UK Independent: “Your home, sometime in the next decade. You click the heating on and receive an app notification telling you how much of your carbon allowance you’ve used today. Outside in the drive, your car’s fuel is linked to the same account. In the fridge, the New Zealand lamb you’ve bought has cost not just pounds and pence but a chunk of this monthly emissions budget too. Welcome to the world of personal carbon allowances – a concept that is increasingly gaining traction among experts as a possible response to the climate crisis. Each month, it would see every person or household in the country given a limited emissions quota to spend on heating, energy, travel, food and possibly consumer goods. Those who wish to expend more could buy top-ups. Those who require less would be able to sell their left-overs back to the ‘grid’.” … Now, in the wake of Cop26, many feel the concept – radical, perhaps, but demonstrably do-able – has never been riper for consideration. So, could this be our future? … “By establishing an equal monthly budget for everyone, you create a sense of a shared effort to address a shared problem,” says Fawcett.
By: Admin – Climate DepotDecember 2, 2021 1:01 PM
By Colin Drury
Advocates propose every person in UK be given a monthly carbon budget to balance between heating, travel, energy and food – but could something so radical ever work in reality, asks Colin Drury?
Your home, sometime in the next decade.
You click the heating on and receive an app notification telling you how much of your carbon allowance you’ve used today. Outside in the drive, your car’s fuel is linked to the same account. In the fridge, the New Zealand lamb you’ve bought has cost not just pounds and pence but a chunk of this monthly emissions budget too.
Welcome to the world of personal carbon allowances – a concept that is increasingly gaining traction among experts as a possible response to the climate crisis.
Each month, it would see every person or household in the country given a limited emissions quota to spend on heating, energy, travel, food and possibly consumer goods. Those who wish to expend more could buy top-ups. Those who require less would be able to sell their left-overs back to the ‘grid’.
Such a scheme, advocates reckon, would get more of us making the link between our own behaviour and global warming. Because consumers would seek greener energy, fuel and goods to stretch their allowance further, it could also help fundamentally restructure the economy in favour of low- or no-emission businesses.
“Individuals accounts for about 45 per cent of the UK’s carbon emissions,” says Dr Tina Fawcett, acting leader of Oxford University’s energy programme and a researcher who has spent almost 20 years studying this concept. “Personal budgets could be a relatively simple, straightforward tool for reducing that.”
Now, in the wake of Cop26, many feel the concept – radical, perhaps, but demonstrably do-able – has never been riper for consideration. So, could this be our future?
Personal carbon allowances are not, it should be said, a new idea.
Academia started exploring the possibilities of such schemes in the late 1990s, while between 2006 and 2007, the then environment secretary David Miliband commissioned two reports into their potential use. The concept, he enthused, had a “simplicity and beauty that would reward carbon thrift”. In those days it was not an app that was envisaged but a carbon credit card.
In the intervening years, a number of local authorities, including Oxford City Council, have explored if such schemes could work regionally. In the Finnish city of Lahti, a voluntary scheme for transport use has widely been praised. Crucially, amid rising concern about global warming, studies suggest there is anecdotal evidence of a growing public willingness to embrace personal limitations
“They two key issue for people tend to be: can it be implemented fairly and can it be implemented effectively,” says Fawcett. “If both those questions can be answered yes, the idea that people can then manage their own allowance in accordance with their own priorities does appear to have appeal.”
While there is no real agreement on how a UK-wide scheme would work, proposals tend to share certain common characteristics. it would be mandatory, it would cover energy and transport at the very least and possibly food and consumer goods; allowances would be tradable to reward lower use; and the quotas would, ultimately, be reduced over time to reach net zero.
Technologically, most agree the idea is achievable. It may be more difficult than creating, for example, a vaccine passport – but not hugely so.
This perhaps means the whole idea comes down to a question of political will.
For Fawcett and other supporters – which includes the Green Party – this should be a no-brainer. CPAs, they say, would drive our behaviour by appealing to both our self-interest – that is to say our pockets – and to our sense of community.
“By establishing an equal monthly budget for everyone, you create a sense of a shared effort to address a shared problem,” says Fawcett.
Yet others who are equally interested in reducing carbon use are less convinced that this is a suitable way forward.
“As a thought-experiment, it’s interesting but I think people have got carried away without necessarily thinking of all the practicalities,” says Simon Roberts, chief executive at the Bristol-based Centre for Sustainable Energy. “The problem is the effort required to deliver something like this creates almost insurmountable obstacles. There are a lot of other ways to achieve very similar outcomes – getting carbon down – that are more in line with what we already know how to do.”
His view is especially worth considering because he was one of the co-authors of the 2006 report for the Labour government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Back then, he concluded that CPAs came with numerous issues – and, in the 15 years since, he has not seen anything to convince him otherwise.
