“Rationing, a future alternative to the carbon tax? “

Tribune. How to meet our climate commitments? Today, the objective of achieving “carbon neutrality” in 2050, set by the national low carbon strategy (SNBC), remains so abstract that we are far from giving ourselves the means to respect it. Neither technological innovations (improvement of engines, electric cars, etc.), nor incentives to use low-polluting means of transport (bicycle, public transport, etc.) are not successful. reduce CO emissions2 of the transport sector in France.

To reduce their volume, experts and political actors relied until 2018 on the gradual increase in the carbon tax. But it came up against the movement of “yellow vests” as well as the rejection of the citizens’ convention for the climate. Denounced as being inequitable, insofar as it weighs more heavily on the budgets of the poorest households, it is also inefficient because it has little effect on the lifestyles of the richest, yet the most CO emitters2.

Two advantages

Rationing, a future alternative to the carbon tax? This idea, supported for several years by activists and researchers (Pierre Calame, Francois Ruffin, Mathilde Szuba …), would present at least two advantages that the tax does not have: preventing the emission of more CO2 as decided at the national level, and give each French person the right to emit the same quantity of CO2, whatever their financial means.

A national agency would be in charge of allocating carbon quotas, and everyone would have a personal card to use when purchasing fuel and plane tickets.

Distributing the amount of carbon to be emitted in this way makes concrete the collective effort to be made to fight the climate crisis. The idea emerges in the debates, as we heard during the primary of environmentalists. While the discussions between supporters and detractors remain too largely at the level of principles, the University of Paris, under the direction of transport historian and engineer Arnaud Passalacqua, led for the Mobile lives forum a study that shows how it would be possible to ration travel and what would be the effects.

What scenario for an implementation of rationing? For their trips, each French would be assigned the same amount of CO2, converted into liters of fuel, without taking into account a few criteria such as the composition of the household, the place of residence, or the state of health. The effort would thus focus mainly on people whose lifestyle is the most emitting, in other words, the richest.

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