TEQs & Official Recognition

For discussion of Tradeable Energy Quotas (TEQs). See http://www.teqs.net for more.

Moderator: Peak Moderation

Post Reply
Posts: 184
Joined: Sat Oct 20, 2007 12:42 pm
Location: London

TEQs & Official Recognition

Post by jo »

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2 ... allowances

Trial produces encouraging results for backers of personal carbon budgets

Royal Society forecasts scheme to encourage individuals to cut their global warming emissions could be in place in just over a decade

Juliette Jowit
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 3 February 2009 09.03 GMT

Personal carbon allowances set a limit on the emissions that can be produced by an individual's activities. Photograph: PR

Every person in the UK could have their own carbon budget in just over a decade to encourage individuals to cut their global warming emissions, the head of the most comprehensive trial of the idea has predicted.

Personal carbon allowances set a limit on the emissions that can be produced by an individual's activities, such as driving and heating homes. People could switch to greener products and services or simply do without to meet their allowances. The idea also allows people to sell credits if they do not use the full limit or buy credits if they go over the budget through indulging in highly polluting activities such as flying or simply consuming too much.

The idea has been promoted for years by visionary environmentalists as a way of reducing emissions. But it was given credibility by the support of David Miliband, the former environment and now foreign secretary, and the launch of a three-year study by the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA). However, critics fear an "Orwellian" future in which every transaction would be watched and judged.

A report into the project has concluded that trading allowances – allowing people who cut emissions to sell their credits to those with more polluting lifestyles – is politically too controversial in the short term.

But Matt Prescott, the RSA's project director, said important elements of the idea could work, including the fundamental principal of giving every person in the country a carbon budget.

Initially budgets would probably cover emissions from key areas such as buildings and transport, but could be extended to cover "all goods and services" as technology developed, he said.

Last year, a report by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) effectively dismissed personal carbon trading after consultants estimated it would cost £700m-2bn to set up and £1bn-2bn a year to run, therefore "outweighing by many times" any benefits in changing public behaviour.

But the RSA report says budgets could be managed through existing technology – such as bank cards, loyalty and fuel cards or company expense accounts – for much less than Defra's consultants, Accenture, calculated for a new system.

Also, instead of individual trading, credits could be bought and sold by groups such as local authorities or employers, who were in a better position to make cuts, for example by investing in clean energy or public transport, with the benefits passed on through incentives such as council tax rebates or extra holiday, said Prescott.

Such a scheme would be technically feasible by 2013 but he predicted 2020 was a more likely date for its introduction when technology had developed to make it easier to cut emissions. A further trial is to be launched with volunteer local authorities.

"Some people will adopt greener living because they think it's the right thing to do, but the bulk of the population need to feel that they are part of a movement," said Prescott. "The government have to become bolder in getting more directly involved in behaviour change."

The Department for Energy and Climate Change welcomed the RSA study but warned of the challenges that still need to be tackled: "As our own studies found, personal carbon trading, whilst having a lot of potential, raises a number of challenges which need to be tackled. We welcome the further analysis the RSA have undertaken and take an active interest in the ongoing academic work in this area, which we hope in due course will lay the foundations for further policy development."

The RSA's CarbonLimited study was launched in 2006. Hundreds of individuals joined an open market scheme and 27 voluntary groups registered to use the specially developed CarbonDAQ trading system.

The report, A Persuasive Climate, publishes results from the three most advanced trials: one involved a group of students; another was set up by council workers in the London borough of Lewisham; and the third was an experiment run by technology specialists Atos Consulting using Nectar loyalty cards to monitor the fuel use of 100 volunteer drivers.

Although none of the trials offered money as a financial incentive to cut emissions, the 140 volunteers in those three groups reduced emissions by just under 5% on average. Using a "currency" to trade credits would encourage more people to make cuts and could fund further reductions, such as investment in clean electricity generation, adds the report.

The trial results compare to two theoretical studies which suggest individuals could cut their emissions by up to 20%, but would need external help such as better public transport to go further than that.

However, the trials revealed some problems:

• Contrary to hopes that carbon trading could be progressive by enabling people with less money to spend on emitting carbon to sell their credits, the report says people with lower incomes or savings had less money to spend on improvements to cut emissions such home efficiency or newer, less polluting cars.

