Domestic Carbon Accounting | Peter Harper and Alex Randall

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Domestic Carbon Accounting | Peter Harper and Alex Randall

  1. 1. DOMESTIC CARBON ACCOUNTING --with political perspective <ul><li>Peter Harper and Alex Randall </li></ul><ul><li>Centre for Alternative Technology </li></ul><ul><li>www.cat.org.uk </li></ul>
  2. 3. www.thecarbonaccount.com
  3. 4. A POLITICAL DIMENSION <ul><li>How are we doing as a nation, and how does my contribution fit in? </li></ul><ul><li>In a democracy it’s all for us </li></ul><ul><li>We are (in principle) each responsible for about one sixty-millionth of the national total </li></ul><ul><li>But some individuals or sectors are more responsible than others </li></ul><ul><li>The total of all calculator scores should add up to the national total </li></ul>
  4. 5. DIRECT EMISSIONS ARE LESS THAN HALF THE TOTAL
  5. 6. WHAT TARGETS?
  6. 8. Suggests a new, robust, and ‘politically connected’ methodology for personal carbon accounting <ul><li>Use national data for emissions under various categories </li></ul><ul><li>Make the default assumption that each individual has an average pro rata share </li></ul><ul><li>Most cases will cluster round the average </li></ul><ul><li>Adjust these default values by coefficients according to personal data </li></ul><ul><li>But use ‘real data’ wherever possible </li></ul>
  7. 9. INDIRECT EMISSIONS <ul><li>Are very tricky </li></ul><ul><li>The most plausible default assumption is not equal per capita shares, but </li></ul><ul><li>emissions ≈ expenditure ≈ income </li></ul><ul><li>This is a highly ‘political’ premise </li></ul><ul><li>… that exposes important personal and policy issues. </li></ul><ul><li>But a proportion of responsibility for indirect emissions can be awarded to : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The government (for infrastructure, fixed per capita) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The business sector (pro rata, at 30%...or?) </li></ul></ul>
  8. 12. INTERPRETATION AND RESPONSES <ul><li>Personal behaviour and ‘background decarbonisation’ are seen to be complementary </li></ul><ul><li>You have to choose one or the other, or some combination </li></ul><ul><li>There are plenty of choices, but no escape </li></ul><ul><li>Reduce personal </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Greater efficiency </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Lower consumption of C-intensive services </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Invest in low-C technologies and processes </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Accept implications of top-down measures </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>High C-prices </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Low-C energy systems and infrastructure </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Political activity if you want to exert influence </li></ul></ul></ul>
  9. 13. TITHING:AN OPTION FOR THE RICH?
  10. 14. THE BOTTOM LINE <ul><li>With the more challenging targets the necessary changes go well beyond what the Powers That Be are prepared to consider </li></ul><ul><li>The ‘vegan on a bicycle’ could make it </li></ul><ul><ul><li>But this is off the political radar </li></ul></ul><ul><li>OR: the land would be dominated by low-C technologies: windmills, bio-energy crops, tidal barrages, nuclear power stations, and NO COWS </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This is also off the radar </li></ul></ul><ul><li>This type of calculator forces the user to confront some stark choices and prepares the ground for what is to come </li></ul><ul><li>Is it too brutal? </li></ul><ul><li>It needs a more beguiling and friendly face (Alex) </li></ul>
  11. 18. THE END
  12. 21. BEFORE WE BEGIN <ul><li>Emissions </li></ul><ul><li>Less, not fewer </li></ul><ul><li>Or try ‘lower’ </li></ul>
  13. 24. 10 5 A C B HOUSEHOLD EF IN GLOBAL HA PER CAP HECTARES HOUSEHOLD EXPENDITURE £/CAP.WK 200 100 300
  14. 25. SOME PARADOXES <ul><li>Have lots of kids and your score goes down </li></ul><ul><li>Very hard for the wealthy to achieve low personal scores </li></ul><ul><li>But direct investment in offsets can bring net-negative scores </li></ul><ul><li>Spending large sums on art, high fashion and jewelry should be good </li></ul><ul><ul><li>But the calculator does not pick this up </li></ul></ul>
  15. 26. <ul><li>Most calculators only cover direct emissions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This is useful but misleading </li></ul></ul><ul><li>We wanted to make an individual or household reflect the entire UK emissions </li></ul><ul><li>There are three broad categories </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Direct </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Indirect via consumer choices </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Infrastructure and capital investment </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The mathematics are brutally simple </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Need more sophistication </li></ul></ul>
