Wednesday, August 20, 2008


More solid research--thanks to Kate Oakley for telling me about this

16 July 2008

New research by the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr) reveals that the public favour Personal Carbon Trading (PCT) over other emission reduction policy options for individuals and households.

The survey by ippr to determine public response to PCT showed that respondents were less opposed to the idea of personal carbon credits than other alternatives, although it was still only supported by a minority of people. Respondents were also asked their opinions on carbon taxes, which would apply a levy to energy costs at the point of sale, or a similar cap-and-trade system to PCT but applied directly to energy providers.

In a survey of more than a thousand people, PCT won more support (31%) than the other policy alternatives presented. ippr says the research demonstrates that PCT is potentially more politically acceptable than previously thought.

Although less than a third of respondents said they supported or strongly supported PCT, this compared to 23% who supported a corporate cap-and-trade approach and 19% who supported a carbon tax.

ippr Senior Research Fellow, Matthew Lockwood, said:

“These results surprised us. In order to meet carbon emissions targets politicians face tough choices. Our research show that the public may be more receptive to PCT than other proposals and suggest politicians should give serious consideration to this option.

“The advantages of the scheme are that it gives people more personal responsibility and is transparent. Half our respondents thought that PCT would make people think more about their energy use and emissions. A third liked it because they thought the principle that everyone gets the same number of credits is fair.”

ippr says the survey has important implications for the development and delivery of any potential PCT scheme. It recommends that any potential PCT scheme should:

be presented as a benefit rather than a ration
ensure transparency and openness on how a scheme would operate, be funded and where any profits might be spent
be delivered by a trusted third partner, not a government department.

Although the PCT fared better in terms of potential support than carbon tax or upstream tax systems, widespread reservations on PCT were expressed including fears about personal data being collected, unequal outcomes and the impact on people less able to afford extra credits and concerns about difficulties in policing the scheme.

ippr interviewed 1,081 people for the survey in an online poll. ippr also hosted three workshops and held 17 stakeholder interviews.

Notes to editors

Under PCT, each year every person in the country would be given the same number of ‘carbon credits’ which they would have to spend when they bought petrol, diesel, electricity, coal, gas, heating oil or a flight. People who used more than their allocation could sell any spare credits and those who exceed their allowance would need to buy extra credits. People could increase their spare credits by saving energy in their homes, installing insulation, choosing energy saving appliances, choosing cars that do not use a lot of fuel and by driving and flying less.
ippr’s research was conducted as part of a larger project assessing the strengths and weaknesses of personal carbon trading. The survey was commissioned by ippr from e-feedback, who polled 1,081 people in February 2008. The design of the questionnaire was informed by a focus group held in London with 15 members of the public in mid-February.
ippr also held three deliberative workshops on PCT and alternatives in Newcastle, Bristol and rural Suffolk in May 2008, and interviewed 17 experts from civil society, business and politics.

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