A WORLD-FIRST trial of a personal carbon trading scheme that will also target obesity, is to be conducted by Southern Cross University on Norfolk Island.
The three-year project will involve giving everyone on the island a card loaded with carbon units, according to the man leading it, Garry Egger.
“Then every time they go and pay for their petrol or their power – and from the second year their food – it will not only be paid for in money but it will also come off the carbon units they are given for free at the start of the program,” Professor Egger said.
If people are thrifty and don’t buy a lot of petrol or power or fatty foods, they will have units to spare, which they can cash in at a bank.
“If they aren’t frugal and produce a lot of carbon and consume unhealthy foods, then every year they will have to buy extra units,” he said.
Professor Egger said the main goals were to test the effectiveness of a personal carbon trading scheme, cut per capita carbon emissions and reduce obesity and obesity-linked behaviours.
The SCU project is the first of its kind to be held in a “closed system” island environment and has been made possible by a $390,000 Linkage Projects grant by the Australian Research Council.
It was “fantastic” that the council recognised the importance of bringing together the whole aspect of climate change and health, he said.
“This is a project for looking at reducing climate change and obesity in the one hit.”
The scheme, which was initially developed at Oxford University in the UK, recognised that obesity and climate change “have similar drivers, so we are tackling two of the world’s biggest problems at the moment with the one project”, Professor Egger said.
The Oxford people had not been able to develop a successful methodology for testing the idea, he said, but the Australian project team had been able to move the idea forward by identifying Norfolk Island as a test location.
“The reason it is so suitable is you have an isolated community with a small population living a similar lifestyle to people on mainland Australia.
“You can measure everything that goes in and out.”
If the trial was a success, it could be scaled up to a country level and ultimately to a world level, Professor Egger said.
This is a project for looking at reducing climate change and obesity in the one hit
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