Personal carbon trading

From Wikipedia - Reading time: 15 min

Carbon rationing, as a means of reducing CO2 emissions to contain climate change, could take any of several forms.[1] One of them, personal carbon trading, is the generic term for a number of proposed carbon emissions trading schemes under which emissions credits would be allocated to adult individuals on a (broadly) equal per capita basis, within national carbon budgets.[2] 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 purchase additional credits in the personal carbon market from those using less, creating a profit for those individuals who emit at a level below that permitted by their initial allocation.[3]

Some forms of personal carbon trading (carbon rationing) could be an effective component of climate change mitigation, with the economic recovery of COVID-19 and new technical capacity having opened a favorable window of opportunity for initial test runs of such in appropriate regions, while many questions remain largely unaddressed.[4][5][6] However, carbon rationing could have a larger effect on poorer households as "people in the low-income groups may have an above-average energy use, because they live in inefficient homes".[7]


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,[8] and more recently the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce (RSA) through its CarbonLimited project.[9] The system has been the subject of a UK government funded feasibility study in 2008,[10][11] an All Party Parliamentary Group report in 2011,[12] and a European Commission debate in 2018.[13]
  • 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,[14] 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[15] and applicable to any form of pollution, including carbon dioxide.
  • End-user Emissions Trading – preliminary proposal in an article by Suryapratim Roy and Edwin Woerdman which analyses some of the legal and policy nuances of a carbon emissions trading scheme for individuals, for instance on an EU-wide scale.[16]

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 (e.g. 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. There are two types of carbon credits, Certified Emission Reduction credits EUAs and CERs and Verified Carbon Credits.[17]

Survey results from 2022 - 2023 show that Southern Europeans are more favourable to carbon rationing than people in Northern Europe.[18]

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.[19] For example, in the UK, the city of Manchester claims it is "the first city to undertake to empower all its citizens with carbon literacy."[20]

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,[21] 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.[citation needed]

Research in this area[22][23] 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.

Research and development[edit]

In 2021, a study published in Nature Sustainability concluded that personal carbon allowances (PCAs) could be a component of climate change mitigation. They find that the economic recovery from COVID-19 and novel digital technology capacities open a window of opportunity for first trial implementations in climate-conscious technologically advanced countries. PCAs would consist of – e.g. monetary – credit-feedbacks and decreasing default levels – aligned with calculated regional maximum emissions for emission-target achievement – of per capita emissions allowances. The researchers find that recent advances in machine learning technology and "smarter home and transport options make it possible to easily track and manage a large share of individuals' emissions" and that feedback effective in engaging individuals to reduce their energy-related emissions and relevant new personalized apps could be designed.[24][25][26] Issues may include privacy,[26] the evaluation of emissions from individuals that e.g. co-run multinational companies, the evaluation of offsets by inducing reductions of emissions by others or overall, accuracy of and requirements for the design of mechanisms to assess environmental impacts of product-, service-, labor- and lifestyle-decisions, requirements for the design and maintenance of anonymized accurate data, international enforcement, scope and loopholes of evaluations, adoption by major emitters in a landscape of globalized economic competition, public acceptance[26][27] and the availability and prices of products and services.[additional citation(s) needed]

Progress towards implementation[edit]

Norfolk Island is trialling the world's first personal carbon trading programme, starting in 2011.[28][29]

The Climate Change Act 2008 also grants powers allowing the UK Government to introduce a personal carbon trading scheme without further primary legislation.[30]

In May 2008 DEFRA completed a 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 (UK) 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".[31]

Later that same month the UK Parliament's 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".[32]

Analysts have noted that to implement any effective carbon rationing system, "the government must convince the public that rationing levels are fair, that the system is administered transparently and fairly, and that evaders are few in number, likely to be detected and liable to stiff penalties if found guilty."[33]

A 2010 paper into attitudes towards personal carbon trading suggests a general ambivalence, however the researchers noted that "In fact, moderate support was the commonest view".[34] A four-week consumer trial on Personal Carbon Allowances carried out in London in June 2011 reported that "Participants engaged with the personal carbon allowance concept with enthusiasm".[35]

In January 2011, the UK's All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil published a report into TEQs, garnering significant media coverage.[36] This report highlights the significant research from a number of research centres produced since the Government's feasibility study, and argues that these studies demonstrate the benefits of to be far greater than was acknowledged in the Government's research. Accordingly, it urged them to move quickly to fund moves towards potential implementation in the near future.[37] A 2018 European Commission debate on TEQs also concluded positively, but failed to create significant momentum towards implementation.[13]

Related emissions reduction proposals and initiatives[edit]

