A small Australian island to test personal cap and trade program

The stone ruins of the penal colony of Kingston on Norfolk Island seen from across Slaughter Bay, 03 February 2007. The ruins are now a major attraction for foreign tourists to an island which now is home to the world's first personal cap and trade program.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

JEREMY HOBSON: Well, far away from the global climate summit that's going on down in Cancun, residents of a small island are taking matters into their own hands. Australia's Norfolk Island is going to try out what researchers are calling the world's first personal carbon trading scheme.

Let's bring in one of the people involved down under. Professor Gary Egger of Southern Cross University joins me now from Sydney. Good morning.

GARY EGGER: Good morning Jeremy.

HOBSON: First tell us about Norfolk Island.

EGGER: Norfolk Island is about 1,600 kilometers off the main land. There's almost 2,000 permanent residents but there's up to 30,000 visitors per year who go out to see convict relics that were there when that was used as a penal settlement for Australia basically. And Australia was a penal sentiment in itself, so it's the worst the worst went out to Norfolk Island.

HOBSON: So the worst of the worst are about to start the world's first personal carbon trading scheme. How does that work? What does that mean?

EGGER: The idea is about 50 percent of carbon emissions come from individuals and households, so the personal cap and trading idea was that you give people a carbon card that's got a certain number of carbon units on it, which contract every year as you try and contract the amount of emissions. When they go and pay for their petrol, their fuel and maybe even their food, they normally pay money, but it comes off their carbon card so that at the end of a set period they can actually trade in what's left and make money back out of that.

HOBSON: So what's the fastest way to get your carbon emissions down in this plan? How would you get the most credits?

EGGER: One way of getting your carbon emissions down is by reducing gas use in motor vehicles. One of the things that we'll be looking at though is also food and we've trying to put a price on food in terms of its carbon cost. How must does it cost to get food to the island, rather than make their own food out on the island at a very low carbon cost.

HOBSON: Profession Egger I assume as with any carbon trading scheme that while some people are going to get money back because they reduced their carbon, some people are going to have to pay, right?

EGGER: Ultimately that may happen. They have twelve months to test it out without the punitives of the payment. And then there may be some payments for people who have to buy extra carbon units. Now the price would go up as the carbon units go down.

HOBSON: Gary Egger, professor of lifestyle medicine at Southern Cross University, thanks so much for talking to us and good luck with this experiment.

EGGER: Thank you Jeremy.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...