09 March 2009

should individuals be subjected to carbon caps?

Cap and trade is possibly one of the most criticized and the most effective method of emission-trading devised. I wonder if some such similar method should be introduced to target individual polluters. A lot of people in the public eye - they are usually called 'celebrities' have energy intensive lifestyles. Their carbon footprint is vastly huger than the average-Joe, even the average American Joe.

Shouldn't there be some sort of system where they compensate for their energy intensive way of living?
Regardless of whether the 'energy debt' incurred is due to a good cause or a bad cause, there needs to be some sort of pay-up imposed. I'm not entirely sure how this would work, but I propose in half-jest a carbon-police squad or CPS for short.

The easiest method to use to track these 'energy guzzlers' would be to track their air-miles which should be easy enough. Working backwards from here, a general energy audit can be obtained or estimated. The idea of course is not to penalize these people but to make them realize that even if one part of their life is energy intensive, they can work on greening out the other parts.
The vacuous, generally useless group of 'celebrities' who have too much money and are not entirely sure what to do with it are probably going to be most obvious target for the CPS. Think of them as the obvious tax-dodgers who are a piece of cake for the IRS to track down. In the interest of not naming names, I think Paris Hilton should be the one of the first to be seriously reprimanded.

Then there are those other celebrities who try very hard to convince us that they're part of the ├╝ber-trendy green club by spewing environmental speak and headlining Live Earth. But don’t be fooled by Mother Madonna. Take her recent Sticky & Sweet tour which earned $280 million. The 45-date tour, which included flights to 37 venues reportedly racked up more than 1, 635 tons of carbon pollution in travel alone--Madonna’s toll was 95 tons of carbon in just private jets, according to the Telegraph UK. The singer employed an on-the-road team of 250, including 12 seamstresses, 16 caterers, 9 wardrobe assistants, a personal trainer and masseuse. Let's not forget to mention her annual $100,000 buying sprees on bottled water... and she wears fur.

Football’s mega-star gets a red card on the green front. Becks’ earned yet another honour: the world’s largest carbon footprint, according to Carbon Trust, UK. Just Becks' lifestyle alone puts out a staggering 163 tons of carbon dioxide. In 2007 Becks flew 250,000 miles--jetting off to play soccer games worldwide and fulfill his advertising contracts. Add to that his wife’s seemingly daily travels to different shopping locales worldwide and you get one hefty carbon footprint. Besides their penchant for private planes and endless globe-trotting escapades, Becks and Posh also fuel multiple estates as well as 15 vehicles, including a Hummer, an Aston-Martin, 2 Ferraris and a Lamborghini.

So the super-rich including Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Elizabeth Hurley and even Tiger Woods are on the CPS list. Most of them on the list have a carbon-footprint equivalent to a small country! Even the greenest of them slip up and in celebville, a little slip up more often that not, includes flying out your Prius from Japan (Paul McCartney) or flying in your hairstylist from half-way across the world (Jennifer Aniston). There are of course also politicians to be added to this list starting with John McCain and Nicolas Sarkozy.
Unfortunately also, environmental campaigners like Al Gore and Dr. Pachauri who through his own admission says that traveling to his commitments makes him a high offender. This list would also include people who travel for business, sports-people, musicians etc etc etc

So how to separate the ones with high carbon footprints with good intentions and the ones who just use the green-spin for publicity?
The only solution is that regardless of intentions, every individual emitting beyond the national average should be asked to participate in some sort of carbon 'tax' scheme. Top choices would be carbon offsetting and/or reducing their footprint.

It's only fair to the rest of us who carry our own bags and switch off the lights every time we leave a room.

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