Tim Worstall makes an interesting point today about Caroline Lucas's failure to understand that the whole purpose of tradeable emissions permits is that it allows those who find it difficult to reduce their emissions to pay those who find it easier to do it on their behalf.
That is: if it's going to cost me £100 to reduce my emissions by some amount but somebody else can do it for a tenner (and they wouldn't otherwise have done it), then surely it's better for me to pay them instead? We get the same reduction and I'm left with some money to invest back into my business or whatever!
The problem is that the environmentalists just see this as me shirking my responsibility and getting away without paying the "full cost" of my evil behaviour.
This is, of course, ludicrous nonsense but the argument seems to appeal to some people.
So why not turn the argument around to help them understand?
Rather than focus on the cost of a unit emission reduction, why not focus on how far emissions can be reduced for a unit cost?
Going back to my example: for £100, I could reduce my emissions by some amount if I do it myself. Or, I could pay my cleverer friend £100 and they could reduce their emissions by ten times as much - for the same price!
Now, I'm clearly not suggesting people should be forced to buy permits for emissions they're not making (which would be the consequence of forcing me to actually pay that £100 to my friend) but surely it's obvious that the system that allows more to be done with less is the preferable one.