  16. 27. DIRECT EMISSIONS 34% HOUSE ENERGY 19.5% TRANSPORT ENERGY 14.5% INDIRECT PRO RATA EMISSONS 51% INDIRECT INFRASTRUCTURAL EMISSONS 15%
  17. 28. <ul><li>Lots of calculators leave out ‘obvious’ things, often for political reasons </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Extra radiative forcing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Non-CO2 GHGs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Some calculators stick extra things in </li></ul><ul><ul><li>High scores for nuclear energy, domestic waste </li></ul></ul><ul><li>We tried to use official data sources + corrections according to our political nous </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Better to allow for known biases than take things as face value </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unlike most academics, we can change our minds at the drop of a hat </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The ‘consumption perspective’ is obviously superior and ‘correct’ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Adjusted for imports, aviation and extra forcing. </li></ul><ul><li>As a result, our ‘shrewd guesses’ are very close to recent academic re-analyses </li></ul><ul><li>But we constantly check the latest data and re-evaluate </li></ul>
  18. 29. INTERPRETATION <ul><li>Some is intrinsic, e.g., what you can and can’t influence yourself </li></ul><ul><li>The complementarity of personal change and general decarbonisation should be apparent </li></ul><ul><li>Experimenting with hypothetical lifestyle changes is fairly easy </li></ul><ul><li>We could introduce some animated scenarios, e.g., effect of various top-down decarbonisation measures </li></ul><ul><ul><li>10 1GW nukes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>33GW of wind capacity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>50% reduction of livestock replaced with bioenergy </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ Wedges” approach? Mix and match </li></ul>
  19. 31. <ul><li>Calculators vary enormously in scope and methodology </li></ul><ul><li>They can be no more accurate than the data they are fed </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Real data’ are best but can be misleading without some understanding </li></ul><ul><li>The rest must be inferred from cleverly-designed proxies </li></ul><ul><li>Heroic averages and guesstimates </li></ul><ul><li>Usually an estimate is better than nothing </li></ul><ul><li>Untangling household and personal emissions is problematic </li></ul><ul><li>There’s always a lot of politics </li></ul><ul><li>It’s difficult to get users to use the things properly! </li></ul>
  20. 32. DATA SOURCES AND ASSUMPTIONS <ul><li>Mostly ‘top-down’ based on national averages </li></ul><ul><li>ONS ought to be ‘the horse’s mouth’ </li></ul><ul><li>But has been criticised by Druckman, Helm </li></ul><ul><li>Lots of calculators leave out ‘obvious’ things, often for political reasons </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Extra radiative forcing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Non-CO2 GHGs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Some calculators stick extra things in </li></ul><ul><ul><li>High scores for nuclear energy, domestic waste </li></ul></ul><ul><li>We tried to use our political nous </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Better to allow for known biases than take things as face value </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unlike most academics, we can change our minds at the drop of a hat </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The ‘consumption perspective’ is obviously superior and ‘correct’ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Adjusted for imports, aviation and extra forcing. </li></ul><ul><li>That got us to 720Mt for the UK and 12t per head </li></ul>
  21. 33. INDIRECT EMISSIONS <ul><li>Tricky! </li></ul><ul><li>Carbon Trust, Tim Jackson etc use categories like ‘recreation and leisure’, ‘education’ </li></ul><ul><li>These are difficult to adjust </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What do you do? Not go to school? Work weekends? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>We decided that you have to bite the bullet of expenditure ≈ income </li></ul><ul><li>Some ‘bold’ assumptions, but they are better than the so-called default assumption that indirect emissions are unrelated to income </li></ul><ul><li>We constantly make explicit intelligent guesses that can be criticised, argued out, and changed </li></ul><ul><li>It doesn’t matter if we are 5 or 10% out as long as the proportions are sound. </li></ul>
  22. 34. Druckman, A., et al., Measuring progress towards carbon reduction in the UK, Ecological Economics (2007),

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