Fri, Oct 29, 2010 - Page 5 News List

Tiny Pacific island to initiate personal pollution scheme

AFP, SYDNEY

An obscure Pacific island is set to trial a world-first scheme where residents are offered cash incentives to follow a healthy, low--pollution lifestyle, researchers said.

Australia’s isolated Norfolk Island, once a tough British prison colony, is an ideal test-bed for the novel project as the world grasps for solutions to the twin problems of global warming and obesity, they said.

The island’s 2,000 residents will be given a “carbon credit card” to present when they pay for power, gasoline and food. Frugal users can trade leftover credits for cash, while those who over-consume will have to buy extra units.

“We have an island that is 1,700km off the [Australian] mainland, it is fully self-contained and you can measure everything that goes in and out,” lead researcher Garry Egger said.

He said residents of self--governing Norfolk, east of Brisbane and north of New Zealand, lived a similar lifestyle to other Australians, who are the world’s biggest per capita polluters and among its most obese.

Use of electricity and gasoline would be penalized along with imports of processed foods from Australia, encouraging people to walk and cycle more, use less power and eat local produce, Egger said.

The voluntary scheme is funded by a grant from the Australian Research Council. Egger, from Southern Cross University (SCU) near Brisbane, said he was confident most residents would take part in the three-year study.

“If they’re frugal and don’t buy a lot of petrol or power or fatty foods, then they can actually have units to spare at the end of a set time period so that they can cash those in at the bank and make money from them,” he said.

Those who weren’t careful with their energy and diet would have to buy extra units. The island’s 30,000 annual tourists would also receive a carbon card on arrival with the number of credits tailored to the length of their stay.

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