• The report dashes hopes that markets would help find the cheapest ways of cutting emissions because, it says, people often do not know the full costs and benefits of choices, and individuals "do not act rationally and make optimal decisions consistently".

• Even if individuals cut their emissions by one fifth - equivalent to one tonne of carbon dioxide - it might not be worth the cost in time and effort because the market only valued that tonne at £25-50, says the report.

• And those who had higher emissions were discouraged rather than inspired to cut their carbon footprint, it adds.

Questions also remain about what would happen if the market was extended, including what emissions to measure, and how to stop "free riders" from making no effort but still getting the benefits of rewards to a group.

The trials were "very basic", but the 5% cuts were "an encouraging start", said Prescott. "If we wanted to add incentives on top, arguably you could achieve even higher results."

The Local Government Information Unit thinktank has taken over CarbonDAQ and hopes to launch a trial of community carbon trading among volunteer local authorities this year. The authorities could offer incentives to groups such as residents to reduce emissions in return for giving them votes on how to spend community funds or giving council tax discounts. Longer term, there could also be national trading between councils on behalf of local groups, said Gemma Roberts, one of the thinktank's policy analysts.

Last year, the environmental audit committee of MPs said carbon trading "might be the kind of radical measure needed to bring about behaviour change" and "has the potential to drive greater emissions reductions than green taxation".

Another study by the Institute of Public Policy Research thinktank showed it was the most popular of three choices to tackle global warming, ahead of carbon taxes and a cap on emissions from power generators.
Posts: 184
Joined: Sat Oct 20, 2007 12:42 pm
Location: London

Lucy Siegle weighs in with her threepenceworth

Post by jo »

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/e ... al-trading

Get out your carbon ration books

The scheme to reduce emissions – championed by David Miliband – is gaining new support

The personal carbon budget (aka carbon ratioining) is the crazy notion that refuses to go away.

To be honest, I had assumed that the idea - giving everyone in the country an equal share of carbon credits to be spent judiciously on heating, transport and goods and then allowing the carbon thrifty to sell their surplus - had been mothballed since it lost its patron saint, David Miliband, to foreign affairs.

I now see this was an error. Juliette Jowitt's piece this week charts developments since those heady days of explicit government support. Leading proponent, the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), which has developed CarbonDAQ (a virtual carbon trading site for personal allowances) reckons we're on course for individual carbon budgets in 10 years' time.

Yes, within a decade you could be making space in your wallet for another Nectar-style reward card that will clock every purchase, flight and lightbulb you buy and deduct them from your given carbon allowance. Or perhaps the chip will just be implanted in your forehead so you can run that through a head-height checkout in the fulfilment of the Orwellian nightmare that detractors envision.

Spookily, this is the second time within a week that I've found myself being reacquainted with the opportunity/spectre (which is it?) of personal carbon trading. It came up during a discussion called The Politics of Limits at the launch of the Fabian Society's pamphlet The Green Crunch last week.

The author, Sir John Harman, the former head of the the Environment Agency, is not a fan. "The interest that the government is showing in personal carbon allowances is worrying," he asserts at the opening of The Green Crunch.

Presumably he would be very anxious indeed were he to venture down to the RSA and the Local Government Information Unit thinktank who are again promoting it.

I'm not sure I buy the bad, mad and dangerous argument. Yes, it would be good to have what Harman calls a more "liberal version of collective action" as a solution to pressing environmental and social justice problems. But achieving this has many hurdles in its way, even though a lot of people find personal carbon trading an attractive option. It is seen as a potentially revolutionary way to cut carbon which can also redistribute wealth.

Carbon rationing is horribly complex. In January 2007, I came up with the bright idea of doing a carbon diet for the Observer focusing on the things you could do to cut personal emissions. Annoyingly, this was just weeks before Chris Goodall's useful book was published so I spent weeks sobbing over my calculator and reports full of conflicting estimates of emissions tied to everything from washing towels to orange squash.

The RSA CarbonDAQ figures, and project director Matt Prescott, rescued me. Divining the embodied carbon emissions of every damned thing did not then appear to be an exact science, but progress was being made. In 10 years' time, will we have watertight calculations to make the rationing of carbon a reality? Or will it be regarded as an unacceptably authoritarian tool and fall by the wayside?

Posted by Lucy Siegle Friday 6 February 2009 13.14 GMT
Post Reply