Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

Mechanisms for achieving demand reduction through Personal Carbon Trading (PCT)

PCT Model

ECI hypothesises that PCT could deliver energy demand reduction through tying together three basic mechanisms which broadly conform to different methodological approaches to behaviour change: economic, psychological and social.

Our current research focuses on the psychological and social paths in correspondence with this model. In the psychological path we are looking at the concept of carbon budgeting.

Under PCT individuals receive a free amount of carbon emission credits, forming a carbon budget. In order to manage this budget, live within its limits and be able to benefit from carbon trading, individuals would need to practice carbon budgeting and accounting. In our research we examine if the process of budgeting can affect behaviour.

We are also investigating what people need to know, have, own, and learn in order to successfully reduce their energy demand and manage their carbon budget. For this we are looking at existing (non-energy) demand reduction policies in order to draw lessons for PCT. Among these policies are water saving programs and healthy diet schemes.

In the social path we are focusing on Carbon Rationing Action Groups (CRAGs): CRAGs are voluntary, self organized, local grassroots groups which set themselves independent carbon emissions reduction targets for their members. ECI is examining what roles a group can play in delivering behaviour change and how.

We are also examining PCT in the context of UK institutional, social and cultural settings and evaluating the following questions: Could PCT be a potential policy option in the UK? What are the different obstacles and barriers PCT needs to overcome in order to roll in the policy decision making process? Which issues and actors need to be addressed in order to make PCT an acceptable option?

We are studying PCT with a strong policy orientation in order to highlight the policy implications and relevance of such a scheme. Hence we seek to point at the essential elements that can support, promote and enable personal engagement, carbon budgeting and collective action.

Further Links

  • Parag, Y. and Strickland, D. (2009) Personal Carbon Budgeting: What people need to know, learn and have in order to manage and live within a carbon budget, and the policies that could support them. UKERC Research Report, Demand Reduction Theme.
  • Capstick, S. & Lewis, A. (2009) Personal Carbon Allowances: A Pilot Simulation and Questionnaire. UKERC Research Report - Demand Reduction Theme. Environmental Change Institute.
  • UK Energy Research Centre
  • Project details