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Schemes such as Cap and Share and Cap and Dividend aim not merely to bring down the emission of global warming gases into the atmosphere as fast as possible but to do so in a way that also promotes economic justice.

These are the sorts of schemes we envisage that a Global Climate Trust would be able to operate, given the cooperation of national governments in the operation of the scheme to each country. However it is not the purpose of this citizen's initative to set up a Global Climate Trust to argue the case for these schemes or to chose between them or look at other proposals such as Kyoto2. We want to concentrate on setting up an independent institution with a global remit, and the necessary resources, to make and implement good decisions.

A brief description of each of these schemes is sufficient for our purposes.

Under both Cap and Share and Cap and Dividend a Global Climate Trust would set a cap on the introduction of fossil fuels into the economy. Companies wishing to introduce the fuels into the economy of any country would be required (by the government of that country) to purchase a permit to do so and pay a full market price for the permit. This is referred to as an 'upstream cap' meaning that the permits are required for production of the fuels. The whole of the proceeds of sale of the permits are distributed to, or for the benefit of, all adults in the world equally.

Under Cap and Share, the version of the scheme developed by the Dublin based think tank Feasta, that result is achieved by the permits being issued to individuals. Each of us would actually receive a "fossil fuel authorisation permit" (PAP) conveying the right to our individual share of that year's global emissions. These would be valid for one year during which people would sell them to financial intermediaries who in turn would sell them on to coal, oil and gas producers. These producers would need to acquire enough permits to cover the carbon dioxide emissions from every tonne of fossil fuel they sold, with international inspectors checking to ensure that they did.

Under Cap and Dividend, the version of the scheme developed by Peter Barnes, author of Who Owns the Sky? and Capitalism 3.0, a similar result is achieved by the permits being auctioned, the proceeds of sale being deposited in a trust fund, part being distributed direct to individuals and the remainder being used, for example, for renewable energy projects or carbon sequestration.

Both schemes are being promoted for adoption by national governments but all concerned recognise that the global nature of the problem demands a global scheme. Kyoto2, the programme proposed by Oliver Tickell, adopts an identical approach to both Cap and Share and Cap and Dividend in calling for a global scheme and an upstream cap; and shares with Cap and Dividend the proposal to sell the permits to producers by way of auction. Under Kyoto2, the whole of the funds raised by the emissions would be applied in tackling both the causes and the consequences of climate change.

For our purposes, the main significance of the differences between these various proposals, and the wide range of choices to be made in implementing any of them, is that we believe that the resolution of these issues requires a new global architecture, designed for expeditious decision-making based on the latest science and the precautionary principle, and required by its constitution to promote economic justice and to apply well-established principles such as those contained in the Earth Charter, the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and the Biodiversity Convention and to operate with total transparency and strict accountability.

Hence our proposal that an independent global climate or atmosphere trust be established to take a lead on these issues. In the unprecedented situation we now face, what is needed is a body that is

  • established to look after the interests of humanity as a whole
  • capable of coping with the complexity of the issues and
  • able to stand up to powerful vested interests.