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Personal carbon trading refers to proposed emissions trading schemes under which emissions credits are allocated to adult individuals on a (broadly) equal per capita basis, within national carbon budgets. Individuals then surrender these credits when buying fuel or electricity. Individuals wanting or needing to emit at a level above that permitted by their initial allocation would be able to engage in emissions trading and purchase additional credits. Conversely, those individuals who emit at a level below that permitted by their initial allocation have the opportunity to sell their surplus credits. Thus, individual trading under Personal Carbon Trading is similar to the trading of companies under EU ETS.
Personal carbon trading is sometimes confused with carbon offsetting due to the similar notion of paying for emissions allowances, but is a quite different concept designed to be mandatory and to guarantee that nations achieve their domestic carbon emissions targets (rather than attempting to do so via international trading or offsetting).
Current proposals include:
- Tradable Energy Quotas (TEQs) - devised by environmental writer, David Fleming, who first published the idea in 1996 under its former name Domestic Tradable Quotas (DTQs). The UK's Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research has been researching this scheme since 2003, and more recently the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce (RSA) through its project RSA CarbonLimited, part-funded by the UK government.
- Personal Carbon Allowances (PCAs) - described in the book “How we can save the planet” by Mayer Hillman and Tina Fawcett. Work on PCAs is ongoing at the Environmental Change Institute, Oxford, UK. The title "PCAs" or "PCA scheme" is sometimes used generically to refer to any proposed form of personal carbon trading.
- Tradable Personal Pollution Allowances - originally proposed in an article by Dr. Kirk Barrett in 1995 and applicable to any form of pollution, including carbon dioxide.
Individuals would most likely hold their emissions credits in electronic accounts, and would surrender them when they make carbon-related purchases, such as electricity, heating fuel and petroleum. PCAs could also require individuals to use credits for public transport. Tradable Energy Quotas would bring all other sectors of society (eg. Industry, Government) within the scope of a single scheme.
Individuals who exceed their allocation (i.e. those who want to use more emissions credits than they have been given) would be able to purchase additional credits from those who use less, so individuals that are under allocation would profit from their small carbon footprint.
Proponents of personal carbon trading claim that it is an equitable way of addressing climate change and peak oil, as it could guarantee that a national economy lives within its agreed carbon budget and ensure fair access to fuel and energy. They also believe it would increase ‘carbon literacy’ among the public, while encouraging more localised economies.
Personal carbon trading has been criticised for its possible complexity and high implementation costs. As yet, there is minimal reliable data on these issues. There is also the fear that personal "rationing" and trading of allowances will be politically unacceptable, especially if those allowances are used to buy from industries who are already passing-on costs from their participation in carbon levy or trading schemes such as the EU ETS.
Research in this area has shown that personal carbon trading would be a progressive policy instrument - redistributing money from the rich to the poor - as the rich use more energy than the poor, and so would need to buy allowances from them. This is in contrast to a direct carbon tax, under which all lower income people are worse off, prior to revenue redistribution.
Progress towards implementation Edit
There are no operating schemes currently in existence, although the United Kingdom Climate Change Bill will grant powers allowing the Government to introduce a personal carbon trading scheme without further primary legislation.
In May 2008 DEFRA completed a pre-feasibility study into TEQs, with the headline finding that “personal carbon trading has potential to engage individuals in taking action to combat climate change, but is essentially ahead of its time and expected costs for implementation are high”. Based on this DEFRA announced that “the Government remains interested in the concept of personal carbon trading and, although it will not be continuing its research programme at this stage, it will monitor the wealth of research focusing on this area and may introduce personal carbon trading if the value of carbon savings and cost implications change".
Later that same month the UK Parliament Environmental Audit Committee produced their report on the subject, which concluded that ”personal carbon trading could be essential in helping to reduce our national carbon footprint" and rebuked the Government for delaying a full feasibility study, stating that "although we commend the Government for its intention to maintain engagement in academic work on the topic, we urge it to undertake a stronger role, leading and shaping debate and coordinating research".
Related emissions reduction proposals and initiatives Edit
- Carbon Rationing Action Groups - groups in the UK and US that voluntarily cap their greenhouse gas emissions
- "Icecaps" - devised by George Monbiot in his book Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning.
Carbon rationing is considered in the new feature film The Age of Stupid, set for release in February 2009.
- ↑ Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research
- ↑ RSA CarbonLimited Partners and Supporters
- ↑ Environmental Change Institute (ECI) - Oxford University
- ↑ Personal Pollution Allowance Proposal:
- ↑ David Fleming (2007), Energy and the Common Purpose
- ↑ Simon Dresner and Paul Ekins, Policy Studies Institute, The Distributional Impacts of Economic Instruments to Limit Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Transport
- ↑ Joshua Thumim and Vicki White, Centre for Sustainable Energy (2008). Distributional Impacts of Personal Carbon Trading: A report to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Defra, London
- ↑ DEFRA press release - 8th May 2008
- ↑ Environmental Audit Committee - Personal Carbon Trading: Fifth Report of Session 2007–08
- ↑ Home | CRAG
- Carbon Trading for Individuals? - article (Sep 2005) plus online forum at the website of the UK Sustainable Development Commission
- Description of the RSA project on personal carbon trading - CarbonLimited
- RSA CarbonLimited website
- RSA Journal article What we must do to save the planet (June 2006)
- RSA CarbonLimited report supporting implementation of a UK Personal Carbon Trading scheme from 2013 (Sept 2007)
- Paragragh 2.84 of UK government's Energy Review (11 July 2006) announces study looking at personal carbon trading and other approaches to mobilising individuals
- Government to consider personal carbon allowances - press release by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (19 July, 2006)
- Speech by David Miliband (19 July 2006) to the Audit Commission in which he mentions personal carbon trading
- David Miliband's blog on personal carbon trading (19 July 2006) with over 80 comments from members of the public
- Commentary: Your Own Personal Carbon Credits - Berkeley Daily Planet (1 Sep 2006)
- UK Government-commissioned scoping study, by the Centre for Sustainable Energy (Nov 2006)
- Zero Carbon Britain Report outlining how Britain could become carbon neutral by 2027, built around a framework of TEQs nationally and Contraction and Convergence internationally - Centre for Alternative Technology (July 2007)
- The UK Parliament Environmental Audit Committee's report into personal carbon trading (May 2008)
Tradable Energy Quotas (AKA Domestic Tradable Quotas) Edit
- David Fleming's website on Tradable Energy Quotas (including his free guide to TEQs, downloadable as a PDF)
- Domestic Tradable Quotas (Climate Change) Bill - a Private Members Bill submitted to the UK Parliament in 2004
- Tyndall Centre summary of DTQ research (2005)
- Tyndall Technical Report 39 - a detailed report on DTQs (December 2005)
- Domestic Tradable Quotas: Fancy buying and selling your dirty habits? - Financial Times (9 Oct 2006)
- David Boyle article looking back from 2021 to the introduction of TEQs in 2011 - All to gain on the carbon diet? (Feb 2006)
- UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pre-feasibility study into TEQs (May 2008)
- Official responses to the pre-feasibility study by i) David Fleming's Lean Economy Connection and ii) the Centre for Sustainable Energy (both May 2008).