For critics like Roberts and Gross, far better ways to reduce carbon use would come through more systemic change: heat pumps and electric vehicle subsidies, an end to all fossil fuel expansion in the UK and – crucially – a carbon tax.
“This is something that could be done almost instantly,” says Roberts. “That’s where we should be putting in the hard yards. If you add a carbon consumption tax to consumer goods, for instance, then goods produced using lower carbon systems become cheaper, which encourages more people to buy them instead of their competitors. That would drive change without having to work out something that is politically difficult to swallow for so many people.”
So-called nudge policies could also be better employed, some reckon. Carbon counts on restaurant menus and rewards for using public transport are among a raft of ideas that have been put forward to influence people’s behaviour.
All of which suggests the debate over the relative merits of CPAs is only set to continue.
Covid/Climate: ‘Enamoured by lockdown, the puritans wish for a perma-pandemic in which no-one, nowhere, will be happy’
Ron Clutz: “This all sounds like one’s entire life would be recorded and regulated and monitored and meddled with by politicians who’ll punish or praise, all in pursuit of a vague utopia. … A world in which every consideration is now suffixed with ‘to save the planet.’” … “You can define the confidence of a culture by the pettiness of its laws.” … “We shouldn’t feign surprise. A stubborn one-third of any population harbors latent authoritarian tendencies. All they need is a little nudge and a wink from someone in a lab coat or a pinstripe suit.” …
“As Mencken wrote, they’re governed by the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy. … That’s the problem with do-gooding. There’s always more good to do. … What happens when we reach Net Zero and the weather doesn’t change? I can only guess… ‘That wasn’t real Net-Zero. Real Net-Zero has never been tried.’”
Journal Nature: COVID lockdowns are key to begin ‘personal carbon allowances’: ‘Restrictions on individuals…that were unthinkable only 1 year before’ have us ‘more prepared to accept tracking & limitations’ to ‘achieve a safer climate’
Nature Sustainability: Authors argue COVID restrictions, smart meters & tracking apps can be used as a stepping stone for a personal carbon allowance. – Published: 16 August 16, 2021
Journal article urges for “the need for a low-carbon recovery from the COVID-19 crisis” by using “personal carbon allowances (PCAs).” “A PCA scheme would entail all adults receiving an equal, tradable carbon allowance that reduces over time in line with national targets…encompassing individuals’ carbon emissions relating to travel, space heating, water heating and electricity.” … “Allowances were envisioned to be deducted from the personal budget with every payment for transport fuel, home-heating fuels and electricity bills. People in shortage would be able to purchase additional units in the personal carbon market from those with excess to sell. New, more ambitious PCA proposals include economy-wide emissions, encompassing food, services and consumption-related carbon emissions, for example.”
In particular, during the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions on individuals for the sake of public health, and forms of individual accountability and responsibility that were unthinkable only one year before, have been adopted by millions of people. People may be more prepared to accept the tracking and limitations related to PCAs to achieve a safer climate and the many other benefits (for example, reduced air pollution and improved public health) associated with addressing the climate crisis.Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Other lessons that could be drawn relate to the public acceptance in some countries of additional surveillance and control in exchange for greater safety…Recent studies show how COVID-19 contact-tracing apps were successfully implemented with mandatory schemes in several East Asian countries, such as China, Taiwan and South Korea…Recent advances in smarter home and transport options make it possible to easily track and manage a large share of individuals’ emissions. Evidence from the roll-out of smart meters and informative displays can be used to design feedback that is highly effective in engaging individuals to reduce their energy-related emissions…In terms of implementation platforms, while in the 2000s carbon allowances were expected to be managed by a card, in the 2020s high ownership would make smartphones the preferred option for accounting and trading (while providing alternative options for the few without smartphones).
Flashback: ALERT: German Climate Advisor ‘proposes creation of a CO2 budget for every person on planet!
‘It’s Orwellian. This is all about control of the individual and you begin to wonder whether this is what the green agenda has always been about’
The World Economic Forum praised Doconomy. “While many of us are aware that we need to reduce our carbon footprint, advice on doing so can seem nebulous and keeping a tab is difficult. DO monitors and cuts off spending, when we hit our carbon max.”
Climate Depot’s Marc Morano: “This CO2 monitoring credit card will begin as a ‘voluntary’ measure with no ‘mandate.’ But how long until this CO2 card will be mandated by big corporations in collusion with governments? Given how the climate activists are aping the COVID lockdowns, expect this credit card to be mandatory under a ‘climate emergency.’” See:Journal Nature: COVID lockdowns are key to begin ‘personal carbon allowances’: ‘Restrictions on individuals…that were unthinkable only 1 year before’ have us ‘more preparedto accept tracking & limitations’ to ‘achieve a safer climate’