Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

Personal Carbon Trading

Launced in May 2016: An animation explaining Personal Carbon Trading - a radical policy response to climate change from researchers Dr Yael Parag and Dr Tina Fawcett, pictured above.

Carbon Allowance Card

The LCF team investigated personal carbon trading as part of its work within the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) Phase 1 (2004-2009). Since the end that period, members of the team have continued to publish on personal carbon trading, and retain an interest in the topic. For further information contact Tina Fawcett.

Personal carbon trading (PCT) is a radical approach to reducing emissions from energy use. Unlike most current policy, it focuses on individual energy users and locates rights and responsibilities with individuals for their carbon emissions from household energy use and/or personal travel. PCT is an umbrella term which describes various downstream cap-and-trade policies, which have different detailed rules and system boundaries, but all of which aim to limit carbon emissions within a society by engaging individuals in the process.

The main features of most PCT schemes are as follows:

  • Personal transport and household energy use included
  • Equal allowances for all adults
  • Tradable allowances
  • Year-on-year reduction of the annual allowance, signalled well in advance
  • A mandatory, not voluntary arrangement

By including all personal transport and air travel as well as household energy, PCT would cover over 40% of the carbon emissions from energy use in the UK.

ECI researchers developed the evidence base and thinking about PCT, and contributed to the public and political debate about PCT, which was particularly active in 2006-08 in the UK. Tina Fawcett and Yael Parag (formerly at ECI, now at IDC Herzliya, Israel ) edited a special issue of Climate Policy dedicated to personal carbon trading. PCT continues to be researched across the world, including an ongoing field trial in Australia.

Further Links

  • For a popular introduction to personal carbon trading, we recommend this article:
  • Radical Visoon of Personal Carbon Allowances could be the answer to greenhouse gas glut

  • For a more scholarly introduction, try this:
  • Personal carbon trading: a review of research evidence and real-world experience of a radical idea

  • For a ten minute video introduction to PCT, see here:
  • Personal carbon trading in a radical future


    Fawcett, T. (2014) Radical vision of personal carbon allowances could be the answer to greenhouse gas glut. The Conversation. 28 March 2014

    Fawcett, T. and Parag, Y. (2014) Radical thinking: personal carbon trading. Australian Environment Review, 29(10): 304-308.

    Parag, Y. and Fawcett, T. (2014) Personal carbon trading: a review of research evidence and real-world experience of a radical idea. Energy and Emission Control Technologies, 2014(2): 23-32.

    Fawcett, T. and Parag, Y. (2013) Personal carbon trading in a radical future. The radical emission reduction conference, London, 10-11 December 2013.

    Fawcett, T. (2012) Personal carbon trading: is now the right time? Carbon Management, 3(3): 283-291.

    Parag, Y., Capstick, S. and Poortinga, W. (2011) Attribute Framing: A Comparison between Three Policy Instruments for Personal Emissions Reduction. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Volume 30, Issue 4.

    Parag, Y. and Strickland, D. (2011) Personal Carbon Trading: A Radical Policy Option for Reducing Emissions from the Domestic Sector. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development Volume 53 Issue 1, 29

    Eyre, N. (2010) Policing carbon: design and enforcement options for personal carbon trading. Climate Policy, 10(4): 432-446.

    Parag, Y. and Eyre, N. (2010) Barriers to personal carbon trading in the policy arena. Climate Policy, 10(4): 353-368.

    Fawcett, T., Hvelplund F. , Meyer, N. I. (2010) Making it personal: per capita carbon allowances. In Electricity generation in a carbon constrained world. Ed Sioshansi, F., Elsevier, London.

    Fawcett, T. (2010) Personal carbon trading in different national contexts. Climate Policy, 10(4): 339-352.

    Fawcett, T. (2010) Personal carbon trading: A policy ahead of its time? Energy Policy, 38(11): 6868-6876.

    Fawcett, T. and Parag, Y. (2010) An introduction to personal carbon trading. Climate Policy, 10(4): 329-338.

    Fawcett, T., Hvelplund, F. and Meyer, N.I. (2008) Personal carbon allowances - with focus on the energy systems in the UK and Denmark., Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. Paper presented at Energizing Markets - Making and Breaking Boundaries for the Regimes of Value, 30/10-1/11 2008.

    Hillman, M., Fawcett, T. and Rajan, S.C. (2008) How We Can Save the Planet: Preventing Global Climate Catastrophe. St. Martin's Griffin.

    Parag, Y. (2008) Cross policy learning: drawing lessons for Personal Carbon Trading (PCT) policy from food labelling schemes. In, Proceedings of the 13th Annual APPAM Conference, Los Angeles, California.

    Fawcett, T. (2007) House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, Inquiry into personal carbon allowances. Evidence from the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford submitted 5 July 2007, presented in person by Tina Fawcett.

    Fawcett, T. (2007) Personal Carbon Allowances. Energy and Environmental Management Magazine.

    Fawcett, T., Bottrill, C., Boardman, B. and Lye, G. (2007) Trialling Personal carbon allowances. UKERC Research Report:ukerc/rr/dr/2007/002.

    Hillman, M., Fawcett, T. and Rajan, S.C. (2007) The suicidal planet: how to prevent global climate catastrophe. Thomas Dunne Books.

    Bottrill, C. (2006). Understanding Domestic Tradable Quotas (DTQs) and Personal Carbon Allowances (PCAs). Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University.

    Bottrill, C. (2006). UKERC Working Paper: Personal Carbon Trading: The case for excluding ground public transportation. Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University.

    Fawcett, T. (2005) Investigating carbon rationing as a policy for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from UK household energy use. Unpublished PhD thesis, University College London.

    Fawcett, T. (2005) Making the case for personal carbon rations. Proceedings of European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy Summer Study What Works and Who Delivers: 1483-93.

    Fawcett, T. (2004) Carbon rationing and personal energy use. Energy & Environment, 15(6): 1067-1083.

    Hillman, M. and Fawcett, T. (2004) How We Can Save the Planet. Penguin, London.

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