What are TEQs, also called Domestic Tradable Quotas (DTQs)? No, not boring (although they sound like they are). DTQs are quite easy to understandBasically, they're just a way to make things fair for everyone. Just suppose there's not enough of something everybody wants , people have two choices.

  1. Do nothing. Then rich and powerful people get what they want but most people on the planet get nothing.
  2. Governments of countries bring in a system called rationing.

What's rationing? If you and (let's say) four of your friends have just one big bag of 20 candies which has to last you for a month, what would you do? You can choose to share them out equally (I make that four each, right?)... or not share them if you're mean! Sharing the candies is rationing. But the smart thing about TEQs is that they're more than just rationing, so...

Suppose you don't really like candies. What then? What would you do?

You could swap them for something one of your friends has that they don't want. Perhaps your friend has a magazine you'd like to have. She doesn't want it but does want the candy. You both agree to swap and everyone's happy. You have what you want and she has what she wants. That is more or less what TEQs are.

There are a lot of people on our planet and all use some form of energy. Much of that energy comes from fuels like oil. Without these fuels, there'd be no cars, no airplanes, no heating, little electricity (and almost no wars!). But now, people want so much oil that soon there won't be enough to go round. At the moment, no one is doing anything about this so the price of oil goes up and up. This is the first choice I mentioned. Result? Fuel becomes so expensive that only rich people can afford to buy it.

But if governments wish to, they can start a trading system based on TEQs. That way, every person has a right to a certain amount of energy. If someone doesn't own a car, say, they won't need their monthly share of gasoline, so - this is the really smart part - they can sell it to someone who needs more than their quota . So each person gets what they want and the planet's limited energy supplies can be divided up fairly.

To do this, everyone would have something like a credit card or mobile phone top-up card with an account in a special sort of bank. So every time a person buys fuel, the amount they buy gets automatically taken off their quota. If you wanted more than your quota, you could buy a 'top-up' from this special bank. In fact what you're buying is a portion of quotas that other people didn't want and sold to the bank. It's all a little complicated but it could easily be done because it would latch in to electronic buying and selling - credit and debit cards - which are already in use all round the planet.


The really important reason for TEQs is that it makes it possible for governments to reduce the amount of fuel which is burned: a powerful way of doing something about global warming!

carrot and stick: kinder to use the carrotAnother great thing about TEQs is that people can choose to use alternative energy sources like electricity made from running water (hydro), wind and directly from the sun. This type of energy is renewable and so there's no need for quota rationing. So the more renewables people begin to use, the more the energy companies will be encouraged to increase the supply to meet the demand.

Want more detail? Try this article in Green Futures. Or this Wikipedia article on Personal Carbon Trading.