Is the carbon account liberticide?

April 2023

Association Escape Jobs pour l’Emploi sans Carbone (EJ)

The answer to this question leads to another one: do we want to save life or not? If so, the carbon account can be a hope and a motivating project for all.

The carbon account advocates an equal sharing of the « right to emit » greenhouse gases (GHG). In this sense, it sets limits to massive consumption which has no other brake than financial resources, thus making it excessively unequal. But the carbon account remains the least restrictive system in comparison with the major loss of freedom that will result from our inaction in the face of climate disruption and the loss of biodiversity, which will probably lead to authoritarian measures that will have to be taken brutally to save living beings (and, in this case, it will be truly liberticide !)

The individual carbon account

Some people feel that the individual carbon account system is an impediment to their freedom, a liberticide system because it imposes to reduce the carbon footprint of France by 6% each year. The discussion is open but, at the very least, the most relevant question would be: is it more or less liberticide than other systems?

For on the other hand, thousands of laws and rules constrain us today in order to allow us to live together relatively harmoniously. But, curiously, concerning this deadly scourge that is CO2, no law, no rule governs the rate of emission by consumers on a daily basis.

The carbon account would only correct this lack in the same way that our societies deprive us of « freedoms » such as stealing, drinking without measuring and then driving, smoking without respecting non-smokers, driving without wearing a seatbelt, driving at deadly speeds, killing one’s neighbor or spouse, hunting at certain times of the year, etc.!

Let’s not be afraid to say that the carbon account sets up a form of rationing. Is it avoidable? Can we do otherwise when we know that the earth can absorb 10 to 15 billion tons of CO2 equivalent/year, i.e. what can be absorbed by forests and oceans (if we spare them), when we humans produce 50 Gt/year at present.

The annual « right » to emit is therefore 10 to 15 Gt. And we will have to share this «  cake  » equitably between 7 and soon 10 billion inhabitants, i.e. we will have to reduce our emissions to 1 to 2 t/year/person on average (in France, the average is today between 8 and 9t/year/person) unless we accept a massive disappearance of living organisms, including humans of course. If some events, countries or individuals capture a significant part of it, the others will have to manage with the rest…

Beyond the individual arbitrations to be made, it is obvious that we will have to set up a world governance to make collective arbitrations allowing humanity to survive.

Some say that technology will find solutions (and many tracks are currently being studied, such as capture and burial, hydrogen-powered airplanes, etc.) to allow us to live « as before », but 1- it is not certain, 2- we do not know, to this day, the side effects of certain solutions, 3 - beware of the rebound effect, 4 - it will obviously be too late.

We must therefore count, ration and share now while waiting for other solutions.

Moreover, if the carbon account imposes a limit in terms of the volume of CO2 that can be consumed over a year (a limit that can be adapted by the possibility of buying back kg of CO2 if necessary within the limit of the annual national quota), it does not impose a ban in terms of the type of consumption; no governmental injunctions on meat, airplanes or other. {It is up to the citizen / consumer to make the choices he or she wishes to make within the limits of the allocated quota, which is the opposite of a liberticidal system.

Of course, it will probably be more difficult and more expensive each year to, for example, combine international flights, daily meat consumption and drive thousands of kilometers in a thermal car. It will be necessary to choose, to spread out one’s desires over time, to organize oneself differently, to live differently. But this difficulty only concerns a very small part of the French population, since 65% of them emit less than the average of 9t CO2e/year, and the poorest 50% emit an average of 5t according to the analysis of the WID chaired by Lucas Chancel.

If this is what some people call liberticide, what will we say when repeated heat waves forbid us to stay outdoors between 9am and 10pm, when water use will only be allowed at certain times of the day, when food will be scarce, when travel will be almost forbidden, when swimming will be rationed, etc.?

Isn’t it better to accept, collectively and in time, to put in place regulatory mechanisms such as the carbon account, which is infinitely less restrictive than all that has just been mentioned ?

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