There are two big reasons why no UK government will introduce personal carbon accounts. The first is the cost and complexity of setting them up. The second is the impossibility of doing them in a single country on a fair basis.
The initial response to the idea has concentrated on the enormous amount of computing and form filling there would need to be to capture everyoneâ€™s travel, heating, lighting and other uses of energy. It would make the ID computer look modest, cheap and not so intrusive. Government inspectors would need to watch over everyoneâ€™s habits and try to find a way of recording just about everything we do.
Equally implausible is the idea that this could be done in a single country, in the age of overseas travel and the internet. Presumably if I wanted the carbon debits of my shopping to be invisible to the UK authorities I could slip across to Calais to buy what I needed, or order it from abroad on the internet. If I wanted to undertake a round the world trip I could book a plane to Schipol under the carbon credits scheme in the UK, and then book the rest of the travel in Holland out of sight of the UK government.
To be realistic a scheme would need to be very detailed about our share in collective expenditure of energy. The regular fair goer would presumably have to spend carbon credits everytime he went on the big dipper. The shopaholic would presumably have to pay for their regular use of the shopsâ€™ heating and lighting, and the party animal might be asked to spare a crumb from their carbon account to help out the host with his electricity bill.
The mind boggles that anyone could think this kind of thing might be possible technically, let alone that you could sell it to an electorate punch drunk on the forms, rules and taxes already imposed. The way to encourage people to be greener is to give them simple rewards for good behaviour, as we did with lower fuel tax on lead free petrol.