Carbon Rationing Action Groups

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What is a carbon rationing group?

A Carbon Rationing Action Group (or CRAG) is a group of people who have decided to act together to reduce their individual and collective carbon footprints and reach a higher level of domestic sustainability. They do this in annual cycle. First they set themselves an annual emissions target or "carbon ration". This may be a fixed amount (e.g. 5 tonnes CO2 per person) or a certain percentage cut in emissions compared to the previous year (e.g. 1-30%). Then they keep track of their emissions over the year by keeping a record of their household energy use and private car and plane travel.

Optionally, at the end of the year, they may responsibility for any "carbon debt" (i.e. emissions over and above their ration) that they have built up. All carbon debts are paid into the group's "carbon fund" at an agreed rate. The fund is then distributed as agreed by the members of the group.

A CRAG group provides a supportive and encouraging atmosphere in which already motivated members set their own goal, self monitor their own effort  and agree in the group on an individual annual carbon cap. Members report to the group on their successes and in the case of not reaching their self set cap, pay a penalty, often cash. One good idea is to penalties collected put towards the costs of retrofitting of low income or disabled citizens’ homes.  This would enable a ‘harder to involve’ sector of the community to participate in actions to reduce the communities carbon footprint.

Fair and effective

The atmosphere has a limited capacity to soak up green house gases. Carbon rationers believe that this represents a unique shared resource. Carbon rationing is the most fair and effective way to reduce our carbon emissions and avoid a global warming catastrophe.

In a carbon rationing society, those producing more than their fair share (or ration) of green house gases can only do so by finding someone who is living within their fair share and therefore has some ration to spare. In this way, polluters are penalised, the rest of society benefits and the total amount of green house gases produced is controlled.

If we reduce the size of our ration year by year, carbon rationing becomes a pathway to a fairer, lower carbon future.

• Rationing project tests government plans to make pollution personal (Guardian, 10 September 10 2007)
• 8am: Shower. Save the water. Save the planet (BBC 15 May 2007)
'Carbon credit cards' and 'carbon market' on agenda (9 July 2007)
Carbon rationing in the UK