‘Relatively quick and easy’. That’s the offi cial conclusion from a groundbreaking trial of personal carbon accounting, on how diffi cult it would be to automatically capture and report personal carbon emissions for all UK citizens.
In an experiment conducted by the RSA and IT company Atos Origin, 100 volunteers agreed for each purchase of fuel they made at any BP forecourt to be logged and transferred to the RSA’s existing personal carbon trading platform. Once the data was collected, information about the quantity and type of fuel purchased was used to calculate the ensuing carbon dioxide emissions. This amount was then deducted from participants’ running ‘carbon balance’, simulating the prospect of full personal carbon trading, seen by some environmentalists as the most democratic way of reducing emissions.
Atos Origin believes that the systems are already in place to allow for a large amount of data, ranging from utility billing systems to supermarket loyalty cards that are handed over when fuel is purchased, to be collected, and then used to track carbon emissions.
The experiment’s conclusion flies in the face of Government scepticism of personal carbon trading. Despite initial enthusiasm under David Miliband’s stewardship of Defra, the Department announced in May 2008 that it was shelving its own feasibility assessment of the concept.
Michael King, a consultant at Atos Origin, said that the experiment would help the company to implement similar schemes for organisations that wanted to track their emissions more closely.