In an effort to meet Britain’s legally binding targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, the Environment Agency is set to impose a nationwide system of flatulence rationing, it emerged today.
Speaking to an audience of journalists, environmentalists and dieticians, agency chairman Lord Smith of Finsbury outlined how everyone will be receive an annual flatus ration. ‘People will be given a “methane account” with a unique number that they will have to submit before letting rip. They will then receive a statement showing their resultant “flatulence footprint”, and face financial penalties if this exceeds their allotted ration.’
Under the Climate Change Act, Britons are obliged to cut their emissions by 80 per cent on 1990 levels by 2050. According to the Environment Agency this means that annual emissions per person will have to fall from about 9 tonnes to only 2 tonnes, factoring in a further reduction for infants, the elderly and vegetarians.
The new system is designed to encourage people to think about the carbon cost of their food purchases and reward those who live frugally by avoiding such ‘high-footprint’ products as prunes, brussels sprouts, and sauerkraut. It also allows for people to sell on unused rations, which, according to Lord Smith, not only generates a sizeable profit but also allows for considerable flexibility. ‘If you’ve been on the beer the night before and consumed too much Lamb Jalfrezi, you can barter with, for example, a more clean-living, diet-conscious friend to offset your flatulence footprint – it’s a win-win situation.’
Despite fierce opposition from groups as diverse as the makers of Pot Noodle, the British parsnip growers society and John Prescott, flatulence rationing is set to be introduced shortly after the Christmas holidays – a move, say critics, calculated to gain maximum impact and extract considerable fines among the post blow-out populace. Others however are taking a more pragmatic approach, as evidenced by Heinz’s latest range of probiotic Baked Beans with added Japanese kelp and charcoal. In the meantime climate change activists have welcomed the new system, claiming that it has given their flagging campaign a much needed second wind.
(Written 10 Nov 2009)