging the most wasteful businesses to reduce their
emissions earliest and fastest (that's the idea behind the EU-wide
emissions trading scheme).

The question is of course, will the incentives be high enough?

Of course, given that both Labour and the Tories seem to want to faff
around and bring about only a fraction of the reductions we would
probably need to achieve to bring climate change under control, in the
hope that someone else will sort out the problem (engineers and/or
their political successors)... the incentives probably won't be high
enough to make much difference.


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