Domestic Carbon Accounting | Peter Harper  and Alex Randall
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Domestic Carbon Accounting | Peter Harper  and Alex Randall Domestic Carbon Accounting | Peter Harper and Alex Randall Presentation Transcript

  • DOMESTIC CARBON ACCOUNTING --with political perspective
    • Peter Harper and Alex Randall
    • Centre for Alternative Technology
    • www.cat.org.uk
  •  
  • www.thecarbonaccount.com
  • A POLITICAL DIMENSION
    • How are we doing as a nation, and how does my contribution fit in?
    • In a democracy it’s all for us
    • We are (in principle) each responsible for about one sixty-millionth of the national total
    • But some individuals or sectors are more responsible than others
    • The total of all calculator scores should add up to the national total
  • DIRECT EMISSIONS ARE LESS THAN HALF THE TOTAL
  • WHAT TARGETS?
  •  
  • Suggests a new, robust, and ‘politically connected’ methodology for personal carbon accounting
    • Use national data for emissions under various categories
    • Make the default assumption that each individual has an average pro rata share
    • Most cases will cluster round the average
    • Adjust these default values by coefficients according to personal data
    • But use ‘real data’ wherever possible
  • INDIRECT EMISSIONS
    • Are very tricky
    • The most plausible default assumption is not equal per capita shares, but
    • emissions ≈ expenditure ≈ income
    • This is a highly ‘political’ premise
    • … that exposes important personal and policy issues.
    • But a proportion of responsibility for indirect emissions can be awarded to :
      • The government (for infrastructure, fixed per capita)
      • The business sector (pro rata, at 30%...or?)
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  • INTERPRETATION AND RESPONSES
    • Personal behaviour and ‘background decarbonisation’ are seen to be complementary
    • You have to choose one or the other, or some combination
    • There are plenty of choices, but no escape
    • Reduce personal
        • Greater efficiency
        • Lower consumption of C-intensive services
        • Invest in low-C technologies and processes
    • Accept implications of top-down measures
        • High C-prices
        • Low-C energy systems and infrastructure
        • Political activity if you want to exert influence
  • TITHING:AN OPTION FOR THE RICH?
  • THE BOTTOM LINE
    • With the more challenging targets the necessary changes go well beyond what the Powers That Be are prepared to consider
    • The ‘vegan on a bicycle’ could make it
      • But this is off the political radar
    • OR: the land would be dominated by low-C technologies: windmills, bio-energy crops, tidal barrages, nuclear power stations, and NO COWS
      • This is also off the radar
    • This type of calculator forces the user to confront some stark choices and prepares the ground for what is to come
    • Is it too brutal?
    • It needs a more beguiling and friendly face (Alex)
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  • THE END
  •  
  •  
  • BEFORE WE BEGIN
    • Emissions
    • Less, not fewer
    • Or try ‘lower’
  •  
  •  
  • 10 5 A C B HOUSEHOLD EF IN GLOBAL HA PER CAP HECTARES HOUSEHOLD EXPENDITURE £/CAP.WK 200 100 300
  • SOME PARADOXES
    • Have lots of kids and your score goes down
    • Very hard for the wealthy to achieve low personal scores
    • But direct investment in offsets can bring net-negative scores
    • Spending large sums on art, high fashion and jewelry should be good
      • But the calculator does not pick this up
    • Most calculators only cover direct emissions
      • This is useful but misleading
    • We wanted to make an individual or household reflect the entire UK emissions
    • There are three broad categories
      • Direct
      • Indirect via consumer choices
      • Infrastructure and capital investment
    • The mathematics are brutally simple
      • Need more sophistication
  • DIRECT EMISSIONS 34% HOUSE ENERGY 19.5% TRANSPORT ENERGY 14.5% INDIRECT PRO RATA EMISSONS 51% INDIRECT INFRASTRUCTURAL EMISSONS 15%
    • Lots of calculators leave out ‘obvious’ things, often for political reasons
      • Extra radiative forcing
      • Non-CO2 GHGs
    • Some calculators stick extra things in
      • High scores for nuclear energy, domestic waste
    • We tried to use official data sources + corrections according to our political nous
      • Better to allow for known biases than take things as face value
      • Unlike most academics, we can change our minds at the drop of a hat
      • The ‘consumption perspective’ is obviously superior and ‘correct’
    • Adjusted for imports, aviation and extra forcing.
    • As a result, our ‘shrewd guesses’ are very close to recent academic re-analyses
    • But we constantly check the latest data and re-evaluate
  • INTERPRETATION
    • Some is intrinsic, e.g., what you can and can’t influence yourself
    • The complementarity of personal change and general decarbonisation should be apparent
    • Experimenting with hypothetical lifestyle changes is fairly easy
    • We could introduce some animated scenarios, e.g., effect of various top-down decarbonisation measures
      • 10 1GW nukes
      • 33GW of wind capacity
      • 50% reduction of livestock replaced with bioenergy
    • “ Wedges” approach? Mix and match
  •  
    • Calculators vary enormously in scope and methodology
    • They can be no more accurate than the data they are fed
    • ‘ Real data’ are best but can be misleading without some understanding
    • The rest must be inferred from cleverly-designed proxies
    • Heroic averages and guesstimates
    • Usually an estimate is better than nothing
    • Untangling household and personal emissions is problematic
    • There’s always a lot of politics
    • It’s difficult to get users to use the things properly!
  • DATA SOURCES AND ASSUMPTIONS
    • Mostly ‘top-down’ based on national averages
    • ONS ought to be ‘the horse’s mouth’
    • But has been criticised by Druckman, Helm
    • Lots of calculators leave out ‘obvious’ things, often for political reasons
      • Extra radiative forcing
      • Non-CO2 GHGs
    • Some calculators stick extra things in
      • High scores for nuclear energy, domestic waste
    • We tried to use our political nous
      • Better to allow for known biases than take things as face value
      • Unlike most academics, we can change our minds at the drop of a hat
      • The ‘consumption perspective’ is obviously superior and ‘correct’
    • Adjusted for imports, aviation and extra forcing.
    • That got us to 720Mt for the UK and 12t per head
  • INDIRECT EMISSIONS
    • Tricky!
    • Carbon Trust, Tim Jackson etc use categories like ‘recreation and leisure’, ‘education’
    • These are difficult to adjust
      • What do you do? Not go to school? Work weekends?
    • We decided that you have to bite the bullet of expenditure ≈ income
    • Some ‘bold’ assumptions, but they are better than the so-called default assumption that indirect emissions are unrelated to income
    • We constantly make explicit intelligent guesses that can be criticised, argued out, and changed
    • It doesn’t matter if we are 5 or 10% out as long as the proportions are sound.
  • Druckman, A., et al., Measuring progress towards carbon reduction in the UK, Ecological Economics (2007),