Technological advances and historically unprecedented income inequalities have raised living standards while enabling a new global elite to enjoy lifestyles more lavish in energy consumption and environmental impact than those enjoyed by any aristocracy in the past. These lifestyles, hatched in the 20th century and continued in the 21st, show disregard for ecological costs associated with global networks, alongside a culture of wasteful consumption.
So, if our current tax systems don’t penalise damage to the planet and can be side-stepped by the nomadic, hybrid lifestyles unlocked by technology, one solution could be to shift from disconnected national taxation systems to a collaborative global regime, whereby individuals are charged on the basis of their personal energy footprint. Those eating and living locally, rarely travelling on airplanes, and using recycled or multi-purpose materials would be taxed less than high-living internationals fuelling their lifestyle with imported products and jet travel. Equally, those whose job requires frequent travel and a high-energy footprint would pass the tax bill on to their employers, compelling companies to factor ecological impact into their bottom line.