Living with a carbon allowance: The experiences of Carbon Rationing Action Groups and implications for policy

Rachel A. Howell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Carbon Rationing Action Groups (CRAGs) are grassroots voluntary groups of citizens concerned about climate change, who set themselves a carbon allowance each year and provide support to members seeking to reduce their direct carbon emissions from household energy use and personal transport. Some groups have a financial penalty for carbon emitted in excess of the ration, and systems whereby under-emitters are rewarded using the monies collected from over-emitters. CRAGs therefore operate the nearest scheme in existence to the proposed policy of Personal Carbon Trading (PCT). This paper reports the findings of a study of the opinions and experiences of individuals involved in CRAGs ('CRAGgers'). In general, interviewees have made significant behavioural changes and emissions reductions, but many would be unwilling to sell spare carbon allowances within a national PCT system. The choices made by CRAGgers with respect to the design and operation of their 'carbon accounting', their experiences of reducing fossil fuel energy use, and their views on personal carbon trading at CRAG and national level are discussed. Some possible implications for PCT and other policies are considered, as well as the limitations of CRAGs in informing an understanding of the potential impacts and operation of PCT. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250-258
Number of pages9
JournalEnergy Policy
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012


  • Carbon allowances
  • Personal carbon trading
  • Carbon Rationing Action Groups
  • Attitudes

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