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Destroy Carbon by Destroy Carbon

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The problem:There is a huge surplus right to emit in the EU ETS.The solution:Remove the oversupply of unused emission rights.The action:Buy



The problem: There is a huge surplus right to emit in the EU ETS

A higher price on carbon emissions would help accelerate the reduction of manmade emissions of greenhouse gases. 10 years ago, the EU started its effort to lift the price on carbon through the introduction of “quota” trading. The system, called the EU Emissions Trading System, issues a number of emission rights every year, and every year those companies that are included in the system are obliged to buy enough emission rights to cover their emissions (and hand in the rights along with accounts showing their actual emissions during that year).

Over the years the annual printing of new emissions rights has exceeded corporate needs, & hence the price of emissions rights has remained low (now less than E7 for the right to emit one ton of CO2 equiv). This low price compares poorly with the price of c.E40/t/ CO2 needed to make some of the many reduction strategies (electric cars, wind power) competitive with the dirtier fossil based solutions. The EU has worked hard to reduce the number of new emission rights, but this is difficult because of political resistance from the emitters and their national governments.

The issue of oversupply of emission rights has been worsened by the fact that unused emission rights can be carried over from year to year. As a result there are currently over 2000m unused emission rights (“quotas”)  in the system. Thus, although the issuance of new rights is more or less in balance with the needs of industry, the price of emissions rights remain low because of the accumulated stock of unused rights.

 The solution: Remove the oversupply of unused emission rights, by purchasing and retiring permanently from the system.

 If this was done at the current quota price the total cost would be less than E13 000m. If the European pop of c.503 million people split the bill, it would only amount to <E2pp. So we could destroy a huge amount of carbon for ever & push the price up in the market, driving further reductions.

 The action: Buy up the surplus

 If a large number of citizens started buying quotas and retiring them, the price of quotas would go up, and make further purchases more expensive. But since the goal of the campaign is to increase the quota price, this is not a problem, but rather the desired result. In fact the less money European citizens have to use to drive up the price, the better. The ideal would of course be that the mere threat of many people buying would keep the price at useful and high levels.

It is unlikely that 503m Europeans would join– even though this would be a simple way for them to contribute significantly towards solving the global climate problem. But it might be that 50m Europeans (or others) could be organized into a campaign where they each spent <E26 on buying and retiring emission rights.

 The Campaign: Bring It On

The mulit-award winning film maker of Last Call, Enrico Cerasuolo, wants to make a film about this campaign.




Which proposals are included in your plan and how do they fit together?

Explanation of the emissions scenario calculated in the Impact tab

What are the plan’s key benefits?

1. Reducing the number of rights to emit.

2. Pushing up the price on carbon. 

3. Raising awareness of the need to increase the price on carbon and the malfunctioning of the EU ETS.

What are the plan’s costs?

Not yet determined depending on the size and strength of the coalition. Much work could be done by volunteers with funding only required for a core Secretariat. So estimate funding of £120,000 pa for three years.

There are only negative side effects, only positive reinforcing effects.  

What are the key challenges to enacting this plan?

Building the coalition.

Getting initial momentum.

Once this is established a virtuous circle of purchasing and price rises will develop. 


The multi-award winning film maker of Last Call, Enrico Cerasuolo, wants to make a film about this campaign – knowing that if it succeeded it would be a major step in the history of the human response to the climate challenge and well worth a documentary made along with the actual developments.

Develop a coalition of the willing meeting. 

Ideas for how to make a movement: Run `Destroy Carbon Parties’, inventive collective actions, pile up and make into paper bricks to burn. Set up a You Tube video showing pictures of people burning, burying, soaking, ripping up emission rights in the streets and more visual images: in increasingly more spectacular places: mountain tops, rock concerts, night clubs, steps of multinationals, parliamentary offices – and uploading the pictures on social media. Options on how to make viral, photoes, video, band, see Ylvis : What Does the Fox say?

Music, bands, comedians, celebrities, summer festival season.


Related plans

Sandbag have detail on the case for action on their website, together with the online payment system set up. Sandbag take international credit cards. Sandbag then issue certificates that can be destroyed publically.  At the same time Sandbag secure the formal retirement of the emission rights in the official registers.

The Club of Rome could use its brand to push such a campaign.

UK Youth Climate Change Coalition are supportive.

The UNFCCC Groundswell team may support.

The UKs All Party Parliamentary Group on climate change may be supportive