“Can Wales shape world climate policy? Trialling Personal Carbon Accounts – guiding social change to combat global warming”
By Martin Burgess of Aberystwyth University at the National Assembly for Wales,
Cardiff Bay, Committee Room 21, 6.30 pm, 16th January 2018
Global warming, a so-called ‘wicked problem’ because of its remoteness from everyday lives and multidimensional complexity, continues unabated. Causes of individual’s carbon dioxide pollution range more widely than simply housing choice or commuting length but depend more on how the home is used and heated or how the commute is undertaken. Many of these lifestyle attributes are largely based on modern cultural expectations, or more specifically on the individual’s perceptions of those cultural expectations (for example the need, or not, to take a shower every day).
It is widely recognised that cultural change is necessary for successful energy transitions. Personal Carbon Accounts, a scheme which allocates the carbon content of fuel purchases to individuals by use of a plastic swipe card, is a behaviour change policy working via social and cultural modification to generate short and long term savings triggered through mental budgeting with minimal financial incentives. This uses the same principles as the highly successful single-use bag levy, demonstrating that policies based on behaviour change principles can both work (usage down 71% in Wales) and be popular.
The Welsh Government was requested by a cross-party motion to evaluate a Personal Carbon Account pilot scheme on 4th October 2017.
The talk explains the concept, its issues, why and how it is likely to work if piloted, and the issues with the devolved competences of the Welsh Government.
Martin Burgess is a qualified Chartered Accountant who holds a first degree in Engineering from Cambridge University and an MSc in Food & Water Security from Aberystwyth University. For the last two years he has been working full-time on Personal Carbon Accounts.
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