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Personal carbon trading: A policy ahead of its time?

Citation Fawcett, T. Personal carbon trading: A policy ahead of its time?. 2010.
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Author(s) Fawcett, T.
Opus Title Energy Policy
Pages 6868-6876
Volume 38

In 2008, the UK government undertook a review of personal carbon trading (PCT) and declared that it was an idea currently ahead of its time. PCT is a radical policy proposal which would entail all adults receiving an equal, tradable carbon allowance to cover emissions from household energy and/or personal travel. The allowance would reduce over time, in line with national emissions reduction goals. The governments key concerns about PCT were its social unacceptability and high cost. This paper reviews the literature and identifies knowledge gaps, and then discusses whether these concerns are justified. Contrary to the governments conclusions, most research shows PCT to be at least as socially acceptable as an alternative taxation policy. People think it could be both fair and effective. Set-up and running costs for PCT will undoubtedly be higher than for alternative taxation policies. However, PCT could deliver benefits from individual and social change motivated by non-economic aspects of the policy. These potential benefits are outlined here. The conclusion is that PCT is a promising and timely policy idea.