  • Carbon Rationing Action Groups[38][39] – 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 feature film The Age of Stupid,[40] released in February 2009.[41]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cox, Stan (2013). "Any way you slice it: The past, present and future of rationing". New Press Books.
  2. ^ ""An introduction to personal carbon trading", Climate Policy journal, Volume 10, Number 4, Sept 2010, pp. 329-338". Archived from the original on 13 July 2011. Retrieved 23 January 2011.
  3. ^ How would TEQs work?, on
  4. ^ "Analysis | We Need Cap-and-Trade For Individuals As Well As Companies". Washington Post. Retrieved 21 September 2021.
  5. ^ "Pandemic and digitalization set stage for revival of a cast-off idea: Personal carbon allowances".
  6. ^ Fuso Nerini, Francesco; Fawcett, Tina; Parag, Yael; Ekins, Paul (16 August 2021). "Personal carbon allowances revisited". Nature Sustainability. 4 (12): 1025–1031. Bibcode:2021NatSu...4.1025F. doi:10.1038/s41893-021-00756-w. ISSN 2398-9629.
  7. ^ Swain, Frank. "Can rationing carbon help fight climate change?". BBC. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  8. ^ Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research
  9. ^ "RSA CarbonLimited Partners and Supporters". Archived from the original on 19 March 2008. Retrieved 1 April 2008.
  10. ^ UK Government feasibility study into TEQs
  11. ^ The reports from the UK government feasibility study can be downloaded in full here
  12. ^ All Party Parliamentary report into TEQs
  13. ^ a b Molly Scott Cato MEP chairs European Commission debate on TEQs, 19 September 2018
  14. ^ Environmental Change Institute (ECI) – Oxford University
  15. ^ Personal Pollution Allowance Proposal:
  16. ^ End-user Emissions Trading
  17. ^ Types of Carbon Credits
  18. ^ Bank, European Investment (5 June 2023). The EIB Climate Survey: Government action, personal choices and the green transition. European Investment Bank. ISBN 978-92-861-5535-2.
  19. ^ David Fleming (2007), Energy and the Common Purpose, 3rd edition
  20. ^ "Home Page". Carbon Literacy Project. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  21. ^ Parag, Yael; Eyre, Nick (2010). "Barriers for Personal Carbon Trading in the UK policy arena". Climate Policy. 10 (4): 353–368. doi:10.3763/cpol.2009.0009. S2CID 62882992.
  22. ^ The Distributional Impacts of Economic Instruments to Limit Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Transport, Simon Dresner and Paul Ekins, Policy Studies Institute
  23. ^ 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 Archived 26 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ "Analysis | We Need Cap-and-Trade For Individuals As Well As Companies". Washington Post. Retrieved 21 September 2021.
  25. ^ "Pandemic and digitalization set stage for revival of a cast-off idea: Personal carbon allowances".
  26. ^ a b c Fuso Nerini, Francesco; Fawcett, Tina; Parag, Yael; Ekins, Paul (16 August 2021). "Personal carbon allowances revisited". Nature Sustainability. 4 (12): 1025–1031. Bibcode:2021NatSu...4.1025F. doi:10.1038/s41893-021-00756-w. ISSN 2398-9629.
  27. ^ Fawcett, Tina (1 November 2010). "Personal carbon trading: A policy ahead of its time?". Energy Policy. 38 (11): 6868–6876. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2010.07.001. ISSN 0301-4215.
  28. ^ Media release: Norfolk Island to trial world first Personal Carbon Trading program - 27/10/2010
  29. ^ "Norfolk Island Carbon/Health Evaluation (NICHE) website". Archived from the original on 28 December 2012. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
  30. ^ "What is the progress towards seeing TEQs implemented in the UK?", from TEQs website - accessed 23 Jan 2011
  31. ^ DEFRA press release - 8 May 2008 Archived 18 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  32. ^ Environmental Audit Committee - Personal Carbon Trading: Fifth Report of Session 2007–08
  33. ^ Roodhouse, Mark (March 2007). "Rationing returns: a solution to global warming?". History & Policy. United Kingdom. Retrieved 9 December 2010.
  34. ^ Public attitudes to personal carbon allowances: findings from a mixed-method study
  35. ^ "Personal Carbon Allowances White Paper". United Kingdom: Carbon Trust Advisory and The Coca-Cola Company. April 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
  36. ^ Media coverage of All Party Parliamentary report into TEQs, from, accessed 23 Jan 2011
  37. ^ All Party Parliamentary report into TEQs
  38. ^ Home | CRAGs Archived 30 November 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  39. ^ Howell, Rachel A. (2012). "Living with a carbon allowance: The experiences of Carbon Rationing Action Groups and implications for policy" (PDF). Energy Policy. 41: 250–258. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2011.10.044.
  40. ^ Brendan Barrett, "Better than Star Wars: The Age of Stupid", 25 September 2009
  41. ^ Release dates for The Age of Stupid - IMDb

External links[edit]


TEQs (Tradable Energy Quotas) – formerly known as Domestic Tradable Quotas[edit]

Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 | Source:
70 views | Status: cached on June 17 2024 21:38:14
Download as ZWI file EncycloReader is supported by the EncyclosphereKSF